Margie: I am running for California State Senate in April. My campaign is focusing on economics, ethics and education. Would you give me some advice?
Ven. Master: It is a pity that Bush lost the election. He was a good president who could have changed the world. However, his advisors didn't have enough wisdom and could not make quick decisions. For instance, before the election, I made the suggestion to Bush that he refuse to take a salary as President. But he didn't accept it, and he lost the election. People have strange ideas in this country Center: Ven. Master Hua From right, 1st: Prof. Richard Yang From left, 2nd: Prof. John Tsu 3rd: Bok Pon, 4th: Margie Handley, 5th: John Baird .....The reason I wrote Bush a letter is because I live on this land, and I have to make some contribution to repay the kindness of the people. Do you realize that education is completely bankrupt in the West? In order to change people's minds, we have to start from education. We must first rectify ourselves and then talk about ethics and morality. In American schools now, sex education is openly discussed, and eleven- and twelve-year-old kids take contraceptives. Youngsters take drugs and watch porn films — these are the Sources of disorder in the world.
Margie: I totally agree with you. In my speeches, I also have mentioned these issues.
Ven. Master: When the government gives people unemployment compensation, it should also put them to work. Otherwise, people will depend on the government, and use up the food and wealth of the country. Another hidden problem is the racial issue. Lincoln wanted to liberate the black slaves, but he should have sent them back to Africa to avert future calamities. Like the riot in L.A. last year, who knows when the hatred between the blacks and Koreans will come up again? Therefore, I think government has to control weapons and allow only decent people to immigrate. Otherwise, the rate of smuggling, drug-peddling, and robbery will increase and threaten the order in the society.
(Since it was lunchtime, the Ven. Master invited the guests to Jyun Kang Vegetarian Restaurant.)
Ven. Master: In this world, no one likes to speak the truth. Everyone is afraid to speak honestly, with a true mind. I am true at heart and I speak true words. I don't speak English, but I'm learning. As we gather here today, we are all one family. This is all vegetarian food, and I hope everyone will try it.
Margie: It's important to speak the truth.
Ven. Master: My principle is to respect the elderly and cherish the young. This is based on Confucius' ideal, "to bring peace to the elderly and cherish the young." The principle we emphasize in education is filial respect. Why is a country not doing well? It is because the elementary schools, high schools and universities fail to teach ethics and morality.
Margie: Venerable Master, that's the reason I'm running, because I don't think we have legislators who really care about what happens. I think it's important to return to basic teachings in our education system - integrity and honesty and responsibility. We don't teach that anymore in school. And they need to learn it when they're young. Our whole system is out of control, because we've gotten away from the basic things we need to teach young people.
Ven. Master: Right, they only teach how to kill people.
Margie: And television is bad. We could use television as a wonderful tool, but we use it for violence and killing and horrible things.
Professor Yang: The children don't study. They don't read books. They watch television. You know what they learn from television? Violence and sex.
Ven. Master: TV doesn't teach people anything good. Because of television, the country has gone out of control. People do not like to work, and they work only for money. Everybody watches TV and waits to receive unemployment benefits, not caring about the problems of the family and the country.
Professor Yang: In Liverpool, England, two ten-year old boys killed a seven-month-old baby. Now recently, two seventeen-year-old girls killed a seventy-year-old lady for no reason. Look what's happening in the rest of the world. Killing and fighting everywhere.
Ven. Master: All these come from the failure of education. So in the Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, there is a preschool, an elementary school, a high school and a university. The university students pay for room and board. The elementary and high school students pay hardly anything, except for the boarding students who pay for room and board. Students who cannot pay attend free.
John B.: When I was young, back in the thirties and forties, you couldn't have sex and violence in the movies. Whatever happened to that?
Ven. Master: The great sickness of this country is greed for merit and profit. Ask a child why he is studying, and he'll say it's so he can make more money in the future. With such an idea in his mind, he would never love the country, the family and himself. He only knows to be selfish. All he cares about is getting more money. With a country full of such people, how can anyone govern the country?
John B.: What happens to the quality of life?
Ven. Master: People think that to have money is have power.
John B.: The only thing they want is money.
Margie: If we teach them integrity, honesty and responsibility, then everything else would fall into place.
Ven. Master: Teachers should not be allowed to go on strike. They are just leading the children astray. They have to set examples of themselves. Why do teachers strike? It's because they want money. Both teachers and students want money. Everyone looks to money.
Margie: I am running because I believe we need more people in government. I believe in good government. We have too many people that are only interested in politics and making a career. I feel it's the time in my life for public service.
Ven. Master: This country is gravely ill.
Margie: You are right. It is time to try to get more ethical people in government which we don't have right now.
Ven. Master: Those who have more money win the election and those who have no money lose. This is like bribery.....I advocate an education in which the students do not pay tuition, the schools do not collect tuition, and the teachers do not take a salary. Nobody else is willing to do it this way, but this is the direction we're taking. Teachers teach for the sake of education, students study because they want to learn, and schools educate to develop students' talents. That way, there won't be one strike after another, and there will be no contention for benefits. When teachers go on strike, the country as a whole suffers the greatest harm. Teachers cannot go on strike. The world has gone to ruin all because of money. Countries fight against countries over money, families contend with families over money, people quarrel with people over money, and one struggles with oneself over money. Because of money, we are all afflicted and cannot enjoy a single day of happiness. Yet up to now, no one has awakened from this confused dream. The mind has never found peace, nor has the world been in harmony. All day long, people are fighting in their greed for fame, wealth and power.
Margie: Do you think there will be a time when there is peace in the world?
Ven. Master: Only when everyone decides they don't want money. Not like in this country, where the power is in the hands of the rich. Whenever a rich person wants to help any country, he ends up taking control of that country. As for poor countries, they end up falling under the control of others.
Margie: People work here and they're not paid. And people come to school here and they don't pay very much. Where do you get the resources to pay for the food and the upkeep of the buildings?
Professor Yang: Donations.
Ven. Master: Money came from the heavens. The money we use is not of the world; it fell from the heavens.
Margie: Money from the heart!
Ven. Master: In all my life, I have never taken pay for anything I do. I don't want money. Now Professor Yang is following my example.
Professor Yang: I am so carefree!
Ven. Master: I hope when you are elected, you will also refuse to take money.
Margie: That's a challenge!
Ven. Master: If you can do that, you can be a President in the future.
Margie: I've already said that I wouldn't take a car and I wouldn't take
per diem, because I think that's totally abused.
Ven. Master: You don't want a car, but you want an airplane, right? To want nothing at all is the best -- that's truly serving the people. Don't use money to get elected. I am looking for a friend who understands me, one who can govern the country without taking money. Such a person can be a pure official. He does not hoard money, and loves the people as if they were his children. That's the only way the country can become strong. If a person has the least bit of selfishness, he is not qualified to govern the country. I say this whether or not you believe it. I say it whether or not you like to listen. I don't care if you are happy or not.
Margie: I know you are a happy man.
Ven. Master: In this country, everyone fights to be number one. Who will be number two? America should be doing well. She is generously endowed with a vast territory and abundant natural resources. There is no reason she can't be strong. I hope to convene representatives from all countries in a conference here, so everyone can discuss the strengths and weaknesses of their own country, and the reasons behind their successes and failures. We should gather everyone's strengths to govern this country. Then, the world may turn for the better. Otherwise, the more the United Nations "unites," the worse things get. The world is such that the more you oppress people, the greater the backlash. This principle is very simple, yet the leaders of the world do not understand it. Why don't they understand? It is because they are just pursuing fame and gain and their minds have become all confused.
Margie: That's why we have to change.
Ven. Master: We need a complete change. If this world is not rectified, it will become worse day by day.
John: We hope the Venerable Master can do this. You alone can make it.
Ven. Master: I would never do it. If I were interested in doing this, I wouldn't be here.
Margie: But you want to call that conference....
John B.: Master, you are the only one who has the wisdom.
Ven. Master: I am only offering a suggestion. I am old. It should be the job of young generations. Do whatever you can, but don't do it for the money.