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《菩提田》

 

BODHI FIELD

大悲院隨筆
耶律楚材
Casual Notes from the Great Compassion House
On "Yelyu Chu Cai "

鐘華門 文 Written by Zhong Hua-Men on March 15,2000
心香 英譯 English translation by Bhikshuni Heng Yin

曾於〈水鏡回天錄〉中讀過上 人給耶律楚材立的傳,知道他在佛教中有其一席之地;最近讀佛教史,又「碰到」這位長者,甚感親切,譯出片段白話,稍加評議以饗同道。

耶律楚材,號「湛然居士」,曾仕成吉思汗和窩闊臺。當行秀禪師拜訪他時,見他身居相位而居行簡,啖菜根,不禁大吃一驚;不僅如此,他對於佛教的護持也是不遺餘力。茲略舉一二:

當元軍西征時,有人建議:「五臺山中有一些善咒術者,和身懷武功的和尚,可以編納到軍中用之。」耶律丞相答:「釋門心行慈悲忍辱,嚴守不殺戒,於軍陣之中寧殺身成仁,不毀殺戒;即便徵之入 伍,也不適用。」

另一次,太守蕭守中曾上奏:「沙門既不服兵役,也不服徭役,白白消耗國家財富,請除之。」丞相答:「人生於世,都依天命;夭壽窮通,人各有命,非人力能奪。有人辛辛苦苦,三餐不繼;有人豐衣足食,事事遂心。以孔明之智,尚不能入主中原;以項羽之勇,尚且烏江自刎…。天下萬物,天與則生,天奪則死;天尚且能容沙門,足下怎麼就容不下沙門,何等狹隘呢?」

看到這裡,我不禁想在耶律丞相的批文中加兩三行:「沙門雖不服徭役,但身已為社稷服勞役,起早貪黑,晝夜行道;未成道時,化導一方,息世間貪殺之心,減天地暴戾之氣,培人心向善之根;成道之時,更能化導十方,安邦定國,扶危救難於冥冥之中,如烹小鮮,沙門取之於社會少,奉之於社會多,不自誇其德,莫以短見衡量!」

最後一行,則是一點反思:沙門之難,古今皆有,豈止三武、一宗,一毛?佛弟子修持若勝,則教難可靖;反之,則非難之變,只會一波接一波。

Having read the biographical sketch of Yelyu Chu Cai by the Venerable Master in Reflections in Waters and Mirrors, I knew that he had his place in Buddhism. Recently, I came across the name of this elder while reading the history of Buddhism and I felt a sense of familiarity. I have rephrased some excerpts of the history and added some of my own commentary for the enjoyment of fellow readers.

Yelyu Chu Cai, also known as Upasaka Zhan Ran ("Profound and Calm"), served as a minister for Genghis Khan and Ogade (who succeeded Genghis Khan and carried on his westward expansion). When Dhyana Master Xing Xiu visited Yelyu, he was astonished by the minister's frugal lifestyle and meals of vegetable roots. Not only that, but the minister spared no effort in his support of Buddhism. Let me tell a few anecdotes.

During the westward expedition of the Yuan army, someone suggested, "There are monks on Five Peaks Mountain who are skilled in the use of mantras and martial arts. We ought to draft them into the army." Minister Yelyu replied, "The disciples of Shakyamuni practice compassion and forbearance and are strictly prohibited from killing. They would rather commit suicide to uphold humaneness, than to break the precept against killing. Even if they were drafted into the military, they would be of no use."

Another time, the county magistrate Xiao Shouzhong submitted a petition which read, "Shramanas [Buddhist monks] are exempt from both military service and compulsory labor in government service. They use up the wealth of the nation without providing any service. They should be eliminated." The minister replied, "People's lives are governed by divine destiny. Each person's fate is their own, whether they have long or short lives, rich or poor. No one can take their life from them. Some people toil arduously, yet still cannot get their three daily meals. Others enjoy abundant clothing and food, and everything goes according to their wishes. Even one as wise as Kong Ming [Zhu-Ge Liang, the military strategist for Liu Bei during the Three Kingdoms Period] was unable to realize his dream of obtaining sovereign rule of China. Even one as mighty as Xiang Yu, the Great Lord, ended up killing himself by the Wu River. The myriad creatures live and die by the grace of heaven. How is it that you cannot bear the existence of Shramanas when heaven allows them to exist? Is that not being narrow-minded?"

I would like to add a few lines to Minister Yelyu's answer: "Although the Shramana does no compulsory labor, he has already toiled for society. He rises early and retires late, practicing the Way day and night. Before he attains the Way, he teaches and transforms beings in one locale, quelling the urge of worldly people to kill, lessening the violence in the world, and nurturing people's wholesome intentions. After he attains the Way, he is able to teach and transform beings in all ten directions, bringing peace and stability to the nation and invisibly rescuing beings from hardship and calamity. Shramanas take little from society, yet contribute a great deal. Because they don't boast about their virtue and practices, one should not be prejudiced in judging them."

Buddhism has suffered various adversities and calamities since ancient times. The three emperors named Wu, one emperor named Zong, and one Mao Zedong were not the only ones who made it hard for the Sangha. If the members of the Sangha had genuinely practiced well, they could have overcome those disasters; since that was not the case, they courted disaster and suffered wave after wave of calamity.

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