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Love and Compassion: Rumi’s Seven Advices 2017-06-06T11:38:11+00:00

Project Description

 Love and Compassion: Rumi’s Seven Advices

Posted on 15/10/2012

Love and Compassion: Rumi

DETAILS

This summer, the Pearl Institute (Formerly known as Anatolia Cultural & Dialogue Centre) of Turkey and the Hong Kong University Centre of Buddhist Studies Alumni Association jointly arranged a tour to Turkey. It offered the chance of a brief encounter of the Turkish cultural and religious life.

Turkey is a secular country by constitution. In actual fact, more than 99% of the population is of Islamic background. Muslim practices are deeply seeded in the daily life of common people, and most people do not have any knowledge of Buddhism. During the tour, we visited the Mevlâna Museum and the tomb of Rumi in Konya, a city in central Turkey. The full name of Rumi (1207-1273) is Mevlânâ Celâleddin Mehed Rumi. He is a Sufi scholar, writer and poet, and he is one of the most famous masters in the history of Islam. Not only that his poetries are wide acclaimed, but his teachings are also very much inspiring and far-reaching. He teaches unconditional acceptance, tolerance, patience, love, compassion, and benevolence. His famous ‘Seven Advices’ has passed down all the years and is still very much revered in the present time. The Seven Advices epitomizes the highest sentiment of humanity, transcends religious boundaries, and encompasses the common values of all religions:

  1. In generosity and helping others: be like the river

  2. In compassion and grace: be like the sun.

  3. In concealing others’ faults: be like the night.

  4. In anger and fury: be like the dead.

  5. In modesty and humility: be like the soil.

  6. In tolerance: be like the ocean.

  7. Either you appear as you are, or: be as you appear.

Rumi teaches us that our generosity and help to others should be like the river, ever flowing. The Bodhisattvas in Buddhism understand that if one were to liberate oneself to full enlightenment, one has to liberate others simultaneously. This understanding becomes the main guidance in Bodhisattva practice: it is through helping others that one could help oneself. Unconditional or unattached generosity, giving, and helping others is known as dāna in Buddhism, which ultimately culminates into one of the perfections, the perfection of giving (dāna-pāramitā). According to the teaching of Diamond Sutra, making unattached dāna will lead to unimaginable merits. A heart of offering dāna to others originates from a heart of unconditional loving-kindness. This is why Buddhism points out that loving-kindness without condition is highest. Those who could really help oneself and liberate oneself always have an unconditional loving and compassionate heart toward others. He understands that the very moment that he is giving, he is already receiving. The giver simultaneously becomes the receiver, and there is no real difference between the benefactor and the beneficiary.

Rumi teaches that we have to forgive others’ wrongdoings, and bury our anger and hatred. Anger and hatred arise from not accepting others and their apparent wrongdoings. There is no absolute yardstick for wrongdoings, but there are man’s differentiations, judgments, and prejudices. Over the thousands of years, endless wars arise because of anger, hatred and enmity. The Twenty-first Century is still very young, but the world has already witnessed the ‘9-11’ disaster in America, the upheavals and killings in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the ongoing warfare in Syria. There is no long-lasting winner in a war, but war brings immense suffering to the people, and lives are meaninglessly wasted. It is a failure before it starts. On this aspect, the 6th Patriarch Wei-neng had said:

“If one is to be a true cultivator of the Way,

         One will not see the wrongs of the world.

         In seeing other people’s faults,

         We ourselves then commit a fault;

         In considering others but not ourselves in fault

         Ourselves are automatically in fault.

         As long as we eliminate any inclination to see faults,

         Defilements will then be smashed, removed and destroyed;

         Without neither hatred nor craving bothering our mind,

         We can rest in peace with both legs relaxingly stretched out.”

          (Platform Sutra Chapter II: on prajña)

Only by forgoing anger, hatred and enmity that human beings can free themselves, and be truly liberated from fetters, anxiousness, bondages, and hindrances.

Rumi teaches us to be humble as the earth, and be tolerant like the sea. When we look at our mother earth, it is subject to all kinds of natural battering and human pollutions and exploitations. However our mother earth accepts all in quietude, silently absorbing all elements and nutrients of life and nourishing all life forms. In the same way, all rivers end in the ocean, and the ocean accepts each and every of them wholeheartedly without grudging or alterations. Rumi taught us that our tolerance towards others should be likewise.

Modesty and humility allow us to put down our preconceptions, personal differentiations and preferences. Our heart is then widely open and is ready to take up and absorb knowledge and opinions that the world offers. With that clarity one seeks the skillful and wholesome path, and avoids or amends those unwholesome ones. That is also what the 6th Patriarch taught:

“Now that our mind doesn’t cling to good or evil, we should avoid becoming immersed in emptiness and attached to stillness. Rather, we should become knowledgeable by studying extensively, so that we recognize our own mind and understand various Buddhist doctrines. We would then become congenial to others when dealing with them, unaware of the distinction between self and other, thus proceeding to Bodhi and to our unchanging true nature. “

(Platform Sutra Ch. VI; on repentance and remorse)

Patience and tolerance are the prime virtues in Buddhism. When some bad thing happens and appeared to be unbearable, people might feel deeply wounded. On deeper thought, no matter good or bad, things will happen when their causes and conditions are ripe; and what has happened is not for us to refute. On the other hand, to accept a bad thing in its entirety does not preclude us from examining and dealing with it rightfully and in the most effective way. Furthermore, total acceptance will help us to reduce our helplessness, anger and hatred, and reduce the chance of imposing our views on others which might seed further hatred and enmity. When we encounter something unpleasant, the “Four steps for Handling a Problem: A Proposition for Resolving Difficulties of Life” taught by Master Sheng Yen offers a very pragmatic solution: Face it; Accept it; Deal with it; Let go of it.

The last advice from Rumi is that one has to appear as one is, or be as one appears. In any faith and knowledge, knowing without practicing will not bring fruit. Appearance reflects one’s behavior and practice. When our outward appearance matches our inner self, it means that we have put our knowledge and faith into practice and action. The three basic steps to acquire wisdom in Buddhism are “listen, think, and practice”. “Listen” is listening to or learning the teaching of the Buddha. As Buddhist faith is based on knowledge rather than belief, “think” is to consider, check and assess in detail before accepting Buddha’s teaching. It is clear that the first two steps are to build our knowledge and faith. The final step is to put our learning into practice. Learning Buddhism without practice is only an academic exercise; practice makes one a genuine Buddhist.

Love and compassion do not have religious boundaries. In the mid twenty Century, the renowned American psychologist Dr. Carl Rogers (1902-1987) first proposed the person-centered theory of psychological counseling. He proposed that by holding the following three attitudes in the client-therapist relationship, namely: 1. unconditional positive regard; 2. empathy; 3. congruence, it is already adequate to help the client for positive changes from their negative emotions and maladaptive behaviors. Dr. Rogers is a Christian and spent most part of his life studying human psychology and behaviors. At one time he had also studied theology. However, he had transcended the framework of Christianity and work directly with human nature. Upon careful examination, unconditional positive regard equates to a heart of unconditional loving-kindness in Buddhism; an empathetic heart to the utmost is the ability to understand accurately the suffering of the client, and is the greatest compassionate heart in Buddhism; congruence is to be honest and true on the therapist side, and is the ability to practice what one sees. In the following decades numerous studies in psychology confirm Dr. Rogers’ theory, and the person-centered approach is just as effective as any other modern psychotherapy theories. Dr. Rogers’ three conditions have also become the core professional values of many contemporary workers in social work and other helping services.

Buddhism teaches the Four Immeasurable Attitudes (metta or loving-kindness; karuna or compassion; mudita or appreciative joy; upekkha or equanimity) to guide our behavior in the society. These encompass the advices of Rumi. While conditional love may contain seeds of craving or clinging, unconditional love represents the highest human sentiment towards another being, and raises the meaning of life to a supra-mundane echelon. There could only be one ultimate truth: that various religions could survive the test of time because they all touch the human’s heart by calling for love and acceptance among human beings. Unconditional love and acceptance is what distinguish man from animals. Human life consists of pleasure and sufferings, but it is exactly this very nature that offers human the chance to learn and practice to achieve Buddhahood. Love, compassion, care, and mutual help are the prime elements that help human to survive all disasters happened or yet to happen. The author wishes to conclude this essay with the following Chinese couplet:

天地不仁,以萬物為芻狗

人間有義,仗愛助得重生

Original Chinese text: Dr. Thomas Lau

Translation: Isabelle Tsang

 English editing: Dr. Thomas Lau

今年夏天,得香港大學佛學研究中心同學會與土耳其Pearl Institute (Anatolia Cultural & Dialogue Centre) 安排,到土耳其一遊,淺嘗當地風土人情及宗教文化。名義上土耳其是一無國教的國家,實其人口中絕大多數是回教徒,回教深深地影響著當地人們的生活,而大部份人對佛教均無認識。

旅遊期間,探訪了回教蘇菲學派著名詩人、學者魯米位於土耳其中部科尼亞市(Konya)的陵墓博物館。魯米(1207-1273)全名Mevlânâ Celâleddin Mehmed Rumi,除了其廣為人欣賞的詩詞,更能打動人心的是他的教導。他的教導主要建基於無條件的接受、包容、忍耐、愛、慈悲、及利他。為此他留下了七個忠告,大受世人推崇。他的七個忠告,表達了人類最高尚的情操;而這七個忠告超越了宗教界限,包含著泛宗教普世的價值觀:

1. In generosity and helping others: be like the river.
讓我們慷慨及助人的心,如大河一樣澎湃,永流不息。
2. In compassion and grace: be like the sun.
讓我們的慈愛與和善,如日光一樣,照耀眾生。
3. In concealing others’ faults: be like the night.
讓我們的寬容,如在黑夜裏看不見一樣,掩藏了他人的過錯。
4. In anger and fury: be like the dead.
讓我們如同在死亡時一樣,埋葬了我們的憤怒及怨憎。
5. In modesty and humility: be like the soil.
讓我們的虛心和謙遜,能如大地般攝納。
6. In tolerance: be like the ocean.
讓我們的忍耐,如大海一樣地包容。
7. Either you appear as you are, or: be as you appear.
讓我們表裡一致,心口如一。

魯米教導我們助人的心,應如大河一樣,永流不息。佛教菩薩乘主修自度度他,就是告訴我們只有經過助人,方能助己;而助人等同行於布施。無條件的助人,正是《金剛經》上說的不住相布施,其褔德不可思量。能起心助人,本發自於對人的慈愛。無條件地助人,源自於無條件的慈愛,就如佛教所說的無緣大慈。原來真正能夠助己的人,必擁有慈悲心及助人的心;施者、受者本無差別。

魯米教導我們要寬恕他人的過錯,及埋葬我們的憤怒及怨憎。憤怒和怨憎,多始於不能接受他人及其過錯。世上本無絕對的過錯,只有人的分別心。千百年來,無數戰爭皆源於憤怒、怨憎、及仇恨。二十一世紀以還,世人已見證了美國九一一事件,阿富汗及伊拉克的變天,與及現正打得如火如荼的敍利亞內戰。戰爭沒有永久的勝利者,但令生靈塗炭,民不聊生,未勝先輸。六袓慧能大師就曾說過:

若真修道人 不見世間過
若見他人非 自非卻是左
他非我不非 我非自有過
但自卻非心 打除煩惱破
憎愛不關心 長伸兩腳臥
──《六袓壇經.般若品第二.無相頌》

只有真的放下憤怒、仇恨、與怨憎,人才能從繫縛解除出來,釋放自己,做一個自由自在,無掛無礙的人。

魯米教導我們要如大地般謙遜和如大海般包容。試看大地,受著各種大自然及人為的衝擊,總是默默地承受,靜靜地攝納各種生命的元素,滋養著萬物生長。再看大海;海納百川,有容乃大。大江大河都以大海為終點,但大海總是無言的接受,亦從不因此而有增減;魯米教導我們對他人的忍耐心亦應如是。

謙遜使我們能夠放下成見和一己的分別心,攝納大千世界各種各樣的知識和意見,並更能了了分明,擇其善者而從之,擇其不善者而改之,就如六袓的教導:

自心既無所攀緣善惡,不可沉空守寂,即須廣學多聞,
識自本心,達諸佛理,和光接物,無我無人,直至菩提。"
──《六祖壇經.懺悔品第六》

忍耐與包容,是佛教的主流價值觀。發生了看似不能忍受的事,或許會令人心痛惡絕,但細想之下,其生起自有其因緣。已發生的事不容我們不接受;然而全然的接受並不妨礙我們正視它、處理它,反而減少了無奈、憤恨的情緒,亦避免了將一己之見強加於人,減少種下怨憎的種子。當我們面對不愉快的事情時,聖嚴法師的「四個它」就提供了很實用的法門:面對它、接受它、處理它、放下它。

魯米最後的忠告是要我們表裡一致。任何信念、知識,不付諸行動,不會帶來果實。要能表裡一致,就是要我們行動。佛教主張聞、思、修。「聞、思」就是建立我們的信念和知識,而「修」就是要我們付諸行動。這就是修讀佛學與學佛的分別。

愛與慈悲本無宗教界限。二十世紀中葉,美國著名心理學家羅傑斯博士(Dr. Carl Rogers; 1902-1987)首推以人為本的心理輔導模式。他倡說於心理輔導中,只要本著對當事人無條件正面的接受(unconditional positive regard),再加上同理心(empathy) 和輔導員的表裡一致(congruence),就足以幫助當事人改變其負面情緒及不當行為。羅傑斯博士是一基督教徒,花了一輩子研究人類心理及行為,並曾修讀神學,但他的教導脫離了基督教教條框框,直指人的本性。細心理解,「無條件正面的接受」等同佛教的無緣大慈,「同理心」就是悲心,而「表裡一致」就是如實。其後數十年,無數心理學研究確認了以人為本的心理輔導模式的效用,與其他流行的心理輔導模式無大差別;而羅傑斯博士的三項要求,亦已成為當代大部份社會工作者的核心價值觀。

佛教以四無量心「慈、悲、喜、捨」為待人處世之道,其中就包含著魯米的忠告。有條件的愛,或含有貪的因子;但無條件的愛,是人類最大的慈心,亦是人類最高貴的情操,為生命帶來更大的意義。絕對的真理只能有一個;不同的宗教得以傳世,繫於能打動人心,而其最重要的是喚起人與人之間的愛與接受。無條件的愛與接受,是人類靈性上最大的修行,亦是人與動物的分別。人世間苦樂參半,但亦因此帶來成佛的契機。愛與慈悲是人類面對苦難時得以互相扶持,共度難關的主因。就讓以下對聯結束本文:

天地不仁,以萬物為芻狗
人間有義,仗愛助得重生

文:劉永鑄  圖:林苑鶯
2012-10-15

The views and opinions expressed on this posts/pages are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Pearl Institute, its staff, other authors, members, partners, or sponsors.

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