明、 清以後的佛教徒總以為隱居山林，不問世事，才算修行，以致佛法真理幾乎在世間隱沒消失。幸賴民國以來，有志之土挺身而出，極力闡揚佛陀的弘法精神，雖已逐 漸喚起佛子的偏差觀念，但由於長久以來佛教徒囿於門戶之見，始終無法放開心胸，大步邁進。成立佛光會即是為了帶動佛子一起深入城鄉，關懷群眾，甚至超越國 界，弘化全球，為眾生分擔更多憂苦，為社會承擔更大責任。我們應如何扮演好自己的角色呢？在此提出八點建議供大家參考：
佛 教的慈悲之所以崇高偉大，是希望人人都來做同體的慈悲人，即我對你慈悲，不是因為我尊你卑、我有你無、我富你窮、我大你小，而是基於萬物一體、自他不二的 理念來奉行「無緣大慈，同體大悲」的平等思想。像佛教裡比丘護鵝、割肉餵鷹、龍身餵蟻、貧女一燈等故事中的主人翁，他們並沒有顧到自己能力的多寡，只是一 心想要對方好，甚至為了照亮一切眾生，不惜奉獻身命財物；而睒子的愛護大地，林逋的梅妻鶴子更是將自己融入山河萬物之中，不見慈悲之相了。
(三) 做一個明理的智慧人：知識發達、物質豐富之後，現代人的精神生活不但未見提升，反而經常在焦慮、憂愁中翻雲覆雨，最根本的原因就在於自己不明事理，甚至被 外在的知識困惑成「癡」。由於心頭常被無明烏雲覆蓋，不能顯發清淨自在的般若智慧，自然痛苦連連。但是「公說公有理，婆說婆有理」，什麼才是真正的理呢？ 真理並不是基於某一個人的主張，而應該具有平等性、普遍性、必然性，必須經由大家來共同認定。三藏十二部經闡述了許多世間的真理，但畢竟是標月之指，我們 必須起觀修行，才能領悟世間的實相。《壇經》云；「一切般若智，皆從自性而生，不從外入。」所以，要做一個明理的智慧人，不但必須勤讀經典，更重要的是， 要思惟法義，如理實踐，反觀自照。
忍耐並不只是罵不還口、打不還手，這都是消極的忍耐，我們要進一步做到忍寒、忍餓、忍勞、忍怨、忍衰、忍謗、忍苦，甚至忍利、忍名、忍樂、忍稱。古來的祖師 大德，像玄奘大師、密勒日巴尊者為求真理，忍人所不能忍；鑑真大師、鳩摩羅什為弘法度眾，行人所不能行，由於他們能忍受一切好、壞境界，所以為佛教開創遠 大的未來。古今中外的聖賢豪傑們，殺生成仁，捨身取義，更是將忍耐的真諦發揮到極致。
佛 教最強調「廣結善緣」，我覺得世間上沒有比這四個字更美好的了。雖然現代科技一日千里，交通便利、資訊發達使整個世界儼然是一座「地球村」，但是由於人與 人之間缺乏溝通了解，所以依舊紛爭不斷，禍亂層出。解決之道，就是大家都來做施捨的結緣人，藉著喜捨布施，將彼此的關係拉近。
一般人說 到施捨，總是想到金錢、物質方面的給予，其實佛教的布施結緣並不限於財物的供給，我們的一舉手、一投足、一個微笑、一聲招呼，只要是發自內心的真誠，讓對 方產生信心、歡喜的，都是施捨的內容。經云：「一切供養中，法供養第一 。」在諸種施捨當中，勸勉向上、慰苦分憂能使人振奮精神，受益無窮，尤其是佛法的開示、經文的解說能濟三世之苦，最為究竟。所以佛光人要做一個處處施捨、 供養佛法的結緣人。
佛 教經常以「蓮花」作為標幟，目的就在取其清淨芳潔的象徵，提醒佛子們應在濁世中淨化自己。《大寶積經》說：「譬如高原陸地不生蓮花，菩薩亦復如是，於無為 中不生佛法。譬如卑濕淤泥中，乃生蓮花，菩薩亦爾，生死淤泥、邪定眾生，能生佛法。」因此，「清淨」不是離世避俗，另覓淨地，而是在煩惱中淨化自己。儘管 世間濁穢不已，只要我們自己是一顆清淨的種子，就能以塵勞為滋養，綻放蓮蕾，散播芳香。
過去政府經常表揚一些從事慈善救濟的宗教團體， 這固然無可厚非，但如果一味鼓勵宗教團體做慈善事業，那麼宗教團體和一般社會團體有什麼不同？宗教的價值是在信仰、教育，在淨化社會、匡正人心，並非只有 捐獻的價值。我們佛光人應以清淨的修道人自許，積極從事教育、文化方面的事業，向深處紮根，向廣處延伸，帶動社會大眾共同建立佛光淨土。
(七) 做一個歡喜的快樂人：過去的彿教徒一味講「苦」，讓一些有心入門的人望而生畏，裹足不前。其實，佛教講苦，是為了讓大家正視苦的現象，從而求取快樂的方 法。像佛陀雖然早已悟道，但為了「示教利喜」，降誕世間；所觀世音菩薩之所以倒駕慈航，迴入娑婆，也是為了「拔苦與樂」，可見「歡喜」才是佛教的本質， 「快樂」才是學佛的目的。因此我們要效法諸佛菩薩的慈心悲願，將歡喜的種子散播到世間每一個角落。
(八) 做一個融和的佛光人：我們想要達到世界和平，必須先重視融和，不但應該做到男女老少融和、貧富貴賤融和、士農工商融和、國家種族融和，甚至應打破種種藩 籬，讓宗教與宗教之間融和起來。尤其是我們佛教，更應該以身作則，謀求禪宗與淨土融和、顯教與密教融和、南傳與北傳融和、傳統與現代融和。我們佛光會員要 弘揚佛法，必須把佛法與文學融和起來，把佛法與藝術融和起來，把佛法與生活融和起來，把佛法與科技融和起來，甚至把佛法與世間的各行各業融和起來，唯有融 和，才能佛光永普照，唯有融和，才能法水永流長。
國際佛光會不屬於某一個宗派、某一個寺院，也不屬於某一個人，它是一個國際性的團體，我 希望各位佛光會員也應該具備宏遠的世界觀，做一個同體的慈悲人，做一個共生的地球人，做一個明理的智慧人，做一個有力的忍耐人，做一個施捨的結緣人，做一 個清淨的修道人，做一個歡喜的快樂人，做一個融和的佛光人，讓我們將佛光普照三千法界，讓我們將法水常流五大洲中。
How to Be a Member of the BLIA
In the following sections, I will discuss in greater detail the kinds of things members of the BLIA can do to be most effective in their partic- ipation in the BLIA.
In China, during the last few hundred years, most Buddhists believed that a good Buddhist should ignore the world and spend long periods of time in retreat. This caused the truths of Buddhism to become hidden away in mountain sanctuaries, where they had little chance of influ- encing society. Fortunately, that tradition of passivity and reclusive- ness began to come to an end during the first part of the 20th century. After the founding of the Republic of China in 1911, active and forthright Chinese Buddhist monks began to emerge. These monks recognized that the spirit of Sakyamuni Buddha was one seeking active engagement with the peoples of this world. Master Taixu was the first modern Chinese monk to advocate Humanistic Buddhism. His writings are the original source of what is sometimes called “engaged Buddhism.”
If Buddhists do not come out into the world and preach, they will only succeed in cloistering Buddhism and smothering any chance for it to be spread to all the world’s people. Nothing could contradict Sakyamuni Buddha’s message more than that. The BLIA was founded in the clear recognition of our responsibility to help all sentient beings. All members of the BLIA should understand this and base their partic- ipation in the BLIA on this understanding. We have taken on a big responsibility! Our task is great, but if all of us do our part to help, we will succeed in bringing the peace and joy of Buddhism to everyone.
Buddhism often speaks of compassion, but what is compassion? There is a simple answer to this question, and there is a much deeper answer. If we are not careful, the simple answer to this question can lead us into making serious mistakes. The simple answer says that since some people are in need, we should help them. We should give them charity, or comfort, or compassion according to their needs. The problem with this kind of compassion is it too often runs the risk of being unequal compassion, or top-down compassion. We give to them because we are wealthier than them, or cleverer, or more powerful. This sort of compassion can often do harm to the very people we are trying to help, since it often engenders a sense of shame in its recipients.
Then what is true compassion? True compassion is based on equality. When a bodhisattva is compassionate, he sees himself as being one and the same as the person toward whom he is being compassionate, and he is compassionate toward all. This is one of the greatest distinctions in all of Buddhism. True compassion does not spring from feelings of superiority or pity. True compassion never humiliates anyone, and it never asks for anything in return. In a very deep sense, there is no giver and no recipient in an act of true compas- sion, because true compassion arises out of a consciousness that there are no differences between any of us. Your pain is my pain, just as your joy is mine, too. All sentient beings are one. This is why Buddhists extol “compassion for no reason, oneness with all.”
The Buddha died after eating poisonous mushrooms given to him by a man who did not know the mushrooms were poisonous. In his compassion, the Buddha told the man not to feel guilty about serving the mushrooms. His realization of the oneness of all sentient beings was so great he wanted to make sure the man would not suffer after his final nirvana.
The Flower Adornment Sutra says, “Sentient beings and all living things are known by the omniscient Buddha.” All of us in the BLIA should always try to remember our essential unity with all sentient beings in the universe. Our compassion should spring from this realization, and with this realization we should feel compassion for everything.
We should think of ourselves as global beings
The purpose of the BLIA is not simply to help Buddhists, and it is not simply to encourage the people of one country to help only their fellow citizens. Our purpose is to help all sentient beings in the world. We are all in this together. When our awareness of our inherent common- ality is mature, we will never want to restrict our activities to only one country, or one ethnic group, or one kind of Buddhism. Others’ joys are our joys, just as their sadness is ours, too. As members of the BLIA, we must be prepared to take responsibility for all of it.
I remember when I first came to Taiwan in 1949, the local Taiwanese all called me an “outsider,” and they treated me like one, too. In 1989, when I returned to my hometown in mainland China for the first time in forty years, the people there called me a “visiting monk from Taiwan.” Yangchou was the very first place I had been raised, yet after an absence of forty years, the people considered me to be an “outsider.” These two experiences made a deep impression on me. I confess that I felt quite confused for a while. I asked myself, “Where do I belong?” At that moment, I had no clear answer, but following my trip to mainland China, I traveled to Australia and Russia. In each place I preached the Dharma. And as I preached, I thought to myself, “I don’t have blond hair and blue eyes, but if I have peace in my heart and respect for everyone I meet, then I feel as much at home among these people as I do anywhere else.” Isn’t that how it is for all of us? We want to feel that we belong to some group. If we make that longing into a narrow attachment, then we will narrow our own potential for higher growth. If we see that longing is truly the inkling of universal compassion, then we will open our hearts to all the world.
Look at this world! There are conflicts everywhere, and every one of them comes from the same thing. People become attached to other people who look and think the same way they do. These attachments lead to rigid perception of differences between groups. These percep- tions then lead to conflict and war. And all of it is for nothing. All of it is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what a human being really is.
We must train ourselves daily to see that the inherent unity of all sentient beings is real. These are not just words. This is the truth. All of us are “of the same body.” I beg all members of the BLIA to think deeply about this. This consciousness gives access to the most profound levels of understanding, and it assures that our growth will proceed directly into the fullness of the bodhi mind.
Our wisdom should be clear-sighted
People today are better educated than ever before. Books on almost any subject imaginable are available to almost everyone. The sum total of the knowledge of the human race has increased many times in this century along. People have access to unlimited information, more than any one person could ever absorb, and yet how many of us have wisdom?
So many people fill their heads with so much learning, it is as if they were burying themselves in information. Knowledge is always a good thing, but knowledge must not be allowed to obstruct wisdom. When we find ourselves acquiring so much knowledge that the clear sight of our inherent bodhi minds becomes obscured, we must stop and think about what we are doing. When the clarity of our minds becomes clouded and when our passions become muddled and aimless, we should realize that we are moving toward ignorance, not wisdom. The Buddha spoke often of an ignorance that arises from attachment to analytical and discursive thought. If you aren’t careful, you will make your head so big it hides your heart.
Knowledge and theories and ideas are seductive and fascinating. One person says something is true, while another declares adamantly it is not. Which one is right? How are we to know what to believe? Prajna wisdom, the highest state of wisdom in Buddhism, tells us that truth is not based on what people say or how well they say it. The Buddha said many times that truth has the qualities of universality, equality and ineluctability. The truth is clear. It is bright, and it is peaceful. The sutras, throughout all their many volumes, tell us this over and again. The words in the sutras are like a finger pointing at the moon. The words do not ask us to look at the finger, much less to analyze it. They ask us to look at the moon.
Each of us is capable of finding clarity and vision within ourselves. This clear vision is prajna wisdom. This wisdom is Buddhahood, and it will lead us to Buddhahood. All of us have prajna wisdom. The Platform Sutra says, “All prajna wisdom is born in its own nature, it depends on nothing outside itself.” We develop this wisdom through reading and learning in part, but more important, we find it in deep states of contemplation, meditative concentration and self-reflection.
The BLIA is dedicated to spreading the truths of Buddhism to all corners of the world. Prajna wisdom is so quiet and so magnifi- cent, sometimes it is hard to see. I hope that BLIA members will do their utmost to manifest this wisdom in all they do. By having wisdom ourselves, and by behaving wisely at all times, we will succeed in sharing our beliefs by example and attraction. And in doing this, we will succeed in fulfilling the deepest imperatives of that wisdom.
Be patient and learn to endure
Most young people today have fairly easy lives when compared to young people in the past. Most of them have never experienced the formative kinds of hardship that generally characterized life in more traditional societies. For this reason, young people today often develop very sensitive personalities that do not bear up well under strain. A single word may cause them to feel undue distress. A mere glance may cause them to brood for days. Those of us who are in the BLIA must not let ourselves be like that. The task we have chosen requires that all of us be active members of society. We must be prepared to meet people from all levels of society, and we must be prepared to deal with them confidently on their own ground. If we become bothered every time we hear someone say something we don’t like, we will not be effective in our work. The way to overcome excessive sensitivity is to practice patience and endurance.
To be patient is not to be weak. To endure does not mean that we let people shout at us without answering, and it does not mean that we let people attack us without defending ourselves. Endurance does not mean passivity. True endurance requires that we intelligently assess our situation. If there is something we can change for the better, we should try to change it. If conditions are beyond our control, however, we should endure them cheerfully and without complaint. Buddha never asked us to sulk or whine, and he never wanted us to become so sensitive to the evanescent flux of life that we render ourselves unfit to participate in it. All of us should welcome hardship as a chance to improve our practice. Where else can you practice Buddhism if not in this world?
We all should be able to endure without complaint cold, hunger, hard work, insults, suffering, the resentment of others, and our own failings. At the same time, we all should be able humbly to endure praise, fame, happiness and good fortune. The Buddha said many times that life in this world is made up of nothing more than paired opposites. When hardship comes our way, we must endure. When good fortune comes our way, we must endure that, too, because, like everything else, good fortune is transitory, and it is never perfect.
Milarepa (1038?-1122) endured immense hardship in his quest for enlightenment. Faxian (337-422) began walking to India when he was sixty years old. Dao’an risked his life many times to preach the Dharma. Kumarajiva worked steadily for years to translate sutras into Chinese. All of these people accomplished great things because they were able to endure. They were able to endure basic physical hardships, but what is more, they were also able to work and improve themselves in trying situations. Don’t wait for conditions to be just right before exerting yourself in your chosen task. A major part of completing any task always is simply dealing with whatever conditions prevail. If you wait for things to be just right, you will wait for too long.
Samantabhadra Bodhisattva said, “This day is almost over. I am like a fish in a pond where the water is running out.” Life is short, and while we are alive we all should try our best. Once we have learned to
endure, our positive abilities will have good ground on which to grow to fruition. Members of the BLIA are different from most other people, because we have chosen to accept the task of spreading the Dharma. The endurance and patience we learn cannot belong only to us. They belong to all sentient beings, and they are the means by which we will succeed in truly sharing our beliefs with the people of this saha world.
We must learn to give
The Buddha said, “If a bodhisattva can carry the burdens of others, and if he can give his best to them, then he is a true bodhisattva.” The bodhisattva reaches for the heights, but at the same time, he never fails to meet the needs of others. Patience and endurance are exceptionally important qualities, but they are insufficient in themselves if they are not accompanied by generosity and a spirit of giving.
In the whole world there is nothing more beautiful than the energy that builds positive relations among people. The modern era is charac- terized by rapid transportation and instantaneous communication. However, since people still have not learned to communicate with one another very well, and since most people still are poor at forming good relations with others, this world is wracked over and again by conflicts whose viciousness is matched only by their senselessness. This is the world we live in. As members of the BLIA, we must take it as our responsibility to infuse positive and friendly energy into these condi- tions. It is our responsibility to be generous first, to be friendly first, and to be the ones who give first. With this kind of positive energy, we will gradually succeed in drawing people closer together so that understanding can replace suspicion, and tolerance can replace fear.
Many people misunderstand what generosity really is. They believe it is something confined to the material plane. Giving material things to others often can help them, but the heart and soul of gener- osity does not lie in the objects given; it lies in the positive energy of the one who reaches out to share. If this is understood, it should be clear that generosity operates in a much wider sphere than just the material one. An act of generosity or kindness is primarily an act of the mind. When the mind is tuned to the positive energy of kindness and friendship, untold resources are discovered and unimaginable powers begin to form.
We can generate this magnificent energy with as little as a smile. We don’t need to give things to others to be generous. We can give kindness, assistance, warmth and tolerance. We can give them open-mindedness, and we can give them ourselves. When we approach the world in this way, we activate huge areas of potential in ourselves and in others. We bring joy and faith to life the more we manifest these qualities ourselves. Does anyone think the bodhi mind is gloomy and intolerant?
The Flower Adornment Sutra says, “Of all forms of giving, giving the Dharma is the highest and best.” Whenever we are with people, we should try to give them our best. We should encourage others, and we should share their burdens. We should always look for opportunities to inspire them to reach their highest potential. If, beyond this, we can also help others to learn the Dharma, then our contribution to the world will be beyond measure.
In this vein, I want to encourage all members of the BLIA, once again, to make the effort to become lay preachers of the Dharma. There is much to be done, but with the help of many people, we will succeed.
We must purify ourselves through our practice
The Great Nirvana Sutra says, “[The bodhi mind] is like a stream of clear water. Its blue, yellow, white and black sands all can be seen clearly. When one enters the [bodhi] way, if one’s mind is clear, every- thing will be seen in great detail and with great clarity. The method for entering the [bodhi] way is to clarify the mind. If the waters [of a stream] are muddled and turbid, nothing will be clearly seen within them. [In this way] if the mind is not clear, it cannot be enlightened.” Clearing the mind of defilements is the first step toward enlightenment. The clarity and purity of a fresh stream is a metaphor that is often used in Buddhist literature. Another important metaphor in Buddhism is the metaphor of the lotus flower. The lotus flower, too, stands for the purity and clarity of the mind. The purity of the lotus is very special because it is contrasted with the mud in which it usually grows. This metaphor is an example of how we, as Buddhists, should conduct ourselves in a muddled world too often filled with defilements. With purity and clarity of mind, we should rise above the environments in which we live in just the same way that the lotus flower rises above the mud sustaining it.
The Great Treasures Collection Sutra says, “The lotus never grows on high mountain plains. The bodhisattva is like this. A bodhi- sattva never finds the Dharma in non-action. The bodhisattva is like the lotus, which grows in dank mud. It is only in this dank world, with its muddled beings, that the bodhisattva finds the Dharma.” It is a mistake to believe that you can purify your mind by hiding from the world. Retreats are very valuable, but if you spend all your time in retreat from the strains and trials of life, your practice will not be very strong. We purify and clarify our minds most effectively when we are right in the middle of things. The trials of life teach us the most, and that is why we are here in this human realm. This is where we can grow. If we plant seeds of compassion and purity in this realm, then we will inevitably succeed in making our minds as pure as the lotus in bloom.
We must be joyful
“Suffering” is a word that often is used by Buddhists. We speak of the suffering inherent in life because Buddhism is based on a clear assess- ment of what life really is like for most people. Suffering, however, is not all there is to Buddhism. Suffering is a starting point, but joy is the goal. As members of the BLIA, we should take care to emphasize the joy of Buddhism whenever we speak about Buddhism with non-Bud- dhists. Our aim is to help all sentient beings find the Dharma, not to scare them away!
Sakyamuni Buddha already was enlightened before he came into this world as Prince Siddhartha. The conditions of the world prevailing at the time of his birth were such that a Buddha could be born on earth. His birth and life allowed him to “manifest, preach, and bring aid and joy” as the Buddha of the human realm. Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva is similar to Sakyamuni Buddha in that she, too, chose to return to this world for the sole purpose of bringing comfort and joy to sentient beings.
Joy is fundamental to Buddhism. The joy of Buddhist practice is every bit as basic to Buddhism as the bliss of enlightenment, which is the goal of Buddhism. As members of the BLIA, a good part of our responsibility to the world lies in bringing joy and happiness to all sentient beings.
Within the BLIA we have members who work in orphanages, hospitals, and retirement homes. We have members who plant trees, who visit prisons, and who work in drug rehabilitation programs. The good works done by BLIA members take many different forms, but the basis of all of them is to being joy to others.
The BLIA can be very successful in this work if all of us adopt intelligent, positive attitudes toward the world around us. Positive energy is the original source of joy. We manifest that joy when we work with positive and helpful attitudes in all that we do. It is good to remember that every situation has a negative and a positive side. The choice is ours as to which side we draw on for our motivation. If we choose the positive side, we will bring joy to whatever situation we are in. If we choose the negative side, we will only accomplish the reverse. There is nothing shallow or idealistic about perceiving the world in this way. On the contrary, when we look toward the positive aspects of life, we immediately begin to align ourselves with the greatest force in the universe. I hope all members of BLIA will affirm the joy that is inherent in life in everything they do.
We must widen our community
If we are serious about bringing peace into this world, we must begin with ourselves and with the people who make up our communities. We must widen the circle of our concern to include the young and the old, men and women, the poor and the rich, the rural and the urban. We should include members from all ethnic groups and nations, and we should seek to bridge gaps between ourselves and members of other religions.
As Buddhists, we must be especially careful to include Buddhists from all other sects and schools. Nothing could contradict our beliefs more than to reject another Buddhist because his interpretation of the Dharma is different from our own! There is ample common ground among all the schools of Buddhism for us to be inclusive in our thinking, as well as in our practice. Chan and Pure Land enhance each other when practiced together. Esoteric and exoteric Buddhism both have significant things to say to all of us. Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism have many things in common. As Mahayana Buddhists, we can learn from the Theravada tradition, just as we can, and should, learn from every other Buddhist tradition in the world.
Buddhism has always followed a tradition of inclusiveness. Sakyamuni Buddha dedicated forty-five years to preaching the Dharma to all who would listen. He never turned anyone away. Rather than emphasize any differences we may think we perceive between ourselves and others, members of the BLIA should actively seek to affirm similarities and encourage harmony among all. In the depths of truth, we all are one. Every time we include others and encourage them, we plumb the very depths of ourselves.