Lisa Liang講於2016年9月16日星期五晚 萬佛城大殿

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Buddhas, bodhissatvas, venerable master, dharma masters, and dharma friends. Amitabha….my name is Lisa……tonight I will share some of my thoughts on a particular line in the Vajra Sutra that stood out to me.  The line goes “All marks are empty and false” Speaking up here tonight helped me stop and reflect on my cultivation. With all the things going on, work and study, I have been taking every situation and moment for granted and everything passes by so quickly that I hardly get the time to reflect but this talk actually helped me see how I am doing in cultivation and the things that happen in daily life.

諸佛菩薩,宣公上人各位法師, 各位善知識阿彌陀佛!我的名字是 Lisa,今天晚上我要分享的是金剛經裏面對我來說比較特別的一句“凡所有相,皆是虛妄。”今天在這裏講法讓我在修行的道路上反思。因爲有許多事情,常常我都把每件事都當成理所當然,而且時間過得太快,我常常都沒有時間反思, 但這一次的講法讓我看到了我的修行進度,和反思一些日常生活裏發生的事件。

The Vajra Sutra maintains that all marks are empty and false. This line speaks directly to an issue of attachment that I’ve been aware of in my cultivation. It’s not that I let go of everything at this very moment. I am not there in my cultivation to see that all marks are empty and false, but I believe that marks are a marker for cultivation. A saying goes “We have lost our minds.” Indeed, we have lost our prajña mind and take up the false mind to be true and real. Our false mind is always thinking about the pursuit of comfort, material gains, and sentimentality.  Therefore, we habitually attaches to these physical and mental objects that encompass our mind. The sutra calls these physical and mental objects as marks.  These marks create a self and our attachment to them makes our mind narrow and limited, and its natural function, prajña, is lost. In order for us to eliminate our attachments, the Vajra Sutra guides us to practice “seeing marks as empty and false” so that we can use our prajña mind, which is imbued with expansiveness and good will, in our daily life. Essentially, the practice of “seeing marks as empty and false” means to live without being attached to or limited by marks.


Prajña is not somewhere in another dimension. When marks are false and empty, it is not that we shut ourselves in a room and forget about the world. Consider to close your eyes, block your ears, taste nothing, smell nothing, and touch nothing. What would you be doing? You would still be doing something because there is one thing that cannot stop and that is thinking. You were probably thinking about things that you had seen, tasted, smelled, or touched in the past. It’s important to understand that if you were to cultivate with no thought of others, indeed no thought of living beings, then things will still stay the same and you wouldn’t be able to improve your mind in that way. In truth, marks themselves are not obstacles. If you were aware of the things that you encounter, you will see that every encounter is an opportunity to use your prajña mind to improve and change your thoughts with respect to certain attachments. Therefore, prajña is accessible right here, right now.

般若不是在另一個時空。一切相都是無實的意思,不代表是把自己關在房間裏而忘卻世界;就算你把眼睛閉起來,把耳朵封起來, 嘗不到味道,聞不到,也摸不到,但那是你在做什麼呢?你一定會在打妄想,因爲有一件事停不了的,那就是妄想。你一定會想到你以前看過,吃過,聞過,或摸過什麼。懂得在修行時心中無雜念是很重要的,的確,如果人沒有了思想,他就不會改進,會停滯不前,而這個人就沒有辦法精進自己的修行。事實上,相本身不是障礙。如果你意識到你所有遇到的事情都是你的機會去運用般若心去改進改善你的思想,並對一些特殊的執著有特別的認識,那麼,般若就在眼前。

At home is where I see how my cultivation improved or did not improve. Whenever I get to see my family, I think about the happy times and how blessed I am that I have such a loving home. However, that is not reality except wishful thinking. When I am home, I always meet up with acidity and anger. In most conversations, my righteous thoughts seem to dominate or win out. This summer, I saw how I was affected by my own emotional attachments, my own interests, of trying to control, and wanting them to change their views on how they perceive me and how they perceive life.


I was so attached to my family that I had a lot of expectations and concern that affected the way I interact with them. I wanted to leave the house and I did. I took all my thing and left.  I was out there on the streets with not a lot of money and no where else to go. I stopped at a nearby Starbucks. I sat there until it was closing. After 10 pm, I went back into my car and slept. The next day I was hungry to the point that I had the thought of begging people for food. I was tired and no where to go.


I sat on the streets and I looked like a homeless person. People started to give me stares and a few passbyers actually shouted at me. I wanted to cry. I got up and I walked for about 12 miles looking for bottles and cans until I was able to collect $1.50 so I can get a bagel to eat at the local Starbucks. My feet ached and I was out of energy. I only collected about 50 cents. It was already 6 pm and I did not have any food for the past 26 hours. The heat was also wearing me out. I could pass out any minute. It was until that point when I thought about putting my myself in danger, of being out on the streets, of letting my body starve, of letting my parents worry about me, that I had to get some food as soon as possible.


I asked a stranger if he could spare me $1.00 and get his number so that I could pay him back the next time. He was kind to offer me $1.00 so that I could get a bagel. We also had a really good conversation about what I was doing and why I was on the streets. He told me that the worst thing that I could do as a daughter is to disappoint my parents and cause them to feel neglected. From that point, I was shocked. I wanted to cry. I was on my own and all my life I had depended on them for food, shelter, and everything else that meet my needs. Then out of my own needs, I tried to put myself in danger. I felt guilty. I wanted to go home so badly but on the other hand, I was full of resentment.  So I still  to continue and try this as an experiment–to live on the streets and support myself without the help of my parents—so I gave my parents a call and told them that I was okay.  I will home in 4 days.


The third day, again I tried to collect money to feed myself. I was lucky enough to make $3.00. I went to Big Lots and see what I could get with $3.00. I had to look around the store and find the cheapest item to get. I saw box of fruit roll ups for 50 cents. The quantity was quite plentiful so that was a done deal for me. For $3.00 I could buy 6 boxes of Organic fruit roll ups. That 6 boxes could last me for the whole day. I was quite happy that I have food.  I bought some fruit roll ups and and I went to the park to enjoy.


At the park, a little girl and boy came over to me and ask if I was selling them. I said no because they were my lunch. They sighed and grieved. I offered them two and then an idea sparked me. I could sell these and make some money. In fact, I did sold them. I sold each piece for 25 cents. There was 10 pieces one box so I made $2.25 each box, that makes a $1.75 cents earning. At the end of the day, I made $7.25. I used 1.25 to buy myself a bagel again for dinner and I was left with $6.00. I went back into Big Lots and I bought two packs of water bottles.


There were 6 big bottles in each pack. I slept in my car filled with joy because I had a money to support myself. The next day, the business starts to grow. I sold the cold water for $1 each and now I had $12. Overall I was living on $1.25 a day eating just a bagel and gallons of water. I was very lucky that people actually wanted to buy water from me. They even told me that I had made their day because the heat was incredibly excruciating.

每一箱有6瓶水。當我回到車裏睡覺時我很開心,因為我可以自給自足了。第二天我看到了商機。我賣了每瓶水1美元,現在我有12元了。總體來說我每天花費1.25 美元靠的就是 一個硬面包 一加侖的水。我是幸運的,因為還有人買我的水。他們甚至告訴我,我的水使他們在這高溫下涼爽。

On the fifth day, I got tired. I was about to go home. I was tired of bagels.  I was tired of people looking down on me. I was tired of thinking about selling. What if no one buys them? I was so tired of what I was doing. I went back into my car and meditated. When I got out of meditation, I wanted things to be the way I want it so badly. I want to stop relying on my parents. Eventually I cannot rely on my parents anymore. They will die and I have to be on my own. Through that experience, I learned that I needed this trouble in my cultivation in order to see that I am still full of big self and attachments. I even caused more trouble than before. I created a new set of conditions instead of working out my present conditions with them. Master Hua calls this putting a head on top of another head. This is also like putting whipped cream on top of butter. But I learned that I can’t get away from the current conditions. I have to work it out by seeing the attachment and sentimentality that arise in our ordinary human experience. See them for what they are.


As stated in the sutra, Bodhisattvas who is not attached is said to have light. Therefore, one who wishes to see things clearly, Buddha told Subhuti, has to become a Bodhisattva. The light is comparable to, the natural function of our mind, prajña. The next time I visit home, I will listen to their needs and engage them at their level of marks, instead of imposing my own self and interests onto them. Overall, human beings amidst world things and ordinary human problems (marks) are meant to pave the way in order to achieve progress in cultivation.


Marks, far from being obstacles to prajna, provide a means to realize it. So it is not a question between marks versus prajna but that trying to understand the one leads you to the other and they are not separate. This is similar to bodhi is afflictions and afflictions are bodhi. They are not two since afflictions changes into bodhi then one is detached from marks and bodhi changes into afflictions when one is attached to marks.  When the clouds are cleared, the ever-shining sun, our genuine prajna, manifests. Even when when see an attractive person or things of value, appear in front of us, we can see how how our minds are trying to fill up that space with those objects. That limitation prevents our mind to create a space for it to see them for what they are. When we actually practice watching and guarding our minds through the practice of “seeing marks as they are”, only then will our prajna manifests.


Not only that we eliminate attachments to help ourselves, but we can then help sentient beings no longer trapped in their own self and its imagined needs.  Moreover, the Vajra Sutra says that in order for prajña, our light, to manifest, we have to become Bodhisattvas.  After all we still live amidst marks, it is only a matter of how much or less attachments we have. If we are able to eliminate some, the mind expands that much. Attachment gets less stronger, self gets smaller, and problems decrease.

我們放下執著不只為了幫助自己,也可以幫助眾生不再困在自己還有虛假的要求。還有一點就是,金剛經提到成菩薩能讓我們散發般若之光。總的來說,我們還是會著相,只是多或少而已。 如果我們可以放下這些,我們的內心也可以伸張,放下執著越多,自我就越小,然後問題就會減少。

After this talk, I believe that I am strong enough to begin the process of watching my feelings and reactions constantly so that transformation can begin. I will not see every situation and moment lightly because each situation is an opportunity to learn and cultivate. Time is actually running so it is what we make of it…

今晚講法結束後, 我相信自己有能力開始監護自己的感覺與反應, 這樣我才能有所改變。 每一瞬間都會是一個能讓我學習和修行的機會,所以我重視每一個機會。時間每時每刻都在過,只是看我們怎麼利用而已。