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念佛问答

多伦多大学讲法现场答疑(中英对照)

阿弥陀佛的救度——现场答疑部分

The Deliverance of Amitabha Buddha – On-site Q&A

The Deliverance of Amitabha Buddha

文/净宗法师

By Master Jingzong

现场答疑

Questions and Answers

 

一、 「南无阿弥陀佛」是什麽意思?

 What does "Namo Amitabha Buddha" mean?

  答:「南无阿弥陀佛」是梵语的音译。由「南无」「阿弥陀」「佛」三个词构成。「南无」是归命,「阿弥陀」是无量光明、无量寿命,「佛」是觉者;合起来即:归命无量光明及无量寿命的觉悟者。

  A: "Namo Amitabha Buddha" is a Sanskrit transliteration. It comprises three words – "Namo," "Amitabha," and "Buddha." "Namo" means that I entrust my life. "Amitabha" is infinite light and infinite life. "Buddha" is the awakened one. Together it means I entrust my life to the awakened one who has infinite light and infinite life.

 

  「无量光寿」即真理本身的存在形态。因为真理一定是普遍平等,永恒不变,并能破除暗谬,以光明引导世人,给众生觉悟的生命,所以「阿弥陀佛」即是与真理同体,并将此众生幽微难明的真理彰显在其成佛的名号中。故「阿弥陀佛」的名号即是真理的浓缩,真理的符号化、有形化,也即是真理本身的表现。故称念「南无阿弥陀佛」即是归命真理,与真理碰触,接受真理之光的引导,并获得与真理同在的觉性生命。这是阿弥陀佛因中发愿及果上成佛必然的功能利益。

  "Infinite light and life" is the existing form of the truth itself. The truth is universally equal and constant. It can exterminate darkness and falsehood, guide people with light, and give sentient beings enlightened lives. Amitabha Buddha is of the same body as the truth. He also manifests the truth, which is too abstruse for sentient beings, in his Buddha name. So his name is the embodiment of the truth. It is a symbol and manifestation of the truth. It represents the truth itself. To recite "Namo Amitabha Buddha" is to entrust our lives to the truth, to touch the truth, to accept the guidance given by the light of the truth, and to obtain an awakened life abiding in the truth. These are the functions and benefits that derive spontaneously from Amitabha's making of vows in the causal ground and his attainment of Buddhahood in the achievement ground.

 

二、 我们要怎样获得阿弥陀佛的救度?靠自己的善行吗?

How can we receive Amitabha Buddha's deliverance? Should we rely on our own virtuous deeds?

  答:只要信受弥陀救度,专称「南无阿弥陀佛」,愿生极乐世界,就一定会被救往极乐。众生善行虽然值得嘉许,但靠众生自己的善行顶多只能来世做人或生天,仍然在生死轮回中,要想往生阿弥陀佛的净土绝对不可能。因为众生再怎麽行善都是迷茫的、染污的,我执烦恼,不明真理,仍然在错谬颠倒当中,众生世间的善行只在此世间有相对价值,而与极乐净土绝对真理的境界完全不相应,属於虚假之善、杂毒之善。

  A: We only need to have faith in and accept Amitabha's deliverance, single-mindedly recite "Namo Amitabha Buddha," and aspire to rebirth in the Land of Bliss. Then we'll surely be delivered there. Virtuous deeds of sentient beings are praiseworthy, but by relying on our good deeds we can only be reborn as a human or celestial being. We would remain within the cycle of rebirth. It's absolutely impossible to be reborn in Amitabha's Pure Land. This is because no matter how diligent we perform virtuous actions, we are always perplexed and impure, afflicted by attachment to self, and ignorant of the truth. As sentient beings remain in falsehood and delusion, their virtuous deeds have merit in this world only, and are totally incompatible with the Land of Bliss – a realm of absolute truth. Such deeds are insubstantial, toxic virtuousness.

 

三、不论众生善恶 ,只要称念「南无阿弥陀佛」就必定往生净土,众生会不会因此而放纵造罪呢?

Whether they are good or evil, those who recite "Namo Amitabha Buddha" will assuredly be reborn in the Pure Land. Will sentient beings therefore indulge in vices and commit wrongdoings?

  答:不会。一因佛法总体鼓励断恶行善;二由称念「南无阿弥陀佛」即能转恶为善,如光破暗。不可能接受真理引导的人反而在罪业道路上越走越远。

  A: No. Because first, Buddhism generally encourages us to forsake evil and do good. Second, the recitation of "Namo Amitabha Buddha" can convert the unwholesome into the wholesome, like light dispersing the darkness. Anyone who is unable to accept the guidance of the truth simply goes further and further down the path of negative karma.

 

四、称念「南无阿弥陀佛」,现世、来生有那麽多的功德利益,并且死去多年的祖先,还有动物、地狱众生都能往生净土,令人难以置信,不知可有事实例证?

Reciting "Namo Amitabha Buddha" provides so much merit and benefit in the present and future lives. Long-deceased ancestors as well as animals and hell beings can be reborn in the Pure Land. That is incredible. Are there any supporting facts?

  答:古今中外这样的例证很多,中国、日本都收集有许多人、动物、鬼道、地狱众生往生的实例,记为《往生传记》。真理一定经得住事实的验证,假如没有事证,佛法即是虚假骗人。在中国,从来弥陀净土的信仰者占绝大部分,他们多半并不是领悟佛法的高深道理,而是亲身体会到念佛的利益才有坚固的信仰。尤其现代传媒发达,念佛往生及现世利益的事例随处可见。我本人亲自见闻的就很多。弘愿寺已编印出版七集《念佛感应录》,也专门编有一本《动物往生佛国记》。

  A: There are many ancient and modern examples throughout the world. China and Japan have collected many cases of people, animals, ghosts and hell-beings attaining rebirth in the Pure Land. They are recorded as "Rebirth Biographies." Truth must withstand the test of facts. Without factual evidence, Buddhism would be false and deceptive. In China, Pure Land followers account for the great majority of Buddhists. They mostly acquire strong faith not from an understanding of the profound philosophy of the Dharma, but because of their personal experience of benefits from name-recitation. Since modern media are well developed, there are many reports of rebirth through recitation and benefits for the present lifetime. I've personally experienced many cases. Hongyuan Monastery has published seven volumes of Records of the Effects of Amitabha-Recitation, and one volume of The Rebirth of Animals in Buddha-Realms.

 

五、动物不是上帝造了供人类食用的吗?

Weren't animals created by God for humans to eat?

  答:此为大错。实为人类以自我为中心而对其他生命予杀予夺的典型表现,已造成世界及人类巨大危害。以佛教来看,一切众生皆有佛性,但因迷惑造业不同而受种种生命身,其佛性生命完全平等,都有成佛的可能性。认为人类优越可以随便驱使、宰杀其他生命的观点,不论从事实上、道义上、爱心上都站不住。

  A: That's completely mistaken. It is indeed a typical indication of humans' self-centeredness and excessive slaughter of other species, and has caused great harm to the world and mankind. From the Buddhist perspective, all sentient beings have Buddha-nature. They take various life forms because they suffered delusion and created different karma. But in their Buddha-natured lives, they are entirely equal. They all have the opportunity to attain Buddhahood. The viewpoint that humankind is superior and may casually command or kill other lives is not tenable in terms of fact, morality and benevolence.

 

六、弥陀救度与上帝救赎有何不同?

What is the difference between Amitabha's deliverance and God's salvation?

  答:不论何种救赎皆可贵、感动,略说二者有十点不同。

  A: Any kind of salvation is precious and moving. In brief, there are ten differences between the two.

 

1.空间不同。上帝救赎仅限地球,弥陀救度遍及十方一切世界。

Different spaces. God's salvation is limited to the Earth. Amitabha's deliverance permeates all worlds of the ten directions.

 

2.时间不同。上帝救赎有末日审判之截止日期,弥陀救度尽未来际永不止息。

Different time frames. God's salvation is subject to a deadline – the last judgment. Amitabha's deliverance continues through the indefinite future. 

 

3.广狭不同。上帝救赎只及於人类,弥陀救度广及一切天、人、地狱、饿鬼、畜生之六道众生。

Different scope. God's salvation is directed only at humans. Amitabha's deliverance embraces all sentient beings of the Six Realms – deities, humans, asuras, hell beings, hungry ghosts and animals.

 

4. 机率不同。上帝救赎,一人只有一次机会;弥陀救度,人人都有无数次机会,即使今生不得度,下入三恶道,弥陀仍然随逐不舍施以救拔,或令再度转生为人而得度。上帝救赎不完全,必定有一部分人永陷火狱,不得救度;弥陀救度则即使造罪已入地狱众生,也誓必一个不漏地加以救度,故从无穷时劫来看,任何众生皆有百分之百机率被救往极乐净土。

Different probabilities. With God's salvation, each person has only one chance. In Amitabha's deliverance, there are countless opportunities for everyone. Even if one is not delivered in the present lifetime and falls into the Three Wretched Realms, Amitabha Buddha will always follow and rescue him, or have him be reborn as a human to attain deliverance. God's salvation is incomplete. Some people will fall into the hellfire forever – beyond salvation. But Amitabha delivers all beings without exception, even if they are already in hell because of karmic offenses. So from the viewpoint of infinite time, every sentient being has a 100% chance of deliverance to the Land of Bliss.

 

5. 角色不同。上帝既是救赎者又是审判者;阿弥陀佛纯是救度者,不是审判者,慈悲哀愍众生造罪受苦,越是罪苦,越加救度,乃至永陷阿鼻地狱众生也誓必救度。

Different roles. God is a savior as well as a judge. Amitabha Buddha is purely a deliverer, not a judging authority. He compassionately sympathizes with sentient beings who suffer from negative karma. The more negative karma and suffering a person has, the more Amitabha Buddha tries to deliver her. He pledges even to deliver all beings who sink into Avici Hell for an incalculable time.  

 

6. 难易不同。上帝救赎单一强调信,似乎缺少具体明确简易的手段,有人信不来或信心无法坚持,便不得其门而入;弥陀救度可以随时随地称念「南无阿弥陀佛」,方便简易,令愚痴众生不论懂与不懂,信与不信,信深信浅都能与阿弥陀佛对接沟通,蒙受阿弥陀佛光照保护。

Different levels of difficulty. God's salvation stresses faith only, and seems to lack specific, clear and easy means. Anyone who has no such faith or fails to adhere to the faith will not cross its threshold. With Amitabha's deliverance, we can recite "Namo Amitabha Buddha" at any time, in any place. Recitation is convenient and easy. It enables ignorant sentient beings to interface and communicate with Amitabha Buddha and enjoy the protection of his light, regardless of whether they understand and believe the teaching, or whether their faith is deep or superficial. 
 

7. 利益不同。上帝救人生天,并未能与真理完全同体,因受造物与造物主永远不能平等;弥陀救度众生往生极乐则皆平等成佛,与真理究竟一体,无二无别,是绝对平等的真理境界。

Different benefits. God saves people to heaven. That realm is not of the same body as the truth, because the creatures can never be equal with the Creator. Sentient beings delivered to the Land of Bliss by Amitabha Buddha all become Buddhas on an equal basis. Ultimately, they are of the same entity as the truth, undifferentiated from it. It's the truth realm of absolute equality.

 

8. 慈悲不同。如上可知,上帝救赎,慈悲小而有限;弥陀救度,慈悲大而无限。

Different compassions. From the foregoing, God's salvation reflects a relatively limited benevolence, while Amitabha's deliverance is motivated by his great, infinite compassion.

 

9. 理论不同。上帝救赎以创世论为基础,即上帝创世造人,而人违背上帝意旨造罪,上帝爱其造物故予救赎。弥陀救度以佛性及缘起论为基础,即一切众生皆有佛性,佛性清净平等,一体不二,为真理本体,无造无被造。众生迷此佛性,自己颠倒造罪,因而受苦受难;诸佛菩萨觉悟此佛性得大解脱自在,怜愍众生迷惑颠倒造罪受苦,自然流露平等大慈悲心而欲救拔。

Different underlying principles. God's salvation is based on creationism. God created the world and mankind; human beings violated his will and committed sins; he loves his creation, so he saves them. Amitabha's deliverance is based on Buddha-nature and the Law of Dependent Origination. All sentient beings have Buddha-nature; Buddha-nature is pure, equal, and of one, undivided unity. It's truth itself. There is no creator or creature. Sentient beings are ignorant of their Buddha-nature, so they create negative karma and suffer hardship and calamities. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are awake to their Buddha-nature and therefore attain liberation and freedom. They have pity on us for our delusion, negative conduct and suffering, and spontaneously reveal equal, vast compassion, longing to deliver us.

 

10. 觉悟不同。如果说「爱即真理」,则爱的深度广度取决於对真理觉悟的深浅。二相对比,很显然有神宗教所宣称上帝(主、神)的爱与阿弥陀佛的慈悲究竟不能相比,说明其对真理的觉悟有限,如雾中观花,含有臆测的成份,难以经受合理的质疑,非如佛教,由大彻大悟,起大慈大悲,其理与事皆经得起任何质疑。

Different realizations. If we say, "Love is truth," the depth and breadth of love depend on the extent to which the truth is realized. It is clear that the love of God (Lord, divinities) in theistic religions is not comparable with Amitabha's compassion. The former's limited realization of the truth results in conjectural perceptions, like admiring flowers in the mist. Their doctrines can hardly stand reasonable challenge. By contrast, the great awakening in Buddhism can generate infinite compassion. Its principles and actions can both stand questioning.

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