Story 1： A Parable of Resentment and Harm
Welcome to the series of programs that the True Enlightenment Practitioners Association recorded for the Dharma Satellite to propagate the Buddhist teachings. For the convenience of everyone, this program will be aired on Dharma Satellite as well as on the internet. Before this series, we have already recorded many programs regarding the Three-Vehicle Bodhi. You may check out the complete recorded programs on the official site of the True Enlightenment Practitioners Association.
目前我们这个系列，预计给大家录制的第一个部分叫作《佛典故事》，第二个部分则是讲述 平实导师（萧平实 XiaoPingS 导师）的《起信论讲记 - commentary on the Awakening of Mahayana Faith》。《佛典故事》的部分主要侧重的地方，也就是希望对于许多的广大的初机的学佛人，希望透过故事的方式，来告诉他们 佛陀的教诲，并且从中引生他们对于学佛的兴趣，所以这个部分的《佛典故事》的内容，会偏向于比较浅显，容易理解。而在《起信论讲记》的部分，就会依据平实导师（萧平实导师）书上的内容，会稍微深入一些。那接下来我们就进入今天的《佛典故事》的第一集。
As for this series, the first part is “Buddhism stories” and the second part is about Xiao Pings’ “Commentary on the Awakening of Mahayana Faith”. The main idea of “Buddhism stories” is to teach the beginners Bhudda’s teachings by telling them stories and eventually arouse their interest to Buddhism. Therefore, this part will be more simple and easy to understand. In terms of the “Commentary on the Awakening of Mahayana Faith”, it’s going to be deeper since it is based on Xiao Pings’ book. Now let’s move on to the first episode - the “Buddhism stories”.
The story that we are going to tell you today is called “A Parable of Resentment and Harm”. It is from volume 4 of the One Hundred Parables Sutra. Let’s read the scripture first.
This scripture is basically telling the story of a person from a long time ago who didn’t get along with another person and thus hated him. Because of the hatred and anger that was kept inside him, he wasn’t happy at all. Afterwards, another man asked him: “What happened to you today?” “Why do you look so gloomy?” He answered: “I’m upset because someone slandered me.” “And I’ve been thinking of a way to take a revenge on him, but for now I don’t think I have the capability to do so. Therefore I’ve been so upset since then.” After hearing the story, the person responded: “I know there’s a thing called Vinaya-Dharanai that can help you to revenge by hurting the person that you hate. However, there’s a disadvantage to it. Before hurting others, it will hurt you first.” The main character of the story not only was not afraid at all, he was actually pretty happy to hear about this. Because revenge is the only thing he had been thinking about ever since. Therefore, he would do it at any expense, despite hurting himself. So he begged the guy to teach him how to do it: "I know it will hurt me too, but I will sacrifice whatever it takes just to hurt the other guy. I don’t care how serious I will be hurt as long as I can hurt him."
This is the first story. I think many may be astonished and confused after hearing the story: why does this kind of mental behavior even exist? Actually, we all possess this kind of mental activities. Please allow me to explain.
First of all, let’s take a look at the so-called Dharani mentioned in the story. Of course in the story it is mentioned as Vinaya-Dharanai. We will explain it to you first by defining the word Dharani. Dharani means centralizing all dharmas and holding all meanings. In other words, it means to summarize all dharmas, all articles and all meanings in only one article, or one dharma, or one meaning. It is just like we may understand far deeper and broader terms or doctrines or articles if we understand these summarized meanings or sentences or principles. For example, Dharani is explained in the “Mahaprajna Paramita Sastra” as follows. Bodhisattva Nagarjuna said: “Dharani means being able to hold and restrain. Being able to hold means Dharani is able to contain all the good Dharma and stop it from losing. Being able to restrain means it is able to prevent all the evil thoughts and behavior from arising.” This is what it says Dharani means in the “Mahaprajna Paramita Sastra”.
When reading this, you probably may wonder how it is possible to summarize and hold all the superior and subtle Buddha Dharma with just one simple sentence, or one simple paragraph or one simple doctrine. How can you say it is being able to hold all wholesome Dharma and keep it from being lost and restrain all the evil activities from arising when in fact there are so much wholesome dharmas? I may use a simple example in our daily life to help you understand this. Think about it: aren’t we using similar ways when we study in this mundane world? For example, when we were in elementary school, teachers always taught us to memorize multiplication table because it was the simplest and easiest way to solve multiplication problems. After we memorized the multiplication table, all multiplication problems could be easily solved. From the mathematical point of view, this idea was just using memorization to get the result quicker so that we did not have to add repeatedly to get there. Every time we saw a multiplication problem we could always use the multiplication table to solve it. Therefore, in a certain way, multiplication table is a Dharani to our multiplication problems.
Another example, we’ve all heard doctor’s instruction on how to treat burn injuries. The instruction tells people to follow the five steps when dealing with burn injuries: Rinse, strip, soak, cover, and send. Each of the five words represents a procedure. For example, “rinse” means when one is burned, the immediate treatment is to rinse the burned part with cold water for a fairly long time. “Strip” means that one has to try to strip off whatever clothing is on the wounded part without further hurting the skin, and so on and so forth. So every word represents a procedure. Even elementary school students are familiar with all these procedures with education. Therefore, every time when there’s an accident of burn, the five-word treatment procedure will pop up on our mind and instruct us to deal with the accident right away accordingly to prevent further serious damage. This five-word first aid procedure simply tells us what shall be done to a burn injury before it is attended by a doctor. Therefore, in a sense, the 5-word procedure is a Dharanion treating burn injuries.
From this perspective, we may understand Dharani as a way of memorizing in learning in our daily life. At least for the multiplication table and the 5-word first-aid procedure that we gave in the examples above, they are simple pithy formulas for people to remember. So, the most basic and entry-level understanding of Dharani is that it is just a way of memorizing.
Above is an example of how we learn in this mundane world. Now let’s look at it from the view of Dharma’s world. For instance, many of us have heard the saying that if we can hold on to some basic principles, we will know how to ease our vexations. What are the principles then? They are: face them, accept them, deal with them, and let them go. These four procedures describe what we can do when we are facing vexations, especially when things go south. We have to face them bravely instead of running away from them, then accept the fact that the matters do actually exist. Since the trouble is already right in front of our own eyes, we have to ask ourselves how we can deal with it rationally. We have to set aside our emotions first, do whatever it is needed rationally, then we can think of a way to let it go without any hindrance. This is so-called one of the concepts of Buddha Dharma that many people have heard. Seemingly, Buddha Dharma is at the level of facing, accepting, dealing with, and letting go.
As we have explained earlier that the four-step procedure, including face it, accept it, deal with it, and let it go, is indeed an effective way for us to solve many vexations in this world. Therefore, it is also a kind of Dharani, or an overall summary in other words. But we have to remind the readers that the four procedures in this measure are all approaches of mundane dharma and whose state of conscious mind is also worldly. So we have to make it clear that the correct understanding of this four-step measure is that it is a method aiming at eradicating dispositional hindrances. This method is effective indeed when we deal with simple worries and vexations. However, as long as you have tried it and known the true meaning of it, you will realize that it is insufficient for us to deal with all our worries and vexations because the four procedures only deal with vexations in a very shallow level and they don’t solve the problems from the core. The core is the origin of vexations. Because they do not reach the core of vexations, they cannot be effective ways to eradicate vexations so as to lead us to liberation. For this reason, we mentioned earlier that we consider this method a way to eradicate dispositional hindrances in the secular world.
但是，佛陀所讲的解脱道就不只如此了，如果你有确实按照 佛陀讲的解脱道一步一步修习的话，那么 佛陀所教的这个解脱道就能够让我们真正彻底解脱烦恼。所以在这个部分，我们说学佛，虽然说您一开始学佛的时候，也许对于这种面对、接受、处理、放下的这样子一个处事原则，觉得听起来还不错，还挺受用的；不过我们要鼓励大家，这个还不是佛法。真正佛法的解脱道有更多、更深入、更胜妙的道理等着大家去学，希望大家真正要学佛的话，一定要超越这四个面向的层次。
However, what the Buddha said about the Path to Liberation is more than this. If we follow precisely the Path to Liberation that Buddha has said and practice it step by step, the Path to Liberation that Buddha taught us will truly lead us to be liberated from vexations. So when we talk about learning Buddha’s teachings, especially when you are a beginner, you might think that the principle of facing it, accepting it, dealing with it, and letting it go is very useful, but we have to tell you that this is not the true Buddha Dharma.The real Path to Liberation of Buddha Dharma has much more, deeper, and more wonderful principles and doctrines for us to learn. If you really want to learn about the true Buddha Dharma, you have to go beyond this level.
Now let’s take a look at the Dharani again. The four procedures that are used to deal with vexations are like Dharani and they can be used to deal with general problems. On the other hand, we may have heard some voice say: “Fear no arising of thoughts but delayed awareness.” And there are some other people saying: “As long as we are aware of the arisen thoughts and don’t let the state of conscious mind lead us by nose. “ This type of saying has exactly the same idea. It simply encourages people to treat their mental activities when they have vexations. When we remember these sayings we may alert ourselves immediately as the vexations arise: “Ah! I shall stop having these worries!” Therefore, this type of saying like “fear no arisen thoughts, but delayed awareness” can also be considered a kind of Dharani which is used to eradicate dispositional hindrances according to the mundane dharma. As long as we keep it on our mind, in general, it can effectively prevent us from being enmeshed in vexations.
Therefore, the essence of the mundane dharma, such as the multiplication table, treatment of burning injuries, the procedure of facing it, accepting it, dealing with it, and letting it go, and the “fear no arisen thoughts, but delayed awareness”, is based on memorization. Another way to understand it is that they are all a kind of pithy formulas.Through these pithy formulas, you get the idea what is the best procedure next. So, if we think it through, we will realize that we have been repeatedly using the idea of Dharani to help us learn the whole time when we grow up. If you are in doubt whether this is true, you may recall that you always figured out some ways of your own to remember the contents to be tested before the exams. Take a geography exam for example. Didn’t you come up with all kinds of ways such as pithy formulas or rhymes or codes to help you remember the tedious geography knowledge for the exam? These formulas, rhymes and code are a kind of Dharanis.
The point is to tell everyone that learning is a build-up process. To better remember the knowledge we usually use different ways, for example a summary or code or formula or definition to reorganize the contents. When we do this, we are using the concept of Dharani.
Based on this concept, let’s think through why it says in the “Mahaprajna Paramita Sastra” that Dharani can help us to hold all kinds of wholesome Dharmas and prevent them from losing, and restrain all evil thoughts and behavior from arising? Bodhisattva Nagarjuna didn’t mean that there was only one Dharani and it was the master key to everything. What Bodhisattva Nagarjuna was saying is that if we want to hold the wholesome Dharmas with no exception, we must have the matching Dharanis. It’s the same case when Buddha taught wholesome dharmas to his disciples. He would teach his disciples different Dharanis to different dharmas. The main purpose was to lead all sentient beings to learn all Dharmas. And they must be learned in this way. Since it is the universal way for us to learn things, I hope the original definition of Dharani, meaning to summarize all dharmas, all articles and all meanings in only one article, or one dharma, or one meaning, would not be new to you. It is simply because this is the way we learn.
Maybe some people would wonder why Vinaya-Dharani is even mentioned in the story if Dharani is only a dharma-gate of memorizing for learning in the secular world and also a way of learning. We have to mention that Dharani, as an overall summary or a way of memorization, can be used for something either positive or negative. Dharani itself is just a kind of method, it is neutral, and it has nothing to do with good and evil. But in this episode when Bodhisattva Nagarjuna defined Dharani, “to hold the wholesome Dharmas and stop them from losing, and restrain all evil thoughts and behavior from arising”, he seemed to apply Dharani to only positive things. The reason is that when we talk about Dharani in Buddha Dharma we are talking about wholesome dharma, of course. We are talking about the dharma of purity which will benefit all those who practice. However, if we are talking about Mundane Dharma instead of Buddha Dharma, then of course there are good and evil. Although Dharani is just a neutral way of memorizing, when it is applied, it may present either good or evil.
In terms of the Vinaya-Dharanai mentioned in the story, first of all, we can see that its purpose is to harm people. Since it will harm people, it cannot be a wholesome Dharma. Furthermore, not only will it harm the others, it will also harm the person who uses it. How can a Dharma be wholesome if it harms both the counterpart and the user himself? Therefore the Vinaya-Dharanai mentioned in the story is completely opposite to that mentioned in the Buddha Dharma. Regarding Dharani, there is much more about it. For instance, the so-called Five-Hundred Dharani is mentioned in the “Prajñā Sutras” and the Wonderful Dharani that the Bodhisattva Avalokitêśvara must possess in "Yogācārabhūmi-śāstra" by Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva Maitreya. These Dharanis are related to the practice and verification of Buddha Dhrama and are helpful for everyone’s Dharma cultivation.
That’s it for today. We will have more to discuss with you in the following episodes.