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Refuge in the Buddha
by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

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The first step in entering the Buddhist path is going for refuge to the Triple Gem, and the first of the three gems that we approach as refuge is the Buddha, the Enlightened One. Because the act of going for refuge to the Buddha marks the beginning of a new chapter in our life, it is worth our while to repeatedly pause and reflect upon the significance of this momentous step. Too often we are prone to take our first steps for granted. Yet it is only if we review these steps from time to time in a deepening awareness of their implications that we can be sure the following steps we take will bring us closer to our desired destination.

踏上佛教之道的第一步,乃是归依三宝,而我们前往归依的三宝之首,即是佛陀,觉悟者。由于归依佛陀之举标志着生命新一章的开启,它值得我们反复地静下来观 想这一重大步骤的意义。我们太过于倾向把自己的起步视为理所当然。只有以渐进的理解,时时回顾这些足迹的意涵,我们才能够确 保后继的步程将带领我们趋近欲达之终点。  

The going for refuge to the Buddha is not a single action which occurs only once and is then completed with absolute finality. It is, or should be, a continually evolving process which matures in tandem with our practice and understanding of the Dhamma. To go for refuge does not imply that at the outset we already possess a clear grasp of the dangers that make a refuge necessary or of the goal toward which we aspire. Comprehension of these matters grows gradually over time. But to the extent that we have actually gone for refuge with sincere intent, we should make an earnest effort to sharpen and deepen our understanding of the objects to which we have turned as the basis for our deliverance.

归依佛陀并非是一次性彻底完成的单一事件。它是,或者说应该是一个随着我们对佛法的修持与领悟的成熟而连续进化的过程。归依并不意味着我们对使归依成为必 要的危险或者对期望达到的目标一开始即有明确的领悟。对这些事的理解与时俱增。不过,我们应当作出相应于归依之诚意的努力, 对自己视为解脱之根本依靠的对象,获得明确与深入的了解。

In going for refuge to the Buddha it is most essential at the outset to clarify our conception of what a Buddha is and how he functions as a refuge. If such clarification is lacking, our sense of refuge can easily become tainted by erroneous views. We may ascribe to the Buddha a status he never claimed for himself, as when we regard him as the incarnation of a god, as the emanation of the Absolute, or as a personal savior. On the other hand, we may detract from the exalted status to which the Buddha is properly entitled, as when we regard him simply as a benevolent sage, as an unusually astute Asiatic philosopher, or as a genius of meditative technology.

在归依佛陀之初,澄清我们对何为佛陀、他如何起归依作用的概念,是至为重要的。缺乏这样的澄清,我们的归依感很容易沾染妄见。我们也许会赋予佛陀某种他自 己从未承认的位格,比如把他视为一尊神祗的化身、绝对终极的体现、或者一位个人的救主。另一方面,我们也许会对佛陀正当拥有 的崇高地位加以贬低,比如把他仅仅视为一位慈蔼的智者、一位异常敏锐的亚洲哲学家、或者一位掌握禪定技术的天才。

A correct view of the Buddha's nature would see him in terms of the title he assigned to himself: as a Fully Self-Enlightened One (samma sambuddha). He is self-enlightened because he has awakened to the essential truths of existence entirely on his own, without a teacher or guide. He is fully enlightened because he has comprehended these truths completely, in all their ramifications and implications. And as a Buddha he has not only fathomed these truths himself, but has also taught them to the world so that others may awaken from the long sleep of ignorance and attain the fruits of liberation.

对于佛陀本质的正确见解,乃是以他本人赋予自己的名号来看待他: 一位正自觉者 (samma sambuddha, 彻底自我觉醒者)。之所以称他为自觉者,是因为他对生存的基本真相的觉醒,无师尊、无向导,全凭自力成就。之所以称他为正自觉者,是因为他对这些真相的一 切细节与寓意,已达成全知。作为一位佛陀,他不仅本人领悟了这些真相,而且还把它们传给了世界,使得他人也有可能从无明的长 眠中觉醒,证得解脱之果。

Taking refuge in the Buddha is an act anchored in a particular historical individual: the recluse Gotama, the scion of the Sakyan clan, who lived and taught in the Ganges valley in the fifth century B.C. When we take refuge in the Buddha, we rely upon this historical individual and the body of instruction that stems from him. It is important to stress this point in view of the fashionable notion that taking refuge in the Buddha means that we take refuge in "the Buddha-mind within ourselves" or in "the universal principle of enlightenment." Such ideas, allowed to go unchecked, can lead to the belief that anything we contrive in the flights of our imagination can qualify as true Dhamma. To the contrary, the Buddhist tradition insists that when we go for refuge to the Buddha, we place ourselves under the guidance of one who is distinctly different from ourselves, one who has scaled heights that we have barely begun to glimpse.

归依佛陀,指的是对一位特定历史人物的归依: 即隐者乔达摩,生活于公元前五世纪、传法于恒河流域的释迦族太子。我们归依这位佛陀时,是在归依这位历史人物和他的教诫。面对现今流行的归依观念所谓 归依佛陀意味着归依我们自己内在的佛心或者开悟之普遍原则 强调这一点是十分重要的。听任那些观念自由发展,可以引向但凡想象力驰骋之所及皆可作为真法的地步。与之相反,佛教传统坚持认为,当我们归依佛陀时, 是在把自己置于那位卓然有别于我们自身者的指导之下,他所成就的高度我们只开始获得遥遥的一瞥。

But when we rely upon the recluse Gotama as our refuge, we do not apprehend him merely as a particular individual, a wise and sensible sage. We apprehend him rather as a Buddha. It is his Buddhahood his possession of the full range of excellent qualities that come with perfect enlightenment that makes the recluse Gotama a refuge. In any cosmic epoch, a Buddha is that being who first breaks through the dark mass of ignorance encompassing the world and rediscovers the lost path to Nibbana, the cessation of suffering. He is the pioneer, the trailblazer, who discovers the path and proclaims the path so that others, by following his tracks, may extinguish their ignorance, arrive at true wisdom, and break the fetters that tie them to the round of repeated birth and death.

不过,当我们依止隐者乔达摩作为自己的庇护时,并不把他仅仅理解为一位智慧贤明的个人。我们把他理解为一位佛陀。正是他的佛陀位格随着圆满觉悟而来 的、对一切殊胜品质的拥有使隐者乔达摩成为归依。在任何一个宇宙纪元之中,佛陀是那位率先突破笼罩世界的无明黑暗、重新 发现业已遗失的灭苦涅槃之道者。他是一位先驱者、一位开拓者,他重新发现古道、宣讲古道,使得他人跟随其足迹,也能够灭尽自 身的无明,证得真智,突破把自己绑束在生死轮回之中的诸种结缚。

For the refuge in the Buddha to be genuine, it must be accompanied by a commitment to the Buddha as an incomparable teacher, as unexcelled and unsurpassed. Strictly speaking, the historical Buddha is not unique since there have been earlier Fully Enlightened Ones who have arisen in past epochs and there will be others who will arise in future epochs as well. But in any one world system it is impossible for a second Buddha to arise while the teaching of another Buddha is still extant, and thus in terms of human history we are justified in regarding the Buddha as a unique teacher, unequalled by any other spiritual teacher known to humanity. It is this readiness to recognize the Buddha as "the unsurpassed trainer of persons to be tamed, the teacher of gods and humans" that is the hallmark of an authentic act of taking refuge in the Buddha.

为了真正地归依佛陀,必须伴随着把佛陀尊为一位无可伦比的导师、一位至胜无上者的承诺。严格地说,历史上的佛陀并非独一无二,因为正觉者在过去纪元中曾经 出现过,在未来纪元中还将会升起。但是在任一世界系统中,在一位佛陀的教导尚且存在时,不可能升起第二位佛陀,因此就人类历 史来说,我们有理由把佛陀视为独一无二的导师,不可与人类的任何其它精神导师同日而语。正是接受佛陀为无上调御者[适于驯 服者的无上调御者]、天人师[天神与人类的导师]的愿意,标志着对佛陀的真正归依。

The Buddha serves as a refuge by teaching the Dhamma. The actual and final refuge, embedded within the Dhamma as refuge, is Nibbana, "the deathless element free from clinging, the sorrowless state that is void of stain" (Itiv. 51). The Dhamma as refuge comprises the final goal, the path that leads to that goal, and the body of teachings that explain the practice of the path. The Buddha as refuge has no capacity to grant us liberation by an act of will. He proclaims the path to be traveled and the principles to be understood. The actual work of walking the path is then left to us, his disciples.

佛陀作为归依的功能,是藉着传法进行的。蕴涵在归依之法中的真正而终极的归依,乃是涅槃无执取的不死元素,无垢染的无忧状态(Itiv. 51,如是语)。 作为归依的法,包括的是终极目标、趋向目标的道路、以及解说此修行道的教导体系。凭借愿力,并不能使作为归依的佛陀把解脱授予给我们。他宣说了必须行走的 道路,解说了必须领悟的原理。接下来,实际的行道工作,得由我们这些弟子去做。

The proper response to the Buddha as refuge is trust and confidence. Trust is required because the doctrine taught by the Buddha runs counter to our innate understanding of ourselves and our natural orientation toward the world. To accept this teaching thus tends to arouse an inner resistance, even to provoke a rebellion against the changes it requires us to make in the way we lead our lives. But when we place trust in the Buddha we open ourselves to his guidance. By going to him for refuge we show that we are prepared to recognize that our inherent tendencies to self-affirmation and grasping are in truth the cause of our suffering. And we are ready to accept his counsel that to become free from suffering, these tendencies must be controlled and eliminated.

把佛陀作为归依的正确态度,是信任与信心。之所以必须付诸信任,是因为我们对自身的内在了解以及对世界的自然趋向,与佛陀所传的教义背道而驰。于是,对这 套教导的接受容易触发内在的抵制,甚至对它所要求的生活方式上的转变激起抗拒。不过,当我们对佛陀寄予信任时,便对他的教导 敞开了心灵之门。我们藉着归依佛陀,表示自己愿意承认,对自我的肯定与执取的内在倾向确实是我们的苦因。我们愿意接受他的教 诫,也就是,为了灭苦,这些倾向必须加以控制与遣除。

Confidence in the Buddha as our refuge is initially awakened when we contemplate his sublime virtues and his excellent teaching. It grows through our undertaking of the training. At first our confidence in the Buddha may be hesitant, punctured by doubts and perplexity. But as we apply ourselves to the practice of his path, we find that our defilements gradually lessen, that wholesome qualities increase, and with this comes a growing sense of freedom, peace and joy. This experience confirms our initial trust, disposing us to advance a few steps further. When at last we see the truth of the Dhamma for ourselves, the refuge in the Buddha becomes inviolable. Confidence then becomes conviction, the conviction that the Blessed One is "the speaker, the proclaimer, the bringer of the good, the giver of the Deathless, the lord of the Dhamma, the Tathagata."

把佛陀作为归依的信心,在我们观想他的崇高品德与他的殊胜教导时被初次唤醒,随着我们修练的持续它开始增长。我们对佛陀的信心一开始也许带着犹豫、迟疑, 但随着修持我们发现,自己的杂染逐渐地减少,善巧素质得以扩展,随之而来的是一种愈增的自由、平静、喜乐之感。该体验印证了 我们的原始信任,使我们趋向继续进步。等到最终亲见法的真相时,我们对佛陀的归依成为不可动摇。信心在此转为确信,确信佛 陀是善的演说者、宣示者、带来者、是不死的给予者、法的尊主、如来。

最近訂正 1-6-2008