Everyone should be a good model of integrity who will pass his or her aspirations
and wisdom on to the next generation.
The Venerable Master's three great vows are:
1. To firmly implant Buddhism in Western soil;
2. To translate the Buddhist canon;
3. To promote education.
The Venerable Master was deeply concerned about education. He said,
Education is the most fundamental form of national defense.
In today's troubled society, the Master's statement has great meaning. If a nation has the most advanced weaponry, but no promising young people, then even in the absence of foreign invasions, an internal decline is inevitable.
The Master founded Instilling Goodness Elementary School at Gold Mountain Monastery in San Francisco in 1976. Around 1980, the school moved to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, where Developing Virtue Secondary School was also founded. The Master encouraged us to teach students to be loyal and filial, and to cherish themselves, their families, and their country.
The schools emphasize filial piety, an ancient Chinese virtue which is unfortunately neglected in today's world. In ethics class, children are taught such texts as the Classic of Filiality, Standards for Students, and simplified versions of the Four Books and Five Classics. We tell them if they are not filial to their parents, then no matter how well they recite the Buddha's name, it's useless.
The Master instructed us to teach secondary students to love their country and loyally serve it, because the country protects the people. The Master also exhorted students to respect themselves and not start dating too early. Premature romantic involvements result in psychological as well as physiological harm. The Master said,
Girls should not start dating before the age of twenty, and boys should wait until after twenty-five. Young people should concentrate on their studies so that they can become productive citizens in the future. Then there will be some hope for society.
Through interviewing some local American students this past summer, we found out that even in such small towns as Talmage, there are shootings, kidnappings, and drug dealing in the schools--problems that used to be common only in big city schools. Of course, casual dating among students has already become the norm in Western society. Some American parents, dissatisfied with the public school system, hope to give their children a better education by sending them to school at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.
The Master said,
Parents bear the greatest responsibility towards their children.
The divorce rate is extremely high today, especially in America. Of the five American children in my Beginning Chinese class, four had divorced parents and the fifth one had parents in their second and third marriages. Children suffer serious psychological stress when their parents are separated. If we, as parents, can fulfill our role, and the schools can do a good job of teaching, I believe we can raise the young generation well.
In order to promote integrity in the teaching profession, several years ago the Master established a volunteer teachers program at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, giving aspiring teachers who agree to live by the six guiding principles the opportunity to contribute their skills and teach the next generation. The Master said,
I hope every teacher will be a good model of integrity who does not go on strike for the sake of salary, but will pass his or her aspirations and wisdom on to the next generation.
This has been a summary of the Master's guidelines for education and a brief description of our schools. I hope everyone will work together to bring out the best of the next generation, so that we will not disappoint the Master.
If one can look upon this world
With a mind that is unmoving,
And see Buddhas and living beings as the same,
Then such a one will accomplish supreme wisdom.
Flower Adornment Sutra, Chapter Nine, Light Enlightenment