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念佛問答

多倫多大學講法現場答疑(中英對照)

阿彌陀佛的救度——現場答疑部分

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

The Deliverance of Amitabha Buddha

文/淨宗法師

By Master Jingzong

現場答疑

Questions and Answers

 

一、 「南無阿彌陀佛」是什麼意思?

 What does "Namo Amitabha Buddha" mean?

  答:「南無阿彌陀佛」是梵語的音譯。由「南無」「阿彌陀」「佛」三個詞構成。「南無」是歸命,「阿彌陀」是無量光明、無量壽命,「佛」是覺者;合起來即:歸命無量光明及無量壽命的覺悟者。

  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.

 

  「無量光壽」即真理本身的存在形態。因為真理一定是普遍平等,永恆不變,並能破除暗謬,以光明引導世人,給眾生覺悟的生命,所以「阿彌陀佛」即是與真理同體,並將此眾生幽微難明的真理彰顯在其成佛的名號中。故「阿彌陀佛」的名號即是真理的濃縮,真理的符號化、有形化,也即是真理本身的表現。故稱念「南無阿彌陀佛」即是歸命真理,與真理碰觸,接受真理之光的引導,並獲得與真理同在的覺性生命。這是阿彌陀佛因中發願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、 我們要怎樣獲得阿彌陀佛的救度?靠自己的善行嗎?

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

  答:只要信受彌陀救度,專稱「南無阿彌陀佛」,願生極樂世界,就一定會被救往極樂。眾生善行雖然值得嘉許,但靠眾生自己的善行頂多只能來世做人或生天,仍然在生死輪迴中,要想往生阿彌陀佛的淨土絕對不可能。因為眾生再怎麼行善都是迷茫的、染污的,我執煩惱,不明真理,仍然在錯謬顛倒當中,眾生世間的善行只在此世間有相對價值,而與極樂淨土絕對真理的境界完全不相應,屬於虛假之善、雜毒之善。

  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、不論眾生善惡 ,只要稱念「南無阿彌陀佛」就必定往生淨土,眾生會不會因此而放縱造罪呢?

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:不會。一因佛法總體鼓勵斷惡行善;二由稱念「南無阿彌陀佛」即能轉惡為善,如光破暗。不可能接受真理引導的人反而在罪業道路上越走越遠。

  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、稱念「南無阿彌陀佛」,現世、來生有那麼多的功德利益,並且死去多年的祖先,還有動物、地獄眾生都能往生淨土,令人難以置信,不知可有事實例證?

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:古今中外這樣的例證很多,中國、日本都收集有許多人、動物、鬼道、地獄眾生往生的實例,記為《往生傳記》。真理一定經得住事實的驗證,假如沒有事證,佛法即是虛假騙人。在中國,從來彌陀淨土的信仰者佔絕大部分,他們多半並不是領悟佛法的高深道理,而是親身體會到念佛的利益才有堅固的信仰。尤其現代傳媒發達,念佛往生及現世利益的事例隨處可見。我本人親自見聞的就很多。弘願寺已編印出版七集《念佛感應錄》,也專門編有一本《動物往生佛國記》。

  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、動物不是上帝造了供人類食用的嗎?

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

  答:此為大錯。實為人類以自我為中心而對其他生命予殺予奪的典型表現,已造成世界及人類巨大危害。以佛教來看,一切眾生皆有佛性,但因迷惑造業不同而受種種生命身,其佛性生命完全平等,都有成佛的可能性。認為人類優越可以隨便驅使、宰殺其他生命的觀點,不論從事實上、道義上、愛心上都站不住。

  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、彌陀救度與上帝救贖有何不同?

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

  答:不論何種救贖皆可貴、感動,略說二者有十點不同。

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

 

1.空間不同。上帝救贖僅限地球,彌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.時間不同。上帝救贖有末日審判之截止日期,彌陀救度盡未來際永不止息。

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

 

3.廣狹不同。上帝救贖只及於人類,彌陀救度廣及一切天、人、地獄、餓鬼、畜生之六道眾生。

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. 機率不同。上帝救贖,一人只有一次機會;彌陀救度,人人都有無數次機會,即使今生不得度,下入三惡道,彌陀仍然隨逐不捨施以救拔,或令再度轉生為人而得度。上帝救贖不完全,必定有一部分人永陷火獄,不得救度;彌陀救度則即使造罪已入地獄眾生,也誓必一個不漏地加以救度,故從無窮時劫來看,任何眾生皆有百分之百機率被救往極樂淨土。

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。上帝既是救贖者又是審判者;阿彌陀佛純是救度者,不是審判者,慈悲哀愍眾生造罪受苦,越是罪苦,越加救度,乃至永陷阿鼻地獄眾生也誓必救度。

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. 難易不同。上帝救贖單一強調信,似乎缺少具體明確簡易的手段,有人信不來或信心無法堅持,便不得其門而入;彌陀救度可以隨時隨地稱念「南無阿彌陀佛」,方便簡易,令愚癡眾生不論懂與不懂,信與不信,信深信淺都能與阿彌陀佛對接溝通,蒙受阿彌陀佛光照保護。

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,並未能與真理完全同體,因受造物與造物主永遠不能平等;彌陀救度眾生往生極樂則皆平等成佛,與真理究竟一體,無二無別,是絕對平等的真理境界。

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,上帝救贖,慈悲小而有限;彌陀救度,慈悲大而無限。

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. 理論不同。上帝救贖以創世論為基礎,即上帝創世造人,而人違背上帝意旨造罪,上帝愛其造物故予救贖。彌陀救度以佛性及緣起論為基礎,即一切眾生皆有佛性,佛性清淨平等,一體不二,為真理本體,無造無被造。眾生迷此佛性,自己顛倒造罪,因而受苦受難;諸佛菩薩覺悟此佛性得大解脫自在,憐愍眾生迷惑顛倒造罪受苦,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. 覺悟不同。如果說「愛即真理」,則愛的深度廣度取決於對真理覺悟的深淺。二相對比,很顯然有神宗教所宣稱上帝(主、神)的愛與阿彌陀佛的慈悲究竟不能相比,說明其對真理的覺悟有限,如霧中觀花,含有臆測的成份,難以經受合理的質疑,非如佛教,由大徹大悟,起大慈大悲,其理與事皆經得起任何質疑。

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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