Translations

Discussion On Mindfulness Of Buddha And Encounters Of Demons《念佛着魔辩》

《念佛着魔辩》
Discussion [On] Mindfulness [Of] Buddha [And] Encounters [Of] Demons

或问省庵曰:「参禅一门,全仗己力,故每多魔事。念佛则仗他力,故承佛护念,魔事不生,有诸,否乎?」

[A] questioner [to] Xǐng’ān said, ‘[As] Chán contemplation, [this] one [Dharma] Door, entirely relies [on] Self-power, [it is] thus very often [with] many demonic matters. Mindfulness [of] Buddha then relies [on] Other-power, thus receiving [the] Buddha’s mindful protection, [with] demonic matters not arising. [Will this] have many [such matters] or not?

省庵曰:「唯唯,否否。夫参禅、念佛,论其难易,固有自力、他力之分。若论魔事,二俱不免。」

Xǐng’ān said, ‘Yes, yes. No, no. Those [with] Chán contemplation, [and those with] mindfulness [of] Buddha, discussing [on their] difficulty [and] easiness, still have differences of Self-power [and] Other-power. [However], if discussing [on] demonic matters, both together cannot avoid [them].’

或者曰:「敢问何谓也?」

Someone said, ‘Dare [I] ask why [is this] said?’

曰:「魔事之来,其由有三:一者教理未明,二者不遇善友,三者自不觉察。

[I] said, ‘Of demonic matters [that] come, they have three causes. [1] First, [is with] teachings’ principles yet [to be] understood. [2] Second, [is] not meeting good[-knowing] friends. [3] Third, [is] personally not [being] aware [and] observant.

今夫人适千里之路,苟不按舆图,又不逢引导,复不识前路通塞,莽莽然而进,吾知其难免于错误之患矣。

Now, [of] those persons [who are] suitable [for taking a] road of [a] thousand lǐs, if not according to [a] [1] map, also not encountering [2] guides, moreover not [3] recognising [the] road’s openness [and] blockages, [with] thicket [after] thicket, however advancing, I know they [are] difficult [to] avoid [the] dangers of [making] mistakes.

参禅、念佛譬如行路,经教如舆图,善友如引导,觉察之心如识路通塞。虽两条途路夷险不同,俱不免错误之患。

Chán contemplation [and] mindfulness [of] Buddha [are], for example, like walking [on a] road, [with] [1] sūtra teachings like [the] map, [2] good[-knowing] friends like [the] guides, [and the] [3] mind of [being] aware [and] observant like [with] recognising [of the] road’s openness [and] blockages. Although [the] two paths’ smoothness [and] dangers [are] not [the] same, all [cannot] avoid [the] danger of [making] mistakes.

参禅且置,只如念佛,或有厌平坦而好奇特者,或有舍直截而求纡曲者,或两路兼行、两路俱失者,或以途中为家舍、平地为高山者,如是错误,不可胜举,皆教理未明之过也。

[1] [With] Chán contemplation also set side, just like [with] mindfulness [of] Buddha, perhaps having those detesting [the] smooth yet fond [of the] fantastic, perhaps having those abandoning [the] straightforward yet seeking [the] meandering [and] circuitous, perhaps [with] two roads simultaneously walked, those [with] two roads together lost, perhaps with [that] en route as home, those [with] flat lands [seen] as high mountains, such errors, [that] cannot [be] surpassed [in] listing, [are] all [due to the] mistake of [having the] teachings’ principles yet [to be] understood.

念佛一门,极圆极顿,至易至难。

[2] Mindfulness [of] Buddha, [this] one [Dharma] Door, [is] utmost perfect [and with] utmost sudden [awakening], extremely easy [and] extremely difficult.

只如《弥陀经》中『一心不乱』四字,浅言之,愚夫愚妇皆可为;深言之,大圣大贤终不能过。

Just like [the] Amitā[bha] Sūtra within, [on its] four words [of] “wholeheartedness without being scattered”. Shallowly speaking of [this], foolish men [and] foolish women can all do [it]. Deeply speaking of [this], great noble [and] great virtuous [beings in the] end [are] not able [to] surpass [it].

今初心行人,或暂得轻安,自谓已得事一心者,初开浅解,复自谓得理一心者,或粗念不生、细念犹生者,或勇猛过分,精进倍常,不知心外无佛,速求取证,不达善巧方便,急欲舍身,魔鬼因之遂入其体,为疯为狂,都不觉知。此善友不遇之过也。

Now, [those] practitioners [with] beginners’ [initial] mind, perhaps temporarily attaining tranquility, [of] those personally saying [to have] already attained [with] “practice wholeheartedness [without being scattered” (事一心不乱), they are only] beginning [to] open [to] shallow understanding. Again, those personally saying [to have] attained [with] “principle wholehearted [without being scattered” (理一心不乱), they are] perhaps those [with] coarse thoughts not arising, [yet with] fine thoughts still arising, perhaps [with] boldness [and] power excessive, [with] diligence double [of the] ordinary, not knowing [that the] mind outside [is] without Buddha, quickly seeking after realisation, not attaining skilful means, anxiously desiring [to] relinquish [their] bodies, [with] demonic ghosts, for this reason, then entering their bodies, becoming crazy [and] becoming mad, [with] all [of these] not aware [and] known. This [is due to the] mistake of [having] good[-knowing] friends not met.

夫众生生死以我见为本,我见不除,修行无益。然我见之生,根深蒂固,其萌芽发干,无处不有。

[3] Those sentient beings [in the cycle of] birth [and] death [are] with self-view as [their] original [nature, and with] self-view not eliminated, cultivation [of] practice [is] without benefit. However, [the] arising of self-view, [is] deeply-rooted, [with] its sprouting [and] rising stems, [with] nowhere not having [them].

是故见地高则我见俱高,工夫进则我见亦进。若不时时检点,刻刻提撕,则念念发生,心心增长,随逐行人,虽死不离。

Therefore, [those with] ground [of] insight high, [are] then [with] self-view together high, [and] those [with] efforts advancing, [are] then [with] self-view likewise advancing. If not constantly checking, [from] moment [to] moment reminding [themselves], then [from] thought [to] thought giving rise [to it, with] thought [to] thought increasing [and] growing, attaching [to and] following [these] practitioners, although [with] deaths, not departing [from it].

是故学人心不虚则自不觉察,不觉察故我见增长,少有所得则生骄慢,讥嫌同学,诽谤行人,虽有修行,终成魔事。此自不觉察之过也。」

Therefore, [if] people learning [are with] minds [that are] not humble, then personally not [being] aware [and] observant, not [being] aware [and] observant thus, [with] self-view increasing [and] growing, having little [of] that attained, then giving rise [to] arrogance [and] ridicule [of those] together learning, [and] slander [of] practitioners, although having cultivation [of] practice, [in the] end accomplishing demonic matters. This [is the] mistake of personally not [being] aware [and] observant.’

或曰:「参禅须近明师,若无明师,须看经教。念佛只贵深信力行,既能深信力行,则决定往生,何藉善友、经教?」

Someone said, ‘[To have] Chán contemplation, [one] must [be] near [a] [2] wise teacher, [and] if without [a] wise teacher, [there] must [be] seeing [of the] [1] sūtra teachings. Mindfulness [of] Buddha only values [having] profound Faith [for] diligent practice, [and] since able [to have] profound Faith [for] diligent practice, then definitely [able to be] reborn [in Pure Land], why rely [on] [2] good[-knowing] friends [and] [1] sūtra teachings?’

省庵曰:「是何言欤?世间小技尚不可无师,况念佛为出生死要门,若无善友、经教,从何开发?谁为引导?

Xǐng’ān said, ‘[These] are whose words? [Even] worldly small skills still cannot [be] without teachers, moreover, [for] mindfulness [of] Buddha, as [the] essential door [for] exiting [the cycle of] birth [and] death. If without [2] good[-knowing] friends [and] [1] sūtra teachings, from where [are the] [1] instructions? [And with] who as [the] [2] guides?

《观经》下三品,皆是临终善友开发,故得往生,其上、中品则不必言矣。

[The] Contemplation Sūtra’s three low grades, are all [with] [2] good[-knowing] friends’ [1] instructions [when] approaching [the] end [of] life, thus attaining rebirth. [Of] those [of the] high [and] medium grades then not needing [to] speak [of them].

须知从凡至圣,由易至难,莫不以善友、经教为根本。汝不因经教,何由而知净土法门而生信向耶?」  

[It] must [be] known [that] from ordinary [beings] to noble [beings], from [the] easy to [the] difficult, none [are] not with [2] good[-knowing] friends [and] [1] sūtra teachings as roots. You, [if] not because [of] sūtra teachings, from where then, [do you] know [the] Pure Land Dharma Door, [to] then give rise [to] Faith’s direction?’

或曰:「若因经教而知念佛,则《弥陀》一经足矣,奚以多为?」

Someone said, ‘If due [to] [1] sūtra teachings then knowing [about] mindfulness [of] Buddha, then [is it with this] one Amitā[bha] Sūtra enough. Why [is there need to be] with many for [it]?

曰:「上根则可,中、下根人须遍阅净土诸书,备识信、行、愿三差别之相,加之善友警策,内以虚心觉照,庶几免于魔事,而后念佛之功可日进焉。

[I] said, ‘[With those of] high roots then capable [of this, for] persons [of] medium [and] low roots, [they] need [to] completely read [1] all [the] Pure Land books, [to be] prepared [with] knowledge [of] Faith, Practice [and] Aspiration, [the] forms of [the] trio’s differences. In addition, [with] [2] good[-knowing] friends’ admonitions, within with [the] [3] humble mind aware, [they will] probably [be] spared from demonic matters. After that, their merits of mindfulness [of] Buddha can [by the] day advance.

否则不为魔事,终成增上慢人,一念不觉,遂成沦坠,其祸可胜言哉!」  

Otherwise, [if] not doing demonic matters, [in the] end becoming excessively conceited persons, [with] one thought not awakened, then becoming sunken [and] fallen, this misfortune cannot [be] expressed [by] words!’

或曰:「行人心既念佛,佛岂不垂护念?如其护念,魔事何从?」

Someone said, ‘Since practitioners’ minds [are with] mindfulness [of] Buddha, how can [the] Buddha not approach [to] mindfully protect [them]? If he mindfully protects [them], from where [are there] demonic matters?’

省庵曰:「念佛人果得一心不乱,则佛护念不虚。

Xǐng’ān said, ‘[Of] persons [with] mindfulness [of] Buddha, if attaining wholeheartedness without [being] scattered, then [with the] Buddha’s mindful protection, [this is] not false.

如其未得一心,或有以轻安为禅定、浅解为深悟者,随有所得,生增上慢,此则自取过愆,非如来咎。

If [there are] those yet [to] attain wholeheartedness, perhaps with having tranquility [mistaken] as meditative concentration, [and with] shallow understanding [mistaken] as deep awakening, according [to] that having “attained”, giving rise [to] excessive conceit, this then [is to] self-obtain transgressions, not [being the] Thus Come [One’s] mistake.

是故吾言善友、经教、觉察之心,三者缺一不可,而觉察之心尤为最要,不可须臾暂离。

Therefore, I say [that] [2] good[-knowing] friends, [1] sūtra teachings [and the] [3] mind of [being] aware [and] observant, [of] these three, [there] cannot [be] lacking [in] one. Yet, [the] [3] mind of [being] aware [and] observant [is] especially [the] most essential, [that] cannot [for] a moment [be] temporarily departed [from].

若一念不觉,则一念颠倒;念念不觉,则念念颠倒。颠倒既起,魔事兴焉。毕世工夫,一朝唐丧,可不畏欤?  

If [with] one thought not aware, [this is] then [with] one thought inverted. [If with] thought [to] thought not aware, [this is] then [with] thought [to] thought inverted. [With] inverted [thoughts] since arising, demonic matters flourish. [With] one lifetime’s efforts, immediately lost in vain, how [is this] not [to be] feared?

《净土文》云:『身无病苦,心不颠倒。』当知『身无病苦』,则求在于佛;『心不颠倒』,则求在于我。在于佛者,非我敢必;在于我者,安可不自勉焉?

[Repentance Master Cíyún’s] Pure Land Verses [慈云忏主净土文] say, “[With the] body without sickness [and] suffering, [and with the] mind not inverted.” [It] should [be] known [that for “with the] body without sickness [and] suffering”, [this] then [is] sought [for], depending on [the] Buddha. [For “with] the mind not inverted”, [this] then depends on me. [For] that depending on [the] Buddha, [it is] not [what] I dare [to] suppose. [For] that depending on me, how can [I] not [have] self-encouragement?

设使临终一念颠倒,非唯九品不生,抑亦三途难免。佛虽大慈,救我不得,奈何奈何!

If supposing, [when] approaching [the] end [of life, with] one thought inverted, not only [will the] nine grades not [be] born [in], perhaps [with the] three paths difficult [to be] avoided. [The] Buddha, although [having] great loving-kindness, [wanting to] save me, [yet] cannot [do so]. How, [oh] how!

是故修净业人,不可一念远离善友,亦不可一念生颠倒心也。」  

Therefore, people cultivating pure karma, must not [be with] one thought far departed [from] [2] good[-knowing] friends, [and] likewise must not [be with] one thought giving rise [to the] inverted mind.’

净土宗十一祖省庵大师
Pure Land Tradition’s 11th Patriarch Great Master Xǐng’ān

Namo Amituofo : Translation by Shen Shi’an

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