On May 29th, 1994, led by the Venerable Master Hua, the City of the Dharma Realm, a large Buddhist Way-place situated in West Sacramento, celebrated its grand opening and observed Cherishing Youth Day. At 10:00 a.m., Mayor Wesley Beersof West Sacramento, joined by other political leaders, cut the ribbon in the opening ceremony, while about three hundred Buddhists recited the Buddha's name.
During the vegetarian luncheon which followed the ceremony, Major Beers spoke first to welcome the Master for turning a closed-down hotel into a place for cultivation. The Celebration for Respecting the Elderly held by the City of the Dharma Realm a few months ago, and today's celebration for Cherishing Youth, both transmitted the message of honoring the elderly and caring for the young. Mayor Beers promised to do his best to help the City of the Dharma Realm in its development.
Ms. Maureen Di Marco, Secretary of Child Development and Education for the State of California, used many statistics to show the severity of the problems experienced by today's children. She said there are six hundred thousand cases of child abuse a year in California. There is one alcoholic in every eight children. Every year seventy thousand teenage girls give birth to babies. One thousand of those young mothers are between the ages of ten and fourteen. These are only the statistics for California. However, they suffice to demonstrate the problems of today's teenagers and children, which desperately need everyone's attention. She thought the City's obervance of Cherishing Youth Day was very meaningful since, "If children are not taught well, the consequences will be doubly serious."
California Assemblywoman Barbara Alby pointed out that the trend of respecting the elderly and cherishing the young is exactly what our society needs. Thus, she is extremely pleased by the founding of the City. She was also in agreement with the value system and orderly life style promoted by the Master. She said, she would speak for the City whenever possible.
Senator Kathy Wright, whohas worked with problem children for fourteen years, stressed that children are our future. The fruitful result of paying attention to the problems of children will be enjoyed by the following generation. She also thought that religion could be very helpful in resolving the problems of today'schildren.
The Venerable Master very precisely pointed out that, caring for the children's welfare does not mean teaching them how to enjoy good food and wear beautiful clothes. Rather it means to provide them with an appropriate education and to teach them how to be a person, and how to be filial to their parents. The children in this country do not know how to be filial to their parents. Because they lack a sound fundamental education, they end up taking the wrong path. "The problems of children lie not in the children but in the broken families and the high divorce rate. That is why there are problem children. It is said, 'One who draws near rouge becomes red; and one who draws near ink becomes black. One becomes green when dyed green and yellow when dyed yellow.' Children develop according to the surrounding environ-ment. When problems surface, they are usually already full-blown. Parents should take the responsibility of educating their children. They should not just focus their energy on making money, and raise their children without educating them!"
The Master also did not agree with the American-style theory of free development. He pointed out that if the branches of a tree are not pruned, the tree will only be good for firewood. If a tree is pruned well, then it will be able to bear great weight, and become the material for beams and pillars. There is no way to discipline children in this country because they will report the slightest physical punishment to the police. This is the loophole of free development. We should have a certain degree of control over the children. "In any case, if we want to resolve the problems of children, we should start with the families."
Ten young novices who have left the home life with the Master, aged six to seventeen, recited "The Great Unity" and the Sutra of the Eight Awakenings of a Great Person in both Chinese and English. They also performed a set of Tai-Ji boxing which was the result of practicing every day for an hour in the early morning.
Students from Instilling Goodness Elementary School and Developing Virtue High School at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas came from Talmage to sing "Learning Buddhism" and "Song of the Triple Jewel", and also performed a play called "Patriarch Bodhidharma came to China," joining in the celebration of the grand opening of the City of Dharma Realm and the observation of Cherishing Youth Day.