阿彌陀佛就是阿伽陀藥

比丘尼恆教 講於2011年12月20日星期二  萬佛城大殿  A talk given by Bhikshuni Heng Jiao on December 20 (Tuesday), 2011 at Buddha Hall of CTTB

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師父上人、各位法師、各位佛友:阿彌陀佛!這裡是恆教,今天和大家結法緣。三千多年前,釋迦牟尼佛修行六年苦行後而證道。當時佛了悟世間的真理,但他卻一度的猶豫要不要來教導這些真理。為什麼呢? 因為他思維這些真理都非常的深奧而且不可思議,即使佛想要試著教導和解釋,但恐怕世間人還是不容易瞭解並接受這些道理。所以在尚未教導佛法前,佛就曾經一度想入涅槃。

More than three thousand years ago, after Shakyamuni Buddha had practiced six years’ ascetic cultivation, he got enlightened. He realized the true principles in the world, but in the beginning he hesitated to teach these true principles. Why? Because he thought these principles were very deep and inconceivable, and so people might not be able to understand and accept them even if he tried to teach and explain those principles. Therefore, he was at that time intending to enter Nivarna, instead of teaching Dharma.

這個時候,有一位梵天就出現在佛的面前,這位梵天說:「看看這個池中的蓮花,雖然有一些蓮花還在水面下,但也已經有一些蓮花已露出水面上而且開出蓮花了。」眾生的根器就像蓮花一般,有些人或許不能完全明白佛法的道理,但還是有些人能懂得。所以,從那時起,佛就開始對眾生說法。

Just then, a Brahma Heaven god appeared in front of the Buddha, and said “Look at all these lotus flowers in the pool. Although some of them are still under the water, there are others that are out of the water and blossoming.” His meaning was: like lotus flowers, some people might not be able to understand the dharma, but there are other people who will be able to understand it. After that, the Buddha began to teach dharma.

佛陀講經說法四十九年。在佛所說眾多的經典裡,阿彌陀經是很殊勝的ㄧ部經,因為是佛不請自說的。即使像舍利弗尊者具有大智慧也沒能知道來請問這部經典。但是,舍利弗和其他佛的大弟子因善根深厚,聽佛宣揚阿彌陀經之後,都能對阿彌陀佛和其願力所造的極樂淨土而深信不疑。

The Buddha lectured sutras and spoke dharma for forty night years. The Buddha Speaks of Amitabha Sutra is very unique among the many other sutras, because the Buddha spoke this sutra without formal request. Even his great disciple Shariputra, who had obtained superior wisdom, still did not know how to ask for the Sutra. However, like many other great disciples, Shariputra and others who had deep good roots were able to build strong faith in Amitabha and his creation of the land of ultimate bliss right after they heard the Amitabha Sutra spoken by the Buddha.

今年也是師父宣公上人來美弘法的第四十九年,那麼明年二零一二年就是第五十週年。 當一九六二年師父來到美國,上人耐心地等待因緣成熟,一直到一九六八年暑假,也就是等了六年後,師父首先對當時來向師父求法的一些大學生開講《楞嚴經》。到了一九六九年秋天,師父就對當時的ㄧ些美籍弟子連續講演阿彌陀經。時間是從十月二十九日到十二月二十五日。講演的地點是三籓市的佛教講堂。

This year is the forty ninth year since the Master came to the U.S.to propagate dharma. Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of his timeless teachings.  After our Master Hua came to the U.S. in the year of 1962, he patiently waited for past causes to ripen and bear their fruit. It took about six years. In the summer of 1968 the Master first lectured on the Surangama Sutra to a group of forty university students. Later, in the fall of 1969, he began to lecture on the Amitabha Sutra, from October 29th  to December 25th  at the Buddhist Lecture Hall inSan Francisco.

我們每天大慨花二十分鐘念完一部《阿彌陀經》,而師父大約花了兩個月的時間才講解完《阿彌陀經》,師父權巧宣說淨土法門的要義,讓在場的美籍弟子能生出信心和誠心來修行淨土法門。也許有些人不覺得特別,因為對許多亞洲國家來人的,多多少少都聽過阿彌陀佛,但對在西方長大的人來說,可以說是前所未聞的。特別是在四十多年前的美國,要能讓在場的美籍弟子能生出信心和誠心來修行淨土法門。又是多麼的不容易!

We spend about twenty minutes to recite the Amitabha sutra, but the Master spent about two months to finish the Amitabha sutra lectures. At that time, the Master delivered a series of lectures to his American disciples, clearly revealing the essence of the Pure Land Doctrine and causing his American listeners to bring forth deep and sincere faith in the practice of the Pure land. Maybe some people do not feel how special it is, because for many of you who come from Asian countries, you have heard of Amitabha more or less; but for the people who grew up in the West, they may never have heard of this before, especially more than forty years ago. So, it was not easy to inspire American listeners to bring forth deep and sincere faith in the practice of the Pure land.

除了教化成人佛法之外,師父也應小朋友的機緣幫助他們來學習佛法。好幾年前有一個六歲的小女孩和媽媽一起來聖城參加夏令營。剛到的第一、第二天,這個小朋友哭得很厲害,她吵著要回臺灣。她的媽媽真的不知道要怎麼辦。隔天早上,這個小朋友反而笑嘻嘻地對著媽媽說,她不想要回家了。媽媽覺得奇怪,怎麼差這麼多,就問她為什麼?小女孩說昨天晚上她夢到師父帶她到一個地方,那裡很漂亮,還有很多蓮花。這個小朋友高興得彷彿去了狄斯耐樂園一樣。

In addition to teaching adults, the Ven. Master also helped youths to learn Buddhism according to each one’s condition.  Many years ago, a six-year-old girl and her mom came to CTTB for summer camp. On the first and second day after their arrival, this girl cried a lot and asked to return toTaiwan. Her mom distressed and did not know how to deal with the situation. On the morning of the next day, this girl looked happy and told her mom that she is no longer thinking to go home. The mom didn’t quite understand, so she asked her daughter, why don’t you want to go home now? The girl said that she had a dream of the Master, and the Master took her to visit a very beautiful land with many lotus flowers. This girl was as happy as if she visitedDisneyLand.

當我親自聽到這位母親講這件事時,我就想也來學習讓小朋友儘早學習佛法。所以我就對著我們家五歲的小朋友來做實驗,我試著對她來形容阿彌陀佛的極樂世界。我當時就想我要怎樣讓她生歡喜心又聽得懂。後來我就對她說,那裡有很多蓮花,什麼顏色都有。另外還有七寶池和八功德水,所噴出來的都是汽水、可樂。我想她當時應該是聽懂了,因為她還問我那裡有沒有「養樂多」。

After hearing this story, I always think I should learn to help young people to learn Buddhism as early as possible. So, I did this experiment on my niece who was five years old at that time. I wondered what I could say to interest and delight her. So, I tried to explain to her that the land of ultimate bliss has many lotus flowers of different colors. And the pools of the seven jewels, filled with the waters of eight meritorious virtues with a fountain that sprinkles all kinds of coca and soda water. I guess she got it, because she asked me if it also sprinkles yogurt drinks.

和佛陀在世的時間相比,也就是三千多年後的今天,我們是何等的慶幸能再聽聞《阿彌陀經》。雖然我們未能直接聽到佛陀的講解,但憑著師父多年留下來的教導和方法,所以今天我們還能在這裡學習和修習彌陀法門。我相信大部分來參加法會的人都對佛在《阿彌陀經》所說有相當的信心。這是一個很可喜的現象。為什麼呢? 因為大家和舍利弗以及佛的諸大弟子一樣,已經有深厚的善根來相信這個不可思議的法。

Compared to the timeline when the Buddha was in the world, more than three thousand years later, we are so fortunate to hear the Sutra again. Although we are not able to hear it from the Buddha directly, with the Master’s teaching and instruction set up many years ago, we are able to be here to study this Sutra and join the dharma assembly. I’m sure most of you who come and attend the assembly believe in what the Buddha said when he spoke the Amitabha Sutra. This is a good sign. Why? It’s because you all have planted the same good roots to deepen your faith in the Amitabha Sutra, like Shariputra and the Buddha’s other great disciples as described in the Sutra.

修禪打坐是參佛心;教宗是宣揚佛所說;律宗是學佛的行徑;而淨土宗則是入佛境。極樂世界是佛的功德所成就的;所成就的是清淨莊嚴的依正二報世界,而娑婆世界則是我們凡夫的業報所應現的;所呈現的是種種的生、老、病、死苦。這些種種的苦就是提醒我們無常的道理。生命是無常的,而死亡卻是恆常不變。就因為生命是有限的,況且能在當生修行成佛更是難得一見,佛教的淨土宗就是來幫助我們凡夫能在生命告一個段落時,還能繼續在佛的國度裡修行、了生死。阿彌陀佛也就是阿伽陀藥。阿伽陀藥又稱不死藥。一句阿彌陀佛就是一帖阿伽陀藥,一千句阿彌陀佛就相當於服用一千帖的不死藥。沒有死就沒有生,沒有生死才可證無生。

Cultivating Chan is to investigate the mind of the Buddha. Studying the teaching school is to propagate the Buddha’s teaching. Practicing Vinaya is to learn Buddha’s conduct.  However, cultivating the pure land dharma door is to enter the state of buddahood. The land of ultimate bliss is accomplished by Amitabha buddha’s meritorious virtues, and what has been accomplished is the pure and adorned world of proper retribution. On the other hand, this Saha world has appeared as retribution for our karma.  It has the sufferings of birth, aging, being ill, and experiencing death. These sufferings are helping us to remind the principle of impermanence.  We all know that life is uncertain, but death is certain. Our lifespans are very limited, and it is even more rare to cultivate and reach buddahood within this short lifespan. The Pure land dharma door is set up to help ordinary people continue their cultivation in the Buddha land after the end of their life, and eventually to end birth and death completely. Recitation of the name, “Amitabha Buddha” is called the medicine agada; agada means “medicine for not dying.” A single recitation of Amitabha Buddha is equivalent to one dose of agada; one thousand recitations of Amitabha Buddha is equivalent to one thousand doses of the “medicine for not dying”. If there is no death, that means there was no birth; without birth and death, one can certify to the state of non-birth.

我們知道相由心生,境隨心轉。我們要入佛境就要用心的力量來長養我們的信力和願力,有了堅定的信願,才能幫助我們行持。所謂的念善生天;念惡入監;念魔成魔;念佛成佛。所以這個心念的力量是很不可思議的。

We know that all characteristics are manifested by the mind, and states are changed according to the power of the mind as well. If we want to enter the state of the Buddha, we have to apply the power of mind to strengthen our faith and vows; and with strong faith and vows, we will be able to enhance our cultivation. There is a saying, “Those who are mindful of what is wholesome will be born in the heavens, those who are mindful of what is evil will be trapped in the jail; those who are mindful of demons will become demons, and those who are mindful of Buddhas will become Buddhas.”  Therefore, the power of mind is very inconceivable.

日本IHM研究所的江本勝博士出版《來自水的訊息》,這是以高速攝影技術來觀察水的結晶體。他們發表了實驗結果,證明用愛語和感謝等的美好訊息,會讓水結晶成美麗的圖形。相反的,用惡心和怨恨等負面的訊息,會出現離散醜陋的形狀。而且無論是文字、聲音、意念等,都帶有訊息的能量。即使國家不同,語言也不同,但是,由於心念的力量,結果能讓三國的文字也都同時呈現出結構相似的結晶體!這也說明了佛教裡的ㄧ切唯心造的道理。

Dr. Emoto from the Japan IHM research center has published a book called The Message from Water. He used a high tech camera to observe the shapes of crystallization of all kinds of water. The team published the final results which proved that the best and most beautiful shapes of crystallization of water are formed by directing kindness, compassion, and appreciation to that particular water. On the other hand, the worst and most ugly shapes of crystallization of water appeared by directing the intention of evil and hatred toward the water.  The report maintains that energy is carried as a message, no matter whether the medium used is writing, spoken sound or thought. Although the water samples are from different counties with different languages, the results are very similar— all shared the similar shapes of crystallization. This scientific discovery also confirms the message in Buddhism, that everything is made from the mind alone.

如果江本勝博士可以得到科學界的肯定的話,那麼我相信佛教裡念佛的力量更是可以有過之而無不及。念佛的功德不是世間一般的語言或智慧所容易理解的,因為這不是凡夫的境界。前面已經提到就如有大智慧的舍利弗等也須靠佛陀的講述才通曉道理。常常幫忙助念的人都注意到念佛的功德是很不可思議的。往生者的面容在助念前和助念後有相當大的差異。這種明顯的差異不需要用顯微鏡來看,用肉眼就可辨識。可見對臨命終人念佛的重要性。相對的,如果我們也能幫助別人往生西方淨土,那也就等於幫助別人成就佛道。

If Dr. Emoto’s theory can be accepted in the scientific community, then I believe, in Buddhism, the power generated by reciting the buddha’s name goes even farther than it does. The meritorious virtues generated by reciting the buddha’s name cannot be understood easily using worldly language or intelligence, because this is not the state of ordinary people. I mentioned earlier that even Shariputa, with his great wisdom, had to depend on Buddha’s lecturing in order to understand thoroughly. If you often help to recite Buddha’s name when someone is passing away, you will notice that there is a significant change in the appearance of the deceased person before the recitation of the buddha’s name and after the Buddha’s name is recited. You can identify such a significant difference with your own eyes, and do not need a microscope.  Therefore, it is important to recite the buddha’s name especially when someone is passing away. Moreover, if we can help others to be born in the land of ultimate bliss, then we are also to helping others to accomplish buddhahood.

因為佛是功德圓、萬德備。阿彌陀佛的願力是平等清淨;普及四生六道、周遍十法界,不但凡夫在念,諸大菩薩也在念佛、念法、念僧。所以極樂世界不僅是聖人的淨土,也是凡夫的歸宿。阿彌陀佛不但能讓凡夫一生成就,更難得的是生生世世都不退轉。能往生淨土而道心永遠不退轉的境界,就是《阿彌陀經》所說的阿鞞跋致。

Since the Buddha has perfected all meritorious virtues, he is replete with the myriad virtuous qualities. Amitabha’s vows are equal and pure. They apply to all four kinds of birth and all six paths of rebirth. They pervade the ten dharma realms. Not only do ordinary beings recite amitabha’s name, all great bodhisattvas are also mindful of the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha.  Therefore, not only is the land of ultimate bliss the land where sages dwell but it is also a home for ordinary beings. Amitabha Buddha does not just help ordinary people reach accomplishment within one single lifespan; in addition, they do not retreat in life after life, which is even harder.  If you can be reborn in the pure land, you will achieve the state of permanent irreversibility in your resolve for the way. This is what the Buddha called becoming avaivartika.

古來大德都勸人念佛。所謂的千條路、萬條路,獨念佛,生淨土。一人修,一人去;萬人修,萬人去。我們現代的人都講求效率,念佛法門就是通往極樂世界的直達快車。最後祝大家在這特別的假期中,法喜充滿。

All the greatly virtuous ancient ones exhorted people to recite the Buddha’s name.  Of all the one thousand paths, or the 10,000 paths, only the path of reciting the Buddha’s name can cause one to be reborn in thePureLand.  Any person who cultivates can go there. If ten thousand people cultivate, those 10,000 people can go there. We contemporary people like efficiency. The Dharma-door of Buddha Recitation is the “fast track” to thePureLand. May you all will be full of Dharma joy throughout the holiday season!

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