31 December, 2010

Editor's Note: Happy New Year!

Two Faces of Our Lovely World

Editor's Note: Happy New Year!


W3H1: Why I have installed the Flag Counter; What have I learned; Where are the Readers from; How many Countries?
The year 2010 left quietly. My hifi was not on. SZTV was showing the Buddhist Bell-Ringing Ceremony led by high monk 印顺大和尚, and I was falling asleep. How uneventful, but is that not a blessing, considering the millions in the world suffering from all manners of natural and, sorrowfully, man-made disasters?

Shortly before the year's end, I accidentally discovered and installed the Google Flag Counter gadget. I was delighted it allowed me, and you, to see where the unique visitors of this Blog come from. At the time of writing, It has now been barely 4 days, and there have been 652 Unique Visitors (meaning each visitor's repeated page loads count only as one) from 57 countries. Something touched my nerve: our heavily burdened world, like all aging beings (for it has life), undoubtedly is getting smaller. Predictably, the majority of my visitors come from Hong Kong and USA, but the latter's proportion still surprised me a little. And I struggled with the names of some of the small (and rather new) countries, like Moldova. Hello to you all!

The important thing is, after gleaming all this information, I am more determined than ever to strive for providing useful information for our hobby, particularly on older gears on which not much info on the net is available. Stay tuned.

弘法寺鸣钟108响迎新纳福 (video of same event last year)

Why 108 times?

Allow me to diverge a little. The aforementioned Buddhist ceremony usually takes place on Chinese New Year's (coming February 3rd), but Shenzhen, like HK, is a modern city that likes to embrace the world. For people like us, there are 2 new years per year! This tradition is also honored in Japan, but their new year is celebrated on the western calender.

In case you wonder why 108 times, here are English (relatively simplified) and Chinese (much more complicated) explanations I found on the net:

"...
Buddhist belief has it that one rings a bell 108 times at midnight on New Year’s to ring away the 108 bonno (Earthly Desires) that shackle mankind and keep one from reaching inner peace. In a strict ceremony, the bell will be struck exactly 108 times in keeping with the Buddhist belief that each reverberation symbolically represents the purging of the 108 bonno or mortal desires, such as greed, jealousy and infidelity, that bedevil humankind. In this one, all comers may approach and ring the bell to help cleanse themselves on their path to Nirvana..." (from here)

"...对于鸣一O八声之原因,或谓是对应十二月、二十四气、七十二候之数。或谓可使百八烦恼清醒觉,故佛教称为“百八钟”,也叫“百八杵”。敲钟用的“钟椎”又称做“杵”。“钟”的敲击板眼,随着“门派”及“方域”的不同,佛教界没有统一的规定。就是常见的“百八钟”的义解,也是不尽一致的。

首先,佛教认为,人生无常,祸福相依,一年之中有108种烦恼。唐代怀海禅师所制《百丈清规》称:寺院“晓二时鸣大钟一百零八声,以觉醒百八烦恼之迷梦”。钟声有108响,代表人的108种烦恼,“见惑有88使,修惑有10使,合称为九十八随眠,再加上无惭、无愧、嫉、悭、悔、睡眠、掉举、昏沉、瞋忿、覆等十种,便成108。”佛教的基本教义就是“四谛十二因缘”,而其中核心就是“苦谛”。佛教认为人生多苦多磨难多烦恼。有所谓生苦、老苦、病苦、死苦、怨憎苦、爱别离苦、求不得苦、五取蕴苦等八苦。人有六根(眼、耳、鼻、舌、身、意),每根有六种烦恼,六根就有36种烦恼,三世就有108种烦恼。又是苦,又是烦恼,这么多磨难何以消除?据《增一阿含经》说,钟声可以“降伏魔力怨”,钟声被誉为“妙响音”,所以百八钟声可以“醒108个烦恼之睡”,即人们所说“钟声响,烦恼尽”。这一习俗在唐代十分盛行。后来,随着中日文化交流,唐代鉴真大师将此习俗带入日本,此风俗在日本流传至今。

其次,民间盛传:一种说法,一个人在一年中至少有108个烦恼,登寒山寺钟楼撞钟,或聆听钟声,便能消除一年的烦恼,逢凶化吉。再有一种说法,人一生中有108种烦恼,听了佛寺108下钟声就能去掉所有烦恼,年年吉祥如意。又有一种说法,钟声取108这个数,是为108种神佛陀歌功颂德。还有一种说法,108是9的倍数,按照源于《周易》的说法,9数含有吉祥之意,9又是一个最大位的阳数,有极高、极大的含意,9的12倍就是108,这108就意味着至高无上的吉祥。

更有一种说法是:“钟声晨昏叩一百八声者,一岁之义也。盖年有十二月,有二十四气,又有七十二候,正得此数。”一年12个月,24个节气,72个候。古代称五天为一候,按农历360天计,一年分为72候,把12、24、72相加,得108,既可代表一年,又符合108种烦恼之数。因此,若迎新年听钟声108声,既能解除新的一年中烦恼,又能消除人生108种烦恼,真是大吉大利。“鸣钟一百零八下,以醒一百八烦恼之睡也。”尽管此说也不见经传,这个说法乃世俗所杜撰,与佛教无关,但是作为人民的祈愿幸福平安,也是能够增添108这个数字的神奇魅力,存此丰富多彩的传说,也映照出人们对钟声的关注程度。

敲钟时默偈、闻钟时诵偈也富有鲜明的特色。早钟部份的叩钟偈,在钟声偈三遍默诵完后,接诵大方广佛华严经名及佛菩萨圣号,晚钟部份则接妙法莲华经名及佛菩萨圣号,配合击钟一句一叩,摄心叩诵全偈三遍,共得108下。“一百零八”,代表众生繁多的无明烦恼和习气,叩钟的目的即是在提醒修行人,要以精进用功的击槌,破除自己无始以来的贪瞋痴烦恼,同时应以深切的慈悲愿心,让这份沉稳悠扬的钟声与愿力,上彻天堂,下通地府,使听闻到钟鸣的无边众生,都能得到心灵的安定、启发了自性的智慧光明。


敲钟也是有规矩的,《百丈清规·法器》章说“引杵宜缓,扬声欲长。凡三通,各三十六下,总一百零八下。起止三下稍紧。”尽管寺院敲钟都是一百零八下,但是各个寺院敲钟的方法不尽想同。杭州灵隐寺敲钟的方法——前击七,后击八,中间十八徐徐发,更兼临后击三个,三度共成一零八。讲究的是轻重分明,缓急有序。苏州寒山寺却是每10秒均匀敲击一次,也是有自己的特色。
..." (from soso)

Addendum: Breakup of Readership at the Time of Writing:

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