Those who Draw Near to Vermilion will Turn Red,
Those who Associate with Ink will Turn Black.
◎宣化上人 A Talk Given by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua
就像小苗，还没成长就把它割下来，那它根本什么用也没有！ If you have a boyfriend or a girlfriend when you are too young, you will end up getting hurt.
It's like cutting a little sprout before it is fully grown; what is the use?
All of you students! The best days in one's life is the time before age twenty, referred to as “the golden age.” In this period, you have yet to lose your pure inherent nature, your Buddha nature. You are also easily influenced by your environment during this time. If you were around wholesome people, you will become wholesome, if you were to associate with unwholesome people, you will turn unwholesome. This is the principle of “Those who draw near to vermilion will turn red, those who associate with ink will turn black.”
If you meet good teachers and helpful friends, you will attain genuine knowledge and develop proper behavior. In contrast, if you get to know teachers and friends who disobey rules, you will be influenced by them and become someone who also disobeys rules. In the short run, you may be a nuisance; in the long run, you may become the dregs of society. Be sure to remember your inherent nature is like a piece of pure white cloth, which will “turn gray if stained with gray, turn yellow if stained with yellow.” You are studying in an excellent environment now, and in the future, you should be able to benefit and improve the society. All of you should have the spirit of willing to sacrifice yourselves for the greater good.
The most important thing is that female students should not seek boyfriends, and male students should not look for girlfriends. Each one of you needs to maintain your position on this. It is not that you are not permitted to have a boyfriend or a girlfriend; rather, girls should wait until they are twenty years old and boys should wait until they are twenty-five years old before doing so. In this way, you won't get hurt. If children seek members of the opposite sex before they are physically mature, they will end up getting hurt and suffer losses. Therefore, even if you want to get married, you should wait until you are twenty or twenty-five years old. For this reason, the boy school and the girl school are separated at the City of the Ten Thousand Buddhas. You must not sneakily seek boyfriends or girlfriends. If I find out that you are doing so, you will be expelled. You should pay attention to this.
I am not forbidding you from having a boyfriend or a girlfriend. The point is if you prematurely look for a boyfriend or a girlfriend, you won’t be a good student or a wholesome person. Every one of you should be a good student and a good person so you can do beneficial things in the future. If you have a boyfriend or a girlfriend when you are too young, you will end up getting hurt. It’s like cutting a little sprout before it is fully grown -- it will be useless and end up being a weed. If we let our sexual desires develop too early, our successive generations will worsen. To select an outstanding seed to cultivate, we have to wait until the plant matures; a weed would be useless. Similarly, if you date the opposite sex when you are too young, such actions would be premature!
Children in this country watch TV all the time. They watch so much T.V. that they know how to find a boyfriend or a girlfriend when they are only seven or eight years old. This is extremely harmful. In the future, if this trend continues, there will be no talented individuals in this country. Why is that? Everyone would be totally mixed-up.