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Two Faces of the Dhamma
by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

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On first encounter Buddhism confronts us as a paradox. Intellectually, it appears a freethinker's delight: sober, realistic, undogmatic, almost scientific in its outlook and method. But if we come into contact with the living Dhamma from within, we soon discover that it has another side which seems the antithesis of all our rationalistic presuppositions. We still don't meet rigid creeds or random speculation, but we do come upon religious ideals of renunciation, contemplation and devotion; a body of doctrines dealing with matters transcending sense perception and thought; and perhaps most disconcerting a program of training in which faith figures as a cardinal virtue, doubt as a hindrance, barrier and fetter.

初遇佛法,我们面临一个悖论: 在智力上,它冷静、现实、非教条,令自由思考者心悦。在世界观与方法论上,它几乎还具有科学性。但是我们若走进活生生的佛法内部,不久便发现它还有另一副面貌,似乎背离了我们对它的一切理性假设。我们仍不见刻板的教条与随机的臆测,却看见了出离、冥思与崇敬等宗教理想; 我们看见了一套教义,阐述那些超越了官感与思维的事物; 或许更令人困惑的是,我们看见了一个训练方案,在其中信念被当成一个至关重要的美德,而存疑则是一种妨害、障碍、与羁绊。

When we try to determine our own relationship with the Dhamma, eventually we find ourselves challenged to make sense out of its two seemingly irreconcilable faces: the empiricist face turned to the world, telling us to investigate and verify things for ourselves, and the religious face turned to the Beyond, advising us to dispel our doubts and place trust in the Teacher and his Teaching.

我们在尝试决定自身与佛法的关系时,最终都会发现受到挑战,需要对这两副看上去不可调和的面貌作出合理的解释: 经验主义的那一面朝向世界,告诫我们对万事亲自作调查与验证,宗教性的那一面朝向超世,告诫我们遣除疑念,信赖尊师佛陀与他的教导。

One way we can resolve this dilemma is by accepting only one face of the Dhamma as authentic and rejecting the other as spurious or superfluous. Thus, with traditional Buddhist pietism, we can embrace the religious side of faith and devotion, but shy off from the hard-headed world-view and the task of critical inquiry; or, with modern Buddhist apologetics, we can extol the Dhamma's empiricism and resemblance to science, but stumble embarrassingly over the religious side. Yet reflection on what a genuine Buddhist spirituality truly requires, makes it clear that both faces of the Dhamma are equally authentic and that both must be taken into account. If we fail to do so, not only do we risk adopting a lopsided view of the teaching, but our own involvement with the Dhamma is likely to be hampered by partiality and conflicting attitudes.

我们解决这个困境的办法,一个是把佛法的一面作为真法来接受,而把另一面作为伪造或附赘加以排斥。这样一来,在传统的崇拜式佛教里,我们包容了信仰的宗教性与崇敬那一面,却回避了脚踏实地的世界观与批评探索的任务; 或者,为现代佛法作辩,我们可以赞扬佛法的经验性、与科学的相似性,但在宗教那一面尴尬地踌躇不前。然而在思考了真正的佛教精神必须具备的因素之后,很清楚,佛法的两个面貌都是真实的,必须同时兼顾。如果做不到这点,不仅涉险于只接受部分教导的不平衡性,我们个人的佛法修持,也可能受偏向性与冲突态度的障碍。

The problem remains, however, of bringing together the two faces of the Dhamma without sidling into self-contradiction. The key, we suggest, to achieving this reconciliation, and thus to securing the internal consistency of our own perspective and practice, lies in considering two fundamental points: first, the guiding purpose of the Dhamma; and second, the strategy it employs to achieve that purpose. The purpose is the attainment of deliverance from suffering. The Dhamma does not aim at providing us with factual information about the world, and thus, despite a compatibility with science, its goals and concerns are necessarily different from those of the latter. Primarily and essentially, the Dhamma is a path to spiritual emancipation, to liberation from the round of repeated birth, death and suffering. Offered to us as the irreplaceable means of deliverance, the Dhamma does not seek mere intellectual assent, but commands a response that is bound to be fully religious. It addresses us at the bedrock of our being, and there it awakens the faith, devotion and commitment appropriate when the final goal of our existence is at stake.

然而,怎样协调佛法的这两面同时避免自我矛盾,仍是个问题。我们认为,达成这两面的协调,从而在个人的观念与修持中确保内在一致性,关键在于考虑两个根本问题: 第一,佛法教导的目的,第二,为了达到该目的所需的策略。目的是从苦中证得解脱。佛法的本意,并非为我们提供有关世界的实际知识,因此虽与科学兼容,其目标与内涵必然有异于科学。佛法在最主要、最基本的意义上,是一条通往释放心智、摆脱轮回之苦的道路。佛法为我们提供了无可替代的解脱之道,非仅寻求智力上的认同,它指定的态度必然有充分的宗教性。它直指内心深处,于存在的终极意义岌岌可危之际,在那里唤醒了相应的信念、崇敬与坚定。

But for Buddhism faith and devotion are only spurs which impel us to enter and persevere along the path; by themselves they cannot ensure deliverance. The primary cause of bondage and suffering, the Buddha teaches, is ignorance regarding the true nature of existence; hence in the Buddhist strategy of liberation the primary instrument must be wisdom, the knowledge and vision of things as they really are. Investigation and critical inquiry, cool and uncommitted, constitute the first step toward wisdom, enabling us to resolve our doubts and gain a conceptual grasp of the truths upon which our deliverance depends. But doubt and questioning cannot continue indefinitely. Once we have decided that the Dhamma is to be our vehicle to spiritual freedom, we have to step on board: we must leave our hesitancy behind and enter the course of training which will lead us from faith to liberating vision.

但是对佛教来说,信念与崇敬只能促使我们走上这条路、并坚持走下去; 它们本身却不能保证解脱。佛陀教导说,束缚与苦的根源,是对真相的无明; 因此佛教的解脱策略中,基本工具必须是智慧,即对真相的如实知见。冷静而不受约束的调查与批判性的探索,构成了通往智慧的第一步,使我们排疑解惑,对解脱所依的真理有一个概念上的把握。但是疑与问不能永久存在。我们一旦决定佛法是通向灵性自由的载体,就得走上前来: 把存疑置于身后,投身于一个修练过程,它会把我们从信仰引向解脱的洞见。

For those who approach the Dhamma in quest of intellectual or emotional gratification, inevitably it will show two faces, and one will always remain a puzzle. But if we are prepared to approach the Dhamma on its own terms, as the way to release from suffering, there will not be two faces at all. Instead we will see what was there from the start: the single face of Dhamma which, like any other face, presents two complementary sides.


        坦尼沙罗尊者: 信仰与觉醒
        坦尼沙罗尊者: 开启佛法之门 礼敬在佛教思维与修证中的作用

最近訂正 9-1-2009