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涅槃的意義

[作者]坦尼沙羅尊者
[中譯]良稹
Nibbana
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   2005 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。

We all know what happens when a fire goes out. The flames die down and the fire is gone for good. So when we first learn that the name for the goal of Buddhist practice, nibbana (nirvana), literally means the extinguishing of a fire, it's hard to imagine a deadlier image for a spiritual goal: utter annihilation. It turns out, though, that this reading of the concept is a mistake in translation, not so much of a word as of an image. What did an extinguished fire represent to the Indians of the Buddha's day? Anything but annihilation.

我們都了解火焰熄滅的情形。 火盡煙散、寂然無迹。 因此我們初次了解到,涅槃(nibbana/nirvana)這個詞,作爲佛教的修持目標,其字面意思是火焰的熄滅, 會感到作爲一個靈性追求目標,很難想象有比徹底消亡這個形象更致命的了。 不過,對於涅槃概念作這般理解,實際上是一個誤會,並非在文字上,而是在形象上。對於佛陀時代的印度人來說,熄滅之火代表了什麽? 絕對不是消亡。

According to the ancient Brahmans, when a fire was extinguished it went into a state of latency. Rather than ceasing to exist, it became dormant and in that state unbound from any particular fuel it became diffused throughout the cosmos. When the Buddha used the image to explain nibbana to the Indian Brahmans of his day, he bypassed the question of whether an extinguished fire continues to exist or not, and focused instead on the impossibility of defining a fire that doesn't burn: thus his statement that the person who has gone totally "out" can't be described.

根據古老的婆羅門信仰,火焰熄滅時進入一個潛在階段。 它並非停止存在,而是處於靜態,在這個不受燃料束縛的狀態下擴散開來,彌漫於空間。 當佛陀用這個比喻對當時印度的婆羅門人士講解涅槃之意時,繞過了熄滅之火是否繼續存在的問題,而是側重於說明,要定義不燃之火是不可能的: 因此他關於一個徹底熄滅者的稱謂,也是不可描述的。

However, when teaching his own disciples, the Buddha used nibbana more as an image of freedom. Apparently, all Indians at the time saw burning fire as agitated, dependent, and trapped, both clinging and being stuck to its fuel as it burned. To ignite a fire, one had to "seize" it. When fire let go of its fuel, it was "freed," released from its agitation, dependence, and entrapment calm and unconfined. This is why Pali poetry repeatedly uses the image of extinguished fire as a metaphor for freedom. In fact, this metaphor is part of a pattern of fire imagery that involves two other related terms as well. Upadana, or clinging, also refers to the sustenance a fire takes from its fuel. Khandha means not only one of the five "heaps" (form, feeling, perception, thought processes, and consciousness) that define all conditioned experience, but also the trunk of a tree. Just as fire goes out when it stops clinging and taking sustenance from wood, so the mind is freed when it stops clinging to the khandhas.

但是,佛陀在對自己的弟子講解時,更多地用涅槃的形象作爲自由的象征。當時的印度人,似乎都把燃燒之火看成動蕩、有依賴性、禁锢狀態,燃燒時既執取、又受縛於燃料。爲了點火,必須把它抓獲(seize)。 火在放棄了(let go)燃料之後,便自由了,從動蕩、依賴、禁锢中獲得解脫,甯靜、不受制約。 這就是爲什麽巴利文詩偈中反複以熄滅之火的形象作爲自由的比喻。實際上,這個詞屬於火的一組類比,相關詞彙另有兩個。Upadana,意爲執著,也指火從燃料中獲得的滋養。 Khandha,不僅指界定一切緣起經驗的五蘊之一形態、感受、辨知,思維、意識,而且還指樹幹。 正如火停止執著、停止從木料獲取滋養,便熄滅了; 心終止對五蘊的執著時,便獲得了自由。

Thus the image underlying nibbana is one of freedom. The Pali commentaries support this point by tracing the word nibbana to its verbal root, which means "unbinding." What kind of unbinding? The texts describe two levels. One is the unbinding in this lifetime, symbolized by a fire that has gone out but whose embers are still warm. This stands for the enlightened arahant, who is conscious of sights and sounds, sensitive to pleasure and pain, but freed from passion, aversion, and delusion. The second level of unbinding, symbolized by a fire so totally out that its embers have grown cold, is what the arahant experiences after this life. All input from the senses cools away and he/she is totally freed from even the subtlest stresses and limitations of existence in space and time.

因此,涅槃這個形象之下的內涵是指自由。巴利論藏追溯其動詞的詞根爲解脫(unbinding),也支持這個觀點。是怎樣的解脫? 經文中描述了兩個層次。一個是此生的解脫,以火已熄滅、余燼尚溫爲象征,這代表已證悟的阿羅漢,有視覺聽覺,敏感於喜樂,但已脫離了貪、瞋、癡。第二個層次的解脫,以火焰滅盡、余燼已冷作爲象征,代表了阿羅漢此生以後的經驗。來自感官的一切輸入冷卻下來,他/她從時空存在的最細微的苦與局限中獲得了解脫。
 

The Buddha insists that this level is indescribable, even in terms of existence or nonexistence, because words work only for things that have limits. All he really says about it apart from images and metaphors is that one can have foretastes of the experience in this lifetime, and that it's the ultimate happiness, something truly worth knowing.

佛陀堅持說,這後一個層次是不可描述的,即便以存在與非存在角度也不可能,因爲言辭只適於有限事物。他除了以形象和比喻之外,實際上說的只是,人在此生可以預嘗終極喜樂的經驗,而這個經驗是真正值得了解的。

So the next time you watch a fire going out, see it not as a case of annihilation, but as a lesson in how freedom is to be found in letting go.

因此,下一次你目睹火焰熄滅時,不要把它作爲消亡的例證,而看成從舍棄中獲得自由的一課。

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/modern/thanissaro/nibbana.html
最近訂正 10-26-2008