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1999年5月2日星期日午齋時於五觀齋堂 sPOKEN ON THE NOON OF MAY 2, 1999 AT THE DINING HALL OF CTTB



依我看,寺院生活的價值在於 - - 它限制了人們對習性欲望的追隨程度。我感到非常需要這種約束,因為在我們的社會中,「享樂」、「自由」是我們這一代的主流思想。在美國文化中,「克制」與「放下」幾乎沒有地位;在寺院生活中「克制」與「放下」使我們得以過簡樸的生活,讓我們有機會由修行,而看到我們的痛苦是由欲望,由對法的無知而產生的;經由面對自己的苦惱,你開始見到道,見到捨棄之道;凡是不趨向於和平、和諧,體悟真理的習性、因緣、條件都要捨棄。




我是從自己在泰國北部生活的經驗瞭解到這一點的。那是泰國很偏遠,最貧窮的地區,阿姜查雖然身材矮小,卻影響巨大,不僅在泰國如此,隨著向他學道的西方人的到來,他的名聲傳到了美國、歐洲,以及亞洲各地區。在我看來,他是一位確實過著智慧生活的人,一位非常快樂的人。他與我若處於同樣環境,他看上去就沒有苦惱; 他知道怎樣避免陷入消極的心境,怎樣持續地關注,以敞開的心胸來經驗不可避免的,川流不息的種種境界。

At this stage of my life, I feel the excellent result of having lived under the Vinaya discipline and trained with Dharma in order break through all the obstructions and difficulties that one creates through one's mind, through the karma of one's life. I think the benefit, especially in being a monk, is the opportunity to surrender to something that you cannot control and bend through your own desires. I think this is very important in America where much of the suffering is caused through just thinking about oneself, obsession with one's own views, opinions, emotional habits and desires; the suffering that results from that seems immense.

Having lived in northeast Thailand for many years where conditions are not so bountiful, where material wealth is not so available and where people live in much lower standards of living, I don't detect their mental suffering to be any greater than that found in the more affluent European countries or the U.S. So it is an important reflection that the Buddha was pointing to - a direct realization that each human being is capable of realizing for him/herself through paying attention, through being mindful and through being responsible for how he/she lives in this world, this planet.

I found the value of monastic life being that it limits one ability to follow one's habits and one's desires. I felt a great need for this kind of restraint because I came from a society where hedonism and the ideal of freedom were the dominant attitudes of my generation. The American culture gave little room for restraint or renunciation. In monastic life, of course, restraint and renunciation are the opportunities to simplify and to develop in a way that you perhaps begin to see the suffering you create through your own desires, through your ignorance of the Dharma. Through that confrontation with your own suffering you begin to see the path, or the Way of relinquishing or renouncing those habits and conditions which are not conducive toward peace, toward harmony, and toward realization of the truth. Today at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas is an occasion for all of us gathered here to reaffirm our commitment to this path, and to recognize that a human life does not actually last a very long time. The older you get, the briefer the human life span seems. To waste it on foolishness, selfishness, and triviality seems to be a very sad and tragic way to use this human opportunity that we have. Chances to do something else instead are now more available in the western world. The teaching of the Buddha, Buddhist monasteries, meditation centers, Buddhist groups are popping up all over the place because of the great need for the kind of mental training that the Buddha so compassionately gave to us.  

I've always felt enormous respect and gratitude for the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua. My own teacher, Ajahn Chah was the inspiration for my monastic life, and he passed away in 1992. I also regard Venerable Master Hsuan Hua as one of my teachers, an exemplary monk who inspired me and encouraged me, showed me the way on this path as a Buddhist monk. That both of these masters have died is part of the lessons in life. We may reflect on the impermanent nature of the conditioned realm.

When I reflect on the past, I feel a sense of gratitude arising every time I think of Ajahn Chah or Master Hua. The older I get the more this gratitude seems to be; it's like an opening of the heart. It's an enormous gift to someone like myself to have been fortunate enough to have met two such enlightened and wise human beings. Both of these masters have lived very unselfish lives and have devoted themselves to the teachings of the Dharma, making the wisdom of the Buddha available worldwide. Both came from the Asian continent, yet their influence, the wisdom of their lives and their examples of human perfection are now appreciated and recognized all over the world.

I know from my own experience in northeast Thailand, which is rather remote and the poorest part of Thailand, that Master Ajahn Chah was very small in stature but enormous in influence. He had an impact both on the country of Thailand and on Western people who came to Thailand to study with him. His fame spread through to American, European countries and to various places in Asia. For me, the experience with him was an opportunity to see a human being actually living very wise ways- a very happy, joyful human being. He was not someone that seemed to be suffering, and yet he was experiencing the same conditions, the same things that I was.  

 ~ To be continued    


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