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业力

 

[作者] 坦尼沙罗尊者

[中译]良稹

Karma

by Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu

 

Karma is one of those words we don't translate. Its basic meaning is simple enough action but because of the weight the Buddha's teachings give to the role of action, the Sanskrit word karma packs in so many implications that the English word action can't carry all its luggage. This is why we've simply airlifted the original word into our vocabulary.

But when we try unpacking the connotations the word carries now that it has arrived in everyday usage, we find that most of its luggage has gotten mixed up in transit. In the eyes of most Americans, karma functions like fate bad fate, at that: an inexplicable, unchangeable force coming out of our past, for which we are somehow vaguely responsible and powerless to fight. "I guess it's just my karma," I've heard people sigh when bad fortune strikes with such force that they see no alternative to resigned acceptance. The fatalism implicit in this statement is one reason why so many of us are repelled by the concept of karma, for it sounds like the kind of callous myth-making that can justify almost any kind of suffering or injustice in the status quo: "If he's poor, it's because of his karma." "If she's been raped, it's because of her karma." From this it seems a short step to saying that he or she deserves to suffer, and so doesn't deserve our help.

This misperception comes from the fact that the Buddhist concept of karma came to the West at the same time as non-Buddhist concepts, and so ended up with some of their luggage. Although many Asian concepts of karma are fatalistic, the early Buddhist concept was not fatalistic at all. In fact, if we look closely at early Buddhist ideas of karma, we'll find that they give even less importance to myths about the past than most modern Americans do.

For the early Buddhists, karma was non-linear. Other Indian schools believed that karma operated in a straight line, with actions from the past influencing the present, and present actions influencing the future. As a result, they saw little room for free will. Buddhists, however, saw that karma acts in feedback loops, with the present moment being shaped both by past and by present actions; present actions shape not only the future but also the present. This constant opening for present input into the causal process makes free will possible. This freedom is symbolized in the imagery the Buddhists used to explain the process: flowing water. Sometimes the flow from the past is so strong that little can be done except to stand fast, but there are also times when the flow is gentle enough to be diverted in almost any direction.

So, instead of promoting resigned powerlessness, the early Buddhist notion of karma focused on the liberating potential of what the mind is doing with every moment. Who you are what you come from is not anywhere near as important as the mind's motives for what it is doing right now. Even though the past may account for many of the inequalities we see in life, our measure as human beings is not the hand we've been dealt, for that hand can change at any moment. We take our own measure by how well we play the hand we've got. If you're suffering, you try not to continue the unskillful mental habits that would keep that particular karmic feedback going. If you see that other people are suffering, and you're in a position to help, you focus not on their karmic past but your karmic opportunity in the present: Someday you may find yourself in the same predicament that they're in now, so here's your opportunity to act in the way you'd like them to act toward you when that day comes.

This belief that one's dignity is measured, not by one's past, but by one's present actions, flew right in the face of the Indian traditions of caste-based hierarchies, and explains why early Buddhists had such a field day poking fun at the pretensions and mythology of the brahmans. As the Buddha pointed out, a brahman could be a superior person not because he came out of a brahman womb, but only if he acted with truly skillful intentions.

We read the early Buddhist attacks on the caste system, and aside from their anti-racist implications, they often strike us as quaint. What we fail to realize is that they strike right at the heart of our myths about our own past: our obsession with defining who we are in terms of where we come from our race, ethnic heritage, gender, socio-economic background, sexual preference our modern tribes. We put inordinate amounts of energy into creating and maintaining the mythology of our tribe so that we can take vicarious pride in our tribe's good name. Even when we become Buddhists, the tribe comes first. We demand a Buddhism that honors our myths.

From the standpoint of karma, though, where we come from is old karma, over which we have no control. What we "are" is a nebulous concept at best and pernicious at worst, when we use it to find excuses for acting on unskillful motives. The worth of a tribe lies only in the skillful actions of its individual members. Even when those good people belong to our tribe, their good karma is theirs, not ours. And, of course, every tribe has its bad members, which means that the mythology of the tribe is a fragile thing. To hang onto anything fragile requires a large investment of passion, aversion, and delusion, leading inevitably to more unskillful actions on into the future.

So the Buddhist teachings on karma, far from being a quaint relic from the past, are a direct challenge to a basic thrust and basic flaw in our culture. Only when we abandon our obsession with finding vicarious pride in our tribal past, and can take actual pride in the motives that underlie our present actions, can we say that the word karma, in its Buddhist sense, has recovered its luggage. And when we open the luggage, we'll find that it's brought us a gift: the gift we give ourselves and one another when we drop our myths about who we are, and can instead be honest about what we're doing with each moment at the same time making the effort to do it right.

 

有些词我们是不译的,karma(业)便是其中之一。它的基本含义很简单行动(action) 但由于佛陀的教导中关于行动的阐述占据了相当的比重,karma这个梵文词因此满载复杂的内涵,使得行动(action)这个英语单词不胜重荷。这就是为什么我们何以干脆把原词空运过来,入自身语之故

然而,如今这个词已成日常用语,我们在拆解它的内涵时,却发现搬运后不少含义已混杂不清。在多数美国人看来,
karma与命运同义恶运是一股来自我们过去的、不可解释、不可改变的力量,我们对它隐隐约约感罪有应得、想改变它却无能为力。我听见人们在恶运突降、招架不及时,逆来顺受地叹道: 我猜这是我的karma。这句话里隐含的宿命,是我们当中不少何以对业力观心存排斥之故,因为听上去像是在麻木不仁地故作神秘,如此即可使任何苦难、不公正事合理化。如果他贫穷,那是因为他的karma。 如果她被强暴,那是因为她的karma。从这里出发,再走一小步便可以说,他/她活该受罪,因此不值得我们相助。

误解来自于,佛教业力观传到西方时非佛教概念也同时传入,结果前者便带有某些非佛教的积淀。尽管不少亚洲人的业力也带有宿命成分早期佛教中业力概念中的宿命却根本不存在。实际上,仔细审查早期佛教业力思想,我们会发现当时人们对过去的神话其重视甚至低于多数现代美国人。

对早期佛教徒来说,业力是非线性的。其它的印度教派则相信,业力作用线性: 过去的行动影响现在,现在的行动影响将来。结果,他们认为自由意志无多少发挥余地。然而佛教徒却把业力看成是个反馈循环,当下时刻同时由过往行动与当前行动构成;当下的行动不仅构成未来,也构成当下。这个始终对当前输入开放因果过程,使自由意志成为可能。佛教徒在解释这个过程时用流水的比喻象征自由:有时来自过去的水流强势,除镇定之外可为不多,但也有时水和缓,可它朝几乎任何方向改道而行。

因此,远不同于鼓励逆来顺受的无奈感,早期佛教的业力概念,侧重于释放心智在每时每刻如何行动的潜力。你是谁、从哪里来问题的重要性,远不如心的动机如何影响当下这个问题。尽管用过去能够解释许多生活中见的不平等,我们衡量人的价值,却不在已摊开在面前的那副牌,而在随时可以改动的这手牌。我们如何打出手上这副牌,便是在实现自的价值。如果你在受苦,便试着不再继续缺乏巧的思维习惯,它使你那个特定苦业的反馈循环转动不息。如果你见到他人受苦,而你有机会相助,就不要关注他们的旧业,而是注重于你自己当下业的(或译行动的)机会。有一天你或许会发现自己也处他们现在的困境,因此这里就有你行动的机会,用你希望他们在那一天到来时对待你的方式来对待他们。

这个主张人的尊严不以过去、而以当前行动来衡量的信仰,与印度种姓制传统背道而驰,这也解释了为什么早期佛教徒对于婆罗门的自负与神话如此戏謔笑谈。如佛陀指出,一位婆罗门之成为精英,非因生于婆罗门之家,有当他真正以善巧动机行事之时

我们阅读早期佛教徒对种姓制的批判,在理解其反种姓制的寓意之外,常怪异感。我们不曾意识到的是,这些批判正打中了我们有关自身背景的神话我们总是执迷于那些代表自己来历的事物: 种族、民族传统、性别、社会经济背景、性向即现代种群的属性。我们付出大量精力,制造与维持某个种群神话,以便对这个种群的好名声持一股与有荣焉的骄傲感。哪怕成了佛教徒,也要以这个种群优先。我们要一种推崇那些神话的佛教。

不过从业力角度看,我们从哪里来属于旧业,对此我们毫无控。我们是什么,从好处讲仅为一团朦胧的概念,从劣处讲若作为非善巧动机的藉口,是有害的。一个种群的价值仅体现于其中个别成员的善巧之业即便那些善士属于我们这个种群,他们的善业是他们的,不是我们的。此外,每一个种群自然有不良成员,意味种群神话有其脆弱性。紧抓任何脆弱的事物,要求我们注入大量的贪、瞋、痴,在未来不可避免地导致更多非善巧之业。

因此,佛教业力教,远非一套古旧遗,而是对我们文化的一个基本动力──以及基本缺陷──的直接挑战。只有放弃执着地从自己的种群史中寻找与有荣焉的自豪而是从当下行为的动机中得到切实自豪,我们才可以说,
karma这个词已恢复了它在佛教意义上的内涵。如此探索这个词的内涵,会发现它带来了一件礼物: 当我们放下自己是谁的神话,能够诚实地面对每时每刻自己的行为,同时努力行事周正──我们便获得了这件既可自赠、也可赠人的礼物。
 

[译按:文中过去、现在、将来,也可译为前世、现世、来世。]

 

 

 

Source : http://www.theravadacn.org/

 

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