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《菩提田》

 

BODHI FIELD

聖城長大的孩子(續)
Growing Up in the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (continued)

易瑞華 文 By Shari Epstein
比丘尼恆音 英譯 Chinese translation by Daili Lyu

午餐後,他們就告訴大家上人出去邀請他們進來的經過:上人對他們說,「你們可以進來到樹蔭底下抗議;你們也可以到會場裡來說出你們想說的話;你們不必站在外面。」有些人進來後,告訴大家當初他參加抗議示威的心情,以及進來後的轉變。我心想,「哇!了不起!」 上人完全不顧慮自身的安全,不讓任何人知道,就一個人悄悄地前去找他們談話。他做任何事都是無聲無息地,從不給自己打廣告,然而他的一言一行都將他的教化展露無遺,眞是稀有呀!   

上人有無比開放的心胸,他所眞正關心的不是去推展「佛教」,而是如何幫助人明瞭自己所本具的智慧。記得有一次上人在開示時,提到「佛教」這個字眼應該不要了,我們應該講「智慧的追求」;任何想尋求智慧的人,上人都視之為好朋友,並且鼓勵他們。我記得漢堡大學有一位天主教神父,每年都帶他的學生來聖城參訪一次。每次他來,上人就讓他在大殿舉行彌撒。天主教的于斌樞機主教也是上人的摯友,上人說,「我要做一個佛教裡的天主教徒;你可以做個天主教裡的佛教徒!」   

即使在佛教內部,上人也努力結合各宗派,化解岐見。每次聖城舉行傳戒典禮,他一定會同時邀請南傳、北傳的法師一同主持儀式,這是從來沒聽過的。他也在紅木山谷購買了一片地捐贈給南傳法師阿姜蘇美度建造無畏寺。這樣一來,曼都仙諾郡目前就有代表佛教大、小乘兩種傳統的寺院了。從小目睹上人這一切作為,我深信各個宗教儘管教法或儀式上有所差異,然而內在的心靈一定有其共通的地方。我也因此對於人性抱持樂觀的態度。   

上人總是不斷強調「佛法是要去行的,要把人先做好。凡事不可盲從迷信,要不斷地質疑,思惟其中的道理。」這種學法的精神,在我幼小的心靈中烙下深刻的印象。   

上人這種有別於傳統中國佛教的創新的講法方式,也擴展到學校教育上,小朋友們經常被邀請上佛殿講一些道理。開始時,把我們嚇得半死,然而上人不斷慈悲地鼓勵我們,一旦我們照做了幾次之後,便表現得很自然了。小學時,另一件令人興奮的事,就是表演佛教音樂劇了。老師會先擷取佛經中的故事編成劇本,然後一位比丘尼會編一些插曲,這是一種很棒的學佛方式。其中的一齣音樂劇,「三車祖師」,還灌製成唱片了呢!   

聖城非常美,而又寧靜、安全,裡面的孩子有安全感。我們有社區(四眾)會議、共掃鄰近環境、聚餐,小孩子們每週還可以去廚房煮一次點心。我家門前就是一片社區花園。記得有一年耶誕節,早晨我醒來的時候家裡一個人都沒有,母親半夜到醫院去了,爸媽只留了一張便條告訴我不在家的原因。起初我有一點害怕,我就跑到大殿去,那時正在舉行念佛七,當我加入大眾一起念佛號的時候,心中就想:「啊!我眞太幸運了!就算爸媽不在身邊,我也有這麼多可信賴的人作伴,也不用事先打電話聯絡。」這兒讓人有一種歸屬感。繞佛時我就開始數有哪幾戶人家我可以暫時去待著,毫無問題,至少有六、七家,爸媽不在時我可以先去待著。這兒的人們都互相關懷。  

能夠在這樣安全、寧靜又有愛心的環境長大,確實是一種福報,從小我就可以自由地跟任何人交談。我以為其他地方都是這樣的,但在我離開聖城之後,我住的地方,鄰居們即使只隔兩步遠,也彼此不認識。剛開始我很難適應,逐漸地我明瞭了不是人人有能力去關懷他人,也學到不能輕易信任別人。然而我仍堅信佛法所說得眾生皆有佛性,內心深處都是善良的,也有行善的潛能。

雖然我有這麼美好的成長經驗,等念了大學,才發覺那是一種很不尋常的生活方式。也因此我覺得自己應該離開這個環境,到其他不同的地方去學習。有時候我會感到很孤單,甚至絕望,我的童年難道是我片片斷斷的幻覺嗎?除了我的家人之外,還有別人能夠瞭解它對我的意義嗎?我有時和非佛教徒約會,他們似乎完全不懂佛法。我遇到過對宗教信仰澈底懷疑的人,使我陷人很大的困境。直到去年參加哈佛大學交換學習課程,才有機會遇到和我同年齡的佛教徒。他們目前就讀哈佛大學神學院,其中有一位名叫蘭澄的女學生,目前正在寫一本關於美國的佛教青年的書。國家公共廣播電臺,也邀請她在節目中,談談她採訪一些在佛教社區成長的美國青年的資料,她鼓勵我一起去參加。雖然兩個小時的訪問並沒有完全播放出來,只擷取了一小部份,但能夠有機會和其他在佛教環境中長大的年輕人交談,對我是一個好的經驗。從那次之後,我就更加主動地去結交同年紀的佛教徒,不論同社區或不同社區長大的,這是很令人興奮的事。在這個過程中,我可以將聖城中長大的經驗,和外出讀書後的生活相結合,兩個看來似乎截然不同的世界,現在逐漸合而為一了。

(全文完) 

※瑞華1970年誕生於舊金山,六歲時與父母搬進萬佛城,當時寺廟剛遷入達摩鎮不久。她在聖城就讀育良小學,1988年從培德女中畢業,至史丹福大學就讀;1992年分別獲得「人類生物學」學士學位及「東亞研究」碩士學位。之後前往亞洲,目前以博士候選身份返回史丹福大學宗教研究院,研究「早期中國宗教」。

After lunch, they talked about what had happened, about Shr Fu going out and inviting them in. He told them, "You can come and protest under the trees; you can also come to the conference and say what you want to say. You don't have to stand out here." Some came in and talked about what they had thought when they were protesting, and then how that changed. I thought, "Wow, how amazing! Shr Fu wasn't worried about his safety, and he didn't draw any attention to himself before going out and talking to them. Everything he did was very quiet. He didn't advertise what he did and he embodied all the virtues that he talked about. This is really rare.

Master Hua exhibited an amazing open-mindedness. What he cared about was not furthering "Buddhism" per se but helping people to realize their potential for wisdom. I remember once he gave a lecture saying that the term Buddhism could be done away with, and that we should only talk about the pursuit of wisdom. Anyone who was in pursuit of wisdom he befriended and encouraged. I remember that there was a Catholic priest from Humboldt State who would bring his students to visit the temple once a year. Whenever he visited, Shr Fu would have him offer mass in the Buddha Hall. Shr Fu was also a close friend with the Catholic Cardinal Yu Bin, to whom he said "I will be a Catholic among Buddhists, and you can be a Buddhist among Catholics."

Even within the Buddhist tradition, he tried to bring people together and eliminate schisms. For all ordination ceremonies at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, he would invite both Theravadan and Mahayana masters to officiate. This is usually unheard of. He also purchased and donated a piece of land to the Theravadan teacher Ajahn Sumedho to build what is now Abhayagiri Forest Monastery in Redwood Valley. Be­cause of this, Mendocino County has representative monastic communities from the two major Buddhist traditions in the world. As a child witnessing all this, I felt sure that despite differences in teachings and rituals, people with similar spirit and insight can be found in all religious traditions. I also developed a strong sense of optimism about human nature.

The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas is a very beautiful place. It is so peaceful and safe that the kids there always had a huge sense of trust. We had community meetings, neighborhood clean-ups, and potlucks, and the kids would cook in the kitchen once a week. A community garden grew in front of our house. I remember waking up Christmas morning with no one home. My mother had to go to the hospital in the middle of the night, and my parents had left me a note explaining what was going on. At first I was scared. Then I went to the Buddha Hall where an Amitabha session was going on. As I participated in the chanting I remember thinking, "Gosh, I'm so lucky, even if my parents aren't around, there are so many people who I can trust and be with. I don't even have to call anybody ahead of time." There was a real community feeling. I walked around the Buddha Hall and started counting the places where I could go. There were six or seven families, without any question, that I could have stayed with while my parents were gone. There was a sense that people cared about each other.

In some ways it is a mixed blessing to have grown up in such a safe, peaceful, and supportive environment. As a child I could talk to anybody, and I just figured that would be the case everywhere. In the places I have lived since moving away from the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, people who live only steps away don't even know each other. It is very different and it was hard to get used to at first. I have slowly come to realize that not everyone is able to care about other people, and we have to be careful about whom we trust. Nevertheless, I still have a firm faith in the basic Buddhist idea that all living beings have the Buddha nature and that everyone at their core is good and has the potential to manifest that goodness.

Even though I had a very good experience growing up, after going to college and realizing how unusual my upbringing was, I have felt a need to leave the community, to go away and learn about other places. At times I have felt really lonely, even hopeless and despairing. Was my childhood a figment of my imagination? Does anyone other than my family understand what it meant to me? I dated people who weren't Buddhist and didn't seem to know anything about Buddhism. I encountered a radical skepticism about religion. That was re­ally difficult. It was only last year during an exchange to Harvard that I met young Buddhists my age studying at the Harvard Divinity School. One of the women I met, Sumi differences in teachings and rituals, people with similar spirit and insight can be found in all religious traditions. I also developed a strong sense of optimism about human nature.

The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas is a very beautiful place. It is so peaceful and safe that the kids there always had a huge sense of trust. We had community meetings, neighborhood clean-ups, and potlucks, and the kids would cook in the kitchen once a week. A community garden grew in front of our house. I remember waking up Christmas morning with no one home. My mother had to go to the hospital in the middle of the night, and my parents had left me a note explaining what was going on. At first I was scared. Then I went to the Buddha Hall where an Amitabha session was going on. As I participated in the chanting I remember thinking, "Gosh, I'm so lucky, even if my parents aren't around, there are so many people who I can trust and be with. I don't even have to call anybody ahead of time." There was a real community feeling. I walked around the Buddha Hall and started counting the places where I could go. There were six or seven families, without any question, that I could have stayed with while my parents were gone. There was a sense that people cared about each other.

In some ways it is a mixed blessing to have grown up in such a safe, peaceful, and supportive environment. As a child I could talk to anybody, and I just figured that would be the case everywhere. In the places I have lived since moving away from the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, people who live only steps away don't even know each other. It is very different and it was hard to get used to at first. I have slowly come to realize that not everyone is able to care about other people, and we have to be careful about whom we trust. Nevertheless, I still have a firm faith in the basic Buddhist idea that all living beings have the Buddha nature and that everyone at their core is good and has the potential to manifest that goodness.

Even though I had a very good experience growing up, af­ter going to college and realizing how unusual my upbringing was, I have felt a need to leave the community, to go away and learn about other places. At times I have felt really lonely, even hopeless and despairing. Was my childhood a figment of my imagination? Does anyone other than my family under­stand what it meant to me? I dated people who weren't Buddhist and didn't seem to know anything about Buddhism. I encountered a radical skepticism about religion. That was re­ally difficult. It was only last year during an exchange to Harvard that I met young Buddhists my age studying at the Harvard Divinity School. One of the women I met, Sumi Loundon, who is writing a book on young Buddhists in America, was contacted by NPR (National Public Radio) to organize an interview of young people who grew up in Bud­dhist communities. She encouraged me to participate. Even though very little of the two-hour interview was included in the actual show, getting that opportunity to talk to other young adults who had grown up in Buddhist communities was a very positive experience for me.
Since then, I have made more of an effort to get to knowyoung Buddhists from my own and other Buddhist communities in America. This has been very exciting for me. In thisprocess I feel that I will be able to integrate my experiencesgrowing up at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas with the lifeI have experienced since leaving for college. What once seemedlike two entirely separate worlds are now beginning to come together.

(The End)

※Shari was born in 1970 in San Francisco, and moved with her par­ents to the recently founded City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB) in Talmage when she was six. She enrolled in Instilling Goodness Elemen­tary School at CTTB, graduated from Developing Virtue Girls Secondary School in 1988, and attended Stanford University. In 1992, she re­ceived both a Bachelor's degree in Human Biology and a Master's degree in East Asian Studies. After traveling in Asia, she has returned to Stanford University's Graduate School of Religion, where she is cur­rently pursuing her doctoral studies in Early Chinese Religions.

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