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五欲与苦 The Five Desires and Suffering
 
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五欲与苦
The Five Desires and Suffering

顺古 文
by Shun Gu

The five desires have us in a powerful hold, but actually they are just ersatz pleasures, shoddy substitutes for real happiness. When we don’t know how to live, how to be a person, or how to use our human life, we tend to believe that gratification of the senses and pursuit of pleasure can guarantee us some happiness. And so we let our inherent wisdom get clouded over by greedy desires. Mindlessly we drift along in the river of love, following the crowd, taking our cures from the TV, newspapers, and magazines, joining (correcting “joinging”) the same superficial pursuits we see everybody else involved in. Why do we do this? Simply because it hasn’t occurred to us that there might be anything more to life.

五欲将我们紧紧攫住,
但事实上,五欲带给我们的不过是一些假的快乐。
我们不知道怎么活?怎么做人?怎么善用我们的一生时?
我们就以为感官享受及追求享乐会使我们快乐,
因此将我们本有的智慧让贪欲给遮盖了。
愚蠢地同流合污,在爱欲之海中浮沉,
模仿电视、报章、杂志,盲从他人,随波逐流。
为什么有这种现象呢?
很简单!就因为我们的无知––不知道生命还有其他的意义在内。

In Buddhism, suffering is analyzed in many different ways. There are the three sufferings, the eight sufferings, and the limitless sufferings. Not obtaining what one desires is one of the eight sufferings, and all people are familiar with this experience. But while not obtaining one’s desires is an obvious form of suffering, does it follow, then, that being able to gratify one’s desires is a source of happiness? Many people, deluded by consumerism and materialism, might think so, since this is what our environment, the media, and the advertising world constantly tell us. But our predicament isn’t that simple.

在佛教中将苦分为多类:有三、八苦、无量苦。八苦中有求不得苦,相信大家对这一种苦,一定很熟悉。这个「求不 得」很明显地是一种苦;但是「求得」,是不是一定会带来快乐呢?许多惑于消费主义和唯物主义的人,或许会这样想;或者会认为「求得」是一种乐。因为我们所 生活的环境,大众传播媒体,广告界等都一再强调这是一种乐,但是我们的处境不是那么简单。

Unfufilled desires cause frustration, which easily leads to anger. Not being able to obtain the objects of the five desires—wealth, sex, fame, food, and sleep—we give rise to anger and hatred. But even if we do obtain these, our desires still cause us suffering. By giving in to greedy desires one simply reinforces these desires. Since greed can never be satisfied, one might say that human desires by definition are unquenchable. When one desire is satisfied, at least momentarily, the mind soon gives rise to ever increasing, more sophisticated desires. We thought the object we were grasping at would bring us satisfaction, but once it is ours, we tend to become jaded and bored with it soon. No matter what the coveted object may be—clothes, jewelry, a car, a house, a promotion, a boyfriend or a girlfriend—we tire of it soon and start looking for new, more exciting things to possess and enjoy. This never-ending multiplication of desires is our basic problem.

求不得会引起人的挫折感,进而转变成瞋怒。我们对五欲––财、色、名、食、睡得不到满足,就会生起瞋恨心。但 是假如我们的五欲得到满足了,这些五欲仍然会引起我们的痛苦。贪欲只是增强了人的这些欲望,因为我们的贪心永远都不会得到满足的。人类的欲望,根本上可以 说是永远都不会熄灭的。这个欲望暂时得到满足了,在心里又会生起其他更多更大的渴求。我们以为我们所追求的东西,只要到手我们就会满足了。但是一但追求到 手了,很快又会觉得厌倦了。不管是什么值得我们羡慕的好东西––衣服、珠宝、汽车、洋房、职位升迁、男、女朋友等等,只要到手之后又会有厌倦感,然后又想 追求更新的、更有刺激性的东西来占有和享受,这种永无止境的贪心确是我们最根本的问题。

As long as we let greed dictate our actions, we reap nothing but suffering. Unsatisfied desires are painful, and satisfied desires, besides feeding our greed, are inevitably undermined by the suffering of change or process. Thus anticipated happiness turns into accumulated suffering. A person attached to his desires and pleasures can never be truly happy, since the slightest change of circumstances can frustrate his desires. If fine food is your attachment, you’ll be disappointed with anything less than the best—and so you end up being dissatisfied most of the time. The same goes for fashionable clothes, fast cars, and even intellectual and artistic pursuits. It is difficult for a person of fastidious tastes to be truly happy or content, since nothing is ever quite right, quite good enough for him. The more he pursues perfection, the farther it recedes. It’s like running after the horizon.

一但我们的行止让我们的贪心控制住了,那我们就有苦头吃了。求不得虽然是很痛苦的事;求得了虽暂时止住了我们 的贪心,但是最后还是免不了行苦––变迁无常之苦。由想得乐而集聚成苦。一个人若对他的贪心和享乐生起了执着心便永远都得不到真正的快乐,因为只要外在的 环境略有变更就会令他的贪心得不到满足。假如你执着美味的食物,而吃到食物的味道不够好的话,结果你就会觉得失望,而经常有不满足感。同样的你若对时髦的 衣着、跑车,甚至学识、艺术上的执着,也会引起你同样的情形。一个要求苛刻的人是很不容易得到真正的快乐及满足的,因为所有的东西都不够好,都不能满他的 意。他愈趋求完美,越得不到手;就好像追求地平线一样。

If gratification of desires was true happiness, would you consider an alcoholic or a drug addict who was guaranteed an unending supply of the poison that’s ruining him a happy person? None of us probably would. Yet desires work the same way—our pleasures turn into subtle addictions, and before long we think we cannot live without them. We lose all self-reliance and submit to being totally turned by any external states or objects our desires latch onto. “The more the merrier,” “the bigger the better” are slogans of a culture of addiction. This feverish mentality of acquisition ruins both people’s wisdom life and their physical bodies, and lays the whole planet to waste in the process.

如果欲望满足是真正的快乐的话,那么一个吸毒瘾的人或酒瘾的人,假如有人无限制地供给他那些会害生命的东西给 他,他算不算是一个快乐的人呢?我想我们都不会这样认为。欲望也是这样的,我们的快乐不知不觉中会变成一种瘾,要不了多久我们会觉得,这些欲望若得不到满 足,就没法活下去了。我们失去自信,完全被外面的境界、或满足我们欲望的东西所转。「越多越棒」「越大越好」这些都是「上瘾文化」的口号。这些狂热「积物 狂」可以毁灭一个人的色身和法身慧命,也会将整个地球很浪费掉。

Philosophers both East and West have taught that unrestrained indulgence in sense desires brings inevitable suffering in the end. The road towards happiness lies in simplifying one’s life, in moderating and decreasing one’s desires. In the Sutra in Forty-two Sections the Buddha clearly warns us that sense desires are a razor dipped in honey—if you don’t stop in time, if you allow your greed to run wild, sooner or later you will cut yourself. But how many people in this world know how to be content? How many appreciate what they have without hankering for more? And how many ever have the idea of giving something up, renouncing any of their possessions, benefits, or privileges in life? Prince Siddhartha renounced his whole kingdom in order to solve the problem of suffering once and for all. But in the modern world our priorities are truly upside down: we value acquisition, not renunciation. Yet, if one is going to accomplish the Way, the five desires have to be renounced. As the Venerable Master has said: “If you can’t put down the false, you can’t pick up the true.” You can’t have it both ways.

东西方的哲学家们,都教我们无限制地沉湎在感官的享受里,最后只会带来痛苦。快乐之道在于简化我们的生活,少 欲知足。在《四十二章经》中,佛陀明白告诫我们:感官上的欲望,好像刀片上的蜜––假如舐吮不停,不能控制自己的贪心,早晚你一定会割破舌头。但是世界上 有多少人懂得少欲知足呢?有多少人懂得适可而止呢?又有多少人愿放下他们所拥有的东西、所应享受的利益、权益呢?希达多太子为彻底解决人生之苦而将整个国 度放下。在现今的世界里,我们所注重的实在是很颠倒了。我们不但不知放下反而总要累积。人若要成就道业,非将五欲放下不可,正如宣公上人所说:「舍不了 假,成不了真。」鱼与熊掌不可兼得。

The five desires have us in a powerful hold, but actually they are just ersatz pleasures, shoddy substitutes for real happiness. When we don’t know how to live, how to be a person, or how to use our human life, we tend to believe that gratification of the senses and pursuit of pleasure can guarantee us some happiness. And so we let our inherent wisdom get clouded over by greedy desires. Mindlessly we drift along in the river of love, following the crowd, taking our cures from the TV, newspapers, and magazines, joining the same superficial pursuits we see everybody else involved in. Why do we do this? Simply because it hasn’t occurred to us that there might be anything more to life.

五欲将我们紧紧攫住,但事实上,五欲带给我们的不过是一些假的快乐。我们不知道怎么活?怎么做人?怎么善用我 们的一生时?我们就以为感官享受及追求享乐会使我们快乐,因此将我们本有的智慧让贪欲给遮盖了。愚蠢地同流合污,在爱欲之海中浮沉,模仿电视、报章、杂 志,盲从他人,随波逐流。为什么有这种现象呢?很简单!就因为我们的无知––不知道生命还有其他的意义在内。

If, however, we start to realize our true goal in life, if we are lucky enough to meet the Buddhadharma and bring forth a mind to cultivate the Way, our previous wallowing in desires may suddenly seem childish at best and positively disgusting at worst. At this point renunciation will naturally occur, and many of our old, crusty habits start to fall off. Now we see the objects of our desire for what they are—a ball and chain that pulls us into the dust and hampers our advance on the Way. Renunciation allows us to travel light, to concentrate on the essentials, live life close to the bone. Giving up things can be a struggle, but it can also be a relief. Laying down our self-inflicted loads frees our energies for cultivation and benefiting others. As our everyday life is simplified and purified, the rewards are far more real and lasting than anything our running after the five desires could provide us with.

一旦我们认识到我们生命中真正的目标时,假如有幸又能遇到佛法,并发心修道的话,就会觉得自己以前在贪欲中打 滚的情形,至少是十分幼稚可笑的。甚至会深感厌恶。在这个时候,很自然地就想放下,我们以前的一些就习气老毛病也渐渐会脱除了。再回头看看清楚,以前我们 所贪的东西,就像手撩脚铐似地,把我们拖曳到尘埃里,并妨碍我们在道上前进。能放下可以减少我们旅途上的行李负担,并集中精神于基本而天然的生活。「放 下」是要经过挣扎的,但结果往往会带给我们一种解脱感。搁下了我们自己找来的包袱,可以省下精力用来修行及做些利益众生的事。我们日常生活简化并净化了之 后,所得的报偿,比我们追逐的五欲所得到的,更实在、更持久。

Ultimately, if one doesn’t want anything, one can be constantly happy. Then “Everything’s OK”—you can’t lose anything or worry about anything, since you aren’t attached to a single thing in the first place. This is true happiness which is not conditioned by external circumstances.

总之,如果人到无求处,自然便会常常安乐,那时什么都没问题了……,也没有东西可损失,也没有什么可忧虑的 了;因为你什么也不执着了。这才是真正的快乐,外面什么境界也影响不了。


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