2016年8月4日星期四

Peacock and Swan

Wandering is one way in which Dhamma was spread throughout India and beyond by Bhikkhus. They do not have many possessions, unlike householders who must have a lot of things, so they can come and go easily. The Buddha compared the Bhikkhu to a swan, a bird that is plain and unadorned but capable of flying very far and strongly. The layperson is compared to the peacock, beautiful but burdened by its beauty and therefore slow and unable to fly long distances. It is for this reason that Dhamma was spread far and wide mostly by Bhikkhus. It is very rare to read of a layman or woman propagating the Dhamma in distant lands for usually they would have their families to look after. Of course, there have always been learned lay Buddhists, and those who have been able to practise meditation deeply, but they have rarely travelled far. Their influence was usually limited to their own towns or villages where they would be foremost among the supporters of the local Teacher-monks and leaders of the lay Buddhist community.

Banner of the Arahants:
Buddhist Monks and Nuns from the Buddha's time till now

2016年4月7日星期四

The Satipatthana Sutta

The Satipatthana Sutta, the Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness, is generally regarded as the canonical Buddhist text with the fullest instructions on the system of meditation unique to the Buddha's own dispensation. The practice of Satipatthana meditation centers on the methodical cultivation of one simple mental faculty readily available to all of us at any moment. This is the faculty of mindfulness, the capacity for attending to the content of our experience as it becomes manifest in the immediate present. What the Buddha shows in the sutta is the tremendous, but generally hidden, power inherent in this simple mental function, a power that can unfold all the mind's potentials culminating in final deliverance from suffering.

To exercise this power, however, mindfulness must be systematically cultivated, and the sutta shows exactly how this is to be done. The key to the practice is to combine energy, mindfulness, and clear comprehension in attending to the phenomena of mind and body summed up in the "four arousings of mindfulness": body, feelings, consciousness, and mental objects. Most contemporary meditation teachers explain Satipatthana meditation as a means for generating insight (vipassana). While this is certainly a valid claim, we should also recognize that satipatthana meditation also generates concentration (samadhi). Unlike the forms of meditation which cultivate concentration and insight sequentially, Satipatthana brings both these faculties into being together, though naturally, in the actual process of development, concentration will have to gain a certain degree of stability before insight can exercise its penetrating function. In Satipatthana, the act of attending to each occasion of experience as it occurs in the moment fixes the mind firmly on the object. The continuous attention to the object, even when the object itself is constantly changing, stabilizes the mind in concentration, while the observation of the object in terms of its qualities and characteristics brings into being the insight knowledges.

Bhikkhu Bodhi
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/soma/wayof.html#msg

2016年3月11日星期五

河流、此岸和彼岸

佛陀說法時會用到很多比喻,讓人們能夠容易掌握佛教的教義。例如佛陀會使用河流、此岸和彼岸等來形容修習的境界和目標。Bhante Shravasti DhammikaNature and the Environment in Early Budddhism提到這可能與佛陀生活的印度環境有關。

Some of the rivers that flow through the Ganges plain are two, three or even more kilometers wide. When the Buddha and the monks and nuns who were accompanying him on his sojourns arrived at a river, they would often have to look for a boat or other craft or try to make a raft out of reeds and branches in order to get across (D.II,89; M.I,135-6). So for the Buddha, who spent much of his life traversing the country, rivers were, more than anything else, a challenging obstacle. It is not surprising, therefore, that he often used rivers and things associated with them as metaphors for the spiritual quest and its goal. He called the ordinary worldly state ‘this bank’ (ora) and Nirvana ‘the further bank’ (pāra). He named the first stage of enlightenment ‘entering the stream’, which would be a preliminary to swimming across a river. Attitudinal and emotional negativities like greed, hatred and desire were ‘torrents’ or ‘floods’ (ogha) that could sweep one away. He said of a monk who studied the Dhamma diligently that he is ‘one who knows a ford’ (titthaṃ jānāti, M.I,221). The cowherd Nanda assured the Buddha of his determination and ability to be a good monk by saying: ‘Lord, I will not get stuck on this bank nor will I get stranded on the far bank. I shall not sink in midstream and I shall not run aground on a sandbar. May the Lord accept me as a monk’ (S.IV,181). In one of his most famous similes the Buddha likened his teachings to an improvised raft, which, after it had been used, could be abandoned; the idea being that even something as precious as the freedom-giving Dhamma should not be clung to (M.I,136). Every time wayfaring monks or nuns found their progress blocked by a great river sliding silently along, or a simple cowherd like Nanda took his animals down to a river to drink, they would have been reminded of some aspect of the Buddha’s teaching.

資料來源:Depiction of Nature in the Pāḷi Tipiṭaka