Contemporary Buddhism

智慧法師與翁靜晶:當今漢傳佛教流弊的冰山一角

翁女士揭發定慧寺事件後,以正信佛教徒的身份,視破邪顯正為己任,到處打擊本地佛教界各種流弊,引起各界對佛教現狀的關注。就打擊本地佛教流弊,像翁女士的做法,對佛教究竟是利還是弊?

這個問題本來是沒有值得爭議的地方。因為錯就是錯,犯法就是犯法。像定慧寺女住持釋智定假結婚和對骨灰龕處理的不妥行徑,根本就是違法行為,所以根本沒有情有可原的說法。

女主持跟信徒爭吵,還惡形惡相的說出什麼「你們欺負出家人,欺負大陸人。。。正義去哪裡?」的話,言下之意就是我是法師,我還是中國大陸的人,有理無理都不是你們在家眾,或是香港人可以欺負的!

犯了法的女主持被窮追猛打,逼進窮巷,唯有以亂語自辯,本來不用理會。但她說話的語氣,多少表現出佛教界裡,甚至社會上的一些潛在矛盾,值得我們思考。

中國人,香港人,不管什麼背景,犯法就是犯法。這樣「你們」「我們」的說法是分化僧俗二眾,兼破壞中港關係的無賴行為。這種敗類,就算不是佛教徒也必須嚴懲,何況是穿著僧服的,實在有毀佛門尊嚴。

佛陀的教化本來就是主張「一切如是觀」。處理問題的第一步就是要認識問題,問題認識便要嚴正處理,以後才能解決。佛聯會發出聲明說有關人士「並非其會員」,「事前事後沒有其相關資料」,言下之意就是事不關己。不過涉事人都是寶蓮寺出家的,還有過去都有跟寶蓮寺公開來往,一句沒有關係就算,實在難以服眾。就算沒有正式的法律關係,也得做個果斷明確,與其一刀兩斷,執行家法,逐出佛門的聲明。隱瞞、淡化等做法並不是慈悲,只會讓事情留下尾巴。

網上流傳智慧法師與翁靜晶的一段影片,看來應該是在智慧法師沒有同意下記錄下來的。其實就是偷拍。談到定慧寺和當事人時,智慧法師說「自己已經傻了,不能分別真假」。這先不說,但法師接著跟翁居士說一句,「你是佛弟子嗎?是佛弟子的話就不要做這種有損佛門的事情。」法師說這番話意思無非是以長輩身分,告誡翁居士揭發佛門醜事的舉動,其實有損佛教顏面。家醜不出外傳嘛。本地佛教本來要面對的挑戰已經夠多了,現在佛教徒還給自己添負面消息,豈非添亂?

智慧法師的說法,相信也是老一輩本地佛教徒的立場,就是閒事不管,各自修行,反正因果業報都不是別人管得來的,做好本分就好了,佛教主張慈悲圓融,不走激進路線,大事化小,小事化無云云。不過,作為一個長輩甚至扮演領導角色的人,團體問題出現,卻沒有在其能力範圍內把問題解決,其實就是一種畏懼、怕事懦弱和不承擔的表現。現在本地佛教出現各種流弊,本地佛教領導階層責無旁貸。不把問題及時解決,就是為問題繼續惡化製造條件。要解決這些複雜的問題,當然會惹出牽連,所以執行人必須膽色過人,秉正嚴明。沒有這份勇氣和眼光,最後不要當領導。

作為本地佛教界的領導,因為各種原因沒有帶頭把問題解決,反而只是關心「佛祖顏面」,難怪有人終於忍無可忍,像翁居士直腸直肚的人跑出來為民請命,給正信佛教徒還個公道。

翁居士能夠做的,也許僅此而已。不過破而不立,在現實生活中是行不通的。亂象橫生,歸根到底都是正信佛教底氣不足。本來佛教教育就是一個大問題。甚麼是正信佛教?若是其他宗教,是正是邪,都有個權威的說法。不明之處,總有權威人士主持大局,總不會亂,這才算是個成熟的宗教團體。像梵蒂岡就敏感話題上要舉辦會議,為廣大天主教徒發表澄清,達賴喇嘛也經常要出來為藏傳佛教說句公道話一樣。試問漢傳佛教有什麼標準?哪個山頭的算是權威?佛學院的高僧給大家解說,還是隨便讓個熱心人引經據典?沒有正式皈依三寶的也算佛教徒嗎?皈依了三寶,但是不屬於任何佛教團體的也算佛教徒嗎?擁有什麼知識的佛教徒才算是正信的佛教徒?以漢傳佛教而言,懂得念心經,念大悲咒就算是個正信佛教徒嗎?再說出家眾,穿了袈裟,拿著戒牒的就都是高僧大德嗎?在家眾都要無條件服從,頂禮並叩頭三拜出家眾嗎?僧侶需要具備什麼條件才能當法師?法師和寺院的事情,誰來監管?出了問題,誰來撥亂反正?

出了像定慧寺這樣的事情,大家才意識到問題只是冰山一角。衝破問題的第一道關口,發現當今漢傳佛教在制度上和實踐層面上的各種弊病,這才是當今佛教徒需要認真思考之處。

Simran (smaraṇa), Sati (smṛti) and the effect of mental repetition

This is a subject that ought to be studied more carefully from a comparative point of view. The Buddhists have developed a complete science based on various techniques – from Ānāpānasati (mindfulness of breathing) to Nianfo (repetition of names of Buddha) ; in most religions, there are often sacred words or prayers believers repeat, not for understanding but for entering into a peaceful, meditative state. In most situations when the mind is severely disrupted or traumatized, these techniques help to calm the mind and prevent the person from spiraling down into depression or even psychosis. These days we all hear so much about physical health, but so little about mental health. Regular practice on such mental repetition is like building up an immune system against sudden mental or emotional onslaughts. Even if you have no spiritual beliefs, don’t lose your cool, just count “one, two, three”.

My Journey as a Buddhist

My Journey as a Buddhist, from Diamond Sutra to Diamond Sutra (Part 1)

 My first memory of something related to Buddhism was the sound of sutra-chanting where I heard in a Zen monastery in Lantau when I was a young child. Though neither of my parents was Buddhist, my mother a Protestant Christian and father a freethinker, they were nevertheless sympathetic to Buddhism. My father, beside being a philanthropist who always busied himself with various charity projects, was much interested in Buddhist teachings. During the summer vacations, my father would bring me to some of the remote monastery in Lantau Island or New Territories for meditation sitting and to live with the monks. Those early morning chanting had always held a special fascination for me. It was like sound of waves washing into my whole being, awe-inspiring and exhilarating at the same time. Later I found out that it was called the Diamond Sutra.

 

In my childhood days, I had always had my hair trimmed very short and the monks would tell me jokingly that I look just like a novice. An old nun even once remarked that I had been a yogi in my past live which I only half-believed. When I sat for meditation as a seven years old child, the monks took it nonetheless very seriously and would give me a bat if I was dozing away. The beating I received, which was harder than necessary, left me a very negative impression which lasted for years. Little did I know at that time that the monk who delivered the blow would become my first Buddhist teacher years later.

 

It was not until my university years when I started to take serious interest in Buddhism. At that time, I gave up my studies in science and turned to linguistics with a specialization in Sanskrit. I was fascinated by the ancient religious texts and in particular, the Indian religions which Buddhism was a part of. My multilingual bookcase was soon filled with books like the Bible, Bhagavadgītā, the Japji of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Yogasūtra and also the Diamond Sūtra. As a linguistic student, though I could read through the Diamond Sutra in Sanskrit, its meanings completely escaped me as it was so unlike anything I had read. For over years, this Buddhist sutra remained an enigma to me.

It was almost ten years after I first started reading the Diamond Sutra when I finally found the need to understand it completely. The reason why I could understand only the surface meaning of the text but not its true meaning was that, as I thought at that time, because I was not a Buddhist. After all texts were all written for specific audience in mind and without proper context and background knowledge, they could not deliver the intended message. Thus with this desire to gain the “insider’s view” I decided to learn more about the religion and eventually, became a Buddhist.

With my years of training in science, I had always been a diehard skeptic and religious conversion was not an easy one. Unlike Christianity where there were churches with open doors and priests and missionaries ready to answer every single one of your religious queries, the Buddhist door was an iron door tightly shut. It was a tortuous process, but thanks to my father’s Buddhist friends and other Buddhist teachers whom I came across one after another, the Buddhist faith gradually became clear to me. At a more personal level, I began to understand that Buddhism was a path of self-cultivation. Though I did not aspire to become enlightened, it became apparent to me that the Buddhist path was a well-trodden one, praised by the wise ones and made people only into better persons.

My life was gradually becoming surrounded by everything Buddhist. After years of exciting but rather uninspiring work, which inflated my asset and my ego, I took the very humbling path of resuming my Buddhist studies once again at Hong Kong University. I also took the time to explore and find out for myself what the Buddhists and the Buddhist communities were doing, to experience for myself whether the practice lived up to the theories. Perhaps most importantly, I started to gain many Buddhist friends. It was due to the positive influence of these kalyānamitra-s that a certain Buddhist identity took root in me. In my mind, they were the embodiment of wisdom and compassion and I too want to become one of them. Looking around in our society, it is hard to believe that there are truly people who are wise and yet kind and friendly at the same time, tolerant enough even to people who do not share the same faith – these are the Buddhists.

After I took my refuge in the Three Jewels and my lay precepts from my first Buddhist teacher who was from the Zen tradition, the chanting of Diamond Sutra thus became my daily homework. As my understanding of the Buddhism at both levels of intellect and faith deepened, I began to appreciate the beauty of the Sutra. In retrospect, it was a very liberating experience to shed with “thunderbolt wisdom” all the false identities I had built up for myself, which was defined by labels such as career, wealth or even trivial things like education or clothes one puts on. In a place like Hong Kong where everyone seemed to be trapped in a rat race for wealth and status, unable to see their existence beyond what they possessed materially or nominally, leading the imaginary life of pleasure they created in their own minds, the Sutra breathed a fresh air, bringing peace, kindness, understanding and other human virtues to a world of madness.

 

My Buddhist identity became something I treasured very much and something I took a special pride of. In the following years, due to my academic pursuit, I had to travel around the world, first to mainland China, then Germany and Japan. It was my encounter with other Buddhists in these countries which made me constantly reflect on this identity I had created for myself. Little did I expect that such encounter led to a great transformation within me, both in terms of my identity as a Buddhist, as well as my understanding of Buddhism as a world religion at large.