基督徒的念诵修法

林钰堂博士英着
弟子随和女居士中译
并经林博士校订


对基督徒而言,除了参与教会的聚会及查经班外,主要的灵修似乎就是作祷告。要确切地表达一个祈祷文并不容易。这牵涉到:一、对基督教义的认知,二、对在祷告的个人或团体目前的当务之急的体认,以及三、信心的表达,愿意跟随圣神的指引而非个人自私的利害考虑,并且具有对一切大众的善意。作祷告通常都只有短短的时间,而个人生命中所遭遇的困难却可能无定期的延续。当所有个人所能想到的都已在祷告中陈述了,还有什么可以做来使个人的生活契合基督教的教义呢?除了祷告之外,研读圣经也是很好的选择。在基督教的传统中,有没有任何其他的灵修方法可以带来很大的帮助,但却不需要用到大量的思考呢?事实上在俄国东正教教会内有这样的传承。

这个修法就是不断地重覆念诵一个简短的祷文,而此祷文,叫做〈耶稣祷文〉,内容如下:「主耶稣基督,神的儿子,请慈悯我这罪人!」

如果一位基督徒养成了每天在固定的时间(默默地或出声)念诵这个祷文有一定的遍数,比方说,不间断地念一千遍,的习惯的话,那么她或他就比较容易与耶稣的恩典建立起密切的属灵关系。在艰困时期或者紧要关头,一个习惯于这个修法的基督徒就能够容易地,甚至不假思索地,依赖这个修法而与圣神的恩典维持联系。由于这个祷文的简短,不间断地重覆它就变成一种灵修的念诵。因此通常在祷文中运用的推理思考就被略过,而诵者可能马上沉潜于超越文字及观念的心灵沟通。

保存在俄国东正教教会内有关于这个修法的教授包括了供更专志的基督徒的种种进阶训练。其中包括进行多年独居的静默覆诵此祷文,直到行者能够自然地随每一次心跳覆诵一次。达到这种成就的基督徒往往会显示有能力以灵疗治病或者有效地驱邪。有兴趣的读者可以参考以下这本书︰《〈耶稣祷文〉论》,伊格纳修斯·布莱恩禅诺夫,拉惹路斯神父译,元素丛书。

采用念诵的修法,对一般人而言,有很多好理由及利益。这在我所写的一篇〈谈念佛〉中已详尽的解说了。读者中的基督徒们若仅以「耶稣」或〈耶稣祷文〉来取代该文中的「阿弥陀佛」,便可见到其理论是一样通达的。当有人要我给个建议时,我往往建议修个念诵法。对于向我询求建议的基督徒们,我就建议念〈耶稣祷文〉。这样他们就能基于他们心中已建立的信仰,而在熟悉的情境内获得精神上的帮助。我希望透过这个修法所养成的灵修成长终究能够带领他们迈向更高的精神领域的探索。

感谢安·柯莱对这篇文章所作的校订。


                     加州爱尔舍利多市 
                     一九九六年三月三日


Chanting Practice for Christians

Dr. Yutang Lin


For a Christian, the main spiritual practice, besides attending church services and Bible studies, seems to be prayer. It is not easy to formulate a prayer. It involves: 1, knowledge of the Christian teaching, 2, awareness of the immediate concern of the person or group conducting the prayer, and 3, expression of faith, willingness to follow divine guidance instead of one's selfish interests, and good will toward all. A prayer usually lasts for only a short time, but the difficulty one encounters in life may linger on indefinitely. After all that one can think of has been uttered in a prayer, what more can be done to sustain one in the light of the Christian teaching? Bible study is a good alternative to prayer. Is there any other spiritual practice in the Christian tradition that may be of great help but does not demand much use of reasoning? Indeed, there is one maintained in the Russian Orthodox Church.

The practice is to repeat a short prayer continuously; and the prayer, called the Prayer of Jesus, is as follows: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

If a Christian forms the habit of repeating (silently or audibly) this prayer daily, at a definite time for a certain number of repetitions, e.g., 1,000 repetitions continuously, then it will become easier for him or her to establish a spiritual affinity with the Grace of Jesus. In time of difficulty or crisis, a Christian who is accustomed to this practice can easily or even automatically rely on this practice to stay in touch with the divine Grace. Due to the shortness of this prayer, continuous repetition of it becomes a kind of spiritual chanting. Hence, the usual employment of reasoning in a prayer is bypassed and one may readily become absorbed in the spiritual communion that is beyond words and conceptuality.

The teachings on this practice as preserved in the Russian Orthodox Church include more advanced training for the more devoted Christians. They include silent repetitions done in solitude for years until the prayer is repeated automatically with each heartbeat. A Christian attaining such mastery often exhibits an ability to provide spiritual healing of diseases or perform exorcism effectively. Interested readers may consult the following book: On the Prayer of Jesus, Ignatius Brianchaninov, tr. by Father Lazarus, Element Books.

There are many good reasons and benefits for ordinary people to adopt a chanting practice. I have written an article, On Chanting “Amitabha,” which contains detailed explanations. Christian readers may simply substitute “Amitabha” with “Jesus” or the Prayer of Jesus and find the reasoning similarly applicable. When people ask me for advice, I often recommend a chanting practice. To Christians seeking my advice I recommend chanting the Prayer of Jesus so that they may get the spiritual help within a familiar context based on a faith already established in their hearts. I hope that the spiritual growth they will cultivate through this practice would eventually carry them upward toward higher spiritual quests.

Thanks to Ann Klein for editing this article.


El Cerrito , California
March 3, 1996


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