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The Healing Power of the Precepts
by Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu

原文版權所有   1997 坦尼沙羅比丘。免費發行。本文允許在任何媒體再版、重排、重印、印發。然而,作者希望任何再版與分發以對公衆免費與無限制的形式進行,譯文與轉載也要求表明作者原衷。

中譯版權所有   2008 良稹,http://www.theravadacn.org , 流通條件如上。轉載時請包括本站連接,并登載本版權聲明。

The Buddha was like a doctor, treating the spiritual ills of the human race. The path of practice he taught was like a course of therapy for suffering hearts and minds. This way of understanding the Buddha and his teachings dates back to the earliest texts, and yet is also very current. Buddhist meditation practice is often advertised as a form of healing, and quite a few psychotherapists now recommend that their patients try meditation as part of their treatment.


Experience has shown, though, that meditation on its own cannot provide a total therapy. It requires outside support. Modern meditators in particular have been so wounded by mass civilization that they lack the resilience, persistence and self-esteem needed before concentration and insight practices can be genuinely therapeutic.Many teachers, noticing this problem, have decided that  the Buddhist path is insufficient for our particular needs. To make up for this insufficiency they have experimented with ways of supplementing meditation practice, combining it with such things as myth, poetry, psychotherapy, social activism, sweat lodges, mourning rituals, and even drumming. The problem, though, may not be that there is anything lacking in the Buddhist path, but that we simply haven't been following the Buddha's full course of therapy.


The Buddha's path consisted not only of mindfulness, concentration, and insight practices, but also of virtue, beginning with the five precepts. In fact, the precepts constitute the first step in the path. There is a modern tendency to dismiss the five precepts as Sunday-school rules bound to old cultural norms that no longer apply to our modern society, but this misses the role that the Buddha intended for them: They are part of a course of therapy for wounded minds. In particular, they are aimed at curing two ailments that underlie low self-esteem: regret and denial.

佛陀的修行道不僅包括了念、定、內明的修練,還包括以五戒爲起點的持戒。實際上,戒德構成了行道的初階。現代人往往把五戒當作[基督教]主日校規加以排斥,認爲這些戒律來自已不適應我們的現代社會的舊式傳統規範。然而,這種說法忽視了佛陀制定戒律的本意: 戒律是受傷心靈的對治療程的一部分,特別是針對自卑心理的兩種病根悔恨與否認。

When our actions don't measure up to certain standards of behavior, we either (1) regret the actions or (2) engage in one of two kinds of denial, either (a) denying that our actions did in fact happen or (b) denying that the standards of measurement are really valid. These reactions are like wounds in the mind. Regret is an open wound, tender to the touch, while denial is like hardened, twisted scar tissue around a tender spot. When the mind is wounded in these ways, it can't settle down comfortably in the present, for it finds itself resting on raw, exposed flesh or calcified knots. Even when it's forced to stay in the present, it's there only in a tensed, contorted and partial way, and so the insights it gains tend to be contorted and partial as well. Only if the mind is free of wounds and scars can it be expected to settle down comfortably and freely in the present, and to give rise to undistorted discernment.

當我們的行爲未能達到某些操行標准時,我們或者爲之悔恨,或者作兩種形式之一的否認,一是否認該行爲確實發生,二是否認該標准的有效性。這些反應,就像是心的諸種傷創。悔恨的傷創是開放性的,一碰就痛; 否認的傷創則好比是某個痛點周圍的痂疥,硬化扭曲。心以這些形式受創之後,就難以安住當下,因爲它發現自己停歇之處,不是生疼外露的血肉,就是鈣化堅硬的糾結。即使強迫它住在當下,它也只能以一種緊張、扭曲、片面的方式待在那裏,那麼它得到的洞見,往往也是扭曲、片面的。心只有去除了傷創疤痕時,才能夠指望它舒適、安適地住於當下,昇起真如明辨。

This is where the five precepts come in: They are designed to heal these wounds and scars. Healthy self-esteem comes from living up to a set of standards that are practical, clear-cut, humane, and worthy of respect; the five precepts are formulated in such a way that they provide just such a set of standards.

這便是五戒的用處所在: 它們是爲了治愈這些傷創與疤痕而設計的。健康的自尊來自於踐行一套實用、明確、合乎人性、值得敬重的准則; 五戒的制定方式,正是爲我們提供了這樣的一套准則。

Practical: The standards set by the precepts are simple no intentional killing, stealing, having illicit sex, lying, or taking intoxicants. It's entirely possible to live in line with these standards. Not always easy or convenient, but always possible. I have seen efforts to translate the precepts into standards that sound more lofty or noble taking the second precept, for example, to mean no abuse of the planet's resources but even the people who reformulate the precepts in this way admit that it is impossible to live up to them. Anyone who has dealt with psychologically damaged people knows that very often the damage comes from having been presented with impossible standards to live by. If you can give people standards that take a little effort and mindfulness, but are possible to meet, their self-esteem soars dramatically as they discover that they are actually capable of meeting those standards. They can then face more demanding tasks with confidence.

實用: 戒律所定的標准可謂簡單不有意地殺生、偷盜、行不當性事、說謊、用醉品。遵照這套准則生活,是完全有可能的。盡管並不總是容易、方便,卻總是可行的。我見過有人把戒律譯解成聽起來越發崇高、聖善的標准舉第二戒來說,把它讀成不濫用地球的資源但是,就連那些如此另解戒律的人自己也承認,奉行那些標准是不可能的。凡是與心靈受創者打過交道的人都知道,那種傷創常常來自被要求奉行一套不可能達成的標准。如果你能夠給出一套需要付出一些努力和念住,但有可能達到的標准,那麼當人們發現自己的確有能力達到那些標准時,他們的自尊感將會大幅度提昇。接下來就能夠懷著自信,面對難度更高的任務。。

Clear-cut: The precepts are formulated with no ifs, ands, or buts. This means that they give very clear guidance, with no room for waffling or less-than-honest rationalizations. An action either fits in with the precepts or it doesn't. Again, standards of this sort are very healthy to live by. Anyone who has raised children has found that, although they may complain about hard and fast rules, they actually feel more secure with them than with rules that are vague and always open to negotiation. Clear-cut rules don't allow for unspoken agendas to come sneaking in the back door of the mind. If, for example, the precept against killing allowed you to kill living beings when their presence is inconvenient, that would place your convenience on a higher level than your compassion for life. Convenience would become your unspoken standard and as we all know, unspoken standards provide huge tracts of fertile ground for hypocrisy and denial to grow. If, however, you stick by the standards of the precepts, then as the Buddha says, you are providing unlimited safety for the lives of all. There are no conditions under which you would take the lives of any living beings, no matter how inconvenient they might be. In terms of the other precepts, you are providing unlimited safety for their possessions and sexuality, and unlimited truthfulness and mindfulness in your communication with them. When you find that you can trust yourself in matters like these, you gain an undeniably healthy sense of self-respect.

明確: 戒律的條文不帶假如、而且、但是之類的虛詞。這意味著給出的指南是極其明確的,無可適從的含糊與不足誠實的強辯,在此並無餘地。一件行爲要麼符合戒律,要麼違背戒律。如前所述,這類標准奉行起來是十分健康的。凡是有過教養孩童經驗的人都知道,孩子們也許會抱怨嚴格刻板的規矩,但實際上,這種規矩比起那些含糊不明、多有回旋餘地的規矩,他們覺得更有安全感。明確的規矩不允許隱秘用心的存在。舉例來說,假設殺生戒允許你在其它生靈的存在對你不便時把它們殺死,那樣就把你的方便放在了高於你對生命的慈悲的位置。方便與否即成爲你的潛在標准我們都知道,秘而不宣的潛規則爲虛僞和否認的滋長提供了大片的沃土。不過,你若是堅守戒律界定的標准,那麼如佛陀所言,你就給眾生提供了無量的安穩。沒有任何條件能讓你奪取生命,無論機緣何等不便。你所持的另外幾條戒,也讓你對眾生的財物安全和性安全,提供了無量的保障,也讓你在與眾生的交流之中,爲他們提供了無量的誠實和念住。當你發現,自己在這類事情上能夠信任自己時,便獲得了一種自尊感,無可否認,它是健康的。

Humane: The precepts are humane both to the person who observes them and to the people affected by his or her actions. If you observe them, you are aligning yourself with the doctrine of karma, which teaches that the most important powers shaping your experience of the world are the intentional thoughts, words, and deeds you choose in the present moment. This means that you are not insignificant. Every time you take a choice at home, at work, at play you are exercising your power in the on-going fashioning of the world. At the same time, this principle allows you to measure yourself in terms that are entirely under your control: your intentional actions in the present moment. In other words, they don't force you to measure yourself in terms of your looks, strength, brains, financial prowess, or any other criteria that depend less on your present karma than they do on karma from the past. Also, they don't play on feelings of guilt or force you to bemoan your past lapses. Instead, they focus your attention on the ever-present possibility of living up to your standards in the here and now. If you are living with people who observe the precepts, you find that your dealings with them are not a cause for mistrust or fear. They regard your desire for happiness as akin to theirs. Their worth as individuals does not depend on situations in which there have to be winners and losers. When they talk about developing loving-kindness and mindfulness in their meditation, you see it reflected in their actions. In this way the precepts foster not only healthy individuals, but also a healthy society a society in which the self-respect and mutual respect are not at odds.

合乎人性: 戒律即對持戒者,也對受其行爲影響者來說,都是合乎人性的。你若持 守戒律,就等於是遵奉業力原則。根據業力原則,在影響你如何體驗世界的力量當中,最重要的是你在當下選擇的動機的 思考、言語、身行。這意味著你並非是無可作爲的。每作一次選擇在家、在職、遊戲時你都在世界的持續造作當中行使著你的力量。同時,這項原則允許你,從完全由你掌控即你 的當下動機的角度,衡量自己。換句話說,業力原則並不迫使你從相貌、氣力、腦力、商業才乾等等更多地依賴你的舊業而不是現業 的角度衡量自己。再者,戒律不刺激負疚感,也不逼著你痛悔舊時失誤,而是令你把注意力放在即刻當下一直存在著的圓滿持戒的可能性上。如果你與持戒者共同生活,就會發現同這些人交往,不會是引生不信任或恐懼的因緣。他們把你對幸福的欲求視爲己出。他們的個人價值不依賴於那些必須分出輸贏的場合。當他們談論在禪修中發展慈心和念住時,你發現這也體現在他們的行爲上。以這種方式,戒律滋養的不僅僅是健康的個體,而且也滋養著一個健康的社會一個自尊與互敬並行不悖的社會。

Worthy of respect: When you adopt a set of standards, it is important to know whose standards they are and to see where those standards come from, for in effect you are joining their group, looking for their approval, and accepting their criteria for right and wrong. In this case, you couldn't ask for a better group to join: the Buddha and his noble disciples. The five precepts are called "standards appealing to the noble ones." From what the texts tell us of the noble ones, they are not people who accept standards simply on the basis of popularity. They have put their lives on the line to see what leads to true happiness, and have seen for themselves, for example, that all lying is pathological, and that any sex outside of a stable, committed relationship is unsafe at any speed. Other people may not respect you for living by the five precepts, but noble ones do, and their respect is worth more than that of anyone else in the world.

值得敬重: 當你采納一套准則時,了解它們由什麼人制定、看清其出處,是十分重要的,因爲在效果上,等於你是在加入那些人的團體,尋求他們的贊許,接受他們的對錯標准。在這裏,沒有比佛陀和聖弟子的團體更值得加入的了。五戒被稱爲聖者贊許的准則。根據經典對聖者的描述,他們不是那種因爲某種准則普遍流行便予以接納信受的人。爲了覓得真樂之道,他們投注了自己的生命。並且,對於一切妄語都是病態,穩定、負責的性關係之外的性事俱不安穩等等諸如此類的例子他們已經親眼見過。別人對你持守五戒也許不以爲然,但聖者們必然會敬重此事。他們的敬重較之世上任何人的敬重,價值更高。

Now, many people find it cold comfort to join such an abstract group, especially when they have not yet met any noble ones in person. It's hard to be good-hearted and generous when the society immediately around you openly laughs at those qualities and values such things as sexual prowess or predatory business skills instead. This is where Buddhist communities can come in. It would be very useful if Buddhist groups would openly part ways with the prevailing amoral tenor of our culture and let it be known in a kindly way that they value goodheartedness and restraint among their members. In doing so, they would provide a healthy environment for the full-scale adoption of the Buddha's course of therapy: the practice of concentration and discernment in a life of virtuous action. Where we have such environments, we find that meditation needs no myth or make-believe to support it, because it is based on the reality of a well-lived life. You can look at the standards by which you live, and then breathe in and out comfortably not as a flower or a mountain, but as a full-fledged, responsible human being. For that's what you are.


[1]譯注: 此處意指持戒者無需前文所述的種種輔助手段,而是藉觀想自身的戒德,升起喜樂滿足,修出入息念。

最近訂正 11-27-2010