修行開悟需要善知識

比丘恆順 講於2012年4月25日星期三晚 萬佛城大殿  A talk given by Bhikshu Heng Shun on April 25 (Wed), 2012 at Buddha Hall of CTTB

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我想我們大家都很有福報,有機會得到上人成為我們的善知識。善知識這個詞是來自梵文,梵文是 kalyānamitra。你可以翻譯成一個好朋友,或者是一個好老師。在《華嚴經》最後一品即「入法界品」,就講了善財童子參訪五十五個善知識。

另外,阿難尊者有一次跟佛陀說:「我發現我們從修行到開悟這條路,一半的條件就是要找善友。」佛陀回答他:「阿難,這樣不對!真正要走開悟這條路,是百分之一百要有善友,要有好老師。」所以,如果要走開悟這條路,有善友是非常需要的。

那麼,善財童子一開始去找不同的老師的時候,文殊師利菩薩就告訴他:「如果你要去找一切智智〈就是成佛〉,一定要從找一個好老師開始。當你找這個老師,這個善知識的時候,你不能生疲倦心。你要老實地跟著他所說的方法,你也不能批評他用的善巧方便。」

(原經文為: 善男子。若欲成就一切智智。應決定求真善知識。善男子。求善知識勿生疲懈。見善知識勿生厭足。於善知識所有教誨皆應隨順。於善知識善巧方便勿見過失。)

上人就是我們的善知識,他設計一些方法讓我們可以修行,其中一個方法就是我們這個「萬佛寶懺」。他設計這些修行法門的時候,應該說是為了在西方這邊有佛法。但是有些人可能會說:「哎!這些修行法門,可能對西方人或者美國人不適合,特別是現代的美國人啊!」

但是我發現:上人是真正知道什麼是好的方法--他真的是找對的時候、對的地點,並根據當地的文化來教化眾生。所以我想,如果我們要從長期來看,從整體來看,以及過一陣子就慢慢地會發現:上人所設定的這些修行方法,會在美國比較能被接受。所以我想這個應該是有比較特別的智慧,才可以從長遠地來看清楚,用什麼修行方式西方人會真的可以接受。所以我們很幸運,因為我們很有福報--我們在這個時候,有這樣子一個機會可以這樣子接近佛法,可以這樣子修行,在世界上很少有這樣子的修行方法。

現在我要講一個懺悔改過的故事,這是我最喜歡的故事之一。我已讀了很多次,在過去多年以來,我對男校學生也講了很多次。這就是恒具法師跟恒由法師--兩個美國的比丘,1973年三步一拜,從三藩市到西雅圖(華盛頓州)的故事。但是可能有很多人不知道,他們拜了一半的時候非常困難,因為天氣的問題,有的時候他們也沒有地方可以住,因此他們自己有一個帳篷,晚上就在帳篷裡面睡覺。但是這個時候真的天氣不好,環境也很困難,他們真的感覺很困難。

所以恒具法師就拜得特別快,就走得特別快,想要盡快可以拜完。那個時候他晚上也常住在居士家,因為外面的天氣真的不是很好。這個時候他拜得很快,因為真的感覺受不了了,所以每一步都走得特別大,拜得特別快。那個時候恒具法師受不了了,所以他常常對恒由比丘發脾氣,很生氣,那個時候真的是很痛苦。你只要看一看就會發現,他們真的是拜得很快,因為他們拜的這個距離(從三藩市到西雅圖),只用了10~11個月。

因此,當他們快要到目的地的時候,大概還有幾天就要到目的地時,有些人請他們去一個小超市,結果就有情況發生了。到這個小超市的時候,恒具法師就看到有很多人在走來走去,可能因為他們兩個人很出名的原因吧!因為報紙上、電視上都講到他們三步一拜的事。

這時候,他看到一個矮矮的老頭子,留著鬍子,戴著眼鏡,他講話時好像每個人都知道。他開了一輛 pick-up 車(小貨車),車裡有兩條狗,他的意思好像是要將這兩條狗送人的樣子。這個矮矮的老頭子就走到恒具法師的前面--恒具法師是很高個子的,大約有六英尺兩英寸--他就走到恒具法師前面說:「你是一個佛教徒嗎?」你知道,這個時候是1974年8月,那個時候(在美國)的佛教裡面沒有很多比丘的,真的是不多。恒具法師穿著他的袈裟,那個時候,恒由法師可能已經拜到前面去了,他沒有在這邊停留。

當這個老頭子問的時候,他並不是生氣或是想跟他爭論,他就只是很自然、很自在地這樣問他:「哎!你是一個佛教徒嗎?」恒具法師覺得很驚訝,就回答說:「對,我是佛教徒啊!」這個老頭子就跟恒具法師說:「那你要不要知道佛陀用英文怎麼教佛法的呢?就是用很直白的英文來跟你講的?」那個時候,恒具法師不知道應該怎麼回答。他自己就想:哇!這傢伙是從哪裡來的?我該如何回答呢?如果我說不要聽他的,這樣好像不客氣、不禮貌;如果我說要,又像我不知道,那必定很尷尬。於是恒具法師就說:「好啊,請告訴我,佛陀要怎麼樣子教呢?」

這個老頭子就說:「佛陀教大家要慈悲。佛陀說我們不要互相這樣子打來打去,但是大部分的人不要買這個東西,或者不接受這個教誨。」那個時候恒具法師就有點想要跟那個人爭論,他就問:「那要買什麼東西呢?」因為剛剛那個人說到慈悲時說「大部分人都不買這個東西」。那個老頭子就笑著說:「佛所教導的東西啊!我想你還沒有完全是一個佛教徒。」

這時候恒具法師就說:「我沒有說我是圓滿的啊!」就想要跟老頭子爭論。可是那個老頭子就走得更近了,就看著他的面孔。當他看著的時候,恒具法師一下子,在心裡就想到在這一個禮拜裡,自己對恒由法師真的是常常會發脾氣,很不高興,對他不好。

所以這個老頭子就對他說:「佛陀教導要慈悲,你真的需要比較慈悲。」然後他把他的眼鏡拿下來,就很近距離地看著恒具法師,這讓恒具法師感覺有點沒有面子,但也不知道應該說什麼了。然後老頭子就說:「我不是你的敵人哪,我是你的好朋友啊!你知道有幾個人能這樣子跟你講話?」那個時候,那個老頭子就這樣看著恒具法師。恒具法師不知道再可以說什麼了,只感覺很沒有面子,因為大家都站著,看著這兩個人在這裡做什麼。

因為也快拜完了,快到目的地了,所以他那時候心裡就OK,就又開始拜,一直拜到恒由法師那邊。到了恒由法師那邊,他就跟他道歉,說:「真的是很慚愧,一直對你發脾氣!」所以他真的是從心裡改變了,知道自己做錯了。

老頭子跟恒具法師說:「我不是你的敵人,我是你的朋友。」這話就像是提醒恒具法師,這是我們的善知識,是我們的善友。

下面的話不是我直接從上人那裡聽到的,那個恒具法師告訴我說,當拜完的時候,上人就跟他們說:「雖然你們在拜的時候,你沒有非常圓滿;因為最後你發脾氣啊、拜得很快……。但是因為你們這樣子受苦,所以還是圓滿了這個三步一拜。這位老頭子是文殊師利菩薩,他現身來教你的,他最後現身來教了你一點,所以這個像是感應一樣。」恒具法師告訴我說:「而這兩條狗呢,是文殊師利菩薩的兩隻獅子。」阿彌陀佛!

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The talk was given by Bhikshu Heng Shun on April 25, 2012 at Buddha Hall of CTTB

I was just thinking how fortunate we are to have the Venerable Master as our teacher. In Buddhism we call a good teacher a 善知識 (Shanzhishi). Actually the Chinese is a translation of the Sanskrit word,  “Kalyanamitra”, which literally means “good friend”. In the last chapter of the Avatamsaka Sutra we have the spiritual pilgrimage of the youth Sudhana (literally “Good Wealth”) who visits 55 Kalyanamitras. Each teacher represents a successive level of enlightenment on the Bodhisattva path. The Venerable Ananda once asked the Buddha, “World Honored One, I think 50 percent of practicing the path to enlightenment is having good friends.” The Buddha told the Venerable Ananda,  “You are wrong Ananda. Having good friends is 100% of the path to enlightenment.” So in spiritual cultivation it’s absolutely necessary to have good friends i.e. good teachers. When Sudhana first started his pilgrimage to visit all these teachers on the Bodhisattva path, Manjushri Bodhisattva said to him, “If you wish to seek for all-wisdom (to become a Buddha), you absolutely must seek for a true good teacher, a Kalyanamitra. You must seek for a good teacher without becoming weary or lax. You must try to find a good teacher without ever becoming satiated. You must always comply with the teachings of the good teacher.  And you must never find fault with the skill-in-means of the good teacher.” So the search for Kalyanamitras was the catalyst for Good Wealth’s quest for Enlightenment.

We are very fortunate that Venerable Master, being the good teacher, the Kalyanamitra, had set up these opportunities for us to cultivate, like the Repentance Before the Ten Thousand Buddhas. Some people say that maybe some Americans don’t really like to practice these types of Dharmas or perhaps that are not appropriate for people in modernAmerica.  However, the Venerable Master, being the enlightened good teacher is someone who knows what’s appropriate for a specific place and time in a particular culture. I’m sure that, as time goes by, these practices that the Venerable Master has established will become widely accepted in our American culture. The true Kalyanamitra has a special kind of wisdom to know what’s appropriate and long lasting in terms of the Buddhist teachings inAmerica. We are very fortunate to be able to practice these things at a time when very few people in the world actually have these opportunities.

Now, I’m going to tell one of my favorite stories.  It is a story about repentance and reform.  I’ve read I’ve told this story many times to the students in theBoysSchoolover the years. Just like the Master’s lectures that we listen to every evening. Although we may have heard them several times already, we do not grow weary of hearing the Buddha-Dharma. That’s the proper attitude.

So this story is about the first Three Steps, One Bow pilgrimage by Heng Ju and Heng You. Many people don’t realize how difficult this bowing pilgrimage fromSan FranciscotoSeattlewas for Heng Ju and Heng You. They just had a tent to sleep in at night. When there was bad weather is was very hard to get a good night’s rest. Near the latter part of the bowing pilgrimage, when the weather was bad, it was so hard to bear that they often ended up sleeping in people’s houses at night.

During this time, when it was getting unbearably difficult for Heng Ju, he still stuck with the practice and kept bowing. However, Heng Ju would often get mad at Heng You. It took them about ten to eleven months to finish the pilgrimage fromSan FranciscotoSeattle. So at the very end of Heng Ju’s bowing pilgrimage, just a few days before they actually finished, they reached this place outside ofSeattle. Some people following the pilgrimage in the local newspapers and television had invited Heng Ju and Heng You to their general store, which sold all kinds of different products in addition to having a gas station.

A footnote to this story is that, because of the experience that Heng Ju and Heng You had with not having a proper shelter to stay in at night (particularly when there was bad weather), when Dharma Master Heng Shr and Marty did their bowing pilgrimage they decided to bring a station wagon that they could stay in at night. That made a great difference for them. However, getting back to the story. Heng Ju is bowing and he goes up to this general store. He sees all these people milling around wanting to see him. They had heard about his pilgrimage from the local newspaper and TV. There were probably 50 or more people waiting to see him. Then Heng Ju noticed a short old man with a white beard and glasses.  He acted like he knew everybody, and he was driving a pick-up truck with a makeshift trailer, a home-made trailer, on the back. He had two dogs, and as far as Heng Ju could tell, it looked like he was trying to give away these two dogs. So all of a sudden, this short old man (Heng Ju is pretty tall, about 6-foot-2) comes right up to Heng Ju. Remember, this was 1974, and Heng Ju was wearing Buddhist monastic robes. Heng You had bowed a little ahead of him and didn’t stop at the store. There was not a lot of Buddhist monks inAmericaat that time in 1974. Even though that was the case, this man comes right up to Heng Ju and says, “Do you call yourself a Buddhist?” Heng Ju noticed that this man was totally calm and relaxed. He wasn’t trying to challenge him. He just looks up at Heng Ju and says, “Do you call yourself a Buddhist?”

Heng Ju was surprised at this. He replied, “Why, yes.”  And the short little man then said, “Do you want to know what the Buddha taught in plain English?” Now Heng Ju was even more taken aback. He thought to himself, “Wow! Where is this guy coming from? How should I answer this? If I say no, that would be rude. If I say yes, it’s like I don’t know and that would be embarrassing.” So he was caught in a dilemma. Finally, Heng Ju said, “What did the Buddha teach?”  And the man told him, “The Buddha taught compassion. The Buddha said we should stop knocking each other around, but most people don’t’ buy it.”

So then Heng Ju got defensive, and said, “Buy what?”  The old man responded, “What the Buddha taught,” he kind of laughed, “I don’t think you are a complete convert to Buddhism.”

Heng Ju was now getting very nervous and said, “I didn’t say I was perfect.” The little man paused and moved closer, then looked right into Heng Ju’s eyes.Heng Ju’s mind started flashing all the memories of how he would get angry with Heng You.  These events just started going through his mind as this man looked at him. The old man then said, “The Buddha taught compassion. Be more compassionate.”  Then he took off his glasses, and I could just imagine how the little man is probably as short as me and Heng Ju is almost a foot taller than him. So he takes off his glasses, puts his face about one foot away from Heng Ju’s, and he says, “I’m not your enemy. I’m your friend. How many people do you know who would talk to you like this?”

Now remember that during this entire encounter there are all these people watching in what must have been sort of stunned silence. Heng Ju was at the very end of his long, arduous pilgrimage and all of sudden he meets this rather extraordinary old man. Heng Ju thought, “Wow! This person can see right through me.” Finally Heng Ju, who was left speechless, just started to bow again. As all the people watched, he bowed away from the general store. When he caught up with Heng You, he told him what had just happened. He felt very ashamed that he had gotten angry with Heng You. This unusual old man who told Heng Ju “I’m your friend” reminds us of the good friend, the Kalyanamitra. The attitude of repentance that Heng Ju had at that time, is the same attitude that we should have as we do the Repentance Before the Ten Thousand Buddhas.   Heng Ju felt very repentant and ashamed of his behavior towards Heng You. He was very sorry that this had occurred.

Although I didn’t hear the Venerable Master say this, Heng Ju told me much later that the Venerable Master told him that the old man was actually a manifestation of Manjushri Bodhisattva.  Although he didn’t do as well as he wanted during the bowing pilgrimage, yet he was still able to stick with it and complete it, despite the many difficulties and hardships. So in response to his bowing, Manjushri Bodhisattva appeared to him and taught him an extremely important lesson about the Buddha’s teachings on compassion. I think Heng Ju told me that the two dogs were Manjushri’s lions, but I’m not 100% sure about that.

Amitofo!

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