Biographies

Biography Of The Eighth Patriarch Of The Chinese Pure Land Tradition Great Master Lianchi 净土宗八祖莲池大师传

出家法名:释莲池(大师)     
地位:净土宗第八代祖师   
俗名:沈(姓),袾宏(名),佛慧(字)
出生地:杭州仁和   
出生年:1535 | 往生年:1615   
作品:《阿弥陀经疏钞》四卷、《竹窗随笔》三卷、《往生集》三卷、《净土疑辩》一卷、《七笔勾词》等。这些著作都收在《云栖法汇》或《莲池大师全集》中。   

Monastic Dharma Name: Shi Lianchi (Great Master)   
Status: Eighth Patriarch Of The Pure Land Tradition (School)   
Secular Name: Shen (surname), Zhuhong (first name), Fohui (style name)  
Place Of Birth: Hangzhou City, Renhe District
Year Of Birth: 1535 C.E. | Year Of Rebirth: 1615 C.E.
Known Works: Commentary On The Amitabha Sutra, Essays By The Bamboo Window, Collection On Rebirth, Doubts And Debates On Pure Land, Verses On Writing Off With Seven Strokes, etc. These works are all compiled in the Collection On Yunqi Dharma or the Complete Collection Of Great Master Lianchi

莲池大师生于1535年,俗姓沈,名袾宏,杭州仁和人。大师出生于世代望族之家,17岁补诸生,以学识与孝行著称于乡里。

Great Master Lianchi was born in 1535 C.E. in Hangzhou City, to a Shen family and was named Zhuhong. His family was distinguished in that era. At the age of 17, he was already a Ming imperial scholar, and was widely known in his village for his knowledge and filial practices. 

27岁丧父,32岁母亦永诀,便决志出家修行,与妻子汤氏诀别。之后大师作了《七笔勾词》,投西山性天和尚落发,其妻随后也削发为尼。

He lost his father at the age of 27, and also his mother at 32,  he then became determined to renounce the household life to cultivate practice. He bade his wife, Madam Tang farewell. Afterwards, Great Master wrote the Verses On Writing Off With Seven Strokes, and renounced under Mount Xi’s Venerable  Xingtian. His wife later also shaved her hair to become a nun. 

受具足戒后,行脚遍参知识。六年间崎岖坎坷,行头陀行。参学遍融禅师,老禅师教喻:“你可守本分,不要去贪名逐利,不要去攀缘,只要因果分明,一心念佛。” 大师拳拳服膺。后参笑岩德宝禅师,辞别向东昌的归途上,闻樵楼之鼓声,忽然大悟。 

After receiving the full monastic precepts, he travelled by foot everywhere to study from the wise. For six years, his journey was rugged and rough, as he practised asceticism. As he visited to study under Chan Master Bianrong, the old Chan Master taught, ‘You can just abide by your role, not having greed for fame and to pursue profits, not clamber after conditions; only with cause and effect clearly known, be wholeheartedly mindful Buddha’s name.’ Great Master sincerely bore that in mind.  After studying under Chan Master Xiaoyan Debao, he bade farewell to travel towards Dongchang. On his way there, he heard the drum tower’s drumming sound, and suddenly has a great awakening.

隆庆五年,大师因喜杭州云栖山水幽胜,遂结茅卜居修念佛三昧。然而山中老虎时常伤害村民,大师慈悲为放瑜伽焰口,之后老虎不再患害百姓。逢旱年,村民恳请大师祈雨。大师手击木鱼,循田埂念佛,一时,雨下如注。后村民及信众们自发为大师建造寺院。

In Longqing’s fifth year, as Great Master was fond of Yunqi’s supreme scenery and tranquility, he built a hut and resided there, to cultivate Samadhi From Mindfulness Of Buddha. However, as tigers in the mountain often harmed the villagers, out of compassion, Great Master did Yogacara prayers for Extinguishing Hungry Ghosts’ Flaming Mouths, after which the tigers no longer harmed the people. During a year with severe drought, the villagers sincerely invited Great Master to pray for rain. As Great Master struck a wooden fish in his hand, he followed the fields’ channels while reciting the Buddha’s name. In a short while, rain started to pour. After this, the villagers and devotees spontaneously constructed a monastery for Great Master.  

大师明因慎果,重真修实干,以戒律为基本,以净业为指归。极力戒杀生、崇放生。寺前建有放生池,山中设有放生所,救赎潜游蜎飞诸生物。大师《戒杀放生文》盛传于世。

Great Master clearly comprehended and was cautious about karmic cause and effect. He emphasised on true cultivation and diligent practice, with the precepts as fundamentals, with pure karma [for birth in Pure Land] as the direction for ‘return’. He did his best to abstain from killing, and advocated liberation of lives. A life liberation pond was also built in front of the monastery, and an animal sanctuary was established in the mountain, to save and redeem all kinds of sentient beings, be they submerged, swimming, crawling or flying. Great Master’s Essay To Prohibit Killing And To Liberate Lives spread widely throughout the world. 

大师朴实简淡,自有道场以来,未曾妄用一钱,凡有香俸盈余,便施散给其他寺庙的僧众。无论是施衣药或救贫病,常行不倦。大师生平惜福,年老还是自己洗衣,净溺器,不劳烦侍者。终身一袭布衣,一顶麻布蚊帐用了几十年。

Great Master’s way of life was down-to-earth and simple. Since having the monastery as a Dharma centre, he never recklessly used a single cent. Whenever there were surplus offerings, he would disperse to give them to Sangha communities of other monasteries. Regardless of giving clothing and medicine, or saving the poor and the sick, his constant practice was untiring. Throughout his lifetime, Great Master cherished his blessings. Even at old age, he still washed his own clothes and cleaned his urinal, to not inconvenience his attendant. Lifelong, he had only one set of cloth robes, and one linen mosquito net, which he used for several decades. 

大师生于法道式微的明代末年,以自己的真修实学,重振莲风,其净土思想别成一格,三百余年,流韵犹在,兹概述有三:

Great Master was born in the era when the path of the Dharma was in decline, during the final years of the Ming Dynasty. With his true cultivation and extensive learning, he reinvigorated the Pure Land tradition. His Pure Land thought was unique. For over 300 years, his influence still exists. Now, for an overview, there are these three aspects:

(1) 单提净土,融汇各宗

大师是自永明大师以来,融禅净教律为一体之集大成者,主倡禅净不二,念佛含摄万法之旨。如法思惟,唯念佛一门,横截生死,普摄三根,于是大师单提净土,著《弥陀疏钞》十余万言,钩三藏十二部之玄义,以庄严六字心佛(南无阿弥陀佛)。如来一代时教,尽在名号(阿弥陀佛)里。性相双融,事理无碍,指归一心,单持名号。 

(1) Only mentioning the Pure Land teachings, yet merging each tradition 

Since Great Master Yongming, Great Master was the most accomplished in merging Chan, Pure Land, Teachings and Discipline as one. He mainly advocated that Chan and Pure Land are not two, with mindfulness of Buddha being what contains and gathers the 10,000 Dharma teachings’ purpose. After contemplating according to the Dharma, only the Dharma door of mindfulness of Buddha can horizontally transcend the cycle of birth and death, to universally gather beings of the three roots [high, medium and low]. Therefore, Great Master only propagated the Pure Land teachings, authoring the Commentary On The Amitabha Sutra, with more than 10,000 words, weaving in the Tripitaka’s 12 divisions’ profound teachings to adorn the six words (Namo Amituofo) representing the mind and the Buddha. The Tathagata’s lifetime of teachings are completely within the name of Amituofo. With nature and its forms both in harmony, the practice and principles are without obstruction, as direction for ‘return’ to wholehearted and singular upholding of the name.

大师诠释 “一心不乱” 云:一心者,专注正境也;不乱者,不生妄念也。一心不乱,有事有理。如前忆念,念念相续,无有二念,信力成就,名事一心,属定门摄;如前体究,了知能念所念,更非二物,非有非无,离于四句,观力成就,获自本心,名理一心,属慧门摄,诸妄消亡,故兼得定。

Great Master’s annotations on ‘wholeheartedly without being scattered’ is that ‘“Wholehearted” means to have focused attention on the right object; and “without being scattered” means to not give rise to false (or stray) thoughts. “Wholehearted without being scattered” is with practice and with principles. Like prior recollection and mindfulness, with thought after thought in continual succession, without a second thought, the power of faith will be accomplished. This is named as “wholeheartedness in practice”, which belongs to the door of concentration, as gathered. Like prior investigating of the essence, understanding clearly that the ability to be mindful and that mindful of, are also not two things, not there and not there, departing from these four lines, the power of contemplation will be accomplished, to obtain one’s original mind. This is named as “wholeheartedness in principle”, which belongs to the door of wisdom, as gathered. With all false thoughts withered away, thus simultaneously attained is concentration. ’

此一心即实相,即同乎法界,即定中之定,即菩萨念佛三昧,即达摩直指之禅,即是一心三观,即是转识成智,故知念佛总摄一切佛法。大师以楷定古今之气概,将《阿弥陀经》判释为与《华严经》相类的圆顿之教,驳正时人贬抑念佛为愚夫愚妇所行之道的瞽论。 

Such wholeheartedness is true form, which is the same as the Dharma realm, which is the concentration of concentrations, which is Bodhisattvas’ Samadhi From Mindfulness Of Buddha, which is Great Master Bodhidharma’s Chan of direct pointing, which is the One Mind with Three Contemplations, which is to transform consciousness to wisdom. Thus is it known that mindfulness of Buddha completely gathers all of the Buddha’s teachings. With the lofty spirit to decisively affirm ancient and present teachings, as a model for future generations, Great Master determined and explained the Amitābha Sūtra to be similar to the complete and sudden teachings of the Avataṃsaka Sūtra, refuting and correcting the people of that time with the undiscerning theory of belittling mindfulness of Buddha as the path of practice for foolish men and women. 

(2) 念佛含摄一切功德 

大师以《华严》一即一切的圆融理念诠释念佛法门,认为念佛是大总持法门,含摄菩萨六度万行,囊括一大藏教理的精义。由是,大师不主张阅藏,应一心念佛,并云:“大藏经所诠者,不过戒定慧而已…… 此戒定慧即是念佛法门,何也?

(2) Mindfulness of Buddha contains and gathers all meritorious virtues

Great Master used the Avataṃsaka Sūtra’s ‘one is everything’ principle of interdependence to expound the Dharma door of mindfulness of Buddha. He taught that Mindfulness of Buddha is a great Dharani Dharma door (with total retention), that contains and gathers Bodhisattvas’ Six Perfections and 10,000 practices, embracing together the essential meaning of the Buddhist scriptures’ teachings. Thus, Great Master did not advocate reading the Buddhist scriptures, but should instead wholeheartedly practice mindfulness of Buddha. He said, ‘What the great treasury of scriptures explain, is not more than to [uphold] precepts, [cultivate] concentration [and realise] wisdom, and that is all… These precepts, concentration and wisdom is in the Dharma door mindfulness of Buddha. How so?

戒乃防非为义,若能一心念佛,诸恶不敢入,即戒也;定乃除散为义,若一心念佛,心不异缘,即定也;慧乃明照为义,若观佛声,字字分明,亦观能念所念,皆不可得,即慧也。如是念佛,即是戒定慧也,何必随文逐字,阅此藏经。” 大师意在行人真实办道,了生脱死,不以穷研经文,徒博一大通家为尚。  

[Upholding] precepts is to prevent wrongdoing as its meaning. If able to wholeheartedly practise mindfulness of Buddha, with all evils not daring to enter, this is upholding of precepts. [Cultivating] concentration is to eradicate scatteredness [of the mind] as its meaning. If to wholeheartedly practise mindfulness of Buddha, with the mind without a different condition, this is concentration. [Realising] wisdom is to have clear reflection as its meaning. If to contemplate the sound of the Buddha’s name, with each word distinct, also contemplating that the ability to be mindful and that mindful of, are all unattainable, this is wisdom. Thus, mindfulness of Buddha is to [uphold] precepts, [cultivate] concentration and to [realise] wisdom. Why follow texts and pursue words, by reading the treasury of scriptures?’ Great Master’s intention is for practitioners to truly walk the path, to be liberated from birth and death, with no need to exhaust study of the scriptures, as it is better to only aim to be a great expert of the former.

(3) 注重戒律,普劝念佛 

大师深悲末法众生,业深垢重,教纲衰坏,戒律松弛,此时修行,应以戒律为根本。因而,大师整饬清规,在南北戒坛久禁不行的情况下,令求戒者具三衣,于佛前受之,大师为证明。已受戒者,半月诵《梵网经戒》及比丘诸戒品。其住持的道场,规条甚严。各堂执事职责详明,夜必巡警,击板唱佛名,声传山谷。大师策励清规,严明梵行,以救末世疲弊之习,由此遂成大师净土思想一大特色。

(3) Emphasis on precepts and rules, encouraging all to be mindful of Buddha

Great Master felt deep sorrow for sentient beings of the Dharma-Ending Age, who are with deep negative karma and heavy defilements, yet with guiding teachings weak and damaged, precepts and rules lax. To cultivate practice during such a time, precepts and rules should be used as foundation. Therefore, Great Master orderly reorganised the monastic rules. Due to the ordination shrine (for monastic precepts) in the Southern and Northern territories being long banned, he ordered those who sought the precepts to be fully dressed in the three monastic robes, to receive the precepts before a Buddha statue, with Great Master as witness. Those who had received the precepts, would chant the Brahma Net Sutra’s Precepts and all monastic precepts every fortnight. The monastery that he oversaw was extremely strict in its regulations. The duties of the attendants of each hall were clear and detailed, at night with patrols, striking of boards to chant the Buddha’s name, the sound of which would spread through the mountains and valleys. Great Master encouraged strict abiding by the monastic rules for pure conduct, for saving the Dharma-Ending Age from its weary and evil habits. With such, this was successfully accomplished as a great distinguishing feature of Great Master’s Pure Land thought. 

大师深感净宗念佛法门乃至简至易,普摄诸根,仰赖佛力,圆证菩提的无上大法,故殷殷普劝念佛往生净土。

Great Master deeply felt that Pure Land tradition’s Dharma door of mindfulness of Buddha is extremely simple and extremely easy to practise, universally gathering beings of all spiritual roots, to rely on Buddha’s power to completely realise enlightenment’s supreme Dharma. Thus, he earnestly and widely encouraged mindfulness of Buddha for rebirth in Pure Land.

大师著述甚丰,主要代表作有《阿弥陀经疏钞》、《竹窗随笔》、《往生集》、《净土疑辩》等流行于世。 

Great Master’s written works are extremely abundant, with the main representative works that are still popular in the world being Commentary On Amitābha Sūtra, Essays By The Bamboo Window, Collection On Rebirth, Doubts And Debates On Pure Land and others.

大师一生精修净业,广弘念佛法门,临终前半月预知往生时间。临走前一天大师到城中告别诸弟子及故旧道友,只说:“我将到其他地方去。” 回寺用茶汤供养众僧,告诉大家明日将行。是时,大师示微疾,瞑目无语。城中诸弟子赶到,哀请留嘱,大师睁眼开示:“老实念佛,莫换题目。” 说完,向西称佛名而逝。面作黄金色,顶中暖气如生,逾时不散。世寿八十一,僧腊五十。入塔于五云山麓。 

In Great Master’s entire life, he diligently cultivated pure karma, to widely propagate the Dharma door of mindfulness of Buddha. Half a month approaching his passing, he knew in advance his time of rebirth. The day before he departed, Great Master went to the city to bid farewell to all his disciples and old spiritual friends, only saying, ‘I will be going to another place.’ After returning to the monastery, he used tea as an offering to the Sangha assembly, telling everyone that he will be leaving tomorrow. When the time came, Great Master manifested slight illness, closed his eyes and remained silent. Disciples from the city hurried in, sorrowfully requesting leaving of instructions. Great Master opened his eyes and instructed, ‘Be earnestly mindful of Buddha, and do not change the subject.’ Once finished, he faced West, recited the Buddha’s name and departed. His face was golden in colour, the crown of his head with warm air, as if alive, for a long time not dispersing. He was then 81 years of age, with 50 years as a monk. His remains were enshrined in a pagoda at the foot of Mount Wuyun.

清朝雍正皇帝赐大师谥号 “净妙真修禅师”,大师言传身教,自行化他,不愧一代祖师的风范。后人也尊称大师为净土宗第八祖师。 

The Qing Emperor Yongzheng bestowed upon Great Master the posthumous name and title ‘Chan Master Jingmiao (Pure Wonder) Zhenxiu (True Cultivation)’. What Great Master taught with words he also led by example, with his personal practice transforming others, proving to be worthy as a model, as a Patriarch for his generation. Later generations also addressed Great Master as the Eighth Patriarch of the Pure Land Tradition.

完整中文原文 Complete Chinese text: donglin.org
图片 Pictures: 互联网 Internet
英译 English translation: purelanders.com

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