A Dharma Talk given by the Venerable Master HsuanHua on September 18, 1983
School is a sacred place where people’s talents are educated. It is like a great furnace where steel is forged. After being smelted thousands of times, students become indestructible like vajra. In the future they will be able to serve the country well. Teachers, in turn, experience the joy of teaching talented and promising students. Theirs is a sacred and inviolable duty, and they should take that duty seriously.
Today’s schools are of a different caliber than those of the past. Most college, high school, and even elementary students have experimented with drugs. They do so out of curiosity, and then they learn to steal things and sell them in order to buy more drugs. Right before our eyes, our children are learning how to lie and cheat. If we have any conscience at all, how can we, as citizens, not be alarmed?
Take a look in the schools outside. Is there a single one whose students do not take or deal drugs? Yet teachers act as if they did not know what’s going on. They don’t inquire about it, because they simply don’t care. They don’t want to interfere with what’s going on. Some schools are even turning into drug trafficking centers. How dangerous this is! It’s really a shame when schools turn into places for boys and girls to be promiscuous and indulge in romance. Nowadays parents even encourage their daughters to take birth control pills. This was unheard of in the past. Yet schools pay no attention to this. All they care about is collecting the tuition.
Students educated in such schools have no ethical values and no concept of virtue and chastity; all they talk about is freedom. They holler, “Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!”all the way to the hells. This unwholesome trend is harmful to humanity in many ways. If the educational system doesn’t rectify the situation, the future can easily be imagined. That’s why the university, high schools, and elementary schools at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas are segregated by gender. From youth, students become accustomed to learning in an environment where boys and girls are taught separately.
Once more, I urge the educational system to quickly reform the unhealthy trends in the schools. As it is said,
“Although you have lost one sheep,
It’s not too late to repair the pen.”
To Study Hard is to Be Filial
A Dharma Talk given by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua
There are many students attending this Guanyin recitation session, and you students should understand the principle of being filial to parents. At home, listen to your parents, help your mother clean the rooms and tidy the house, help your father mow the lawn, and do the chores that you are supposed to do. At school, listen to the teacher’s instructions, concentrate during classes, study hard, and don’t waste precious time. To learn a new word or a new grammar rule every day is also a way of being filial to your parents.
Remember to be a good student in school and a good child at home. You should listen not only to your parents’ instructions, but also to the guidance of your elders. Be filial to your parents and respectful toward your elders, since they have more experience and knowledge than you do. You should learn from them and take them as your models so that you can have a promising future. Otherwise your future will be dim and hopeless.
You students should set your goals, resolve your mind, and approach your studies with a persevering and unfaltering attitude so that in the future you’ll be able to achieve great things and become outstanding heroes. When it’s time for you to study, you should study diligently. Don’t goof off, get into mischief, or waste time; instead, be earnest in learning all skills. That way you won’t disappoint your parents, your teachers, or the school.
You should understand that this is a Buddhist school. It specializes in educating students to become good and productive citizens in the world. I hope that in the future you’ll try to work for the welfare of all of the people in the world, not mess things up in the world. That’s our hope at this school. As a student here, you must diligently apply yourself to your studies and not waste even a single minute. Your motto should be:
With diligence, one forges a path
Through the mountain of books;
By studying hard, one can cross
The boundless ocean of knowledge.
Be patient and persevering, never lazy. Learn to be frugal. Cherish even a sheet of paper or a pen. You should lead disciplined lives: Go to bed early and rise early, watch less television, read plenty of good books, finish your homework after you come home, and constantly review what you have learned. It is said, “Reviewing what you have learned will aid you in learning new knowledge.” You derive benefit every time you review. Don’t read useless comic books.
During the Eastern Han dynasty [A.D. 25-219] in China, there was a child named Kong Rong. He was very bright and understood the principle of filiality. One day friend brought over a basket of pears. His elder brothers picked the large ones to eat. Rong was four years old, yet he already knew the principle of yielding to others. So he took a small pear. His father asked him, “Why didn’t you choose a big one?” He replied, “Since I am younger, I should eat a small one. The big ones should be kept for parents and elders.”Think about this. Kong Rong was only four years old, but he already knew how to yield to others and be affectionate and filial. Endowed with such virtues, he was an extraordinary child. His good reputation has been passed down through generations and become widely known. It is said, “Rong, at age four, could yield pears.”
During the Eastern Han dynasty, there was another child named Huang Xiang. His mother died when he was nine, and he was very filial to his father. In the winter, Xiang used his body heat to warm up his father’s quilt, so his father wouldn’t catch cold. In the summer he fanned his father’s bedding, so his father wouldn’t be too hot. That kind of filiality shall always be remembered. It is said, “Xiang, at age nine, warmed his father’s quilt.”
Those two children behaved that way spontaneously, out of sincerity; they weren’t putting on an act to try to fool other people. We ought to compare our own conduct to theirs. You children should emulate those two filial children and regard them as your models.
You are all lucky to have been born in this affluent country where you can live in peace and safety and enjoy abundant resources. If you don’t study hard in this excellent environment, you will disappoint the hopes of your parents and fall short of your teachers’ expectations.
In this country of abundant happiness, we need good, kind, and reasonable people who know how love their country and be good citizens. You now study in a Buddhist school, and in the future you should be role models in society, leading the people of this world to advance towards goodness. Use the Six Guidelines of the City as a standard: not fighting, not being greedy, not seeking, not being selfish, not pursuing personal advantage, and not lying. If you can truly practice these Six Guidelines, you will surely become excellent people. I hope you all become completely wholesome people who can influence others to change from evil to good. I hope you will have great mercy and compassion so you can make living beings happy and alleviate their sufferings. If everyone can do this, the world will be in total harmony.