Compilation of Speeches in London, UK

No.       Content
1 The Wonderful Merits of Buddhist Thrice Yearning Service
2 A Brief Introduction to the Masterpieces of Traditional Chinese Culture“Four Books”——The 2017 Ancestral Remembrance Ceremony in London
3 Inheriting the Wisdoms and Traditions of Our Ancestors Passing Them on to Enlighten and Educate Future Generations——The Ancestral Remembrance Ceremony in London 2017

The Wonderful Merits of Buddhist Thrice Yearning Service


Respected Venerable Masters, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen: My warmest greetings to everyone!


I am very pleased to have your attendance at the Zhong Feng Thrice Buddhist Yearning Service or Thrice Buddhist Yearning Service, in short form, on this auspicious day. We held this Service here for the first time last year and have held the Service annually elsewhere for over thirty years. This Buddhist Service is indeed beneficial to both the living and the deceased, and has supreme merits to protect the world and alleviate disasters!


I would like to take this opportunity to explain the underlying meaning, content and theory behind the Zhong Feng Thrice Buddhist Yearning Service to help you understand its significance.


This Service is based on the book The Complete Collection of Zhong Feng Thrice Buddhist Yearning Service which is a consummate unison between phenomenon and noumenon, appropriate and relevant for our time. It is a grave mistake if we treat this as an ordinary Buddhist repentance ceremony, just chanting without whole-hearted devotion. We should take this as a Buddhist Rite. Hence, we must first understand its meaning and enter contemplation through sutra recitation, then, perform the ritual proceedings accordingly to receive real benefits.


The Meaning of Zhong Feng Thrice Buddhist Yearning Service


Zhong Feng is the Dharma name of Master Ming Ben, a great Zen master in the Yuan dynasty. He had attained the Great Awakening, seeing through the true nature with a purified heart. He propagated the practice of Zen widely. From royals to common people, all were influenced by his teachings. He was bestowed the title of “National Master” by the Yuan Emperor. Being a Zen master, promoting the school of the Pure Land through his works on the Buddhist Yearning Service had profound significance. He highlighted throughout his book that the school of the Pure Land enjoys the equal advanced state of enlightenment as the school of Zen. And in terms of expediency in helping living beings to attain awakening, the Pure Land school is even superior than Zen.


A narrow definition of the word “Thrice” denotes that there are three periods in the Buddhist Rite. But it has a broader meaning. In ancient India, a day was divided into six periods: three periods for the day and three periods for the night. From this, “thrice” can be extended to mean day and night incessantly.


The Chinese character nian (念) is an associative compound character. The upper part is jin (今) meaning “present” and the lower part is Xin (心) meaning “heart”. When combined, nian (念) means what we harbour in our mind (heart) in the present. Xi nian (繫念) means “our mind (heart) is bonded at one point, in a state of yearning”.


The biggest distinction between an ordinary person and a sage is thought – ancient sages said, “This very thought draws the distinction between the sage and the reckless”. A sage can focus his thought on anything at will. But an ordinary person’s mind is unfocused with uncontrollable fleeting thought, hence, largely ineffective.


The main purpose of performing the Thrice Buddhist Yearning Service is to develop our ability to control our thought or “the ability to focus one’s mind” as emphasized by contemporary scholars. The Sutra on the Buddha’s Bequeathed Teaching says, “If we can concentrate our mind at one point, there is nothing you cannot accomplish”. In such a state of mind, we will achieve “meditative concentration” where the force of our will power is unimaginable. A singularly focused mind can give rise to immeasurable wisdom, virtues and ability. This is what meditative concentration or Samadhi is all about. All Buddhist cultivation methods can be summarized into three aspects: “precepts, meditative concentration and wisdom.” Among the three, meditative concentration is the pivot. This reflects how important it is.


The Buddhist Rite compiled by Master Zhong Feng in his book serves as a cultivation guidance to seek rebirth in the Pure Land. It contains a complete set of cultivation practices including praising Buddhas, reciting sutras and mantras, Buddhist prostration, and dedication of merits. It is similar to the Five Contemplation Methods taught in Vasubandhu Bodhisattva’s Treatise on Rebirth in the Pure Land: Buddhist prostration, praising Buddhas, making vows, contemplation and dedication of merits. Both are cultivation methods to attain meditative concentration in Mahayana Buddhism with enhancing support from the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.


Therefore, people gathering in a solemn environment to perform the ritual proceedings with Dharma masters is a superb and magnificent art form of Buddhist educational activity, which is embedded with immeasurable compassion and wisdom of the Buddhas.


A Synopsis of the Complete Works of Zhong Feng Thrice Buddhist Yearning Service.


The beginning of the book is about the true incense of precepts and concentration. Its main content in sequence is the Prajana Heart Sutra and praising verses. The First Period starts with reciting the Amitabha Sutra once, followed by praising verses, making vows, Buddha name-recitation (“Buddha Recitation”) with four Dharma teachings in between. After taking a break, the Second Period still starts with reciting the Amitabha Sutra, followed by four Dharma teachings plus Buddha praising and Buddha Recitation. The Third Period also begins with reciting the Amitabha Sutra once plus four Dharma teachings, and it ends with making sincere repentance and vows. Therefore, it is apparent that the main purpose of   the Thrice Buddhist Yearning Service is to break through the worldly preoccupations and attachment in an ordinary person’s narrow mindset and continuously broaden their mindset to a state that is close to, and connecting with Amitabha Buddha. In fact, the whole process is to uncover our innate extraordinary ability.


The four sentences of the verse at the beginning of the main Service have very rich meaning. The first two sentences talk about how the origin of the universe and life is due to phenomena arising from delusion. The last two sentences teach us how to return to our true nature. How did we arrive at a state of delusion? Originally, in a state (sea) of enlightenment (correct understanding), the universe did not exist. The sea of enlightenment is the sea of self-nature. The self-nature awareness is innate. As stated in the Asvaghosa Bodhisattva’s Treatise on the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana, “Enlightenment is innate; delusion is not.” Today, we talk about how an ordinary person has “lost” his true nature to become deluded. This is a fitting, worldly way to describe the situation. In fact, our true nature can never be lost. Being deluded is merely an illusion, like a dream. Great Master Zhong Feng had expounded this clearly in his book – all hinges on enlightenment or delusion. Even that is not real. It is becoming unfathomable, isn’t it? It is often described in sequence that first, there is universe, then the world comes into existence, then there are living beings. But in reality, everything is manifested by the mind, and such manifestation   happens just way too quickly!


Modern scientists have a similar theory, which is getting closer to that described in Buddhism: “sudden and instant manifestation at once” without any sequence. There is no way you can tell the sequence because its speed is so fast that it manifests in one 2,240 trillionth of a second. How can you tell there is sequence? Hence, the Buddha said at Surangama Assembly that, “In the instant it arises, in the same instant it ceases.” What is “in the instant”? It is the present moment without distance. Without distance means without space. Without sequence means without time. Time and space are mere artificial attachments of ordinary people, and not the truth! So what is the truth? The sutras say one deviant thought causes delusion, and that thought occurs in a tremendously short time span!


“The mark of tranquility and cessation” described in the sutras is a state of enlightened mind attained by Great Bodhisattvas on the eighth and higher grounds, which is unwavering. But the minds of ordinary people waver and that breeds trouble. It gives rise to distance and time, which is called Shi Jie (“the world”). The Chinese character Shi refers to time and Jie refers to space. What we see now is illusory – an incessant continuation of illusory phenomena. We treat such illusions as real, thus, wandering thoughts and attachment arise. Consequently, this causes the manifestation of the Saha World and the Cycle of Rebirths in the Six Realms. The illusory phenomenon is like a dream. But we are stuck in a continuous nightmare for eons, and becoming further and further deluded alongside increasingly severe suffering.


In this Dharma-ending age, there is no other remedy except the the Pure Land school method. It is likened that we are now stuck on the shore of delusion. The Buddhas and Boddhisattvas are on the other shore of awakening. We need a boat to carry us to the other shore and the boat is this Buddhist Service. Performing this Service according to the right methods and Buddha’s teachings means you are relying on a boat to carry you safely to the other shore of awakening, to return from “false” to “real”, from “deluded” to “awakening”. Master Zhong Feng stipulated in the title of this Service Xi nian (“yearning”) – reciting incessantly the Amitabha Buddha name single-mindedly. Day and night throughout, there is nothing else in our mind other than the thought of Amitabha Buddha. This is not easy to do either but by far it is the easiest method to attain Buddhahood among the thousands of Buddhist cultivation methods. The gist of this method is no matter what kind of thoughts coming to mind, all are wandering thoughts. We must revert to Amitabha Buddha at once. As said by the ancient masters, “one need not fear of wandering thoughts but should fear of awakening late”. You will be successful if you cultivate in this manner.


So the above summarizes what true Buddhism is all about – to revert from falsehood to reality, and to revert from delusion to awakening. This also summarizes the principles behind the Thrice Buddhist Yearning Service. Following this method will enable us to attain Buddhahood within one lifetime without regression.


The Dharma teaching of the First Period says that the buddhas and Bodhisattvas are enlightened so they know every phenomenon is non-arising. And if there is no “arising”, naturally there is no “ceasing”. This is the truth of the universe. For those who are deluded, in their sensory perception, they see arising and ceasing in everything because of their differentiation and attachment. In fact, the whole universe and everything are one entity but manifesting different phenomena. If you look at this issue closely in clarity, you can ascertain where Amitabha Buddha comes from – it is manifested by the mind. Whose Mind? Our mind. We should know that the true mind (true nature) is “common” whereas the false minds are “different”. If we depart from wandering thoughts and differentiation, the true mind will be uncovered. The Mahayana sutras often say, “The Buddhas of the Ten Directions and Three Existences (all periods) share the same Dharma Body”. Hence, it is one and not dual. Amitabha Buddha is our true mind, and our true mind is Amitabha Buddha. It is non-duality.


“If your mind is purified so will be the phenomenal world.” Our planet and the Western Pure Land are one, not dual. People’s minds in the Western Pure Land are pure, hence, countless treasures are manifested. In our world, people’s minds are wicked, hence, soil, sand and stones are manifested. In fact, it is of one entity. The cause for different phenomena lies in the difference between delusion and awakening. Everyone in the Western Pure Land has attained awakening, as a consequence, everything manifested is incredibly beautiful. In our planet, people are wicked and commit evil conduct, as a consequence, unpleasant things or phenomena are manifested. This is how it works. Therefore, everything including the Ten Realms is manifested by our mind. Now that we understand the truth, how can we correct ourselves? We should begin with correcting our mindset. We need to truly cultivate, not just in form but in substance. Every thought we harbour must be virtuous without the slightest evilness, then, the environment or phenomenon will naturally become good. In other words, “Everything is manifested by our mind” and “when the mind is pure, the Buddha land is pure.” Thus, if everyone who participates in this Buddhist Service is earnestly devoted, and their minds are purified, it would produce a positive effect to purify the world and protect it from disasters.


The Dharma teaching in the Third Period says, “A mind with fleeting thoughts is bound to be subdued by Buddha-name recitation.” The core tenets of Buddha Recitation are “Faith, Vows and Practice.” Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva taught us to “to recite the Buddha name incessantly with a pure mind.” A pure mind is without doubt and without intermingling with other thoughts and methods. Ancient masters had complete faith, hence, were able to let go of everything to bring forth the proper thought. It is extremely rare to encounter the Pure Land school method. Now we have encountered this rare opportunity which may not occur again in millions of eons. We must grab this opportunity firmly and let go of everything to practise Buddha Recitation without intermingling with any wandering thoughts or attachment. Buddha Recitation is of utmost importance and it is a perfect cure for our fleeting thoughts. If you practise this method according to the right method and Buddha’s teachings, you will realize noticeable effect in three to six months. By then, you will be able to feel the “Dharma joy” and will enjoy Buddha Recitation. Of course, it is difficult at the beginning. The key is to subdue your severe afflictions of your habituated tendencies deep-seated in your mind since immeasurable eons ago. Your afflictions will naturally be subdued by following the Buddha Recitation method properly. The key is “to focus on a single subject single-minded for a prolonged period,” without disruption and distraction. Then, your mind will become purer and purer. With less wandering thoughts, afflictions will be lessened, and wisdom will grow. You will have increasing ability to understand things with clarity that you could not understand before because of your purified mind. This is a result of your enhanced wisdom and merits on Buddha Recitation.


The sutra says, “A Buddha Recitation practitioner should have faith and make sincere vows (to be reborn in the Pure Land); contemplate the miseries of the Cycle of Rebirth, bring forth the right causes, and loathe the suffering, hustle, conflict and turmoil of this world.” We must have this mindset to make Buddha Recitation effective, to connect with Amitabha Buddha. If we find our Buddha Recitation is not connecting with Amitabha Buddha, we need to correct our mindset. First and foremost, we must have unshakable faith. “To bring forth the Bodhi mind; to recite the Buddha-name with single-minded focus” are crucial in the Pure Land school method. These are the right causes for rebirth in the Pure Land. We can refer to the chapters on “The Three Ranks of Rebirth” and “Proper Causes for Rebirth” of the Infinite Life Sutra to get a clear understanding on these points.


We must develop a mindset to renounce the miseries of the endless cycle of rebirths. Within the six realms, if you have planted some good karmic causes and when some good conditions are encountered, you will be born into the three good paths. After the good karmic reward is exhausted, and the bad karmic causes emerge, you will fall to the three evil paths. The Buddha has told us in the sutras that as long as we are within the six realms, it is certain that the time you spend in the three evil paths is very long, and the time in the three good paths is short. It is said that the three evil paths are the home of the living beings in the Six Realms. They briefly come out of the evil paths to the three good paths to take a short holiday away from home. Only when you realize how pathetic it is, will your resolution to renounce the Six Realms become firm.


We are now experiencing the “suffering, hustle, conflict and turmoil” in this world in the same manner as described in the sutra. It is not easy for young people to appreciate this. For those who are in his seventies or eighties, after having experienced the ups and downs of life are likely to harbor detestation over life. There is no peace of mind – every day is plagued by the disturbances caused by human relationships, daily chores and social issues. But it is no use to be pessimistic. This would not solve the problem. Today’s society is full of suffering – people no longer know what ethics and morality are. People are obsessed with the temptation of sensual pleasure of the Five Desires and Six Sense-objects. All these temptations are bad, or to put it bluntly, are all karmic offences, in particular, the content instigated by the Internet. I have not watched them but I heard from my students that they are all about killing, stealing, sexual misconduct and lying, teaching you to do evil. Now youngsters, even small kids, have been obsessed with the Internet since a young age. Watching these evil contents everyday has totally destroyed whatever little conscience they have remaining. These people do evil unknowingly because of delusion; they have lost their ability to distinguish between good and evil. If you talk to them about virtuousness, they will be puzzled for it is something unheard of. They would take it as a fairy tale and would not accept it. Their mind is relentless. This poses a serious problem! If we look at the causes and conditions the society is creating, you can imagine what the consequences will be.


Subsequent text says “starting to recite Amitabha”. Namely, with such sad and bitter situation, we need to start reciting Amitabha outright without any other thoughts. “No other thoughts” means we no longer have any doubts, and prejudice, nor do we have any persistent attachment to our own ideas. We let go of everything and focus on marching on the road straight to the Pure Land. Master Zhong Feng cited the following analogy. Reciting Amitabha is like the doubled edge sword, sharp and shining. This is to describe reciting Amitabha is like a fighting a war. The warrior is holding the double-edge sword, riding on the war chariot, leaning on the bars of the chariot to show his posture of fighting in a war. Here is another analogy in the text: “It is like a huge fire wheel, it is blazing with flame.” This huge fire wheel is like the atom bomb. “Anything that attacks it will get blazed and anything that touches it will get hurt.” “Anything that attacks it will get blazed.” It means anything that comes near the huge fire wheel will be burned into ashes. “Anything that touches it will get hurt.” It means anything that touches the double-edged sword will get hurt. Master Zhong Feng used this analogy to describe the effect of reciting Amitabha, just like the double-edged sword and the huge fire wheel. This analogy is to use the huge fire wheel to exemplify the supreme wisdom of Prajna, and to use the double-edged sword exemplify the deep concentration of Samadhi obtained as a result of reciting Amitabha. What is the aforementioned “anything” that will get blazed and get hurt? This is what was described previously, “the tiring reincarnation and the agony of toil and trouble of life.” Once they come across “unwavering mind” and “great wisdom from enlightenment” resulted from the cultivation of reciting Amitabha, they will be eliminated.


“To reach a state of one-pointed mind without scattering, ridden of the notion of “essence” and “phenomena” is the ultimate goal of Buddha Recitation. When we reach the state of “one-pointedness on the Ultimate Truth”, we have entered the Dharma door of “non-duality”, a state attained by the Dharma Body Bodhisattvas. Then, “to speak of reaching home will become meaningless, and to say Buddha Recitation is a short cut to attain Buddhahood will become unnecessary.” Why? It is because you have reached a state of non-duality where not only these words do not exist, but the notions as well. You have attained Samadhi of Buddha Recitation, non-duality and a state of the Buddhas.


The above merely intended to give a brief introduction on a small portion of the content of the Thrice Buddhist Yearning Service to illustrate its supremacy. It is indeed a rare opportunity that you have taken your precious time from your busy schedule to attend this Service. I hope you will derive some benefit from this and not leaving empty-handed. I have given lectures explaining The Complete Collection of Zhong Feng Thrice Buddhist Yearning Service in detail. Recently, a fellow practitioner has compiled a condensed version of it to facilitate easy understanding. It is helpful if you have read it in advance to have an insightful contemplation of the meaning of the text. If you didn’t have time to study the content, but if you could follow the guidance of this book with utmost sincerity, you would be able to obtain extraordinary benefit from this Service as well. “True sincerity will bring about response and connection”, and true wisdom will naturally arise from within. This Service can really benefit the living and the deceased, protect the world and alleviate disasters. The merits are truly supreme!


Finally, I wish this Service every success and that everyone will attain Dharma joy with infinite wisdom and longevity! My best wishes for prosperity and stability to the United Kingdom and its people! My best wishes for world peace and Great Harmony! Thank you.



三時繫念的殊勝功德


  尊敬的主法和尚,各位法師,各位嘉賓,各位大德,大家好!很高興看到大家來參加今天的法會,今天是個吉祥的日子。去年我們在此地舉辦第一屆「中峰三時繫念法事」,今天是第二屆。這個法事簡稱「三時繫念」,我們辦三十多年了,確實是冥陽兩利,能夠護世息災,功德殊勝!

  藉著今天在英國舉辦三時繫念的機會,我想跟大家大致介紹一下「中峰三時繫念法事」的含義、內容和原理,以期與會嘉賓明瞭我們為什麼要舉辦三時繫念。這本《中峰三時繫念法事全集》事理圓融、契理契機,如果把它當作一般經懺佛事來做,有口無心,那就錯了,我們應當把它當作課誦來做。所以我們應當首先了解一下「中峰三時繫念法事」的內容,真正明白之後再照著儀軌去做,在儀式裡面隨文入觀就能收到很好的益處,才真正有意義。

  中峰三時繫念法事的含義

  「中峰」是元朝明本禪師的法號,他是中國禪宗的一代大德,大徹大悟,明心見性。他大揚禪風,上至王公,下至百姓,無不受到他的教化。後來,元朝的皇帝還特別封他為國師。他會集這一本繫念法事,以禪宗一代大德來弘揚淨土,意義非常之深。在這個法本當中,他處處顯示淨土與禪宗是同等高深的境界,而在度眾生的善巧方便的層面來說,淨土甚至比禪宗更加殊勝。

  「三時」,法事裡面有第一時、第二時、第三時,這是三時狹義的意思。除此之外,還有更廣的含義。古時候的印度,把一晝夜分做六時:晝三時,夜三時。由此可知,三時引申的意思就是從朝至暮晝夜不斷。

  「念」這個字,在中國文字,這是屬於會意字。你看看上面是「今」,下面是「心」,也就是我們現在心裡頭有的、正在心上的就是念。所以「繫念」就是現在當下心繫一處、念念不捨的意思。普通凡人與聖人最大的區別就是在念頭。古大德說:「聖狂之分,在乎一念。」聖人的心念,可以隨心所欲的繫念、專注在任何一件事物上,而凡夫的念頭是散亂的、不集中的,所以不容易發揮大的作用。我們做「三時繫念法事」,正是在訓練自己對念頭的控制能力,也就是現代學者所重視的注意力,集中能力。佛在《遺教經》上說,「心者,制之一處,無事不辦。」我們要能把心專注在一個地方,這就得定,那心的力量、效果就很不可思議。因為一心能生無量智慧、無量的德能,所以一心非常重要。把心集中在一處,就是佛法裡所說的禪定、定力。一切修行法門的樞紐、綱要,都是在定力。整個佛法,歸納到最後就是戒、定、慧三大類。而這個三大類當中,定是樞紐,可見其重要性。

  「法」是中峰國師為我們制定的這個法本。「法事」是依照這個法本來修行求往生的這樁事情。你看這裡面有讚佛、有誦經、有念咒、有禮拜、有懺悔、有迴向,修法很圓滿,跟天親菩薩《往生論》裡面所講的禮拜、讚歎、發願、觀想、迴向五念法門義趣相同,都是大乘佛法修定力、得到佛菩薩加持的方法。所以這種讓大眾聚集在一起,在布置得莊嚴肅穆的會場,與法師們共同進行莊嚴的儀軌、儀式。其實正是佛陀教育中非常高超玄妙、內含深刻的藝術與教學活動,其中蘊含著佛陀無盡的慈悲與智慧。

  三時繫念的內容舉要

  《三時繫念法事全集》從序文開始,先由「戒定真香」開啟,主要內容依次是《般若波羅蜜多心經》以及各讚頌的偈子。而後是第一時法事,由一遍《佛說阿彌陀經》起始,後面接著讚頌、發願、念佛,以及有四番開示的內容穿插在其中。休息後的第二時法事,還是由《佛說阿彌陀經》開始,跟著四番開示加上各讚頌與念佛。最後第三時法事,依然是一遍《阿彌陀經》加上四番開示,以及結尾的至心懺悔發願。所以我們不難看出,整個《三時繫念法事》就是在不斷的開理,不斷的打開普通凡人所執著的、局限的思想境界,進而接收、受持阿彌陀佛的思想境界,與佛菩薩的境界相靠攏。而在整個過程當中,實際上也正是在開發我們每個人本來就具備的非凡卓越的能力。

  主法開場這四句話很重要:「覺海虛空起,娑婆業浪流。若人登彼岸,極樂有歸舟。」這個四句偈內容非常豐富,前面兩句是說明宇宙生命的起源,這是迷了以後的現象,後面兩句是教給我們回頭是岸的方法。我們怎麼樣迷失了自性?覺海虛空起,覺海本來沒有虛空,覺海就是性海,經論裡面常講到心性,心性就是覺海,自性本覺。馬鳴菩薩在《大乘起信論》裡面告訴我們,「本覺本有,不覺本無。」本覺就是自性,它本來就覺,從來也不迷惑。今天我們講迷失自性,這是隨著凡夫的話來說。其實,自性是真性,真性怎麼會迷?真性不可能迷,迷只是一種幻相,猶如作夢一樣,不是真實存在的。這樁事情中峰國師在《繫念法事》裡面講得很明白,在它的迷悟,迷悟也不是真的,這愈說就愈玄了。虛空,先有虛空,然後再有世界;有世界之後,再有眾生。說的時候有先後,實際上生起就是唯心所現。

  這個現起太快太快了,現代的科學家也這樣說法,愈說跟佛法愈像,叫「一時頓現」。沒有先後次第,你沒有辦法講先後次第,它的速度是用二千二百四十兆分之一秒來講,你怎麼能發現它有先後次第?所以佛在楞嚴會上說這樁事情是「當處出生,隨處滅盡」。當處是什麼?就是現前,沒有遠近。沒有遠近就沒有空間,沒有先後就沒有時間。時間、空間都是凡夫的情執,不是事實。事實到底是什麼?就是迷悟,這個地方講覺迷。迷是迷什麼?佛經上講的「一念不覺」就是迷。那個一念的時間太短了。佛經上所說的清淨寂滅相是八地以上大菩薩所證得的境界,在他那個大定裡面是不動的,這是覺海。但是凡夫是動的,一動麻煩就來了,空間遠近、時間先後就從這裡生起來,這就叫做世界。世是指的時間,界是講的空間,時空就發生了。我們今天看的是幻相,是虛幻的一種相續相,把虛幻相續相以為是真實,在這個裡面起了妄想分別執著,就是娑婆業浪流。業浪流是什麼?六道輪迴。

  我們現在所住的這個世界是娑婆世界,三途六道是從妄想分別執著裡面變現出來的境界,幻相跟作夢一樣,可是你這個夢是惡夢,這個惡夢又不醒,繼續在做,很苦。無量劫來都醒不過來,而且愈迷愈深、愈陷愈苦。後面這兩句「若人登彼岸,極樂有歸舟」。末法時期,只有淨土法門這個辦法,除此之外,沒有第二個辦法。彼岸是覺岸。我們今天在迷的岸這邊,諸佛菩薩在覺的彼岸,我們要想破迷開悟、要想返迷歸覺,極樂世界有辦法。舟是運載的工具;歸是回頭。極樂世界有歸舟,歸舟就是指這個法事,你依照這個法事,等於說你有歸舟可以依靠,你穩穩當當的坐上這個船,就返妄歸真、返迷歸覺,就到了覺海。

  中峰國師在這個法事題目上給我們說出來「繫念」,一心繫念阿彌陀佛。我從早到晚只有一個念頭阿彌陀佛,除阿彌陀佛之外,其他什麼念頭都沒有。這也不是個容易事情。成佛哪有那麼容易?但這是最容易的了。八萬四千法門要是跟這個法門相比,這個太容易了!這個方法就是說,不管是什麼念頭,你要知道統統叫妄念。無論什麼妄念起來,立刻就歸到阿彌陀佛去,這是古人常說「不怕念起,只怕覺遲」,能夠這樣修行,你就成功了。所以,這個四句偈雖然只有二十個字,意義深廣無盡。只有返妄歸真、破迷開覺是真的,這是真正的佛法。這個三時繫念的宗旨,這四句偈全部說出來了。我們為什麼要依這個法事來修行,這都說出來了,這是一生不退成佛的方法。

  第一時的開示當中有這麼一段:「悟則生滅皆無生,迷則無生皆生滅。所以離此別無,是乃一體而異名也。」佛菩薩覺悟了,知道生滅統統是不生,一切法不生,不生哪來的滅?這才是宇宙人生的真相。迷的人分別、執著,在他的感官之中,宇宙之間所有的萬事萬物,統統都是有生有滅。其實它本來是一體,一體而異相。接著說:「審如是,則阿彌陀佛即是我心,我心即是阿彌陀佛。」你很認真、很仔細把這個問題看清楚了,你就能肯定,阿彌陀佛從哪來的?心現識變的。誰的心?我們自己的心。諸位要曉得,真心是共同的,妄心不同。離妄想分別執著,這是真心。大乘經上常講「十方三世佛,共同一法身」,所以它是一,不是二。阿彌陀佛就是我們的真心,我們的真心就是阿彌陀佛,無二無別。

  「淨土即此方,此方即淨土。」我們這個地球跟西方極樂世界是一不是二,沒有兩樣。西方極樂世界的人心善,它的反應就變出無量無邊的珍寶。我們這個地方人心不善,所以世界都變成了泥、沙、石頭。實際上是一個東西,沒有兩樣。「豈非迷悟之自殊,何有聖凡而彼此。」凡聖只不過是個名詞而已,名不同,真正造成這個不同現象的原因是迷悟。西方極樂世界人覺悟,所以一切萬物,隨悟而變現的境界,就是不可思議的美好。我們這個世間的人心行不善,所以這個地方所有一切的萬物,變現的就不美好了,就是這麼個道理。所以十法界依正莊嚴,都是我們自心所現、所變的影像。這些道理我們要明瞭,然後從哪裡改?從我們的心上改,要真修。真修不在形式,在實質。實質是什麼?起心動念。你的心變善,沒有一樣不善,相隨心轉。這就是說「一切唯心造」、「心淨則國土淨」。如果參加這個法會的人真修、真幹,心地清淨了,就能產生淨化這個世界的作用。所以能夠護世息災。

  第三時的開示中有「清珠投於濁水,濁水不得不清;念佛投於亂心,亂心不得不佛。」前面這兩句是比喻,是陪襯的話,後面這兩句才是主要要講的。持名念佛的原理是「真信切願,執持名號」;大勢至菩薩教導我們的是「淨念相繼」。淨念,念要清淨,清淨就是不懷疑、不夾雜,這叫淨念;相繼是不間斷。你看看古大德不懷疑了,所以能夠放下身心世界,提起正念。念佛這樁事情很重要,往生西方淨土是百千萬劫難遭遇,我這次遇到,一定要抓到,其他的都不要、拋棄掉。所以他念佛決定不夾雜妄想分別執著,這個念佛就如法。所以佛號投向亂心,亂心自然就消失了。這個方法好,很有效。諸位要是認真去念,如理如法,我常常講,三個月到六個月效果就很顯著。到時你自己發現到,這裡面就產生法喜充滿,你就喜歡念了。開頭難,開頭怎麼難?要把你的煩惱習氣伏住。無始劫以來的煩惱習氣很嚴重,你如理如法的念,自自然然就伏住了。這裡頭最要緊的,就是我們平常講的「一門深入,長時薰修」,功夫決定不能間斷、決定不能夾雜。你愈念心愈清淨,你感覺到妄念少了,妄念少就是煩惱輕、智慧增長,以前看東西看不懂,聽人家講話聽不懂、聽不明白,現在愈來愈清楚、愈來愈明瞭,這就是智慧增長,念佛功夫得力了。

  底下說:「念佛之人,須要信心懇切,正因凜然;重念死生輪轉之可悲,深厭塵勞紛擾為可痛。」這段是講,念佛用心要像這個地方所說的才能夠相應。所以我們讀到這段開示,要想想平常念佛跟他說的相應不相應。如果相應,很好,好好的保持;如果不相應,就要痛改前非。所以頭一個信心懇切,有真誠的信心;正因凜然,修淨土法門要發菩提心、一向專念,這是往生正因。我們在《無量壽經》裡面講往生,專門講念佛方法的「三輩往生」、「往生正因」這兩品經。這個正因要清清楚楚,一點都不含糊。

  「重念死生輪轉之可悲」,一定要有這個心。無量劫來搞生死輪迴,所謂頭出頭沒,在六道輪迴裡面頭出就是做了一點善因,遇到善緣,生到三善道;三善道的報報完了,惡的因現前,馬上一個跟頭栽下去,到三惡道裡面去了。佛經上告訴我們,只要你是在六道裡頭,肯定在三惡道的時間長,非常之長,在三善道的時間很短。所以六道輪迴裡面的眾生,三惡道是他的家鄉,三善道是出來觀光旅遊的,時間很短暫。你要曉得這個可悲,你的生死心才會真切。「深厭塵勞紛擾為可痛」。厭是厭惡、厭煩。什麼事情?塵勞紛擾,就是我們現前這種生活狀況。年輕人不容易感觸,七十、八十的人,實實在在說這個世間差不多也都見過,看久,討厭了,我們現在一般人講厭世。厭世不能解決,這非常悲哀的,每一天人事物的煩擾,身心得不到清淨,尤其是上了年歲的人,這個生活是痛苦的。這裡頭哪裡有快樂?輪迴苦,現實的生活苦,尤其活在現代的社會,現在人不知道什麼叫仁義道德,深深的迷在五欲六塵的誘惑之中,不知道回頭。這些誘惑全都是負面的,說得不好聽,全都是罪業。尤其現在的電腦,電腦的內容是些什麼?我沒看過,我聽一些同學們告訴我,裡面都是殺盜淫妄,都是教你作惡,你說這多可怕。年輕人,甚至於小朋友,從小迷戀在網路上,每天在看這些東西,把他一點良知良能全部都破壞掉,破壞得乾乾淨淨,可悲可痛無過於此。這些人造惡業他自己不知道,為什麼?他已經沒有能力辨別是非善惡,沉迷在這裡面。你要講一些善的東西,他感覺得很奇怪,他從來沒有聽說過。聽到你講,好像在講神話,他不能接受,聽不進去。他的心是大風大浪,這還得了!我們看看現在社會所造的因、所造的緣,然後你就會想到後面是什麼樣的結果。

  底下說「舉起一聲佛名」,也就是說在這樣沉痛的心情之下提起這一句佛號;「直下更無異見」,無異見是再沒有懷疑,再沒有分別,再沒有執著,什麼都放下,一條路,一直走去。下面禪師舉個比喻,「如太阿劍,橫按當軒」,太阿劍是寶劍,鋒利無比。這就好比在打仗一樣,將軍手上拿著寶劍,乘著戰車,軒是車前面的橫槓,手扶在車上拿著寶劍,這是在戰場上的姿態。又「如大火輪,星騰燄熾」,這大火輪就好像現在的原子彈。「萬物攖之則燎,觸之則傷」。萬物攖之則燎,是講大火輪無論什麼東西只要接近它,你就被燒掉了。觸之則傷,是講太阿劍,一碰到它,你肯定受傷。禪師用這個來比喻一聲佛號,一聲佛號就像太阿劍、就像大火輪一樣。大火輪比喻什麼?比喻念佛的般若智慧,太阿劍比喻念佛的三昧。什麼東西觸之則傷、攖之則燎?前面講的死生輪轉、塵勞紛擾,只要碰到定慧它就沒有了,煙消雲散,用這個比喻來說。

  「直至一心不亂,能所兩忘」。一心不亂是我們念佛的目標。我們念佛為的是什麼?為的就是求一心不亂,到理一心不亂的時候能所兩忘,就是入不二法門了,法身菩薩的境界。「到家之說,不容再舉」。為什麼?都是廢話,到與不到都沒有了,入不二境界。「捷逕之詞,何勞挂齒」。這個法門是徑路,徑路當中的徑路,是修行證果最快速、最捷徑的一條道路,現在你已經到了,不但這些話沒了,連念頭都沒了。這幾句話完全講的是功夫的境界,你已經契入念佛三昧,已經入不二法門,已經契入如來的境界。

  上面只是舉出一小部分的內容加以說明,就足以看出「三時繫念法事」確實是殊勝無比!今天很難得,大家騰出寶貴的時間來參加這個法會,一定不要空手而回,白跑一趟。關於《中峰三時繫念法事全集》,我曾經做過很詳細的講解,大家可以參考。最近有同修發心整理成精簡的小冊,方便大家了解其中內容。能夠事先了解法本的含義當然最好,有助於隨文入觀。即使沒有來得及了解大意,只要大家虔誠一心,隨著這個法本引導做下去,也能獲得殊勝的利益。真誠心最重要,所謂「至誠感通」,用至誠心,真正的智慧就會從內心流露出來,真正能夠達到冥陽兩利,護世息災,真正是功德殊勝!

  最後,祝福法會功德圓滿,與會大眾法喜充滿、光壽無量!祝福英國國運昌隆,國泰民安!祝福世界安定和平,盛世大同!謝謝大家。