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《菩提臺》

 

Bodhi Stand

身滅德不孤━悼周果立老居士
His Body Is Gone, But His Virtue Will Be Imitated.—In Memory of Elder Upasaka Guoli Zhou

謝福來 編輯 Compiled by Fulai Hsieh
逸蓮 英譯 English translation by Yilian

美國三藩市的金山禪寺剛搬到華埠現址的時候,來拜佛的人爬上階梯,第一眼見到的就是周果立老居士。他總在櫃臺後站著,臉露笑容,和靄可親,讓人生起一種「歡迎你回來」的感覺。這位長者,走完了娑婆世界這一段艱辛的旅程,已於去年十二月二十七日往生。很多認識他的人,對他一生的行持都有無限的哀思。

「提起周居士,心中不禁浮現了他手拿拍紙簿跪在上人身邊,記錄上人口述指示的情景。」恆順師回憶著說。譚果正居士說:「很多受人愛戴的人,背後總有人非議。可是認識周居士的人心裡祇有敬慕和感恩。」

梁果熙居士說:「周居士謹言慎行,韜光晦跡,跟隨師父十多年,默默地行菩薩道。他不批評別人,口無怨言。」「周居士從來不聽是非的。」果瑞居士如是說。由於他不聽是非,所以也沒有是非。

周老居士,原名周立人,出生於戊午(西元 1918)年,祖籍為中國東北的遼寧省,書香世家。母臧氏為東北大學校長臧其芳之妹,留日博士臧廣恩教授之姑母;早年在大學時主修歷史。後因時局不安,他護送舅母回南方後即無法再回東北;只有隨政府遷移臺灣,在國立教科書編譯館工作。在臺近四十年孑然一身,不但未再婚,亦無女友,一生不二色。

1975 年春周老居士在日本蒙宣公上人收為弟子,是年秋來美獻身佛教,追隨上人15年,擔任抄錄經典工作,負責書寫上人的往來信札。

當上人講解「水鏡回天錄」及「祖師道影」時,先以口述,由周居士記下,再寫在黑板上。法界佛教總會出版的「金剛菩提海」月刊,原以英文發行;周居士負責中文編輯後,逐步演變為今日的中英雙語佛教月刊。

周老居士抵美後負責在金山禪寺燒飯。雷太太說:「我初皈依上人時不會煮齋;像包餃子都是周居士教我的。」周老居士任勞任怨的摯誠感動了她,於是她接過廚房之職。

周老居士佛儒皆通,在金山禪寺講解論語時不用講稿融合佛法妙理,使聽眾聆孔子之教、悟釋氏之旨。上課時旁徵博引隨口就是一則佛教公案或典故,像一部活辭典,使得儒佛互用貫通,並行不悖。

周老居士為報師恩,在觀世音菩薩座前發三大願:1.利害不爭。2.是非不辯。3.恩怨不忘。他專修忍辱法門,無論遇到什麼逆境皆忍可於心,不作反駁。為什麼呢?

緣於1982年浴佛節清晨,周老居士忽覺右腿痛如錘擊,不能動彈。經上人以神咒加持疼痛始止;休息半年才恢復健康。

人之患病定有因緣,經上人觀察,周老居士宋朝時曾為吏部尚書,執法如山,判一犯人死刑。犯人之妻因而懸樑自盡,腹中尚有男嬰,二屍三命,家破人亡,今該犯人之妻及胎中兒前來索命。

周老居士聞言,深悔自己雖公正不阿,但對人體恤不足,引起他人極大之痛苦,鑄成大錯,愧為父母官,心生懺悔。此次雖得上人化解,女鬼及其子捨怨而去;其他錯失之處,不知何時果報成熟冤孽又尋上門來,豈可不慎?

從此周老居士帶著贖罪之心,為人處世備加小心。凡事只肯自己吃虧,絕不叫人受委曲。上人交待之事,不論他人的、自己的,無不竭力成就。譚果正居士肯定地說:「認識周居士的人,我相信都同意他的願沒有虛發,全都履行。」

至於提攜後進,周老居士更是無微不至。上人叫梁居士學講經,怕她不肯,便和周老居士設方便法,叫梁居士照著師父講的經用中文和廣東話唸出。上人在外面聽,有時在梁居士身旁來回走著;周老居士在臺下聽,永不缺席。而他老人家晚上講論語時,梁居士卻常常逃學。

梁居士學講心經時,他又忙著蒐集高僧大德所講的心經以為參考;學講法華經時,他知道梁居士性情浮動不定,不要求她照次序講,他就怕晚輩退失菩提心。

上人要梁居士接辦中文學校,他又幫她召集義務教師、蒐集教材。他從來不說人家的不是,只有梁居士上課遲到時,一進金山寺大門,他才說:「你遲到一分鐘,妳有多少學生就浪費那麼多時間。」

1990年周老居士護送病重的妻子回鄉,怎料老伴往生後,自己亦疾病纏身,家人力勸他留在家中。周老居士也因不願連累上人,故上人雖屢次催促,都不肯回美。

周老居士生前尊師重道,力行六大宗旨,澹泊名利,默默跟隨上人弘揚佛法,可謂「鞠躬盡瘁,死而後已」,樹立一個優婆塞修行的榜樣,和居士身為常住的典範。

周老居士雖然暫別娑婆,定蒙彌陀接引。但願他老人家早日隨宣公上人乘願再來,則正法幸甚!眾生幸甚!哀悼之餘,謹以偈曰:

國亂歸期遙,東瀛逢師度;
隨侍十五載,以報法身母。
順逆皆精進,矢志修忍辱;
利害尚不爭,是非自然無。
暫別娑婆緣,身滅德不孤;
善哉優婆塞,後學所敬慕。
今且西歸去,面見大慈父;
乘願當再來,濟六道三途。

When San Francisco’s Gold Mountain Monastery moved to its present location in Chinatown, the first person visitors saw when they came to bow to the Buddhas was the Elder Upasaka Guoli Zhou. He always stood behind the counter with a kind smile, making people feel welcome and right at home. Completing his arduous life journey in this Saha World, this Elder passed away on December 27, 1997, leaving many people who knew him in boundless grief.

“When I think of Upasaka Zhou, I have the recurring image of him kneeling next to the Master with his pad of paper in hand, writing down the Master’s instructions,” says Bhikshu Heng Shun.

Upasika Guozheng Tan says, “Even the most well-liked people are usually slandered and envied behind their backs. However, those who knew Upasaka Zhou felt only deference and gratitude toward him.”

Upasika Guoxu Liang says, “Upasaka Zhou was very discreet in his words and deeds. He always kept a low profile. For over ten years he followed the Master, quietly practicing the Bodhisattva Path. He never criticized others or complained about anything.” “Upasaka Zhou never listened to gossip,” recalls Upasaka Guorui. Since he didn’t care about gossip, there was never any gossip about him.

Upasaka Zhou, whose full name was Liren Zhou, was born in 1918 in a family of scholars in Liaoning Province, Manchuria (northeast China). His mother, whose maiden name was Zang, was the sister of Qifang Zang, the Chancellor of Dongbei University, and the aunt of Professor Guang’en Zang, who earned his doctorate in Japan. Upasaka Zhou majored in history at college. Later he escorted his aunt to the south of China due to the unsettled political situation, and was unable to return to Manchuria. He could only follow the government to Taiwan, where he found work at the National Textbook Editorial Bureau. For nearly forty years in Taiwan, he lived a bachelor’s life, neither remarrying or taking a girlfriend.

In the spring of 1975 in Japan, Upasaka Zhou met the Venerable Master Hua and became his disciple. That fall he came to the United States and devoted himself to Buddhism. He stayed with the Ven. Master for 15 years. His work was to transcribe the Master’s lectures on the Sutras and handle the Master’s correspondence.

When the Master gave his lectures on Reflections in Waters and Mirrors and Lives of the Buddhist Patriarchs, he would orally deliver the text, and Upasaka Zhou would take notes and write it on the blackboard. The monthly journal of Dharma Realm Buddhist Association, Vajra Bodhi Sea, had been published in English. After Upasaka Zhou was appointed Chinese editor, the journal gradually adopted its present bilingual (Chinese/English) format.

When Upasaka Zhou first arrived in the U.S., he took charge of cooking at Gold Mountain Dhyana Monastery. Mrs. Lei reflects, “When I first took refuge with the Master, I didn’t know how to cook vegetarian meals. It was Upasaka Zhou who taught me everything, including how to wrap jiaozi (dumplings).” Moved by Upasaka Zhou’s sincerity in toiling without any complaint, Mrs. Lei took over his kitchen duties.

Upasaka Zhou was well-versed in both Buddhism and Confucianism. When he lectured on the Analects at Gold Mountain Dhyana Monastery, he never used notes, and he would incorporate the wondrous principles of Buddhism into his explanations, causing his listeners to gain insight into Buddhist teachings through the Confucian doctrines. During class, he would tell stories from a wide range of sources and was always ready with Buddhist anecdotes, like a walking Buddhist dictionary. He was able to integrate the principles of Confucianism and Buddhism without conflict.

In order to repay the Venerable Master’s kindness, Upasaka Zhou made three great vows before Guanshiyin Bodhisattva: (1) Never to contend for gains or try to avoid losses. (2) Never to defend himself. (3) Not to forget when people are kind to him. He concentrated on cultivating patience with insult. No matter what adversity he encountered, he could take it calmly and without opposition. Why?

It was because on the morning of the Buddha’s Birthday in 1982, Upasaka Zhou suddenly felt great pain in his right leg, as if hammers were striking it, and he couldn’t move it. The pain was alleviated after the Master used a mantra to aid him, but he didn’t fully recuperate until he had rested for half a year.

When people get sick, there is always a reason. According to the Master, Upasaka Zhou had been President of the Board of Civil Office back in the Song Dynasty. He had sternly applied the law and sentenced one offender to death. The offender’s wife had then hung herself, and the baby boy in her womb also died. Thus with three deaths, the family was destroyed. Now the souls of the wife and her unborn baby had come to demand the Upasaka’s life.       When Upasaka Zhou heard the Master’s words, he deeply regretted that though he had been just and fair, he had not been considerate enough and had caused extreme suffering to others. As a result of that grave mistake, he did not qualify as “an official whom people could regard as their own father and mother.” He was deeply repentant. Although this time the Master had helped to resolve the problem and the souls of the woman and her infant had given up their grudge and left, who knows when the retribution for his other mistakes would ripen and come to find him? How could he not be cautious?

From that time on, Upasaka Zhou had a repentant attitude and was even more careful in his treatment of others. In all matters, he preferred to take a loss himself rather than make things difficult for others. When the Master told him or someone else to do something, he always tried his best to see that the job was done successfully.

Upasika Guozheng Tan says, “I’m sure everyone who knew Upasaka Zhou will  agree that his vows were not made in vain; he put them all into practice.”

Upasaka Zhou went to great pains to encourage and train the younger generation. The Master wanted Upasika Guoxu Liang to learn to lecture on the Sutras, but was afraid she would refuse, so he and Upasaka Zhou came up with an expedient method: Upasika Liang would read aloud the Master’s commentary on a Sutra in Mandarin and Cantonese. The Master himself would listen from outside, or pace back and forth next to her. Elder Upasaka Zhou would be in the audience, never missing a lecture. And when he lectured on the Analects, Upasika Liang often skipped classes to attend.

When Upasika Liang was learning to lecture the Heart Sutra, Elder Upasaka Zhou busily collected material from the lectures of eminent monks and laymen for her to use as reference; when she was learning to lecture the Dharma Flower Sutra, knowing that she was flighty and impatient, he didn’t require her to lecture the Sutra sequentially; he was always concerned that young people might retreat from their Bodhi resolves.

When the Master asked Upasika Liang to start a Chinese School, Upasaka Zhou helped her to find volunteer teachers and gather teaching materials. He never spoke of people’s faults, except when Upasika Liang was late to class. As she walked in the door of Gold Mountain Monastery, he’d say, “If you are one minute late, multiply that by the number of students you have and that’s how much time you’ve wasted.”

In 1990, he accompanied his wife, who was seriously ill, back to her hometown. After his wife’s death, he himself became ill in his old age. His family urged him to remain at home. Not wishing to burden the Master, he did not return to the United States despite the Master’s repeated entreaties.

Upasaka Zhou revered his teachers and the Way, truly practiced the Six Guidelines, and cared little for fame and profit. Quietly following the Master to propagate the Buddhadharma, he could be said to have “given his all without resting till the moment of death.” He was a model lay cultivator and lay resident in the monastery.      Although Upasaka Zhou has temporarily departed the Saha World, he has surely been received by Amitabha Buddha. We hope he will soon return with the Master upon the power of vows. How fortunate that will be for the Proper Dharma and for living beings! Here is a verse in memoriam:

With the country in chaos, it was long before he could go back.
In Japan he encountered the Venerable Master and was saved.
For fifteen years he followed and served the Master,
Repaying the kindness of his Dharma-body’s mother.
Vigorous in favorable as well as adverse conditions,
He vowed to cultivate patience under insult.
Since he didn’t contend for benefits,
Naturally there was no gossip about him.
Temporarily departing the Saha World,
His body is gone, but his virtue will be imitated.
Good indeed, Upasaka--
You are revered and admired by posterity.
You have now returned to the West
To meet your Greatly Compassionate Father;
May you come again riding upon your vows
To save those in the six paths and three destinies.

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