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《菩提田》

 

BODHI FIELD

我對「癡」之觀照與對佛教信心之生起
How Observations on Delusion Inspired Me to Have Faith in Buddhism

王青楠 文 By Qingnan Wang
逸蓮 英譯 English translation by Yi Lian

一九九一年底,我在一次佛七中皈依了三寶。那時我才接觸佛法幾個月,心中充滿了好奇,而信心卻有待培養。

到了一九九二年二、三月間,學校的事少,我就花了許多時間留意觀察,看看心境的變化,到底會對身邊的事物有怎樣的影響,因而常常對著所見的事物出神。起初我所關注心境多為與粗重的「貪」、「瞋」有關的現象,全然不知如何直接發現在情感屬於中性的「癡」(比如通過考察五蓋)。而那時我關心的現象也限於物質世界,對情緒方面沒甚麼興趣;只是一心想知道,在情緒平穩時,所見的境界中真有無明嗎?修行真能增長智慧嗎?

我注意到一個我在小時候也曾覺察到的現象。我想許多朋友也許都有同樣的經驗,如果對一個字連續觀察一會兒,這個字就越看越不像。對一個字,或事物,心中竟會有兩種不同的境界,真是奇怪。小時候覺得兩種境界給我的印象差別太大,平日習以為常的直覺竟受到質疑,一種莫名其妙的不安全感阻止了我繼續探究下去。到了一九九二年初,這種心理障礙已不存在,因為我的顧慮比小時候少得多,興趣又比以前大得多。

我觀察了一段時間之後,發現了一個秘密。比如面對黑色粗筆畫的字時,如果我力圖同時看清它的各個部份,不僅包括黑色筆畫與白色背景的交接處,而且還包括筆畫內部的細節,至少精密到其三分之一粗細時,眼前的字就不像了。這時對筆畫內部,內心比平時要覺醒許多。平時我在不自覺之中,只留意黑色筆畫與白色背景的交接處,而對筆畫內部細節的觀照卻處於懈怠、昏昧狀態,結果只體驗到這個字司空見慣的相狀。換句話說,對筆畫內部細節的觀照和覺醒與否,決定了兩種境界間的轉換。

完整地觀察到了這一轉換過程,我感到很吃驚。因為這意味著「眼見為實」這人人信奉的教條是有問題的;如果內心觀照狀況不同,平時習以為常的許多事、許多觀念,其意義都會大不相同。這時我也矇矓地感到無明是有的,而修行確實是可以去除無明。我對佛法自此也開始生起了信心。在幾個月前那次佛七中,我還根本想不到這點。見到大家起早貪黑地念佛很辛苦,我不知道這苦是應該吃的,臨走時跑去問一位常住法師:「法師,您們多久以後才會放假休息呢?」「我們天天如此。」

這種反省方法的效用並不限於一根。唸佛時考察耳根,我也發現了自己的毛病。一句佛號「南無阿彌陀佛」,在一個字音持續期間,心中就會懈怠一下;當字音變化時,比如從「南」到「無」,心中又會興奮一下,將注意力提起。如果能仔細聽佛號中每一個字音,至少精細到其持續期間的三分之一時,佛號聽來就與平日不同了。這時對佛號的觀照也穩定,不易被打擾得多。

說到身根的反省,我想起每天禮拜上人的事。我起初僅僅是拜下去,站起來,次數夠了一百零八就心滿意足。過了一些日子,我想不僅身體,意識也不應閒著才對。於是我就開始不用手指,或念珠數,而在心中默計禮拜的次數。可不知道為甚麼,心念常常中斷,數著數著就丟了。反省身體的整個動作,我發現問題出在拜下的時候。每當身體要與拜墊接觸時,心裡就會說:「可以休息一下了。」隨著一念真誠的喪失,意識就不清明了。身體各部份在兩肘觸地後,相繼鬆懈下來;起身時,再振作起來。這一降一昇中誠意的生滅,造成了計數的中斷。於是我就告誡自己:「頂禮不能夠像錘子砸在地上那樣;不能鬆懈,要平穩。身體昇降時,心的清明狀況不要隨著變化。」自此以後,我就能默計禮拜的次數了。

用類似的辦法,我可以看到自己許多其他的毛病。與以上幾個例子不同的是,往往所發現的問題並不單純屬於慧觀,而需要戒定慧三學並重才能解決。比如將一個字的筆畫,分得很細時,如分成十份。我由於定力不夠,即使想提起正念,也無法同時觀清楚每一部份。要創造因緣解決這類問題,就必須將欲貪降服到一個更低的程度,就需修禪定,這些現象顯示出了癡與貪瞋的密切聯繫。也在告訴我們那種不談信心,不想去除欲望,而只想從道理上學習佛法、開啟智慧的想法是多麼不切實際。這類戒定慧與貪瞋癡衝突的過程,也都是一次次現身說法,在鞏固深化我對佛教的信心。

At the end of 1991, I took refuge with the Triple Jewel during a session for reciting the Buddha’s name. I had encountered the Buddha’s teachings only a few months earlier, and was full of curiosity, although lacking in faith.

By February and March of 1992, I wasn’t so occupied with school, so I spent considerable time observing my surroundings, trying to see how changes in my state of mind would affect the things around me. I often became deeply absorbed in the objects of my observation. Most of the mental states I initially discovered were coarse forms of greed and anger; I didn’t know of any method for directly discerning the emotionally neutral state of delusion (such as through contemplation of the five hindrances of meditation). I was just concerned with the material world and didn’t have much interest in the emotional aspect of things. The only things I wanted to know were whether ignorance really existed in a state of emotional calmness, and whether cultivation could really increase one’s wisdom.

There was one phenomenon that I had also observed as a child. Many people have probably had the same experience. If you keep looking at a (Chinese) character, it starts looking less and less like itself. It‘s quite peculiar how you can have two different perceptions of a particular character or event. When I was little, the two states seemed so vastly different I began to doubt my instinctive, everyday perception of things; and an unspeakable sense of insecurity stopped me from investigating further. By early 1992, this obstruction no longer existed. I had fewer things to fear and much more interest in the subject than when I was little.

After a period of observation, I discovered a secret. If I am looking at a large black character written with a thick brush, and I intently try to observe every part simultaneously--not only the boundary between the black strokes and the white background, but also the inner details of each stroke--when my observation is fine enough to differentiate a third of the thickness of each stroke, the character no longer resembles itself. At that point I am much more aware of the inner parts of each stroke than usual. In my usual unobservant state, I notice only the places where the black ink meets the white background; I am totally unaware of the details within each stroke, and I only the see the character as a whole. In other words, I would alternate between the two states depending on whether or not I noticed the inner details of each stroke.

When I observed the details of the transition between the two experiences, I was astonished, because it meant that I couldn’t be so certain that “what the eyes see is real.” If our mental perception changes, we might see many everyday matters and ideas that we take for granted in a different light. At that point I vaguely felt that ignorance did exist, and that it could be eliminated through cultivation. That’s when I began to have faith in the Buddhadharma. My understanding was definitely much less advanced during the recitation session a few months earlier. Seeing everyone get up before dawn to recite the Buddha’s name seemed very bitter to me. I didn’t realize that it was absolutely necessary. Before I left, I asked one of the nuns, “Dharma Master, how often do you get a holiday so you can rest?” Her reply was, “We do this day in and day out.”

This kind of contemplation is not limited to one faculty. In using my ear to contemplate as I recited the Buddha’s name, I also discovered my own faults. During the recitation of each syllable of “Namo Amitofo,” the mind relaxes for a moment; when the syllable changes, for example from “Na” to “mo,” the mind perks up and becomes attentive again. If you listen carefully to each recited syllable, to the point of being able to discriminate one-third of that interval, the recitation sounds starts to sound different and you will be much less easily distracted in your contemplation of the recitation.

As to contemplation of the body, I am reminded of the daily practice of bowing to the Venerable Master. In the beginning I was satisfied to simply bow down and get up the required 108 times. After a few days, it occurred to me that while my body was bowing, my mind should not be idle either. So then, instead of using my fingers or recitation beads, I started to count the bows in my mind. For some reason, my mind often lost count. When I analyzed the process of bowing, I discovered that it happened when I was bowing down. When my body was on the cushion, my mind would say, “Now relax for a while.” As soon as I lost my thought of sincerity, my mind became unclear. As my elbows touched the cushion, my whole body relaxed. When I got up, my body became alert again. The coming and going of my sincerity as my body went up and down was making me lose count. Then I told myself, “I can’t bow the way a hammer hits the ground. I can’t relax; I have to be equally alert all the way through. Even though my body goes up and down, my mental clarity should not change.” After that, I was able to silently count my bows.

Through similar methods, I was able to detect many of my other faults. In contrast to the above examples, the resolution of these problems required not only contemplative wisdom, but all three studies of precepts, concentration, and wisdom, simultaneously applied. For instance, I tried to contemplate a character to the fineness of one-tenth of the thickness of a stroke. Even though I maintained proper mindfulness, due to insufficient oncentration power I wasn’t able to contemplate every part of the character simultaneously. In order to reach that level of subtlety, I have to cultivate Chan samadhi, which means subduing and bringing my desires to a much lower level. These experiments show how delusion is closely connected to greed and anger. They also indicate how impractical it would be to study the principles of the Buddhadharma hoping to obtain wisdom, without faith or the willingness to get rid of desires. These interactions between precepts, samadhi, and wisdom and greed, anger, and delusion are speaking the Dharma for me and are solidifying and deepening my faith in Buddhism.

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