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NEWS FROM THE DHARMA REALM

參加聖城剃度法會有感
Thoughts on the Novice Ordination at the City of 10,000 Buddhast

顯清 文及英譯 Article and English ranslation by Xianqing

一九九八年十一月四日上午九點,在萬佛聖城萬佛寶殿,舉行了隆重的剃度出家傳授沙彌(尼)十戒法會。此次新剃度的共有五位男眾,十九位女眾及四位沙彌尼,同受十戒。這是上人於一九九五年圓寂後,他老人家領導下的僧團所舉行的第一次剃度法會,意義非比尋常。它表明上人千辛萬苦於西方創立的正法道場是有生命力的,上人親手種下的佛教種籽正在發芽、茁壯。

佛弟子有出家在家之分;雖說在家也可以修行,可其功德遠不如出家。有首偈頌說的好:「孔雀雖有色嚴身,不如鴻雁能高飛;白衣雖有富貴力,不如出家功德勝。」

對於世俗親情的維繫、財產的佔有,明白人知道這不過是一時因緣和合,不能長存;裡頭埋著苦因,如樊籠鎖鏈,牽扯著我們在六道中輪迴不已。生從何來,死從何去,自己完全做不得主。但自無始以來深為欲愛所繫的眾生,雖知痛苦卻仍拔不出腿來,正所謂「看得破、放不下」,雖留戀卻又為家庭、財產、生活奔波,而苦惱不止。有識者從而出家修行,尋求解脫這種約束。

一般世俗對出家人有所誤解,也是因為不能把握這種矛盾;認為只有當家庭或事業上遭受挫折,心灰意冷之餘,才出家以求逃避;全然不知出家修行不但不是逃避,而是積極依著不執著苦樂兩邊的中道,來修持永久解纏脫縛之方。面對煩惱生死的苦迫,善根因緣成熟時,眾生就會立下追求菩提大道的志願,內心自會嚮往出家修行的生活。

出家的生活方式比在家到底有甚麼好處呢?出家否定了世俗由家庭而產生的價值觀,從財產的擁有到眷屬的親情都徹底地放下了。修道人發心出家,卸下了長期由世俗生活枷鎖所帶來的沉重負擔,如出籠鳥,身心得以自在,勇猛專一向道。真心出家的行者自會感受到一種欣慰,而在法上的新領悟,又進一步強化了行者當初出家求道的信心。

出家又是件不容易的事,唐太宗說:「出家乃大丈夫事,非將相所能為。」古人又說:「莫道出家容易得,皆因屢世種菩提」;菩提種籽不足,即使想出家,自會有種種「惡因緣」來障住你,令你身不由己,出不了家。有的人出家以後感到煩惱好像並未減少,甚至還有所增加。為什麼呢?因為從無始以來,眾生對世俗生活的染著太深,往昔當貪瞋癡的煩惱出現時,就會習焉不察地用種種與道相違悖的方法去滿足,因此才能與這些煩惱長期「和平共處」;一旦出了家,世俗生活上許多「揚湯止沸」平息煩惱的方法不能用了,習氣不得逞時,就會轉變形式來困擾修行人。

這是不是壞現象呢?不是。這正是考驗修行人堅忍力的關頭;正是行者靜觀煩惱升起的根源的機會。要拿出連將相都不俱備的大無畏精神;行人所不能行,忍人所不能忍,毫不自我憐惜地於根本處擒住賊頭,一轉手將其化為菩提,正如上人所說的「菩提煩惱冰是水」。將污穢的底衣除去了,那時自有一種輕鬆之感。這才是「釜底抽薪」對治煩惱的方法;不修行,還沒有這種機會呢!

上人曾說:「出家有三種不同的程度,就看各人的修持功夫而定。有出世俗的家:這是指一般的出家弟子--比丘、比丘尼、沙彌、沙彌尼;有出煩惱無明的家:出家後各人修持的境界,祇有自己知道…。一個出家人的習氣毛病,一天天減少…。這就是『無明分分破,法身分分證』的現象。這位出家人,他正在努力衝出煩惱無明的家,向菩提大道上走。有出三界的家:這是出家人的第一目標,也是一切修學佛道的七眾弟子的第一目標。這時就永斷生死,以後隨自己的願力,自由來去九法界中度化眾生,成就了出家的第一快樂。」

在這法弱魔強的時代,在西方,在上人離去後,在上人辛苦建立起來的正法道場--萬佛聖城,有這麼盛大的出家法會,筆者恭逢其會,眼看這麼多人發心出家受戒,深感正法傳承有人,由衷地感到興奮之餘,在此祝願這二十四位大丈夫,在菩提道上勇猛精進,早日出煩惱無明的家,乃至出三界的家,繼承上人遺志,領導我們,將正法弘揚光大。

At nine o'clock on the morning of Novermber 4, 1998, a grand ceremony for leaving the home- life and receiving the ten novice precepts was held in the Buddha Hall of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Five male and nineteen female cultivators left the home-life this time and, together with four other novices, received the ten precepts for Shramaneras and Shramanerikas (novice monks and nuns). Since this is the first leaving home ceremony held by the Sangha of the Venerable Master's disciples since the Master entered Nirvana in 1995, it carries a very special significance. It manifests the vitality of our monasteries of Proper Dharma, which were set up in the West by the Venerable Master after innumerable hardships. It is also a sign that the seed of Buddhism planted by Venerable Master now is sprouting and growing up.

There are left-home Buddhists and lay Buddhists. Although one can cultivate as a layperson, the merit and virtue cannot compare with that of being a monastic. A verse on this says : "The peacock may be adorned with colorful plumage, but the wild goose is free to soar the skies; the layperson may be wealthy and honored, but the merit and virtue of leaving the home-life is supreme."

Wise people understand that the emotional ties of family and the possession of riches are merely temporary conditions that hide the seeds of suffering. They cage us and chain us, forcing us to be reborn over and over in the six paths with no control over where we go. However, since living beings have been deeply attached to affection and desires since beginningless time, they cannot extricate themselves although they know that these desires cause suffering. On the one hand they enjoy the lay lifestyle; on the other hand they work like slaves for their families, fortune, and livelihood, getting afflicted to no end. Those with insight into the situation will renounce the family and cultivate the Path, seeking release from these bonds.

Ordinary people misunderstand those who have renounced the home, because they think that only someone whose family life or career is in trouble would try to escape his problems by leaving home. They do not understand that far from trying to escape, the left-home person actively follows a middle way which is neither attached to happiness nor suffering, and which leads to eternal liberation. Oppressed by the affliction of birth and death, when their good roots mature, living beings will aspire to seek enlightenment and yearn to leave home and cultivate.

How is the monastic lifestyle preferable to that of a layperson? Those who leave the home-life reject the worldly standard of values based on families. They give up everything including wealth and ties with relatives. Setting down the heavy burdens of family life that had weighed them down for so long, they are like caged birds gaining their, freedom. They are free now to fully concentrate on their cultivation. Those who sincerely leave home experience joy in their hearts and the new insights they gain in the Dharma reinforce their faith in seeking the Way.

Leaving the home-life is not an easy thing to do. Once the second Emperor of the Tang Dynasty, Taizong, said: "Leaving the home-life can be done only by great heroes, not by generals and prime ministers." There is an ancient proverb: "Don't say that leaving home is easy to do. It is the result of having planted the seeds for Bodhi in life after life." If the Bodhi seeds are inadequate, then when you want to leave home, all kinds of adverse conditions will obstruct you from doing so. Some people feel that their afflictions increase rather than decrease after they leave home. This is because they became so accustomed to lay life that when the afflictions of greed, anger, and delusion arose, they would habitually use methods that went against the Way to deal with them, allowing them to abide in peace with their afflictions. Now that they have left the home-life, many of the "quick fixes" that they used as laypeople are no longer available to them. And when their habitual desires cannot be satisfied as before, they will turn into great hindrances for the cultivators.

Are these phenomena undesirable? No! This is the very moment that one's perseverance is being tested; it is an opportunity to contemplate the source of one's affliction and bring forth fearless courage surpassing that of a general or a prime minister. One must do what is hard to do and endure what others cannot endure, relentlessly eradicating affliction at its source and transforming it into Bodhi. As the Venerable Master often said, "Affliction and Bodhi are like ice and water." When the underlying filth is gone, one will feel a sense of bliss. This the ultimate way to deal with afflictions. But if one does not cultivate, one will not have such an opportunity.

The Venerable Master once said, "There are three stages of leaving home, depending on the level of one's skill in cultivation. There is leaving the worldly home, which is what ordinary Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Shramaneras, and Shramanerikas (fully-ordained and novice monks and nuns) do. There is leaving the home of affliction and ignorance. Only the cultivator himself will know his own state of cultivation. If a left-home person's bad habits are reduced daily, then 'as ignorance is gradually wiped out, his Dharma body will gradually be realized.' Such a person is diligently trying to get out of the home of affliction and ignorance and walking toward the great Way of Bodhi. Finally, there is leaving the home of the Triple Realm. This is the main goal of a left-home person, as well as of all disciples in the seven assemblies. It means to terminate the cycle of death and rebirth, after which cultivators may freely enter the nine Dharma realms to rescue living beings, which is the greatest happiness for those who have left the home-life."

In the present age when the Dharma is weak and demons are strong, I was deeply moved to witness, in the West, after the Venerable Master's passing, such a grand ceremony for leaving the home- life in the Way-place of Proper Dharma that the Master established through great hardship. I sincerely hope that all of the twenty-four new "great heroes" courageously advance along the path to enlightenment, soon leave the home of affliction and ignorance, eventually leave the home of the Triple Realm, and carry on the Venerable Master's wish by leading us to propagate the Proper Dharma.

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