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以正念禪修,重新演繹佛法,觸動了無數人的心靈——衍空法師憶述一行禪師

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2010年,衍空法師(右二)參加一行禪師的弘法講座。

初見

我對一行禪師的第一印象,是禪師緩步輕行出香港機場禁區。那是梅村的一種修習風格——在正念當中,緩慢、輕鬆地面對待一切事物。對禪師的了解越深,我越被他那簡潔有力,且能如實地呈現佛法的能力所折服。如實地呈現佛法是非常重要的。簡單的教導方式或許不難,但要兼顧正解而不扭曲,且直指核心卻不容易。而一行禪師對佛法的解釋卻是非常簡潔、如實,並且容易吸收。

寄居西方多年的一行禪師,能契合西方人的根器而轉化艱澀的教義。禪師對於佛教在西方的現狀、發展所帶來的影響,可能僅次於達賴喇嘛。

當蒞臨香港弘法時,禪師同樣能運用善巧攝眾。他曾來過香港幾次,所攝受的信眾一次比一次多。最後的那一次與佛教研究中心合辦的弘法活動,是在香港會議展覽中心舉行的,接引了五千名觀眾參加。

重塑佛教

一行禪師重新演繹佛法,讓佛法更容易走進人群。雖然在香港信奉佛教的人不在少數,但是禪師能用非傳統的角度切入表達佛法,以接引傳統中國佛教所無法觸動的信眾,譬如年輕人、知識分子,以及較西式思維的族群等。

禪師的修習方法有別於傳統中國佛教慣見的方法,譬如禪師開創的「正念鐘」——這是一種能帶領我們活在當下的善巧運用。梅村的另一善巧是「正念歌曲」,例如 “Breathing In, Breathing Out”、「幸福就在當下」、「在感恩中」。這些都是接引普羅大眾的善巧方便。與禪師的教導方式一樣,禪師的著作亦深受大眾歡迎。所以對我而言,禪師的著作對佛法的初學者來說,是個很好的切入點。

梅村僧團

僧伽在梅村擔當著重要的角色。禪師經常說,「僧團作了這樣的決定,僧團作了那樣的決定。」每當禪師上台演講時,都會有許多僧眾追隨。這是非常重要的,對於禪師來說,那不僅是一場講座,而是一場能將法義深入淺出的佛法演示。禪師開示時,僧團會唱出正念歌曲,並配以正念鐘聲。如此震撼的演示佛法的方式,使得佛法教誨更易於深入人心。所以,在禪師的弘法過程中,僧團扮演著重要的角色,而禪師亦重視加強僧團重要性。由此可見,極積、能幹的僧伽,是梅村得以繼續發展重要因素。

(註:原文由衍空法師以英文撰寫。文章的中文版則由佛門網中文部翻譯。衍空法師為香港大學佛學研究中心的聯合創辨人及高級院士。 一行禪師於 2001年首次蒞臨香港弘法時,法師擔任廣東話翻譯;並與梅村結下不解之緣。)

有關懷念一行禪師的文章專輯,請按:

一行禪師(1926 – 2022):生命即當下

2010年,一行禪師帶領「覺醒生活營」時,於雨中經行。

First footfalls

My first impression of Thay was of him walking very slowly from the immigration area of Hong Kong’s airport.  This is the style of Plum Village – everything goes mindfully, slowly, relaxed.  As I got to know more about Thay, I was impressed by his ability to articulate or express or teach the Dharma in a very simple yet effective and correct way. Correct is very important.  You can teach something very simply but it’s wrong or not to the point. Thay’s explanations were very simple, to the point and easy to digest. 

With his many years in the West, Thay was able to communicate difficult teachings in a way that made them available to Westerners.  He certainly had a hand in how Buddhism is, now, in the West, and is second in importance only to the Dalai Lama in presenting Buddhism there.

When he came to Hong Kong, Thay was doing the same thing.  He came several times and every time the crowd got bigger and bigger.  The Centre of Buddhist Studieswas the local host and co-organiser. At the last event we organized for Thay, at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, there were 5,000 people.

Repackaging Buddhism

Thay repackaged Buddhism in a way that is easily available to many people. Buddhism has always been very popular in Hong Kong.  But Thay presented it from another angle.  In that sense, he attracted a different population – younger, more educated, Western influenced.  It was a population that traditional Chinese Buddhism had not been serving.

Thay introduced practices that were totally new to traditional Chinese Buddhism.  The mindfulness bell is one thing Thay created. It is a very skillful way of bringing people to the here and now. Another significant contribution of Plum Village is their songs, like Breathing In, Breathing Out; Happiness is Here and Now, and In Gratitude. These are very skillful, pleasant things you can teach to everybody.  Thay’s books are also very popular,as was his way of teaching. For people who want to study Buddhism, Thay for me remains a very good entry point.

The sangha

Thay’s Sangha is very important to the whole of Plum Village. He was always saying that “the Sangha decides this, the Sangha decides that”.  Whenever Thay went on stage he always had a large Sangha with him. That was very important because his talks were more than lectures.  They were more or less a performance with Dharma teachings. It was an impressive show and made the teachings easier for people to digest and to relate to. Thay would go on, the Sangha would sing, then Thay would invite the bell. So Thay’s Sangha was very important to his promotion of Buddhist teachings.  He empowered the Sangha and delegated authority.  Having a very active and able sangha is, I think, very important to how Plum Village will continue.

Venerable Sik Hin Hung, co-founder and a senior fellow of The Centre of Buddhist Studies of The University of Hong Kong, was the Cantonese translator for Thay during his first Hong Kong teaching tour, in 2001, and remained closely associated with Plum Village during its early days in the city.

Click here for more articles on Thay

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