净远法师开示:老母卖贫

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各位同学:

您相信佛说的布施是富裕的因吗?贫穷可以卖吗?请看以下这一则在《贤愚经》的《老母卖贫》故事:

佛阿梨提国时,有一富裕而悭贪暴恶的长者,对待婢女非苛刻,稍有不满,便加以鞭打。婢女至年老仍贫穷到衣不足、食不饱的地步。一日,老婢持瓶子到河边取水,想到年老困苦,举声大哭。

迦旃延尊者前来,问老婢:“为何如此悲恼?”

老母答:“我年老,仍要做苦役,贫穷到衣食不足,想死也死不了。”

尊者问:“你若贫穷,何不卖贫?”

老母答:“贫哪能卖?谁又想买?”

尊者说:“贫穷实可卖。”连说了三次。

老母问:“若贫可卖,请问怎么卖?”

尊者答:“若要卖贫,请依我的话去做。你先去洗浴干净。”

老母洗浴完后,尊者说:“你应当作布施。”

老母说:“我身贫无一物,即使是我手上的瓶子也是属于主人的,我用什么东西布施啊?”

尊者把钵交给老母,请她用钵到河边取净水,再供奉给尊者。尊者接受了老母的供水,并为她咒愿。之后,又为老母传授了斋戒,教导老母忆念佛陀的种种功德。

尊者问:“你有住处吗?”

老母答:“没有,若在磨房工作就在磨房睡,若在厨房工作就在厨房睡,不然就睡在厕边。”

尊者说:“你好好地守护心,勤劳工作,不要心生嫌恨。晚上侍候大家都休息了,你进到主人屋内,铺上干净的草,坐在上面,好好地思维、忆念佛陀的功德,不要生恶念。”

老母依尊者所教而行。当天后半夜,老母就命终往生忉利天。

隔天,长者见到老婢死在屋内。因长者平时都不准老婢进屋内,今天却发现她死在里面,很生气,就叫人把她拖到野外丢弃尸体之处。

那时,有一天子福尽命终,此老母即取代此天子之位。因是钝根,天子不知生天因缘,只知享乐。当时舍利弗刚好在忉利天,就帮助天子知道前世是老母,值遇尊者引导而生天。

天子就与五百眷属来到尸林,散花烧香供养死尸。因天人身光照耀村林,众人见到奇异现象都前来观看,并问天人此老婢又丑又脏,她活着时大家都怕见到她,何况是现在已死,为何要供养她?天子就告诉众人过去的因缘。

众人听了都去找迦旃延尊者,尊者为大众说法,天子等获证初果,与会大众亦各得果证。

提示:

  1. 卖贫的方法实在是太容易了!老母依尊者的指示,很快就把贫穷卖掉了。您相信吗?
  2. 尊者引导老母取水作供养,而我们每日也都要喝水;那师父教我们喝水前要至心供养,您觉得有何意义?
  3. 老母受了斋戒,尊者教导老母要守护心,把该做的事做完,不要起烦恼。晚上做完事,在干净处所,一心思维佛功德。当夜命终,依此功德而生天。由此可见,八关斋戒的功德不可思议。
  4. 贫困的老母依布施、持戒而得到富贵的天人果报。您作何感想?

Venerable JingYuan Discourse: Old Woman Who Sold her Poverty

To All Lamrim Students,

Buddha said the cause of prosperity is generosity. Do you believe that? Can poverty be sold? Please take a look at the following story which is extracted from the Sutra of the Wise and the Foolish.

At that time, in the land of the Apa, there was a wealthy but avaricious and cruel householder who was very harsh to his female slave. He would beat her up even with a slight dissatisfaction. She was always poor to the extent of having not enough food and no proper clothing, even till old age. One day, the old slave carried a water jug to the river side to collect some water. Thinking of her aged life in deprivation, she began to wail loudly.

At that time, the Noble Mahakatyayana approached her and asked : “Why are you so sad and angry?”

The old woman answered: “I am old but need to do heavy labour, and I am so poor that there is not enough food or clothing. I want to die but can’t.”

The monk asked: “If you are poor, why don’t you sell your poverty?”

The old woman answered: “Your Reverence, how can one sell poverty? Who would buy it?”

The monk said: “Poverty can be sold.” When he had said this three times, the old woman asked: “If poverty can be sold, may I know how to sell it? ”

The monk said: “If you want to sell your poverty, you must do as I tell you. First of all, you must take a bath.”

After she had taken her bath, the monk said: “You must make an offering.”

The old woman said: “I have nothing at all. Even this water jug in my hand belongs to my master. What can I use for the offering ?”

The monk passed her an alms bowl and asked her to fill the bowl with clean water from the river, and offer it to him. The monk took it into his hands, said a blessing, and invoked the name of the Buddha. After that, he taught her the precepts, then taught the old woman to think with firm faith, all the Buddha’s virtues.

The monk asked: “Do you have a place to live?

The old woman answered: “No, I will sleep in the grinding room if grinding grains, or in the kitchen if I work there. Otherwise, I will sleep beside the toilet.”

The monk said: “You must guard your mind carefully, work hard and cut off all thoughts of resentment. At night, you wait until everyone is resting, then you go into the master’s house, spread some clean grass, sit on it, and without evil thoughts, think carefully and constantly of the Buddha’s virtues.”

That night, the old woman did as the monk had told her and died after midnight. She was reborn among the gods of the Thirty-Three.

The following morning, the master saw that the old slave had died in the house. He was infuriated to see this as she was never allowed into the house. He sent people to drag her body and throw it to the countryside burial ground.

At that time, there was a god who died after his fortunes had come to an end. His place was replaced by the old woman. The dull-witted god was experiencing great happiness but was not aware of the reason for being reborn as a god. At that time, Sariputra was residing in the realm of the gods of the Thirty-Three. He helped to make known to the god that his past life was that old woman. She was able to come here after her encounter with the Noble monk and receiving his help and guidance.

The god and five hundred goddesses came to the burial ground and made offerings of celestial flowers and incense around the old woman’s corpse. As the whole place was filled with the lights of the gods, people around was attracted by this amazing phenomenon and came to the burial ground. They questioned the gods why they honoured this ugly and dirty old woman, saying: “When she was alive everybody was afraid of seeing her. Now, she was already dead, why do you still make offerings to her ?”. The god told them the causes in her past life.

After hearing this, all the people proceeded to where Noble Monk Mahakatyayana was. The monk taught them the Dharma. The gods attained the pure eye of the Dharma, while the others attained the fruits from the first to the fourth.

Worth Pondering:

  1. Selling off poverty is indeed very simple! The old woman was able to sell her poverty very quickly after following the instructions given by the Noble monk. Do you believe this?
  2. The Noble monk guided the old woman to collect water for offering. We have to drink water every day, and Shifu told us to do offering sincerely before drinking. What do you think is the significant meaning for doing so?
  3. After the woman had taken the precepts, the Noble monk taught the old woman to be mindful, not to have afflictions and to finish her work accordingly. After she had finished her work at night, she sat at a clean place and kept thinking of Buddha’s virtues wholeheartedly. She died that night and became a god by these merits and virtues. Thus it can be seen that the merits of the Eight Precepts of a One Day Vow Holder (八关斋戒) is inconceivable.
  4. Through strictly following the precepts and generosity, the poor old woman obtained deity fruition with riches and honour. What do you think of this?