主講:淨空老法師

時間:二〇一三年五月二十三日

地點:法國巴黎聯合國教科文組織總部



諸位宗教代表、長老,斯里蘭卡議長先生以及大使,前日本首相鳩山賢伉儷,澳洲圖文巴市長安東尼先生,諸位大德,諸位來賓。今天我沒有想到,我還能夠再一次的到這個地方來跟大家做報告。記得二00六年,我們接受教科文組織的邀請辦了一次,是以主辦單位的身分,也是紀念釋迦牟尼佛二千五百五十週年,活動的主題是「佛教徒對世界人類的貢獻」。去年五月我參加一次泰國的宗教活動,遇到我們的主席,她率領十七位大使來泰國看我,希望我再辦一次活動。我說我上一次辦活動,我們湯池實驗成功了,應當要給聯合國做報告。這一次要我再辦活動,我沒有東西報告了。十一月份,我們在斯里蘭卡又遇到了,再提起這樁事情,正好主席的熱心讓我們非常感動,斯里蘭卡總統主辦這次活動,邀請我來跟大家做報告。剛才我聽到前面諸位大德的講話,我很受感動。今天與上一次距離六年了,六年我們的社會變化很大,真正是古人所說的,「人心壞了,社會亂了」。如何來拯救,這是聯合國的精神,聯合國的義務。我們認真仔細的思惟考慮,問題的結癥到底出在什麼地方。再看看古聖先賢,全世界每個國家族群,每個宗教創始人告訴我們,實在讓我們得到一個總結論,我們的教育出了問題。

人是教得好的,人性本善,這個話是真的不是假的。釋迦牟尼佛在經教裡面告訴我們,說「一切眾生本來是佛」,又說「一切眾生皆有如來智慧德相」。換句話說,我們每一個人有跟釋迦牟尼佛同樣的智慧、同樣的德能、同樣的相好,為什麼他成佛了,我們還在這裡搞輪迴,永遠沒有機會脫離,這什麼原因?佛告訴我們,佛跟眾生沒有差別,不一樣在哪裡?覺迷不相同,佛覺悟了,眾生迷了。什麼是覺悟,什麼是迷惑?大乘經裡面佛告訴我們,我們六根所起的作用,眼能見,耳能聽,鼻能嗅,舌能嘗,身能接觸,意能思想。這個作用,佛跟眾生是沒有差別的。差別在哪裡?差別在我們這作用裡面添加了很多附加物,這個就叫做染污。我們見色聞聲,會起心動念,會分別執著,這就是凡夫;如果我們六根起的作用,沒有起心動念,沒有分別執著,叫佛知佛見,我們就是佛。這給我們很大的啟示。



我們細心去觀察,每個人到這個世間來,當然是由業力牽引。業力牽引那是因果關係。我們生到這個世界來,出生的時候,我最近講過幾次,「人生百日」,生到這個世間來一百天,也就是三、四個月,「體露真常」,從他的身體上表現出來,純真永恆。這個嬰兒他還不會說話,他還沒有分別。你看不認生,誰去抱他,他都歡喜。你看他的眼神,看他的動態,看他母親對他的愛,他對於母親的愛。母親愛擴大了,他對於所有一切人的愛,那是從真心流露出來的,他沒有受到污染。如果說再長大一點,他認生了,他認識哪個是他的母親,哪個不是,他就被染污了。這個染污一開始,就愈嚴重、愈深。在這個地方我們了解到,不受染污的是佛,完全沒有染污,這是真正的愛。也就是宗教裡面所說的上帝之愛、神之愛,伊斯蘭講真主的仁慈,佛的慈悲,這是我們自性裡頭本有的,本來具足的。

佛陀的教育沒有別的,就是希望我們把自性裡頭本有的那個愛把它發掘出來,落實在我們的生活,落實在工作,落實在處事待人接物。所以大乘經教佛教給我們,「一切皆從真實心中作」。我們用真心,生活用真心,工作用真心,待人接物用真心,真誠心。真誠心是大乘菩提心的本體,菩提就是覺悟,覺心的體是真誠。對自己的作用,起的作用是清淨、是平等、是覺悟;對別人的作用,那就是慈悲,一片慈悲。沒有分別的愛,沒有執著的愛,不分族群,不分自他,沒有任何條件,這種愛心是自性本具的,這就是佛陀的大慈大悲。

我們看到眾生有痛苦,我們要像佛陀一樣,佛陀在世做出了最好的典範給我們看。大乘教裡面說,他十九歲出家,離開家庭,捨棄了王位,捨棄了宮廷富裕的生活,他去做個苦行僧,三衣一缽,日中一食,樹下一宿。這樣的生活,我們看起來是很苦,很辛苦的生活;我學佛之後這才了解,老師告訴我,學佛是人生最高的享受。我常常在觀察佛陀的生活,是人生最高的生活,幸福的享受。佛沒有憂慮、沒有牽掛、沒有分別、沒有執著、沒有煩惱、沒有習氣,你說他多幸福!

他起心動念一切作為,他不為自己,他為一切眾生,他是來拯救我們的。我們本來跟佛陀是一樣的,會變成這樣,就是我們的真心裡面夾雜著起心動念。起心動念也叫做情,如果有這個情,情裡頭有覺悟,那就叫菩薩;如果這個情裡面沒有覺,他有道德仁義,那就是我們中國人一般稱為的聖賢君子,這社會上的好人;假如他沒有義,沒有仁義道德,充滿了自私自利,充滿了欲望,在佛法稱之為凡夫。他們起心動念是為自己,為自己是非常不幸,眼前得一點利益,名聞利養的享受。可是學佛的同學都知道,信仰宗教的同學也都知道,我們要問,我們這一生身體捨棄之後還有沒有來生?如果有來生,這來生到哪裡去?來生怎麼辦?

我昨天見到巴黎漢學院的一位老師,他翻譯了一本書,內容是中國八種善書,我看到了非常歡喜。這八種善書,寫善有善果,惡有惡報,非常值得提倡。我一看,問他,我說你能不能送我一百本?他這個是書店裡面出售的,我說你替我找,我付錢,我買一百本,我要送給我的一些朋友們。如果真正懂得倫理道德的教育,受過這個良好教育,他有良心,他起心動念他不會作惡。作惡覺得對不起良心,對不起父母,對不起老師,也對不起我們宗教的創始人,我們的教主,對不起國家,對不起社會大眾。沒有倫理道德教育,他沒有這種思惟。如果有因果教育他不敢,為什麼?造作一切不善果報太可怕了。我們許多宗教都講到有地獄,你們如果要問我,地獄有沒有?我是很肯定告訴你,絕對有天堂、有地獄。

天堂地獄從哪裡來的?不是神造的,是我們自己意念變現出來的。這個被近代量子力學家肯定了,他告訴我們的,我們的念頭所產生的能量是沒有法子估計的。善念產生善的能量,惡念產生惡的能量,善的能量就變成天堂,惡的能量就變成地獄,所以天堂地獄是自己變現的,行為變現出來的。所以我們千萬要了解事實真相,不能夠怨天尤人。我們做了很多罪孽,受了很多果報,不能夠怪上帝不保佑我,不原諒我,不能夠有這種念頭。上帝永遠愛世人,你造作再重的罪業他也愛你。像父母愛兒女一樣,兒女犯了罪,還是要被法律判刑,父母也無可奈何。這個道理要懂,我們對於神要尊敬。

佛教我們什麼?經典裡面說得很多,佛法基本的教義,佛說得很簡單,只有三條。第一條裡面教導我們要孝順父母,要奉事師長,要學有慈悲心,決定不殺生,要修十善業。十善就是不殺生、不偷盜、不邪淫、不妄語、不兩舌(兩舌是挑撥是非)、不綺語、不惡口。這是基本的戒條,如果連這個都做不到,就不是佛弟子,我們縱然是出家,佛也不會承認我們是他的學生,一定要依教奉行。這是人天普世的教育。今天在這個世界上,雖然很多地方看到佛教,佛教已經變成學術了。真正的佛教是要落實在生活上,落實在工作,落實在處事待人接物。

我去年承蒙斯里蘭卡總統邀請,我去訪問了九天。讓我感到非常驚訝,沒有想到世界上還有個真正的佛國。他們的佛教確實全民教育,信徒佔全國人口百分之七十五以上。他們做到了,生活上做到,工作待人接物都做到。而且非常難得的是他們的星期天,每一個星期天,在校的學生,在校讀書的學生,小學、中學、大學,一定到附近寺院裡面接受佛陀教育。我發現他們的法師個個都會講經,都會教學,我看到真是無量的歡喜,沒有想到的是我還能看到真正佛教。我跟總統建議,希望總統能夠在小乘提上一層,再學大乘。小乘是小學,希望他再辦中學、再辦大學,能夠把斯里蘭卡的佛光遍照全球。

像這樣的活動,這個活動好,如果每年我們都紀念釋迦牟尼佛的衛塞節,都能在聯合國舉辦一次活動,一年一次,這樣的活動非常有意義。喚醒全世界的人,對佛教、對所有的宗教都要敬愛。佛陀心量很大,當年在世,我們在經典上看到,弟子,他的學生,不同的族群,不同的國籍,不同的文化,不同的宗教信仰,他都收。佛法是師道,佛陀這個意思是覺悟的人,他不是神的意思。菩薩也是覺悟的人,不圓滿,佛是圓滿覺悟的人。所以佛是老師,我們跟佛的關係是師生關係。稱佛陀是我們的本師,根本的老師,我們自稱為弟子,是師生關係。所以他任何宗教都包容,都非常尊重、敬愛,以真誠心對待,這是我們要學習的。把佛陀的教誨學了之後就要做到,如果學了之後沒有做到,那就等於沒有學。我學佛,早年時候老師告訴我,檢驗自己,你沒有做到的你沒有懂,你沒有真正懂,真正明白之後,一定會做到。所以千萬不可以以為我知道,我學了很多,未必,沒有做到,佛都不承認的。一定我們真正落實,做好榜樣給社會大眾看。

講經教學是釋迦牟尼佛一生的事業,他從開悟之後就一直開始講經,一直到最後圓寂,沒有一天空過,這是我們每一個佛弟子都要常常放在心上。出家,這是我們的專業,我們是教員;在家,我們來護持,我們也可以弘法。我今天在此地,以這點貢獻給我們大會所有的長老們,所有的嘉賓,所有的朋友們。謝謝大家。

3. The Reign of King Wen and Wu Thirty-Two Hundred Years Ago

According to Chinese historical records, about thirty-two hundred years ago, in the early stages of the Zhou dynasty’s reign, King Wen, later with his son King Wu, ruled Xi Bo. The two kings ruled their country with virtue, and their country became the model for the other eight hundred territorial rulers. All other countries regarded King Wu as the Son of Heaven and followed his rule, and the Zhou dynasty lasted eight hundred years.

When King Wen was in power, a dispute broke out in two neighboring countries, Yu and Rui, and the two kings went to Zhou to seek King Wen for arbitration on the territorial dispute. After entering Zhou territory, both kings saw the courteous society of Zhou and became ashamed. They realized that “our argument is a shame in the eyes of the Zhou,” and they settled their dispute. From this story, we are able to learn that the rule of benevolence, honor, courtesy, wisdom, and trust had been deeply rooted in the hearts of the citizens in Zhou, and it also influenced their neighboring countries.



4. The Successful Experience Early in the Qing Dynasty

Since ancient times, Chinese saints and sages have always taught with the whole world in mind. Instead of limited thoughts of a single country or race, the idea of justice for all was embraced. The Mongolians and the Manchus both invaded China, yet the Chinese accepted them, and eventually the cultures merged as one. One may ask “When the Manchus entered China, it only had an army of 200,000. How could they successfully rule a population of over ten million, and for nearly three hundred years?” Furthermore, there had been well-known prosperous periods of over one-hundred twenty years. Why? The Manchurian emperors appeased the Chinese people by respecting the Chinese culture. They took the lead in studying the culture more vigorously than anyone else. Emperors in the early Qing dynasty, Shun Zhi, Kang Xi, Yong Zheng, and Qian Long, were all adepts at the traditional Chinese teachings including Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. These emperors also acted as examples by inviting virtuous scholars to the royal court to explain the meanings of sacred texts of these different schools of thought to the top government officials. Such deeds gained the support and admiration of Chinese intellectuals and the public. We are able to find the descriptions in Daily Talks on Four Books in the Complete Library of the Four Branches of Literature, to see the grand scale of those royal classics from the Qing dynasty.



5. Tangchi as an Experimental Town in a Modern Setting

In November 2005, I set up The Lujiang Centre of Cultural Education in my home town, a small town called Tangchi, in Lujiang County, Anhui Province, China. A Confucian traditional textbook, Guidelines for Being a Good Person (Dizigui) was used as the core guiding principle to assist with the government’s promotion of moral education for the people. A group of thirty-seven teachers were trained first. They all learned Guidelines for Being a Good Person, and, more importantly, they practiced and applied the teachings in it when they went out in teams to introduce and impart these teachings of filial piety, sibling love, benevolence, and love to the local people. Within a few months’ time, great improvement was witnessed in the local social trend, which proved that the “intrinsic nature of humans is full of goodness,” and that people can easily be taught to become better. It proved that the teachings of saints and sages are still effective in modern society. In October 2006, thanks to the recommendation by the Thai ambassador to UNESCO, and in conjunction with World Fellowship of Buddhists (WBF), the PLLCA gave a three-day presentation and an exhibition at UNESCO headquarters, showcasing interfaith harmony and the results of our experimental town of Tangchi in relation to the teaching of Guidelines for Being a Good Person. We received positive recognition and acknowledgement from the UNESCO secretary general, ambassadors, and other peace workers. The event also proved that “all religions can cooperate in harmony” and that “people can be taught to become better.”



6. The Renowned Period of Prosperity and Peace—The Tang Dynasty, an Era of Multiculturalism

(1) A Multi-faith and Multicultural Society that Coexisted in Prosperity

The Tang dynasty in China was an era of multi-faith harmony and multiculturalism that coexisted in wonder and in prosperity. One of the emperors, Li Shimin, was a man of great magnanimity. He embraced and encouraged all. He humbly learned from each religious teaching and the teachings from various saints and sages. His actions inspired a whole generation of people to learn from saints and sages. Not only was he a benefactor of Buddhism, he was also a patron of all religions. He truly valued all religions, and he tried to maintain and protect them. Each religion was embraced and treated with equality. He regarded the virtuous and learned practitioners in each religion as the national teachers, and he consulted with them often.

In the ninth year of Li Shimin’s rule, on the arrival of Christian priest Alopen, Emperor Li Shimin ordered Prime Minister Pang Xuanling to greet Alopen at the outskirts west of the capital. In the twelfth year, Emperor Li Shimin ordered the building of a Persian Temple by Imperial Decreed and permitted the preaching of its religion. Another church was built in Yi Ning Fang in Chang’an, the capital of the Tang dynasty.

Islam was also introduced to China during the Tang dynasty because of interactions with Arabian countries. At that time, Prophet Mohamed was still alive and Waqqas, his disciple, went to Guangzhou and spread the teachings of Islam. The Tang government showed great acceptance and respect to the Muslims. The then emperor also assisted in building a mosque by imperial decree for the settlement of the Muslim soldiers who came to China.

The Tang government treated all religions equally, as it knew religions were the good education of wisdom and experiences given by God and saints. Such teachings will teach and transform the public so the government can help the people live in harmony and, thus, help stabilize the society in peace. Dr. Toynbee once said that if he could choose to relive his life, he would abandon twentieth century London for China’s seventh century Chang’an.

(2.) The Book that Leads to Stability and a Better World—The Governing Principles of Ancient China

The most significant achievement during Emperor Li Shimin’s reign was the compilation of the book on governance: The Governing Principles of Ancient China (Qunshu Zhiyao).

The Governing Principles of Ancient China was compiled at the imperial decree of Emperor Li Shimin at the beginning of the Zhenguan Era, (599-649). He ordered his advisors, among them Wei Zheng and Yu Shinan, to select essential passages that provided insight into how past emperors governed the country. The passages were to come from the historical records, the Six Classics, the Four Collections of History, and texts from the Hundred Schools of philosophy. From these, the advisors were to extract the most important passages related to (1) cultivation of oneself, (2) managing the family properly, (3) governing a country successfully, and (4) bringing peace and equality to the world. The resultant compilation is The Governing Principles of Ancient China, with excerpts from 14,000 books, 89,000 scrolls of ancient writings—500,000 words in all that covers sixty-five categories of books dating from the era of the Five Legendary Emperors to the Jin dynasty.

This is an invaluable book, which if used in the present time, would allow us to examine and learn from our ancient history; and if passed down to our descendants, it would help and plan for our children in the future. Emperor Li Shimin was extremely pleased with the broad coverage and the concise nature of the compilation, and read the book daily. He said to those in charge of the compilation, “I owe it to you, my ministers, who have equipped me with knowledge of the past, so I would not be in doubt when confronted with various issues.” The compilation had obviously contributed to the subsequent peace and prosperous period of the Zhenguan Era. This treasure is invaluable for all who are involved in the political arena.

The ancient cultural teachings of our ancient saints and sages can bring lasting stability and peace to the entire world. The most critical factors are for the learners to truly comprehend this traditional culture and eliminate doubt and have faith in it. Traditional culture and the teachings of the saints and sages is the natural outpouring of our true nature. These teachings transcend space and time; they are everlasting. The key to effective learning comes down to two words: sincerity and respect. Without sincerity and respect for the teachings of the saints and sages, even if one read through every page of all the sacred texts, one would study in vain without real benefit. Confucius, the great sage who was well known to be a polymath, when talking about traditional culture and values, stressed that he only “retold ancient teachings and he did not create anything new” and he “believed in and favored the ancient teachings.” These famous words expressed his sincerity and respect within. That is why he attained such a high achievement. He has been regarded as the “Most Venerated Sage Teacher” and is the “Role Model for Teachers Throughout All Ages.” Confucius was a role model for us all in learning sincerity and respect.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, in his speech on the Three Principles of the People (“Principle of Nationalism 4th Lecture”), said, “The advancement in science and material civilization in Europe only happened in the last two hundred years or so. When it comes to the essence of political philosophy, Europeans can still turn to China for answers. Many people have come to appreciate how German scholars have contributed to the general knowledge of humanity. At the same time, German scholars are devoting their time to study the philosophies of China as well as Buddhism from India, to help us understand and remedy the inherent bias in the field of science.

The Governing Principles of Ancient China is the essence of Chinese political philosophy and can serve not only as an important reference book for leaders of all countries to make political decisions, it can also remedy the bias of modern science.

The ancient Chinese have passed down their wisdom, principles, methods, experiences, and results on the governing of a country. Such a wealth of experiences has been accumulated over thousands of years and endured the test of time. The Governing Principles of Ancient China is invaluable and meaningful, especially for our modern world. Should all, including leaders at different levels, in various political parties, and of different countries, be able to bilaterally learn from these books and deeply understand it and implement its teachings, the day will soon come when a harmonious society and a world with equality and peace will be realized.

Teacher Tsai Li-Hsu form Malaysia’s Chung Hua Cultural Education Centre, has published selected sayings from The Governing Principles of Ancient China and named it The Governing Principles of Ancient China 360 and translated it into English. This new selection is also known as The Governing Principles of Ancient China. On the Chinese side, Professor Yu Li, from the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, and her team of researchers, has also published Connotation in Modern Chinese and Collection of Commentaries, which explains the book further.

7. The Tool for Studying Traditional Chinese Culture

The complete treasure of the traditional Chinese culture lies in the Complete Library of the Four Branches of Literature, The best way to study the Chinese culture is to read the Complete Library of the Four Branches of Literature directly in Chinese, which requires the command of traditional Chinese characters as well as classical Chinese (wen yan wen) the traditional written language. Classical Chinese, a great invention of the ancient Chinese, is different from Latin-based languages in many ways. In Chinese, the written language (classical Chinese) is different from the daily spoken language. While the spoken form of the language evolves with the passage of time, the written form remains the same. Hence, the linage of the language system does not change, and thousands of years later, today’s Chinese descendants can still read and understand the writings of the ancient past, and learn from their wisdom and experiences. The Chinese characters are symbols of wisdom. They are a heritage of humanity. Unfortunately, a change started to take place early last century and the Chinese started to use the vernacular style, or the plain language, and in the 1950s, simplified Chinese characters were implemented in China. The new generations in China cannot understand classical Chinese, nor can they read or write the traditional form of the Chinese characters. It is an extremely saddening fact that the cultural treasures passed down by our ancestors are being buried in front of our eyes. We sincerely hope that classical Chinese and the traditional forms of the Chinese characters, the Complete Library of the Four Branches of Literature, and the Abridged Version of the Complete Library of the Four Branches of Literature can be registered in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection List. Furthermore, we wish UNESCO could promote the global study of classical Chinese and Chinese traditional culture.

Learning Classic Chinese is not difficult. I have met students of Sinology in the U.S. and the UK. Some had a good command of it in three years. Having grasped classical Chinese, one would hold the key to the Complete Library of the Four Branches of Literature and easily tap into 5000 years of wisdom and experiences as if they were one’s own. What opulent wealth! Through the learning of traditional Chinese culture, one could become a wise person, an able person, and even a saint or sage, and one could contribute greatly to the long lasting peace and stability of our world.