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FOCUS ON EDUCATION

慈祥代天宣化 忠孝為國敎民

On behalf of Heaven,proclaim and transform with kindness. For the country,teach the people to be loyal and filial.

弟子規淺釋
AN EXPLANATION OF THE RULES FOR BEING A STUDENT

孫秀美 文 By Jennifer Li

zhao

qi

zao

 

ye

mian

chi

早上

起床

早早地

 

晚上

睡覺

 晚晚地

morning to get up early night to go to sleep late

早上要起得早,晚上要睡得晚。

In the morning we should get up early; at night we should go to bed late.

易 

lao

yi

zhi

 

xi

ci

shi

 年紀老大

容易地

來到

 

愛惜

時候

old age

easily

 to arrive

 

to treasure

this

period

年華很快就會老大,要珍惜眼前的時光

Old age will arrive very quickly; we should treasure the time we have left.


天地悠悠,亙古常存,不知何始何終;而人命無常,長者不過百年,亦是千萬中得不著其一,更何況中道夭逝者還大有人在。所謂「莫到老年方方學道,孤墳盡是少年人」;墳墓裏躺著的全是死人,不一定都是老人。人生天地間,就好比蜉蝣之於老椿,滴水之於大海,哪裏能比量?又哪裏能仗恃目前的青春年少?古語有云:「百年三萬六千日,蝴蝶夢中度一春。」若是把今生虛度,等到黃粱夢醒,兩手空空辭世之後,輪迴無期,苦不堪言,又向何生度此身呢?人身是非常難得的,既有幸今生為人,就該好好珍惜有限時光,努力做一點無限事業,才不枉來了這一遭!若是日日只知紙醉金迷,或者只會為三餐忙進忙出,那又何異乎草木禽獸?更別提如此愚癡過日,造罪無數,來生的苦報還無窮無已!那麼什麼是無限事業?又如何來開創這無限事業呢?

在中國宋朝末年,元兵在元世祖領導下,一路攻城陷鎮,銳不可當。當時識時務的,不是趨炎附勢,忝然無恥地朝事新主子,就是為保身家,不得已棄城投降;稍有氣節的,也都隱名埋姓,幽居鄉野。唯獨一個不怕死的文天祥,偏是知其不可而為之,就做些個「雞鳴不已於風雨」的傻事。怎麼樣呢?他把家中的錢財都拿出來,組織一支義軍,號召救國衛君。起初倒也有些聲勢,無奈大勢已去,最後宋朝還是完了,他也做了階下囚。元世祖很是愛惜敬重他,勸他投降;但文天祥硬是「富貴不能淫,威武不能屈」,寧死也不降。有名的正氣歌就是他在苦獄中作的。臨刑前,他更慷慨激昂地說出:「讀聖賢書,所學何事?而今而後,庶幾無愧!」

我們每個人雖然生來業報不同,能力、願力也不一,但是務必各自發心,精進不懈來自我超越。能力願力小者,至少要獨善其身,不受輪迴;能力願力中者,為社會謀利,為世界造福;能力願力大者,自覺覺他,同超聖地。那麼,我們至死也可以說出:「讀聖賢書,所學何事?而今而後,庶幾無愧!」那才真是不虛枉這一生了。這就是無限的事業!要開創無限的事業,又必須具有無限的精神和體魄不可。這無限的精神和體魄,又哪裏得來呢?就必須自小起早眠遲,從灑掃進退的日常小事上來鍛鍊起!

While the universe is vast and eternal, with no known beginning or end, human life is so brief. Maybe only one person in a million lives to be a hundred. Many are those who do not live our their natural life spans. There’s a saying: “Don’t wait till you’re old to practice the Way; the lonely graves are mostly those of young people.” Not all the corpses lying in the graves are old people. Humans born into the world are like ephemeral insects on an old tree, like a drop of water in the ocean. How could their life span compare with that of the universe? How can they think that their present youth will last? An old proverb says, “The 36,000 days in a hundred years are no more than a passing spring in a butterfly dream.” If one wastes this life in vain, then when the dream is over, one leaves the world empty-handed and undergoes indescribable suffering in the endless cycle of rebirth. When will one have another chance to liberate oneself? It is extremely difficult to obtain a human body. Since we are fortunate enough to be humans in this life, we should cherish the limited time we have and work diligently to do something that will last forever. Then our life will not be in vain. If we are merely infatuated with wealth, or busy making a living so we can have three meals a day, how are we different from plants and animals? If we foolishly spend our days creating countless offenses, the retribution we suffer in lives to come will have no end. What kind of work can we do that will last forever? How can we go about doing it?

In the final years of the Song Dynasty in China, the Yuan troops under the leadership of Yuan Shizu (the future emperor of the Yuan Dynasty) defeated all the cities and towns in their path; there was no stopping them. Those who saw what was happening either went over to the winning side and shamelessly served the new leader, or else gave up their cities and surrendered in order to preserve their lives and homes. Those who had some sense of honor changed their names and went into seclusion in the countryside. The only one who wasn’t afraid of death was Wen Tianxiang, who did what he knew was impossible, being foolish like a rooster that didn’t stop crowing even in the storm. He took all his family savings and used it to organize an army of volunteers to save the country and protect the king. At first the army had some success, but in the end the Song Dynasty still came to an end and he was captured and imprisoned. Out of love and respect for him, Emperor Yuan Shizu exhorted him to surrender. But Wen Tianxiang was “not tempted by wealth and honor, not intimidated by military threats.” He would rather die than surrender. The well-known “Song of Righteousness” was composed when he was in prison. Right before his execution, he magnanimously and proudly declared, “What have I learned from reading the books of sages? From today onwards, I have no cause for remorse!” 

Although we are born with different karmic retributions, capabilities, and resolves, we should certainly be determined to work hard and excel our own limits. Even if our capabilities and resolves are slight, we should at least cultivate ourselves so we can free ourselves from the cycle of rebirth. Those with intermediate capabilities and resolves should work for the good of society and the world. Those with great capabilities should enlighten themselves as well as others, so that all can reach sagehood together. Then when we die we can say, “What have we learned from reading the books of sages? Now I can say that I have no cause for remorse!” Then we can truly say that we have not lived this life in vain. That is the kind of work that lasts forever. To do this kind of work, we need limitless zest and energy. And where does this limitless zest and energy come from? It starts with the habit of getting up early and going to bed late. We have to train ourselves starting from the small matters of daily life, such as household chores and social etiquette.

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