时间:2018.01.11     字体:     分享到:

Lifeboat on the Ocean


It is very rare and precious to obtain a human existence, and many Buddhist scriptures contain elaborate explanations and allegories regarding this point. Among all the different kinds of human lives, there is one kind that is especially rare, namely the human life endowed with the freedoms and advantages necessary to practice the Dharma. This kind of human life is especially precious, like a wish-fulfilling jewel. Without this kind of human life, it is impossible to practice the Dharma and attain liberation.


We often look like we really want liberation, but there aren’t that many people who can explain clearly what it means to have a human life with the necessary freedoms and advantages, so it’s very clear that our actions and our ideals are in opposition. If we have a precious human life, but we don’t achieve liberation and we don’t do anything for other sentient beings, then we’re just bums hanging around in spiritual circles, and the future will only be more painful and sad.


As long as someone is kind-hearted, their first aspirations are the best, but the hardest to maintain. There’s a certain situation that often occurs in spiritual practice, and it’s that many people have a lot of faith when they first take refuge, and their minds are pure, but then afterwards when they have rich experience and knowledge it causes a psychological change, like a chemical reaction that overcomes the mind. They have more judgmental thoughts and more deeply entrenched heretical views, and they are more confident using their own sensory experiences to judge and critique the bodhisattvas and sages, and this kind of transgression is really terrifying! This deserves to be reflected upon by each and every one of us.


From the biographies of the sages who have attained spiritual achievement, we can see that the teachers’ guidance and one’s own efforts are of equal importance. We are all always saying that “human life is like a dream, there is no need to be attached to transitory suffering and pleasure”, and yet we’re always striving to perpetuate the karma of Samsara, and we’re always abandoning the practices that would benefit us in the next life. If we don’t make the effort to strive continually towards our ideals, then the lofty heights to which we aspire will only prove to be nothing more than our own delusions in the end.


We must maintain an unchanging mind of reverence, purity, and joy all along the path to liberation. Even if we occasionally feel affected by fatigue or unreasonable depression, we should make every effort to purify our minds and cause right mindfulness to arise, so that we will not be swallowed whole by confusing illusions. Then we can encourage ourselves to continue striving forward.


To prevent our minds from falling into the trap of wrong views, slander, or attachment, we must rely on the instruction of the sutras or the Guru. If our faith increases and we have respect for the law of karma and become more compassionate towards sentient beings, then this is the greatest merit. There is no other liberation apart from bringing about a change in our own minds.


All kinds of positive actions, such as the threefold practices of study, contemplation and meditation, or being vegetarian and freeing animals from human slaughter, are all skillful means helping us be free from fixations and afflictions. The process of breaking through these obstacles,from the coarse obstacle of afflictions to the finest obstacles to Jnana (obstructions to omniscience), is the entirety of the Five Paths and Ten Grounds.


The following eight conditions are all obstacles to hearing and practicing the Buddhadharma, and they bring our bodies and minds constant suffering, so that we have no time to consider the Dharma:


Falling into the hell realms


There are altogether eighteen hell realms, including the Eight Hot Hells, the Eight Cold Hells, the Neighboring Hells, and the Isolated Hells. Beings reborn in hell are constantly tormented by intense pain, so they are definitely unable to hear and practice the Dharma, let alone get liberated.


Being reborn as a hungry preta


The pretas have grotesque appearances and suffer from unbearable hunger and thirst. They are busy searching for food all day long, however, due to karmic retribution caused by their past negative actions, whatever they swallow turns into scorching flames. If one is reborn as a preta then they have no opportunity to practice the Buddhadharma.


Being reborn as an animal


Beings born as non-human animals are continually oppressed by slavery and slaughter inflicted by human beings, or they suffer attacks from other animals, and they are mentally unable to comprehend language and teachings. Therefore they are unable to study the Buddhadharma, and it’s very hard for them to attain liberation.


Living in the border regions


If one lives in a region where the Buddhadharma is unknown, then they might be continually engaged in activities not in accordance with the Dharma, or even regarding killing as good, committing evil in all that they do. Many of them fall into lower realms as soon as they die.


Being reborn as a long-lived deva


The long-lived devas are also known as the devas who are absorbed in a state of mental blankness. Beings born in this realm believe that a meditative state devoid of all good and bad mental activities is in itself liberation. They remain in such states of concentration for many asankya kalpa (eons) on end, but when their karma has exhausted itself, they are reborn in the lower realms because of their wrong views. When we meditate, we should bring forth unsurpassed bodhicitta in order to save boundless numbers of sentient beings. With bodhicitta as the foundation, we can pray vigorously to the Guru, the Three Jewels and the teachers of the lineage, then the mind of renunciation will arise. When it is based on bodhicitta and renunciation, then practicing Guru yoga, the five preliminary practices, reciting mantras or reading scriptures are all in accord with the Dharma. This is different from meditative states completely devoid of any and all thoughts, so the result is also different. If one is reborn as a long-lived deva, then one will always be in a state of mental blankness, and when it’s over they will fall into the lower realms.


Those holding wrong views


Followers of other traditions who have no faith in the true Dharma, holding views which are contrary to, and outside, the teaching of the Buddha, such as sassatavada (Eternalist beliefs / Dualism) or ucchedavada (Nihilist beliefs / Reductionism), perhaps even slandering or maligning the Buddhadharma—unwilling to understand or study the Dharma, such people cannot enter the path of liberation.  


Being born in an eon during which no Buddha has appeared


Those born during a dark eon have no opportunity to practice the Dharma because they never even hear of the Three Jewels, and cannot distinguish right from wrong.


Being born severely disabled


Those born deaf and dumb or blind have difficulties listening to the Dharma as well as discussing and practicing it, therefore they cannot tame their mind streams. Those with mental impairments or poor cognitive faculties are also unable to comprehend the teachings and are thus deprived of the opportunity to study and practice the Buddhadharma.


In a living environment full of pressure and afflictions, the only way not to be overwhelmed by the illusions of the world is to rely on the pith instructions of a Guru who is a real practitioner and gradually perfect your own wisdom. If you put more emphasis on visiting tulku masters or making pilgrimages to sacred places than on taming your own inner mind, then no matter how long you practice you won’t be able to advance beyond the mind of an ordinary person. Many people waste a lot of time, money, and effort in their practice, when what you need to do is use what you’ve studied on your own inner mind and let the teachings of the Buddha be infused into your life, then you can really put them to use.


If we are willing to endure the fate of bobbing up and down upon the vast endless ocean of suffering, then it’s as if time has stopped and our situation will never change. But if we chance upon a great boat made from the power of merits and virtues coming to save us, we shouldn’t pass it up lightly. As we traverse the vast ocean of Samsara, there are bound to be violent storms and roaring waves, but if you can just hold tightly to this one and only life raft, then you can sail through the wind and waves and take charge over life and death!


  • 上一条: 当欲望超越了智慧
  • 下一条: “连贯”才叫实修
  • 相关文章