Supervisor Silver Speaks
Reported by Bhiksu Heng Kuan
At 10 PM on Saturday, March 10th, Carol Ruth Silver finished up a jam packed week as San Francisco Supervisor and Chairperson of the City's important Finance Committee, only to begin a two and a half hour drive to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Her purpose in setting out so late 1n the evening was to be sure that she would be on time the following morning for the meeting of the Board of Trustees of Dharma Realm Buddhist University, of whose Executive. Committee she is a member. This typifies the energy and sincerity she puts into everything she does, be it her family, the Finance Committee, or a neighborhood problem in the inner Mission.
Arriving after midnight, she and her family were up at dawn for a full day of activities. At the Board meeting, Supervisor Silver addressed the University's Trustees and the members of the Sino American Buddhist Association. Among other things she said, "...as the United States more and more looks to the Far East for its culture, trade, and resources. Buddhism and our University will come to play an extremely important role in the culture of the United States, and especially the West Coast and California."
Following a vegetarian meal, the Supervisor and her family joined the Avatamsaka Assembly, chanting Sutras and mantras, reciting the Buddha's name, and listening to a lecture on the Avatamsaka Sutra. During the lecture, the Venerable Abbot explained the difference between good roots, and good roots that are accompanied by afflictions, saying that if a person does good deeds, helps and benefits other people, but does so with the idea of obtaining fame, power, or advantage, then although the good deeds plant good roots and' bring the reward of honor and blessings, nonetheless, because of the selfish motives, the person will not be free from afflictions. However, if a person benefits others with no thought of self, and with no idea of gain, reward, or personal advantage, then the good roots planted will be clean and pure, and free from any defilement or affliction, and the person will receive the reward of blessings and honor accompanied by peace, happiness, and ease. So it is said,
Good done so that others will know is not truly good,
While evil done fearing others will know is great evil indeed.
Following the Sutra lecture, Supervisor Silver addressed the assembly:
"Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking, at least before a group of people who actively seek enlightenment, I find this a rare and special opportunity, because I am in politics, and almost all of my speaking is done In that arena. I am a member of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors from District Six, a district which includes Gold Mountain Monastery, and many established neighborhoods and businesses, but which also includes many poor neighborhoods. Third World neighborhoods, minorities, and their youth, and so forth who have come to a big city seeking opportunity. And San Francisco is a big city with big city interests, and representing Third World minorities in the face of these is not an easy task. But I enjoy it, in spite of the many problems.
"There Is much here at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas that I have seen that pleases me very much. We have had a relaxing and fulfilling retreat, and a good meeting with the Board of Trustees of the University. But what pleased me more than anything else was finding a paragraph in the Instilling Virtue School's WONDER NEWS magazine, in an article written by Jessica, which was about the importance of filial piety, which said in effect that everyone should be kind to all living beings, and that we should respect and repay our parents for their kindness and concern for us.
"When my son Ah Hwei went to Instilling Virtue School, we used to hear talk about wisdom, filial piety, compassion, and kindness around our home every day. But now 'that the school has moved to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, and Ah Hwei can't attend any more, this kind of talk has decreased until now we don't hear it anymore. This is really more than unfortunate, because I believe that there is not a single household in San Francisco where there is talk of filial piety. Our society has a great need for schools like Instilling Virtue.
"As all of you work towards enlightenment, you must remember that you are custodians of ideals, principles, and a way of life that is very much needed in our culture at this time. The Third World minorities who live in District Six in San Francisco also need it, even though they will probably never get close to Buddhism. Nevertheless, they can receive its wholesome influence.
"And this is necessary today because there are many people who have not good roots, and many people perceive that society is about to fall apart. We all tend to say that society is getting better, but that is just a feeling we must have to give us a sense of well being...I'm not so sure that it is. To see how society is getting on we should take a look at the minorities, the Third World people, and the religious minorities, and at what is actually happening 1n our society. Recently 1n San Francisco we had horrible murders, we have had J1m Jones, the suicides, and more of this. People can' cope with this disintegration of society.
"We can overcome these problems, but 1t will take the participation of all of you who seek knowledge and enlightenment. The contemplative and active life must come together. Only If those who have found salvation, or who seek salvation and have found a real peace, only 1f these people turn around and reach out a hand to help others who cannot help themselves, only then can w save our society and our planet.
"So I hope that in my politician's striving that you will help and support me, because my goal is a happy society and a peaceful planet. I have been very happy and relaxed here, and want to thank all of you."