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《菩提田》

 

BODHI FIELD

上人詩人的一面
The Venerable Poet-Master

文‧ 比丘 恆實 by Bhikshu Heng Sure

拜過半月灣,已到午餐時分。抹去前額的沙子,我整好背包。清晨一片寧靜,我們拜過海邊城鎮時,所受到的常是一片奚落之聲,伴隨一片蛋雨,現在終於略得小憩。我們接近一號公路邊的沙灘了,恆朝走上來,打了一個信號--暫停禮拜,準備用午餐。他滿面含笑說道:「師父來了。」

我的心一下子跳上來。已經有三個星期沒見到師父了。有多少話要說呢!尤其是前天,在濃霧中我心血來潮,寫了一首詩,用中文寫的。我頗自得,想要上人來讚歎我幾句,說我寫詩還有一兩下。

「師父這回帶了客人來--有謝冰瑩教授、徐逸君、果悟、萬佛聖城的兩位比丘尼。」

這有多巧!謝教授來了!她是抗日戰爭中的女兵、巾幗英雄,還是名作家呢。她可以來欣賞欣賞我的詩了。

午餐時,謝教授悶悶不樂,上人想法子讓她高興。謝教授雖然上了年紀,她的先生到現在還吃醋;守著她還像守新娘似的,天色一黑就不准出門。她今天能出門還多虧她朋友出的點子。

我發過止語願。從上次見到上人到現在,我一直不講話。午齋一完,我久憋心裡的話,就要奔騰而出。當他們談話暫歇時,我插進去說:

「師父,我寫了一首詩,是關於我自己的境界,可不可以給您唸一唸?」

「哦?一首詩?唸給我聽一聽。」師父似乎不太經意,但我當時太興奮,沒能注意到。

我清清嗓門,用中文大聲誦讀我自己的詩,心中甚是自豪。我的詩如下:

言詞便宜經書多,精神寶貴希有佛。
夢中覺來無所念,覺後盡氣為眾說。

師父上人哼了一聲:「嗯。唸完了?你對不到一半呢!再唸一遍。」我興致大跌,又讀了一遍。

「錯啦!不是這樣子的,我給你改一改。」

師父想都沒想,也沒做筆記,就把原詩再唸一遍,但是變更了幾個字。新詩的意思直指我的境界,一下子戳破我自矜的泡泡。師父改過的詩如下:

言詞虛妄狡辯多,寶貴精神可成佛。
夢中止語無剎念,覺後原來一字沒。

「謝教授,你覺得怎麼樣?」老和尚問道。在場的女居士們一時瞪大了眼,遮陽鏡也遮不住她們的欣喜之情。笑聲與空中的海鷗聲齊鳴,我卻覺得喘不過氣來,好像在柔道較手中被摔置沙地。可是我又忍不住地笑了,師父即手修改過的詩,直指我的大我相心結。

「我把『言詞便宜』改成『言詞虛妄』,你應該記住你的法名果真--真理之果。師父的這番觀機逗教,成了我自皈依三寶之後修行的一塊試金石。

「你說『經書多』,我說『狡辯多』你要明白我的意思。我看你還沒把你整個的身心投入三步一拜中呢!」上人這話不假修飾,直接了當,刺著我的心。半月灣的海風雖涼,我的臉卻發燙。

師父把第二句詩的頭兩個詞,對調一下位置,就將「寶貴」兩字從原來的形容詞改成了動詞。一語點破了我修行上的假面具--拜了幾個月,我還都戴著的假面具。  

「第三行還可以,但我把『無所念』改成『無剎念』。你還不到無所念的境界呢!別往自己臉上貼金。」

「最後一行『覺後盡氣』唸著不是很流暢;而且真正的菩薩不會盡氣的。這個想法會讓你走上岔路。你還沒醒悟呢,你這都是戲論。你這樣寫寫看,『覺後原來一字沒』。」怎麼樣?還可以嗎?

我頓時傻了眼,說不出話來。我居然班門弄斧,和大詩家逞能。反而讓他輕輕一撥,穩當當地摔倒蓆地。神功--真正的功夫,不是花拳繡腿。武術高手可以當場指出學生的假招、錯招。真神!削掉我詩上的瑕疵之後又退給我,指出了我的短處。還是很好的一句詩,但它卻開啟了悟道的神秘大門--一個思想不及,沒有邊際的「佛性天」。

一陣發自內心的笑,震撼著我。幾週來高速公路上的焦慮,從我臉上、肩上,煙消雲散了。我直笑到眼淚湧出,內心覺得又慚愧、又感激、又欣喜。恆朝分享不到,他不懂中文。這個故事細微之處他領略不到。我又笑得太厲害,沒法跟他解釋。

師父知道我對詩的一腔熱情。在片刻之中,他露了一點他文采的鋒芒。我記得上人在讀書時,就替人捉刀,他幫他班上同學對對聯。他是再喜歡競智賽不過了。他寫的詩,對的對聯,讓他的老師都自嘆弗如。現在我和這位詩魁撞上了,撞了一個倒栽蔥。但是巧妙的是它隱教其中。數字之易,使原來一首平常的詩,照亮了一生障礙著我開悟的盲點與壞習氣。

「好了,我們走了,記著不要和任何人講話。佛成佛,是因為他一言一行都是真的、都是實的。你才剛起步呢!修行不是為了明天,或為了明年,修行是要行之於終身的。我們要把行菩薩道當成我們的本分,最要緊的事,我們每天的工作。不是在表面上用功夫,去引人注意,要人稱讚。你心誠了,才能夠越諸塵累,你說是不是?Okay, try your best!(盡你最大的努力)」

他們的車子往北開向三藩市。我耳邊還回響著:「寶貴精神可成佛。」

 Bowing along through Half Moon Bay, it got to be lunch time. I brushed the sand off my forehead and adjusted my backpack. The morning had been quiet, a lull in the constant barrage of eggs and taunts we had received all week in this ocean-side town. We were near the beach off Highway One. Heng Chau walked up to signal the end of the bowing and the start of the lunch break. His face was ringed with smiles: “Shr Fu is here!”    My heart jumped. We hadn’t seen our teacher for three weeks. We had a lot to say. Especially since the day before, during the worst of hazing, I had spontaneously written a poem in Chinese. I felt proud of it, and I wanted to hear praise from the Abbot for my skill in poetry.

“Shr fu brought guests. Pro. Xie Bing-ying is here, and Xu Yu-jun, and Gwo wu, and two nuns from the CTTB.”

What synchronicity! Prof. Xie, the “woman soldier”, hero of the Chinese war of resistance. She’s a famous author! She can appreciate my poem too!

During lunch the Ven. Abbot cheered up Prof. Xie, who was feeling glum and depressed. At her advanced age, her jealous husband was still treating her .like a young bride and kept her under a curfew. She had escaped for today's outing only through a ruse by her friends.

My vow of silence had kept me quiet since I had last seen my teacher. The meal complete, all the pen up expectations seemed to burst out at once. I took advantage of a lull in the conversation to say, “Shr Fu, I wrote a poem about a state I had .Can I read it to you?”

“Oh! A poem?”  Shr Fu seemed quit unimpressed, but I was too keyed-up to notice. “What does it say?” I read it in Chinese, proudly. The translation goes roughly like:

“Words are cheap and Sutras are many.
Energy is precious and Buddhas are few.
Still dreaming? Stop talking and have no thoughts:
After awakening, exhaust your energy to speak Dharma for for living beings.”

The Master snorted, “Humph! Is that all? You’re not even half right. Repeat it again!”

A little crestfallen, I read it once more.

“No, that's not the way it is. Here, I’ll correct it for you.”

And without a moment's thought, without taking notes, the Master repeated the original poem, but with a few words of each line subtly altered. The new meaning pointed directly at my inner state and burst my pride-bubble with a bang!

 “Your words are false: your excuses are many:
Value your energy and you can become a Buddha!
Still dreaming? Stop talking! Do no more false-thinking:
After awakenng you’ll see that all along,
  there have been no words at all.”

“What do you think of that, Prof. Xie?” Asked the Abbot. The lay-women were wide-eyed with mirth behind their sunglasses, the sound of their laughter mingling with the calls of the seagulls overhead.  I felt breathless, as if  I had been thrown to the sand by a blind-side judo-flip. At the same I couldn’t stop laughing. The Master's instantaneous adaptation of my original words pointed directly at the knot of ego in my heart.

“I changed ‘words are cheap’ to ‘words are false’ You need to recall your Dharma-name, Gwo Zhen: ‘the fruit of the truth’. This teaching had been my touchstone in cultivation since the day I took refuge with the Triple Jewel.

“You say ‘sutras are many’ I say ‘excuses are many’, if you get my meaning. You still haven’t put your whole heart into the bowing, as far as I can tell.” The not-so subtle truth stung my heart and brought a flush to my face in the ocean breeze off Half Moon Bay.

The Master put third and forth words of the second line in front of the first two words, thereby changing an adjective phrase “energy is valuable” into a participle phrase “cherish your energy”. It pointed directly at the intellectual pretense to cultivation that I still wore like a mask after all these months of bowing.

“Third line is okay as it is, but change ‘no thoughts’ to ‘not an instant’s thought.’ You haven’t reached the stage of no ‘thought yet’; don’t give yourself airs.

“And in that last line, ‘exhaust your energy’ isn’t a very mellifluous phrase. What’s more, real Bodhisattvas don’t ever run out of energy.  This idea will take you down the wrong road. Since you haven’t awakened, for you this is just fancy sophistry, Try
this:

“After awakening you’ll see that all along, there been no words at all.”  What do you think of my corrections. Do you accept them?”

I was dumbfounded, truly speechless, for once. I had dared to match poems with a champion of the old school, and I had been gently, but firmly thrown to the mat. Real spiritual skill, real gung fu is not only in flying feet and fists.  What martial artist can pin a student's faults and pretensions to the wall instantly, on the spot, in perfect matched rhyme? What mastery!

My sparrow-fart of a poem had been parried and turned back on me, to point directly at my shortcomings. More sublime still, the last line cracked open a door into the mystery of the enlightened mind -- a place where no words or thoughts tracked the limitless ‘heaven of the Buddha-nature.’

Laughter rose from my stomach and shook me. I felt weeks of highway anxiety melt off my shoulders and face. I laughed until tears ran down, feeling alternately humbled, embarrassed, grateful and delighted. Heng Chau couldn’t share the joke. He didn’t know Chinese, so the subtlety and accuracy of this lesson escaped him, and I was laughing too hard to explain.

Shr fu knew how much I love poetry, and for an instant he showed me the heat of his own literary fire. I recalled that in his school-boy years, he had gained a reputation as a ghost-writer of verses for all his classmates who couldn’t complete the class assignments. He liked nothing better than a test of wits, and could produce verses and matching couplets that humbled even his teachers. Now I had ventured into the ring with the poet-champion, and had been flipped head over heels. But the genius lay in the exquisitely precise aim of the teaching. A few word changes transformed the four lines of my original verse into the teaching of a life-time, a mirroring of the very blind spots and habits that held me back from enlightenment.

“Well, we’re going now. Make sure you keep your promises, and don’t talk to anybody. The Buddha accomplished Buddhahood because he was constantly true and real in every step and every word. You’ve just started down that road. Cultivation isn’t for tomorrow or for next year. Cultivation is forever. We ought see Bodhisattva practices as our own duty, as our first priority, our daily calling, not as some superficial style that hooks attention and praise from others. Only when you are sincere does your practice rise above the dust, don’t you agree? Okay, try your best!”

And the car drove off north towards San Francisco. “Value your energy and you can become a Buddha.”

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