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【学佛释疑】何谓佛教? [英文] What is Buddhism?

[外文文稿]  发表时间: 2019-04-03 18:50 点击: [放大字体正常缩小] 关闭
Hello everybody:
Welcome to "The clearing up doubts concerning the teaching of Buddhism in the three vehicles of Bodhi" series by the True Enlightenment Practitioners Association (TEPA). Today, we are presenting the first episode and we will take the occasion to briefly explain why we created these series.
Since 1997 TEPA has been propagating Buddha's Dharma publicly and is renowned in the Buddhist community for the clarity of its teachings. First of all, TEPA presents the teaching of Buddha in a faithful and intact way. In this respect all students in our Association are not only gathering theoretical knowledge, but they are also proving the global reality of Buddha's Dharma. The second characteristic of our teaching is that we are linking together Mahayana and Theravada or, in other words, we are talking about the three vehicles of Buddhism. For example, the liberation principles we teach our students are not only applicable to the liberation doctrine in the Agama sutras, but they are also consistent with Mahayana prajna sutras. This way of teaching which is quite rare in the Buddhist community of today allows us to link together and to present the entire Buddha's Dharma contained in the three vehicles sutras. The third characteristic is that our association is always trying hard to teach Buddha's Dharma in a simple, clear, easy and practical way; therefore, in each book and in every method of Dharma's propagation, we are clearly presenting the cultivation principles in order to allow everyone to put them into practice.
The activities of our association are carried out by a Sangha which is composed of volunteers who took clean Bodhisattva precepts; therefore, the students involved in these activities feel very well and comfortable. Thanks to TEPA's efforts over the past decade to propagate Buddhism, a large number of students could save time and energy as they didn't have to deal alone with the vast number of Buddhist books available. The students who are following our association teachings are usually able to progressively understand and grasp the whole Dharma structure in two to three years. Besides, the students can also learn easy to use and easy to remember methods for meditation. Along the course our students learn why and how to practice in order to attain enlightenment and what is the state of enlightenment and what is to see Buddha-nature. Thanks to these characteristics many people have benefited from this Buddhist course over the last decade.
In order to bring Buddha's Dharma to the attention of the general public, since 2010 TEPA has launched "The three vehicles of Bodhi" series for Universal Culture Television (UCTV). This series is its natural extension aiming at answering doubts about the teaching of Buddhism. Moreover, "Clearing up doubts concerning the teaching of Buddhism" series is especially targeted to general public and beginners, because it is common that people who have just started to learn and practice Dharma still have some doubts. We really hope to be able to use simple and in the same time right words in order to provide proper explanation and analysis to everybody. For that reason, we will look together at the questions which are the most common source of doubts when learning and practising Buddhism.
In this first episode, we will talk with you about what is Buddhism. No doubt that for many of our viewers this may be their first contact with Buddhism and in fact, when hearing for the first time about Buddhism, people often don't even know what Buddhism really means. A day comes when we all think about the meaning of life and ask ourselves questions: why was I born? What am I living for? What will happen after death and so on and so forth - we have doubts, and in these moments when we are trying to perceive this kind of mysteries, it becomes clear that we have affinities with Buddhism.
However, when it comes to Buddhism the general public often is not going deeper than what appears on the surface. For example, when seeing some temples with all kinds of flags and banners in front of them, people can mistakenly think that this probably is Buddhism! Or when going inside such a temple and seeing somebody with relatively unusual clothes or hat and who is, let's say, using a rosary and reciting incantations, we often will think that this is definitely Buddhism! Or even worse, when seeing some divination ritual, Abhiseca ceremony which consists in sprinkling water onto the head, Homa ritual i.e. making offerings into a consecrated fire and so on, or when seeing or hearing Buddhist terms, people could mistakenly believe that all this is Buddhism. In fact, this is only a façade and does not represent Buddhism at all. Or for instance, several decades ago it was often heard about the so-called "to take refuge in religious life" as related to Buddhism. People's idea about this was that when someone, living in the society, was confronted by difficulties which he could not overcome, his best option was to find a place and once he got there to forget all the problems of the mundane world; this is the way in which the general public understood "to take refuge in religious life" several decades ago. At that time many people mistakenly believed that Buddhism was identical to this so-called "to take refuge in religious life" and that Buddhism was a kind of morose religion opposed to life; this was, of course, a misinterpretation.
And today, what other views concerning Buddhism can we come across? Nowadays everyone is convinced that Buddhist groups are some kind of charity organisations. Of course, the good actions performed by such groups help many, many people in need and also improve the public image of Buddhism; therefore, inevitably, most people would think that charity is Buddhism! But we would like to ask those who hold such a view a simple question: if Buddhism is only about charity activities, what is the difference between Buddhism and the Red Cross? In particular, we have witnessed in recent years the spread of the so called "discussion about religion". For instance, take the discussion between representatives of Buddhism and Christianity or of Buddhism and Islam, etc.; actually, they were getting together and then they were debating how to improve society, purify it and so on. If we look at these discussions about religion, we often find out that people would ask: religions are more or less the same, aren't they? Or, in other words, they would think that religion is nothing more than helping others and persuade them to commit good actions! For that reason, today for many people Buddhism looks like this and they will often say that what charity organisations do is more or less Buddhism. However, the truth is that from inside things are very different.
我们要了解什么是佛教,那我们不妨从"佛教"这二个字来看。佛教,什么是佛教呢?我们说佛教就是佛陀的教导。那么 佛陀又是谁呢?
If we want to explain what Buddhism is, it is good to start from the word "Buddhism" itself. So, what is Buddhism ("Buddha" +"-ism")? We say that "Buddhism" is the teaching of Buddha (the Buddha's Dharma). But, actually, who is Buddha?
一般人所知道的 佛陀,其实可能都仅止于把祂视为是跟世间的圣贤,或者是一个伟大的神明,或者把祂比拟为是像基督教、天主教的上帝一样。可是我们深知了佛教的这些菩萨弟子们,往往我们所知道的佛陀的伟大,是远超过众生所能够想象的。比方说,我们所感受到的 佛陀,第一个是:佛陀是大智跟大能。比方说,佛陀在成佛的时候,发起的各式各样的智慧,像比方说大圆镜智、平等性智、妙观察智、成所作智;那这一些的智慧,使得 佛陀因着这个智慧,也具有了无比的能力。所以,佛陀对于每一个众生,他的宿命如何,他的业报是什么,他的因缘是怎么样,他的根器是如何,往往都是完全的掌握的;也因此,佛陀对于每一个众生的教化,都是会采取因材施教的方式,为这个众生作最好的安排;甚至由于完全平等的关系,佛陀也不会对哪一个众生有特别的排斥,反而是每一个众生都一视同仁的,一样都会帮助他,希望他能够在学佛的道路上能够走得很顺。所以,这一些的智慧跟能力,我们在这里没有办法短时间内说得尽的。
Actually, people consider Buddha only as a wise and holy man or as a mighty deity or yet as a god comparable to God in Christianity. However, we who are following the path of Bodhisattva have a deep knowledge of Buddha's greatness which common people cannot even imagine. For instance, our first perception of Buddha is that He has great wisdom and is almighty. At the moment when Buddha attained Buddhahood, He got all kinds of wisdom - for example, the great perfect mirror wisdom (ādarśa-jñāna), the wisdom of equality i.e. no distinction between me and the others (samatā-jñāna), the wisdom of wondrous perception (pratyaveksanā-jñāna), the wisdom of having accomplished what was to be done (krtyānusthāna-jñāna); thanks to all these kinds of wisdom Buddha has abilities beyond compare. Hence Buddha completely knows and understands every living being's destiny and karmic fruits realised, affinities and karmic relations and capacity to learn Dharma. Thus, Buddha is able to adapt his teaching in accordance with each living being's abilities and level of understanding in order to achieve the best results. Thanks to His equal relations with all living beings, Buddha cannot reject particularly any of them. On the contrary, He treats all in same favourable way without any discrimination. This means that Buddha will help all living beings hoping that everyone is able to make progress on the path of Buddhism. We don't have enough time to speak more about His great wisdom and abilities.
不过,佛陀即使有大智慧跟大能力,但 佛陀跟我们说的一神教的上帝有一些根本上的不一样。比方说,佛陀不能够赐给哪一个众生解脱,这个跟一神教里面所有人将来所受的一切都是上帝的赐与,有根本性的差异。在这一点上面,佛陀更像是众生的导师,像是众生伟大的导师;因为佛陀祂的地位就是要牵引众生、教导众生,让众生能够自己学习着解脱,并且终有一天自己迈向成佛;所以,佛陀不能够直接赐给我们解脱。同样的,因为对众生一律平等的关系,所以佛陀也不会选择判定,谁应该上天堂,谁应该下地狱;在真实的佛教的世界观里面,会上天堂或者下地狱,完完全全都是我们自作自受。那佛陀所作的,往往都是在悲愍众生不知道未来会如何走的状况之下,尽量想办法,按照我们所能理解的方式教导我们,让我们能够避免下到三恶道,比方说是避免下地狱。当然,如果我们因为福德很大上了天堂,佛陀也替我们高兴;但是佛陀也会告诉我们,天堂毕竟不是久居之地。这一些的状况,是跟一神教的上帝有很大很大的差别。所以,如果要光是就这些来讲的话,我们说佛陀的伟大跟独特,可以说在我们现在所看到的一切的神明,或者我们现在所看到的一切救世主、上帝等等,都完全的不一样。
But even if Buddha has great wisdom and is almighty, He has nothing to do with the concept of God in Christianity, Islam, etc. For instance, Buddha cannot liberate a living being and this is a fundamental difference compared to the idea in monotheistic religions that people get everything from God. Actually, Buddha is more like a teacher, a great teacher, for all living beings. He wants to motivate people, to teach them, to let them learn by themselves what liberation is, and He wishes that, finally, everyone attains Buddhahood. So, Buddha cannot just offer us our liberation. Also, due to His equal relations with all living beings Buddha cannot judge them and decide who is going to heaven and who is going to hell. Actually, from a Buddhist point of view, going to heaven or to hell completely depends on our own behaviour or in other words, we reap what we sow. Buddha, full of compassion for all living beings who don't know what they should do next, is trying as much as possible to guide us in the most suitable way in order to help us avoid the three evil paths, namely to be reborn in hell, as a hungry ghost or as an animal. Of course, if we have very good fortune and we go to heaven, Buddha will be happy, but He will remind us that we will not stay forever in paradise. All this is quite different from what people think about "God" in monotheistic religions. So, even if we consider only what we discussed above, it is clear that Buddha who is great and unique is completely different from all deities, "saviours" and gods in monotheistic religions who are popular nowadays.
并且,佛陀也不像是现在有一些人讲的,有一些人认为 佛陀只不过是历史上的一个伟人,祂在两千五百年之前诞生,后来出来弘法之后,然后八十几年之后就入于涅槃了,就圆寂了;但实际上,佛也不像这些人所想的,只是一个平凡的世间的圣贤而已。实际上,佛陀的报身现在还常住色究竟天,继续的利乐十方的地上菩萨;佛陀的报身也是常常会在诸界现身,来利益十方的有情众生,所以这个也是跟一般人所看的不太一样。
Moreover, Buddha is different from what some people say today, because they mistakenly believe that Buddha was just a great historical figure born 2500 years ago who propagated Buddhist teachings during more than 80 years and then entered nirvana. But, in reality, He is much more than just another wise and holy man as these people think. In fact, now Budda's Sambhogakāya (physical body) is still located in Akanishta heaven (the highest of the heavens of the Form realm), continuing to give benefits to all Bodhisattvas and sentient beings; actually, Budda's Sambhogakāya often appears in many various places in order to help all sentient beings. His body is quite different from what ordinary people can see.
再过来,我们也顺便要提醒大家,按照 佛陀的开示的话,下一尊成佛的即将就是 弥勒佛。所以,从我们知道现在我们的 释迦牟尼佛之外,下一尊佛就只会是 弥勒佛;从 释迦牟尼佛到 弥勒佛之间,按照正确的佛经解释,中间是没有任何----我们这个娑婆世界是没有任何一尊佛会出现的。所以各位观众,如果您在外面经常听到有许多人号称他已经"成佛"的话,建议您要回头来比对佛经,去看看说这个是不是一个妄语的状况。
We would like to take this occasion to remind you that according to Buddha's own words the next Buddha will be Maitreya Buddha. So, our current Buddha is Buddha Shakyamuni and the next Bodhisattva to become Buddha is Maitreya. According to Buddhist sutras there will not be another Buddha between Buddha Shakyamuni and Buddha Maitreya, no other Buddha will appear in between. In this respect, dear public, if you see or hear that somebody is pretending to have already attained Buddhahood, it is very advisable to go and check in Buddhist sutras whether or not there is the slightest ground for such a claim.
讲完 佛陀之后,我们再来看看 佛陀的教导。我们刚才说到,佛陀就是众生的导师,所以 佛陀的教法就是所谓的佛法。那么这个教导的内容是什么呢?我们可以说基础来讲----佛陀教给大家的基础,比方说,什么是正确的因果观,我们应该怎么样看待这些因果关系;或者我们应该怎么做,怎么做才能保得住人身;或者我们要怎么做才能够有很大的福报,这个是关于五戒十善的一些事情,这是基础。另外,佛陀也教给我们怎么解脱。那当然解脱呢,我们首先要认识什么是烦恼,知道真正烦恼的来源跟它的关键之后,我们才能够进一步的,谈如何减轻烦恼,如何消除烦恼。这个是关于让众生可以自己修行,自己来解脱的部分。那么再上一层的话,佛陀还教给大家怎么样叫作菩提。菩提两个字,给大家一个最直接最直接的解释就是:菩提就是我们在《心经》里面所看到的"不生不灭、不垢不净、不增不减",每一个人本来就具有的清净本心。佛陀在这一方面也教导大家,怎么样才能够找到清净的本心,又怎么样才能够真正的见到佛性,明心见性之后才能够让我们真正的于诸法得自在。所以佛陀的教导,大致上我们可以说,就是包含了以上的这些内容。
Now, after having said some words on Buddha, let's talk about his teaching (Dharma). We have just explained that Buddha is a teacher for all living beings and His teaching is called "Dharma". And what is the content of this Dharma? We can say that it is a base, foundation - Buddha is giving the right base to everyone in order to truly understand the causes and effects. He is explaining how to look on all these karmic relations (causation), or what to do to preserve our human bodies, or yet how to obtain great karmic rewards. These are the five precepts and the ten virtuous actions- they are the basis of all. Moreover, Buddha also teaches us how to liberate ourselves. As regards liberation we need first to understand what vexation is and after having understood its true origin and crucial point, we can move forward and talk about how to lighten vexations and then how to remove them. The purpose of this is to permit living beings to practice Buddhism and to attain liberation by themselves. But if while following this, we can already liberate ourselves, why Buddha also taught everyone something called Bodhi? What is it? We can read the most direct and immediate explanation of what Bodhi is in the Heart Sūtra, namely "Non-Arising, Non-Ceasing, Non-Defiled, Non-Pure, Non-Increasing, Non-Decreasing" or in other words, the peaceful heart that everyone has always possessed. So, Buddha teaches and guides us how to find this peaceful heart, how to truly see the Buddha-nature, and how, after attaining enlightenment and seeing Buddha-nature, to stay calm in front of all dharmas i.e. to keep our calm in all circumstances. This is, in general, the content of Buddha's Dharma.
But is it easy to hear all this in the outside world and to decide whether or not what is often presented as a Buddhist teaching is the real Buddha's Dharma? When it comes to Buddhism we often hear words like, for instance, the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path, the Twelve Nidānas, or we often hear people quoting the Heart Sūtra: "Form does not differ from its empty nature, and its empty nature does not differ from the form. Form is its empty nature and its empty nature is the form". Hearing all this we can say "Yes, these words belong to Buddhism!". But are we sure that they really represent the Buddha's Dharma - maybe we should give it a second thought? Words are nothing more than words. If we want to know if they really express the teaching of Buddha, we need to go deeper in details and understand the profound meaning behind them.
那为了要帮大家更进一步的厘清什么是佛教呢,我们不妨以 佛在当年,佛在最后要入涅槃的时候,给弟子们的训示,我们从这里切入。佛陀给弟子们的训示有两句话:一个是以戒为师;一个是以法为师。一个是戒,一个是法。
So, in order to further clarify the Buddha's Dharma for you we would like to present the instructions which Buddha gave to His disciples just before entering Nirvana. At that time Buddha said two things: "follow the precepts" and "follow the Dharma". So, the first is to respect the rules of behaviour and the second is to follow the teaching of Buddha.
从以戒为师来看,我们就提醒大家,因为佛戒----不管是声闻戒或是菩萨戒,佛所制定的戒法本身就是完全清净的戒法;所以,以戒为师这句话,实际上我们就可以了解到,佛陀一定不希望我们接近任何的怪力乱神的事情;因为,即便是在 佛陀在世的时候,也是严禁弟子在不当的场合任意展现神通。所以,各位观众,如果您碰到了有任何怪力乱神的现象,或者您知道有哪些道场有怪力乱神的这些事件的时候,建议您应该要尽速远离,因为那多半不是佛教。
As regards the precepts, no matter if we talk about Sravakas or Bodhisattvas precepts - they are all formulated by Buddha Him-self and therefore, they are complete and pure. It is clear that "follow the precepts" means that Buddha didn't want us to come close to any supernatural things. Even when Buddha was still in our world, He has strictly prohibited to His disciples to make use of their supernatural powers. So, dear public, if you come across any supernatural phenomenon or "Buddhist" rites related to such supernatural stuff, please, leave as fast as possible because this most likely has nothing to do with Buddhism.
One more thing: a teaching based on the precepts cannot be at any moment opposed to the social morality. In consequence, everybody should pay special attention, because we often hear about cases of sexual abuse under the false pretext of spiritual practices. The reason why such things can happen is because people believe that spiritual practices and religion are more important than the social morality. In this relation, if we base ourselves on the precepts it becomes crystal clear that Buddhism cannot contain anything which goes against the social morality.
Now, let's talk again about charity activities. People believe that these activities are shared by all religions and from this point of view they look more or less the same. Yes, of course, we should do good deeds, it is something a Buddhist does, but charity activities absolutely do not represent the whole Buddhism. Why? The simpler is to remember that Buddha taught Dharmaduring 49 years and then to look in the Buddhist sutras and to check which part of them is dedicated to encourage people to be generous and do good deeds. Actually, if we take all sutras, we will find only one section on generosity and charity activities. Therefore, it is absolute nonsense to pretend that the whole Buddha's Dharma is solely about generosity and good deeds. All this means that just doing good deeds does not represent the whole teaching which we received from Buddha so many years ago. Furthermore, let's consider the six paramitas of the Bodhisattvas: dana (givingor charity) is just one of them and there are five more paramitas to be studied and practiced. So, based on this, it becomes clear that charity activities or good deeds are something we should do, but it is not sufficient and Buddhism is much more than just this.
Now, let's come back to the "follow the Dharma" statement. What we want to share with you all is our hope that everybody will in the first place rely on wisdom and will follow the Buddha's Dharma and not the false interpretations of men. Consequently, it doesn't matter how close to your teacher you are, it doesn't matter how great reputation he has, or how big is your respect for him, what you have to do is to check if his words correspond to what is written in the Buddhist sutras. To see if there is a contradiction between what he is saying and what is written in the Diamond Sutra, in the Heart Sutra or even in the Agama sutras. We are saying all this hoping that everybody will follow Buddha's Dharma and will avoid fallacious teachings and interpretations. As regards the sutras we have just mentioned, since they survived for so long after Buddha left us, we can trust them. However, because of the long period which separates us from the Buddha's time some false sutras could inevitably sneak among them. Therefore, we recommend you to familiarise yourself with the Agama sutras, with the Prajna sutras or yet with the sutras which treat only the Vijnanas like the Lotus Sūtra or the Avataṃsaka Sūtra (in English: the Flower Adornment Sutra). All of these sutras are reliable and their content is correct. Now, we don't have enough time to explain this in detail, but we hope that nobody will touch the scriptures of the so-called "esoteric Buddhism" or Tantra. If, however, someone wants to study these Tantras i.e. Tantric scriptures, please, only read Śūraṅgama Sūtra! Please! If we are capable to rely on Buddhist sutras as a reference then we will be able to analyse and judge according to them without being influenced by the fame of our teacher or our friendship with him. In fact, if we think about the wisdom of the dharmakāya (i.e. our real learning of Buddha's Dharma in order to attain Enlightenment), we will have to go back to Buddha's words i.e. the Buddhist sutras and thoroughly check if our teacher’s words correspond to them.
Finally, we would like to tell you that the whole Buddha's Dharmacontains two paths: the path of Liberation i.e. the way of the Arhats and thepath of Bodhi i.e. the way of the Bodhisattvas. In simple words, on the path ofLiberation we learn how to deal with our vexations and on the path of Bodhi welearn how to attain enlightenment and how to see the Buddha-nature andthereafter how to keep our calm towards all dharmas i.e. stay calm in allcircumstances.
At the very end, let me share with you a little text from "Learning's funnies" by Liang Qichao where he says that it is very nice to bask in the sun during winter, but even if the sunshine is very pleasant, it is you who have to take the sunbath, the others cannot do it instead of you. This is the same like in the well-known Chinese proverb: "if somebody drinks water, only he knows if the water is hot or cold". We, the followers of Buddha, know how helpful the studying of Buddha's Dharma is for our lives. In fact, it will help to improve not only our present life, but even our future lives. This is something which deserves profound reflection. We hope that via this short conference we succeeded to show you how nice the Buddhist teaching is and that all of you will be interested in learning Buddha's Dharma.
This is all for today.
------《三乘菩提之学佛释疑一》  <第01集 何谓佛教?>  正纬老师
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