Sufferings in college…
The Four Noble Truths is a good place to start. First,
there needs to be an identification of what really is suffering, so
that the Dharma, which is spoken as medicine, can heal the suffering
living beings feel.
So, as college students, Pei Ling and I can say where
it is that we see ourselves and our classmates hurting. From there,
I think it will give a better sense of what Dharma is appropriate
for students and the youth. I feel very fortunate to have found the
Dharma and to have something to depend upon in life. I look at some
of my classmates, however, and I see my friends not having that
ground to stand on, but rather often feel lost and confused. This is
a pretty common feeling for college students as they get closer and
closer to graduation.
The main place where college students are hurting is
the sense of directionlessness in life or the fear of getting stuck
in something that is meaningless or doesn’t keep their interest.
They have a great fear, myself included, that they will just get
into a job that is not meaningful and live their life that way just
going through the motions. One of my friends came into my room just
to talk, and she started telling me how she felt really lost and
confused and has slowly become more interested in Christianity. She
felt that society and the people around her told her to find the
passion she had in life and to pursue that, but she really did not
feel like she had any. She didn't know what to do. There are
actually many stories I have relating to this topic, and I believe
that if you ask any of the DRBY participants they can explain this
Another place of suffering is the relationship with
parents. In America, the idea of "filiality" is not very strong.
Parents and children often fight and possibly don't even speak to
each other. Each case of course is different, but I wanted to
mention this because filiality is a principle that I really see
being able to benefit the people around me. For instance, I remember
one DRBY member who went to CTTB and had a deep respect for DM Lyu
and would sincerely ask DM Lyu for teachings and corrections. At one
point, he asked DM Lyu that after staying at the City for a while he
realized that he maybe should go back to take care of his parents.
He expected the answer to be, "No you should stay here and
cultivate!" But rather, DM Lyu supported the idea and in two days he
was flying back home across the country to stay with his parents. I
remember him telling the DRBY members there his thoughts on going
back and what stuck with me was the sense that he wished he had
known the concept of filiality when he was younger so he wouldn’t
have done so many stupid things towards their parents. The youth
growing up in America need this, and we, as the youth, need this in
a way that makes sense.
Here's another story. One morning when going to meditate with BCAS,
I found one of my friends from Stanford who graduated a few years
ago lying on the couch. He woke up and sat in meditation with the
meditation group in the morning. I thought, "Well, that's an
interesting way to make sure you get up for morning meditation."
However, after the sit, I thought he looked a bit lost, so I invited
him to breakfast. Here is when he told me his story of looking for
the Dharma. He was in medical school at Stanford, but he felt that
he needed to find a spiritual teacher. He went off and lived like a
homeless person down the coast of California visiting Japanese and
Korean Zen monasteries. He met many different people, but at the end
his parents wanted to see him, and when he returned, his parents had
him see a psychologist who diagnosed him as being 'psychotic,' and
so they put him in the patients ward in the hospital. From there, he
tried to escape a number of times and when I met him at the
meditation place, he had managed to escape. At this point, I was
pretty shocked. But I told him about Rev. Heng Sure being a good
teacher, and so I know later that at one point he gave Rev. Heng
Sure a call. Actually later I found out that the police were after
him, and I was pretty worried about him. I actually don't know
whatever became of him, but I got a deep sense of how grateful and
fortunate I am to have found DRBY and good Dharma friends that serve
as reflection for myself to keep me in balance as well as having a
community of cultivators. I wished my friend had found that earlier
on because he had the heart but no good instructor.
I can say a lot more, but I think you get a sense of what the youth
To balance out the presentation, I also want to point out that many
college students are very bright, 'yang' and idealistic. They hope
to make a positive impact in the world and are full of talent and
blessings. For instance, we just had the DRBY conference, and I
think you saw many of the students who had that happy and carefree,
zi zai, personality.
Essentially, there is a definite need for the Dharma in the next
generation, and I'm hoping that what I shared here might help
motivate everyone to want to be part of this. I feel like this is a
"request for Dharma" on the part of DRBY. But I realize that the
request for Dharma needs to also include us really sharing with you
the difficulties we face, so that the Dharma can connect and heal
the suffering in our lives. For a while, I complained to myself that
somehow the Dharma did not make sense in daily life, but then I
realized it was because I never really explained what were the
problems in my mind.
I believe everyone is already working hard in this effort. The DRBY
conference we just had was only possible because of your support and
strength. I know that many people are very grateful. A response from
one of participants at the conference:
The conference has been a very memorable experience for me, and I am
filled with a lot of gratitude for everyone who made this conference
possible… The whole experience of living at this monastery,
performing the ceremonies with the nuns and everyone else, eating
with everyone in silence, etc.—all weaved together to create an
experience that really touched me. I've felt so peaceful here and
light at heart.
So I just wanted to thank you all for putting this conference
together—you really are making a difference in people's lives. In
the last couple days, for instance, I've decided to switch to
As you can see, the Dharma when presented in an accessible way
really makes a difference.
Finally, why am I giving this presentation? It is
because I really see the potential here at Gold Sage to really be
able to keep the Dharma wheel turning. Although what I have said so
far may be too idealistic, I still wanted to present it. We can take
small steps. Gold Sage is the ideal place because it is near San
Jose and a number of college campuses. There is a strong lay
community along with the new and growing DRBY support. I do not know
if my sense is correct, but I feel like after leaving home and
deciding to dedicate your lives to follow the Buddha’s teaching it
naturally entails a wish to teach the Dharma for the next
generation. So, again this presentation is a "request for the
Dharma" for my generation. However, because Buddhism is still new to
America, DRBY needs to do more than just ask, but also has to
provide the material and tools required to make the Dharma alive for
the youth growing up in America. My wish is that everyone, Dharma
masters, lay people, and DRBY can work as a team on this project,
and I believe that if all of us are working together, then we can
really be able to keep the Dharma alive. I have many thoughts, but I
would like to ask at this point your thoughts, and suggestions.
Here are a number of starting places to begin building the
foundation for Buddhism in America at Gold Sage.
1.DRBY Roundtable: East and West
A chance to give Dharma Talks to DRBY and get feedback on what was
said. Also, DRBY can have sessions where we just present our
experiences growing up in America. Explaining the World the Youth
Face Now in America.
The Buddha spoke the four noble truths, suffering, accumulating, extinction, and the way. I can
provide to the community here a sense of what is the "suffering"
that the youth now experience. The Dharma is like medicine, and so
your talks can then be addressed to that. This is actually why I
feel like I must do this. DM Yun talked about having something in
your pocket that you couldn’t give the youth. Well, I can tell you
where our generation is hurting and maybe you can speak to that.
I think if we combine the Dharma Talks with the English classes then
the English classes become more relevant because you can use what
you are learning in class. Similar to taking classes in college,
there is an element of learning the theory, but then you have to
apply it to really get it.
3.Serving as a Model
Gold Sage is unique because it is so well situated to be near
society but not quite in it. I believe everything that we can learn
together can be shared with other people as well. I think there are
many people wondering how to teach the next generation, and I feel
like each of you can make a huge difference just by sharing whatever
you learn with other people who care about passing on the Dharma to
4.Beginning Ch'an class
Westerners like meditation. Another chance to speak Dharma and
5.Venerable Master Hua's tapes. [Primarily for Westerners and
For myself, I feel Master Hua's teachings for college students would
be more appropriate for my conditions being at college. From these
tapes we can learn from how Master Hua uses his wisdom at seeing
conditions to explain Dharma for Westerners and the youth.
6.Family Retreat, Cherishing Youth Day, and Current Activities
A chance to bring the Dharma masters, the laity, and the youth
together to do wholesome things in the world.