佛、法、僧之所以稱為「三寶 」，乃因其為宇宙世間帶來光明，為無量眾生添增喜樂，使我們解脫倒懸，得大自在。佛陀在鹿野苑度五比丘時，佛陀是佛寶，四諦、十二因緣、三法印是法寶，五比丘是僧寶，此三者是「最初三寶 」。佛滅後，梵音沉寂，聖僧漸凋，最初三寶已不復見，因此以土塑木雕、金屬塑像為佛寶，三藏十二部經為法寶，受具足戒之比丘、比丘尼為僧寶，此即「常住三寶 」。但就廣義而言，人人皆有佛性是為佛寶，人人都有平等無差別的法性是為法寶，人人都有喜好清淨和樂的心性是為僧寶，此名「自性三寶 」。如今，去佛時遙，世人有賴常住三寶，才能體證潛藏於內的自性三寶，常住三寶也因而成為佛教在世間的具體形象，所以大家均應誠心禮敬。尤其佛光會員負有弘法利生的崇高理想，對於常住三寶，更應恭敬護持，凡發揚常住三寶之事，大家共襄盛舉；凡詆毀常住三寶之舉，大家同聲唾棄。果能如此，必能使佛光普照，廣利眾生；法水長流，被及三世，其功德自是不可限量！
過去佛陀說法，主要的地點在人間，主要的對象是人類，主要的內容是指導人們如何將修行落實在日常生活上，所以經典中對於個人生活美滿、家庭幸福之道論述頗多，後人稱為「人間佛教 」，旨在彰顯佛教的人間性格。至於所謂的「出世佛教 」，是佛陀最初順應當時少部分修持苦行的行者所說；而「山林佛教」則是在中國古代君王體制下產生的特例，並非佛意。
常聽大家感嘆「做人難，人難做，難做人 」，其實就因為做人難，我們才要更積極地學習如何做人。太虛大師說︰「人成即佛成，是名真現實。」修道無他，主要就是在「處難處之人，做難做之事 」，如果我們能把群我之間的問題解決，還有什麼不能做到的事呢？
Beliefs of the BLIA
Belief lies at the core of all human activity. If our beliefs are firm, we can move mountains. Buddhism places special stress on the purity of belief.
The Flower Adornment Sutra says, “Belief is the mother of all virtue. She nurtures all goodness as she eradicates all doubt. She shows us how to reach the highest path.”
The Brahma Net Sutra says, “All practice springs from belief.
Belief is the source of all virtue.”
The BLIA is a well-structured organization with specific ideals. To fully participate in the BLIA, all members should share the following eight points of belief.
We respect and abide in the Triple Gem.
The Dharma is eternal; Buddha’s light shines everywhere.
The Triple Gem of Buddhism is Buddha, Dharma, Sangha.
The Triple Gem brings light and joy into this universe. The Triple Gem is the means through which we all can seek and find liberation from suffering.
The Triple Gem originated in Deer Park when the Buddha taught his first five monks. The Buddha himself is the first part of the Triple Gem. The Four Noble Truths, the twelve links of dependent origination and the Three Dharma Seals, which the Buddha taught to his monks, compose the second part of the original Triple Gem. The five monks whom the Buddha taught are the third part of the original Triple Gem. After the Buddha’s great nirvana, his teachings were spread orally.
In time, they were written down and passed from one generation to the next. As direct memories of the Buddha faded, people made paintings of his face, or they carved statues of him, or they made images of him in gold. Since the original Triple Gem no longer is with us today, we must accept images of the Buddha, printed sutras and living monastics as our Triple Gem. It is these that we must now respect and abide in. These are the embodiments of the original Triple Gem.
There is a subtler way of speaking about this, though. We might also say that the Triple Gem is something that all people possess in their deepest nature. All people have a Buddha nature. All people have the equanimity and wisdom of the Dharma inside them. All people have the joy and purity of the sangha in their hearts at all times. These qualities can be called our “inner Triple Gem” or the “Triple Gem of our basic natures.”
The Buddha’s era is long past. People today need to rely on and abide in the outer Triple Gem in order to fully realize the deepest essence of the subtle Triple Gem they always carry within themselves. For this reason it is important that all of us respect the outer Triple
Gem as it exists in this world now.
This is especially true for BLIA members, who have taken on the profound responsibility of spreading the Dharma for the good of all sentient beings.
We, more than anyone else, must make certain that the Triple Gem is well cared for, that it is supported and protected, and that anything that might destroy or harm it is completely avoided. If we are success- ful in these aims, we cannot but be successful, too, in bringing the light
and wisdom of Buddhism to all corners of the world. The merit that will accrue from doing this is immeasurable!
We believe in Humanistic Buddhism.
We work to have good lives and happy families.
The Buddhist tradition is full of variety. It has many divisions and many levels.
There are elitist levels and common levels. There are strains of Buddhism associated with nations and cultures, such as Tibetan Buddhism, Chinese Buddhism, Japanese Buddhism and so on. There are northern traditions and southern traditions. There is esoteric Buddhism and exoteric Buddhism. All of these differing traditions make up the fullness of Buddhism. The BLIA takes its guiding princi- ples from the Buddha himself. It bases its activities on the universal- ism of Buddha’s essential humanism. We call that universal human emphasis “Humanistic Buddhism”.
When Buddha preached the Dharma, he always preached among people, to people and for people.
More than anything else, the Buddha taught people how to cultivate higher behavior and higher awareness in this very world.
This is why so many of the sutras are devoted to explaining how to live a satisfying life in this world.
The emphasis by Buddha on human life itself came to be called “Humanistic Buddhism” by later generations. A“humanistic Buddhist” is someone who transforms his or her character so that it expresses the same deep truths and ideal expressed by the Buddha himself.
Transcendental Buddhism, which seeks to leave or abandon this world, is an outgrowth of Buddha’s earliest period, when he first taught a small number of monks basic austerities. The “Buddhism of the mountains and forests” was an elitist Chinese tradition developed by the Chinese ruling class many hundreds of years ago. Neither one of these forms of Buddhism is true to the real meaning of what the Buddha actually taught.
If you don’t cultivate your own behavior, can your family be expected to know well-being? If our families do not know well-being, how then can our nations be prosperous and the world at peace?
No matter what kind of Buddhism you practice, if you are a member of the BLIA, your ultimate belief still lies in the Buddha. Your ultimate practice still lies in preaching the Dharma to all sentient beings.
It is incumbent on all of us who take on this great task to practice diligently the humanism of the Buddha’s teachings. We should make our lives beautiful expressions of these truths, as we see to it that our families always are happy and content within the warm embrace of the Dharma. When our lives are based on this humanistic foundation, we will have all the profound resources necessary to further the culture and society of Buddhism. Our practice will begin to take in others, as our humane and understanding behavior naturally reaches beyond the narrow limits of our individual lives.
We actively practice Buddhism with others.
We show respect for others wherever we are.
Almost no one can live entirely alone. All of us depend on one another. For this reason, we must learn to cultivate our behavior right here in this world, right here among all the flawed and confusing influences that constantly impinge on us from those who are around us. There is no better place to practice Buddhism!
We respect all BLIA members.
We welcome each other when we meet and acknowledge each other when we part.
There is a folk saying, “If you want to climb high, you must start low. And if you want to travel far, you must start wherever you are.”
To work together as an effective group, we must show respect, loving-kindness and compassion toward each other.
These are not just slogans. We must begin our practice among the other people in our BLIA chapters.
The world has developed so much in recent years, we all can feel our interconnectedness even more than in the past. Truly, we live now in a global village.
If we are careful to practice loving-kindness when we are together and to be cooperative and harmonious even when we are not, then our BLIA community will have even fewer separations and distances within it. We will be a strong and effective force for bringing the truths of Buddhism to all people in the word.
We have right beliefs and right views.
We discover the prajna wisdom deep inside ourselves.
Right beliefs and right views are the basic virtues necessary for all disciples of the Buddha, and they are the only means by which we can expect to effectively do good things in this world. Without them, we will be lost. Without them, we have no standard on which to base our behavior. This is especially true in the modern world, where there are so many temptations and so many apparent reasons to wander into darkness. I deeply hope that members of the BLIA will do their utmost to be good examples before society, so that people everywhere will have the opportunity to see what a difference it makes to live a life illuminated by the truth.
How should we strengthen and deepen our sense of right belief and right view?
Buddhism is based on universal truths that also can be found within our basic natures. If we continuously deepen our understanding of Buddhism, we will come to understand ourselves better, and in that, we will strengthen our sense of right belief and right view.
Once we achieve a clear understanding of the workings of karma, the darkness of countless lifetimes will gradually begin to lift from our minds. Once we have a clear comprehension of the laws of cause and effect, we will know that our behavior, and its consequences, are not meaningless, disembodied forces that strike at us from nowhere, for no reason.
The Four Noble Truths and the Three Dharma Seals are basic realities that govern the universe. They are truths whose force can be experienced at all times, everywhere. When we really understand that our basic natures are our Buddha natures, we will have come to see that right inside us is the most powerful light in the universe. It is a light that can illuminate all obscurities and that can cleanse all defilements. The Flower Adornment Sutra says, “There is no difference between the mind, the Buddha and the consciousness of all sentient
Huineng the Sixth Patriarch of Chan Buddhism, expressed this truth perhaps better than anyone when he said, “Buddha is enlighten- ment. Realization of this enlightenment proceeds through four stages. The first stage is when you begin to comprehend. The second stage is when you begin to exhibit understanding. The third stage is full reali- zation, and the last is complete entry into a consciousness composed of nothing but enlightened awareness. If you believe this and are able to see your Buddha nature, then you will see that Buddha is nothing more than your own mind. Most people hide their light. They are greedy for the things of this world. They cling to outer conditions and, thus, their inner beings are turbulent and confused, and they are pushed this way and that by forces beyond their control. Then they hear the teachings of the Buddha, who through his own Samadhi achieved realization. Through his own hard practice, the Buddha taught the rest of us how to quiet ourselves and achieve self-control. There is no need to look outside yourself for the Buddha. You and the Buddha are the same. This realization is the beginning of real understanding. I encourage all of you to look within yourselves to find your Buddha nature. Most people in this world are deeply deluded. Their delusions cause terrible things to happen. They speak nicely, but their hearts are evil. They are greedy and prone to ferocious jealousies. They use other people and feel proud of themselves. They harm each other and destroy many things. If they would only stop for a while and look within their own minds, they would see the truth, because that is where the truth lies. With that truth in mind, they would stop their evil and begin to do good. This is the way to understand Buddhism.”
The Madhyamika Sastra says, “The ability to properly discrimi- nate among the phenomena of the world lies in holding fast to the truth of emptiness, and not moving from it.”
If all of us will study and reflect on the truth often, then we will achieve right belief and right views. We will learn to overcome senseless thinking and to keep our minds pure of all defilement. Our prajna wisdom then will come to the fore, and then not only will we not waste our present lives, but we also will live in accordance with the great truths that have been passed down through the ages and that have come to us only because others before us toiled and dared to keep them alive.
We live in the peace and joy of the Dharma.
We disentangle ourselves from suffering and ignorance.
To escape delusion and live in truth and joy are not things to be done in the next life. They are things that must be done in this life, right now! There is a saying that expresses this truth very well: “All the things of the past are dead and gone. All the things of the present are
born in this very moment.”
The secret to successfully practicing Buddhism is to pay strict attention to the very moment that is present right now.
You have no other moment. Nothing else is important.
When we pay close attention to the moment that is before us and around us, we begin to focus our attention in the place where it should be focused.
It is in the moment that we begin to distance ourselves from suffering and delusion, and it is in the moment that we begin to make small realizations. Before long, our small realizations will accumu- late. They will grow larger and larger. Eventually they will become large realizations, and then one day, they will culminate in the ultimate realization of full enlightenment within our Buddha natures.
Defilement and suffering appear in many, many forms. If we examine them closely, however, we will see that all of them stem from nothing more than the desires and defilements of our own minds. There is no other cause.
The Great Nirvana Sutra says, “Everything which seems to be outside of ourselves is a source of suffering. Peace and joy can only be found within.”
When we remove the misconception that forces are impinging on us from the outside, and replace it with the joy of the Dharma, then we open the door for untold blessings to come into our lives, and we will find that nothing can obstruct our progress any longer.
In the Vimalakirti Sutra, Vimalakirti exhorts a group of heavenly women, saying, “Take joy in the Buddha, take joy in the Dharma, take joy in aiding all sentient beings. Look upon the five aggregates as thieves and the four elements as poisonous snakes. Take joy in seeing emptiness inside yourself, take joy in protecting the Dharma always, take joy in helping others. Take joy in finding your bodhi mind, take joy in abandoning the demons of resentment and anger, take joy in disentangling yourselves from suffering. Take joy in Buddha’s Pure Land, take joy in accomplishing good things and in increasing your merits. Take joy in the magnificence of your temples, take joy in hearing the Dharma without fear, take joy in the three means of libera- tion. Don’t place your joy in things that are past, or not yet come. Take joy in your fellow practitioners, and take joy in the knowledge that even those who are not your fellows are possessed of pure minds. Take joy in protecting your wisdom from evil, and take joy in learning. A joyful mind is a pure mind. Joyful practice is the highest practice. This is called the joy of the bodhisattva.”
Upon hearing this speech, the heavenly beings replied, “Now that we have the joy of the Dharma, we have no further need of the pleasures found in mundane desires.”
In this world the difference between joy and suffering can be bridged in a single thought, in a single instant.
If all of us can pay close attention to halting the bad karma caused by our bodies, speech and minds, then we will all succeed in uprooting the only causes of suffering in this life. Once we have done that, we will find that life truly is beautiful and that all of us are capable of passing our days in this world in joy and peace.
Vow to save all sentient beings.
We will make this world a Pure Land.
The Pure Land is something all of us desire.
What do we need to do to bring the Pure Land fully into this world of ours?
The Buddha said, “Helping all sentient beings is the way to practice for the Pure Land.”
This means that we can fully achieve the Pure Land only by helping all sentient beings.
The reason for this is there is no Pure Land apart from sentient beings. When a Buddhist takes the bodhisattva vow to save all sentient beings, that Buddhist is bringing the Pure Land into this world. That is the reason Buddha so often spoke of the “true mind,” or the “deep mind,” or the “bodhi mind.”
The Buddha gave us many methods to bring the Pure Land into this world, including: the six perfections, the Four Noble Truths, the Thirty-seven aspects of the path to enlightenment , ten wholesome acts and many others. He also taught us to use “skillful means” or “expedient methods” to do our utmost to help others escape from the delusions of this world.
The Vimalakirti Sutra says, “If a bodhisattva wants to reach the Pure Land, he must purify his mind. When his mind is pure in all situations, he will have reached the Pure Land.”
Sariputra once asked the Buddha why the world was so full of evil and suffering if the inner mind of all beings was really pure and undefiled. Buddha answered him by tapping his foot on the ground. Suddenly, all around them the whole expanse of the universe became exceptionally beautiful and pure. Buddha then said, “My Buddha world always is pure and beautiful like this.”
Sariputra, as the rest of us do, saw defilement and suffering all around him, because his own mind still contained distinctions as to better and worse, higher and lower. Buddhas see even this saha world with perfect equanimity and deep purity, so what they see is always completely perfect, while what the rest of us see is not.
The Flower Adornment Sutra says, “The Three Realms are our minds. The phenomenal world is our consciousness.”
I hope all BLIA members will live their lives with this kind of consciousness. As we work to help other sentient beings, our inner minds gradually will change from their defiled states of greed, anger and ignorance to the state of perfect purity within the fullness of the bodhi mind. When all of us start thinking like this, how can our reali- zation of the Pure Land be far behind?
In sum, the Eight Beliefs of the BLIA are:
We respect and abide in the Triple Gem. The Dharma is eternal; Buddha’s light shines everywhere.
We believe in Humanistic Buddhism. We work to have good lives and happy families.
We actively practice Buddhism with others. We show respect for others wherever we are.
We practice compassion, joy and equanimity. Daily we do good deeds as we purify ourselves.
We respect all BLIA members. We welcome each other when we meet and acknowledge each other when we part.
We have right beliefs and right views. We discover the prajna wisdom deep inside ourselves.
We live in the peace and joy of the Dharma. We disentangle ourselves from suffering and ignorance.
We vow to save all sentient beings. We will make this world a Pure Land.
If all members of the BLIA can adequately establish themselves within these beliefs, then we all will succeed in purifying ourselves, in helping others, and in creating wholesome, positive relations with those who are around us. As we do this, we will successfully complete our own practice of Buddhism. We will all become bodhisattvas, and we all will find that we are welcome wherever we go.