2017年2月5日

HOW I MET VENERABLE




   Never in my life would I have imagined that I would be so fortunate to receive the teachings of Venerable Xian Zhong, nor that I would be asked by him to write a book with him.  When I first became a Buddhist, my only focus was on learning the essentials, but that soon grew to a strong desire to receive guidance from a qualified teacher.  For the past two years I have been hoping for a qualified teacher to take me under their wing and guide me on the path and help me to understand the teachings, but for the longest time it seemed as if my desire would remain nothing more than a dream.  Then I met Venerable.

            The date was July 20, 2016; the place, the Chapel on Facility “C”, at Kern Valley State Prison in Delano, California.   Up until that fateful day, my only introduction to Buddhist mons was in books, but I was about to meet one face-to-face.  I did not realize at the time that not only would my first meeting be the most memorable, but it would also change my life and open more doors than I could ever have imagined.

            Before I entered the Chapel, many doubts and fears went through my mind.  “Will he shun me for being trans-gender?”; “Will he welcome me with open arms, or refuse to shake my hand?”; “Will he like my writings?”; “Can he answer some of my most pressing questions?” These are only a few of the countless thoughts that assailed me.

            However, the moment I introduced myself, all of my doubts and fears disappeared.  Venerable’s infectious enthusiasm and beaming smile would tame the most ferocious of beasts.  He warmly shook my hand and did not even bat an eye when looking at me.  He saw neither an abomination, nor an inmate, but a fellow sent being in need of life-saving and changing teaching of the Buddha.

            As I sat and listened to him teach, I was in awe.  His teachings were presented in a clear and comprehensible manner, and his knack for employing anecdotes in just the right doses is second to none.  The fact that he is brilliant is evident to all, and his passion for the Dharma is undeniably.  I could feel his sincerity as he pleaded with us to get sincere about our practice so we can help other beings.  This sincerity is something I had not encountered elsewhere, and I was so moved by it that I could hardly wait to get back and practice!

            Near the end of the session, I had voiced to Venerable my desire to enter Sera May Monastic University, in Southern India upon my release from custody, and showed him a packet I had put together containing the curriculum and a lesson I had written for a course I started, and when he saw it and learned I am a writer, he shocked me by asking if I would be willing to write a book with him.  I was stunned speechless.  Did he really ask me that?!  After a moment or so, I stuttered: “Of Course!” And so began our partnership and the beginning of the book you hold in your hands.


            No amount of words can ever fully express how honored and thrilled I am to be so fortunate as I am to be given the privilege of collaborating with Venerable Xian Zhong in a work such as this.  Nor can I ever express how much it means to me to be able to contribute to the wide range of Buddhist literature in order to benefit all sentient beings.  I pray that anyone who reads, hears, speaks, or thinks of this work will attain good fortune and quick enlightenment.  And if there is anyone who desires a teacher such as I have been blessed with, then I encourage you not to give up hope, but to wait for one to come to you.  I hope you will find a teacher such as Venerable.  He is an excellent and brilliant teacher and wonderful friend!




2017年2月1日

受刑人的感謝信



逕啓者:
我找不出合適的辭句,因為我覺得言語已無法表達我內心最誠摯的、感激的、榮幸的和讚歎的謝意。感謝菩薩寺的法師、導師和所有僧眾,這些年來在我最潦倒時幫助我。這些年來所有慧光師父和顯中法師種下的努力、時間、指導和共修,都沒有白費,而且也已經有很顯著的效果。我將所學到佛法中的優良德行和智慧應用到生活中,深深感受到受益良多。我的人生已經永遠地改善成非常正面和自信。以前,我從不敢奢望在被禁錮期間,能獲取並感知到內心真正的安祥,然而事實上,我確有此感知。我每天努力修行佛法,感到進步很多,內心的迷惘和妄念也改善很多。我敢說,若沒有菩薩寺的僧眾如此用心地指導我們,我絕不可能在克服困難、更新或改良上,能有今日這樣的進步。我無法道盡內心感激之情,唯有更加努力修行佛法。這些年來,菩薩寺幫助我的所有努力和時間是無與倫比的,而且效果顯著,讓我獲益良多。我也鄭重推薦給所有受刑人都接受這種教導。我覺得唯一能夠回報給菩薩寺的方法是我努力修行佛法,並將所有的好處和正面意義,盡可能地貢獻給社會和我個人,直到永遠。
阿彌陀佛!
Jose Alfredo
三寶僧團團長
B Yard at Calipatria 監獄

2017年1月30日

「慶生福田」



今天是一個樂善好施的日子,也是新年的開始,首先要跟各位新年快樂,同時祝福吳豐松和吳蕭雪菩薩生日快樂🎂吉祥如意💐福壽無彊🍀






感謝你們的善行齋僧供養在印度孤兒院和貧民窟兒童佈施一頓豐盛晚餐,這一頓豐盛晚餐可以帶給他們快樂的同時,也是最佳地為自己慶祝生日。這樣的「慶生福田」慶祝活動可以給幾百人和自己歡樂。多麼感動啊!

我們一般人慶祝生日,不離都是大羣友人餐飲歡渡,可知道這是消費支出我們的福報,反而如果我們在生日當天,自己也好,為親朋好友也可,為這世間一羣不幸的街友佈施造福,可令他們快樂的時候,亦可增加自身福報、快樂安隱、壽命延長。

佛說佈施經云:「以美食施,得離飢饉倉庫盈溢。以漿飲施,得所往之處無諸飢渴。以衣服施,得上妙衣莊嚴身相。」

時時刻刻利益群生,可以福壽綿綿,這樣才是快樂生日。

美國菩薩寺數年前開始的「慶生福田」便是給您們親友做一個別具意義的生日祝福,「慶生福田」的活動得以實現,是因為你們菩薩行者佈施,在一年一度的生日做佈施,生日都只是一年一度,期望有更多人發心參與這個具有義意的活動,大家可以隨喜分享這計劃給予你們親友,不一定是由美國菩薩寺辦理,你們可以自行安排此活動。首要目的是讓需要的貧窮者得到你們的幫助,有餐溫飽。不論多少,一份餐盒或十份餐點也可以,佈施給予需要的十方。這「慶生福田」也可以在自己居住地區做,為自己為親友們積聚福德資量。阿彌陀佛🙏

「慶生福田」



有機會能結緣多好啊,尤其是供养真正需要的窮困人家,功德更是殊勝。为此,我們要非常感恩Rame Chiu,感謝她為孤兒院布施床单与净水器,以及供養僧眾。这个善举不但带給這些不幸者一餐溫飽,也為布施主的生日留下一個永恆愛心的珍貴回憶, 同时也為自己与親友們積聚福德資糧。藉著「慶生福田」这个活动,我們可以在自己居住的地區做供燈、齋僧,为无依无靠的孤儿们布施物资。我們希望有更多的人跟我們一起來做,把這個具有意義的活動大力推廣下去。
我們大部分人都生活在經濟繁荣的發展國家。相较于這些永遠都在為下一餐愁苦的人來說,我們的生活是幸福的。幾粒米食、一餐溫飽,對於生活富足的我們來說不算甚麼,但是對於這些每日掙扎在飢餓邊緣的窮苦者來說,卻是他們一生中,求之不得的時刻。您不經意的一個善舉,成就的或許是某些人平生最大的夢想。
我們行菩薩道者,皆本著「慈」、「悲」、「喜」、「捨」之心,日日精進。同时也本著未成佛道,先結善緣的心態。福德和智慧皆要同時修行、精進。一個德高望重的人,必然是有智慧的。而智慧之一物,則乃成佛之基準。
為何我們要在這裡說福德和智慧需同時修行?因為一個福德俱足的人,必須是在慈悲心、喜捨心的逐步培養下,日日精進所得。 修行,我們不只是要多看、多聽、多學,還要多做。而這個「做」,說的就是我們不只要修改、修正自己的言行舉止,還有我們的心。培養一顆慈悲喜捨的心,何其重要。我們捨,捨的不只是金錢、食物、財產,還是我們的自私心、傲慢心、貪嗔心。只有將這些阻礙我們修行的負面之心捨去了,智慧便會隨著我們的作為逐漸呈現。當我們智慧與福德俱足的時候,成佛之路,也就不遠了。
我們希望世界上,人人都能本著慈悲喜捨的公德心,為每一位貧困者伸出您友善的手。 這些菩薩功德都是你們自己的,你們也可以通過自己的渠道,隨興辦理,也可以將這個計畫一個接一個推廣下去。愛心就像原野的星星火光,只要我們每個人都本著溫柔心、慈悲心、喜捨心認真去做,這個世界就會變得溫暖。一善以小,然眾善成城。
希望大家都能以最好最適合的生日禮物,送給親友!也希望大家都能在自己生日的那一天,獲得最好的祝福。 再次祝福Rame Chiu生日快樂 ,福慧綿長,修行無礙。

北加州監獄弘法(2007)


美國菩薩寺監獄佈教義工譚師姐 ShirleyJamyang 由上顯下中法師 帶領今天啓程開展北加州 為三所監獄的受刑法友們傳播佛法。
為他們增益佛教處世做人、寬心待人、修習慈心禪、踏上菩提之路而向上邁進,這定時探訪是對他們來說是很重要任務。
正是本著菩薩寺不捨任何一個眾生,給予他們修研佛法,只要有一個來想聽聞佛法。他們都千里迢迢來到為他們宣教,為他們心靈開放光明之燈,引領他們重新做人。護持監獄佈教捐助可以聯絡我們,或直接郵寄支票至以下:
菩薩寺地址:9715 Carroll Centre Rd #105 San Diego CA 92126
支票抬頭:IBS
網上支付善款:支付寶連線PayPal: www.ibstemple.org/donate
電話:+1-619-450-3704
電郵: zhongibs@hotmail.com
WeChat ID: Xianzhongshi
Line ID: shixianzhong
更多資訊可參閱 :
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http://www.ibs04.blogspot.com/

2017年1月2日

每月10元,以微小星光點亮愛的希望!



阿彌陀佛!菩薩寺運行至今,十數個年頭,在各方善眾大力加持下,監獄弘法佛果斐然。許多受刑信徒在獄中皈依三寶,成為佛們弟子,重新接受認識引導他們人生走向正途之法。美國菩薩寺將佛法和世間大眾的愛心,根植在各地監獄,讓眾業聚集、善惡交雜的複雜處所,開遍代表佛教的正法之花。
婆娑世界,正法難求,難聞難得。
我們做為人類,來到這個世界上,本就已難求難得如爪中沙。
作為人身,生活在這世界上是艱難的,每一步、每分每秒都在自我意識世界中受盡煎熬。
善與惡、得與失、是與非,總在無數個意念生滅中拉扯,顛倒夢想。
哭與笑、愛與恨,憤怒歡喜都如此身不由己、心不由我。
這世間給了我們太多,也奪去了我們太多。
我們步履艱難的行走在這浮屠之世,不知下一步將踏向何方。
錯錯對對,愛恨喜怒……數不清,難計較!
生活在這世上,人人都會犯錯,我們不斷從錯誤中學習、成長。
有的人,錯而知錯,而後改過向善,重新來過;
有的人錯而不知,無從改正,人生一直在不同的錯誤與煩惱中徘徊,找不到出路。
但總的來,世界上沒有所謂的壞人,只有因無明而做錯事的人。
一直以來,監獄弘法這件事情,做的人不多,也很少有人願意做。菩薩寺本著眾生平等、未有分別之心,發願渡盡監獄眾生。給那些錯而不知的眾生一個錯而知錯,然後改正的機會。我們教導,已被世間放棄的人;我們用佛法,讓那些錯而不知的人,一個學習、修改爾後導正人生之途的難得機會。
請幫助美國菩薩寺 !
菩薩寺在各地監獄間奔忙弘法,在這個被金錢物質掌管的世界,我們舉步維艱、孤掌難鳴。佛法,早已超於世間物質金錢之外,要讓超於這世界的佛法在被物質掌管之處遍地開花,我們做得很辛苦。美國地大,各監獄場所相距甚遠,有的需要開車七個八個小時才能到達,最近的也須開車兩個多小時,有的要提前一天到達監獄附近旅館,以便進行第二日早上八點的佈教和法會。沿途經費所耗,需要更多善信大眾伸出您代表愛與慈悲的雙手,給那群已被世人遺忘的眾生一個接觸佛法、知錯改錯的機會。
每月10元,用微小金錢點燃這娑婆世界的愛心之光。以小小善行,點亮世間大大愛心。
捨……捨去十元,得回人生一個被善德環繞的光明世界。有一日,這些愛會返回,變成大大愛心,回饋到您想不到的地方。
阿彌陀佛,祝願普世大眾善願得成,功德無量!
護持監獄佈教捐助可以聯絡我們,或直接郵寄支票至以下:
菩薩寺地址:9715 Carroll Centre Rd #105 San Diego CA 92126
支票抬頭:IBS
網上支付善款:支付寶連線PayPal: www.ibstemple.org/donate
電話:+1-619-450-3704
電郵: zhongibs@hotmail.com
WeChat ID: Xianzhongshi
Line ID: shixianzhong
更多資訊可參
http://www.ibs04.blogspot.com



2016年12月20日

Longest Retreat


My name is Kevin from Tehachapi Karuna Sangha, and I’m nearing the end of a lengthy prison term.  During those years of confinement I have learned valuable, life enhancing truths from my exposure to many different religions and belief systems.  Whether from Christian or Druid, Jew or Muslim, esoteric or atheist, Hindu or Buddhist, I am a better, more well-rounded man as a result of my willingness to listen and learn from those around me.

Several months ago I signed up to attend a twelve week addiction recovery program sponsored by the Buddhist community called, Refuge Recovery.  While participating in the series of lectures and meditation I became impressed with the pragmatic value of Buddhist teachings.  Not only are there teachings of generosity, kindness, forgiveness, common to all faiths I had previously studied, but the Buddhists also provide training in down-to-earth practices that actualize such lofty teaching for each participant, integrating the principles into their everyday lives.

Strong, consistent emphasis on mindfulness, mental discipline, and deep, penetrating meditation are a few of the Buddhist tools for achieving, in very practical terms, the lives most other religious camps preach but all too rarely practice.  As a result of my own personal growth through this twelve week program I decided to begin attending Buddhist services and explore more of what I began to believe would, at the very least, provide for me a mechanism by which to fortify my own religious faith.

I should tell you a little more about myself here.  I love learning about the world around me, and I love exploring ideas about how my little own personal micro-cosmic view might fit into a grander, universal whole.  When I meet others with similar yearning, I always feel as if I am with family-cut out of the same cloth.  It has been a source of frustration in my life, both before and after my arrest, to have not found many who share in my child-like awe and wonder at the beauty and glory of nature – both that beneath our feet and skyward.

Yesterday I was privileged to attend a Buddhist retreat where I sat before the Buddhist monk, Venerable Xian Zhong.  Before this time I had already been blessed with meeting regularly with an inmate Buddhist facilitator, we affectionately refer to as ‘Doc”.  Doc runs the Refuge Recovery program and is, himself, a recovering soul from the terrors of drug abuse.  From Doc’s stories about his past selfish, self-centered, self-destructive life I had already seen for myself a living testament for the Buddhist approach to putting a broken life back together.  Doc is a remarkable example of the power potential to be found within Buddhism.

While I sat listening to this humble, yet enthusiastic monk I was quickly aware that his words were spoken in what I have come to accept as the “Spirit of truth”.  There are unseen, unheard energies in our universe.  Physicists speak of “dark matter”, and “dark energy” as comprising better than 96% of the cosmos, meaning that we can only directly observe less than 4% of the entirety of what we know, but cannot detect, is out there.  I have come to believe that truth, not facts, not mundane observations, but sublime, universal truth comes to us from the unobserved majority of our universe – and perhaps beyond even there.

As Venerable spoke, the inner part of me, my “heart”, resonated.  I have felt this same resonance many times before as I read from sacred texts from all cultures in our multi-ethnic world.  Whether from the Bible, the Vedas, the Koran, the Book of Mormon, or Plato – when I read the words of any sage, guru, prophets, or philosopher inspired from the unobserved reals my heart sings, vibrates, swells and becomes softer, more pliable.  Such was the case before Venerable Zhong yesterday.

To be sure, at least on the surface, there are distinctive beliefs within every approach to enlightenment, or rebirth, that are unique and apparently irreconcilable to other faiths:  reincarnation, transubstantiation, miraculous conception, ancestor worship, speaking in tongues, etc.  Every church, synagogue, temple, community have their particular peculiarities.  But, beneath the doctrines, rites, and rituals of every group is a commonality, and that singularity binds us all – no matter your congregation – Love. Compassion. Eager forgiveness. Self-sacrifice.  Nobility in personal grow.  This is what I have found in every religion or belief I have studied.  This is at the heart of Buddhism.  This is the resonating truth I heard with my heart coming from my new friend, brother, and fellow lover of all things truthful, the passionate humble Buddhist monk, Venerable Zhong.

I invite all my fellow sentient beings to join me in the search for universal truths.  You can find them at any community dedicated to the ethereal.  But if you care to investigate Buddhism for yourself – go there with an open mind and a soft receptive heart and hear with the inner ear.  Let your heart sing with the compassionate message of truly right hearing.