On June 5th, the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, with Instilling Goodness Elementary and Developing Virtue Secondary Schools, celebrated the first annual Cherishing Youth Day. Students and parents from Ukiah were invited. This is one of the Ven. Master's recent vigorous efforts to elevate people's minds by promoting the trends of revering the elderly and cherishing the young.
That morning, guests gathered at Daoyuan Hall to enjoy the performances given by students from the Boys' and Girls' Schools. The Girls' School performed a Chinese tambourine dance, a tap dance and a Chinese lion dance. The Boys' School Choir sang a spiritually purifying song. The program ended with two plays. The girls performed the play "Bodhidharma Comes to China," which tells how the Patriarch Bodhidharma took the "Treasury of the Proper Dharma Eye" from India to China, and Great Master Huike cut off his arm in his sincere quest for the Dharma. This was the first time that many American students and parents heard such a story transmitting the profound principles of Buddhism.
The students of Developing Virtue Boys' School wrote, directed, and performed the play "Two Friends," about a young man who went down the wrong path and joined a gang. Because a good friend died for him, he reformed and in the end became a citizen devoted to public welfare. The touching play reflected the serious issues of drug use and gangs among today's youth.
After the program, guests were invited to the meal offering ceremony and the noon meal, during which they were treated to more songs, a recitation of "The Great Unity" by Confucius and "The Rules for Being a Student" in English. Among the honored guests was Phil Gary, Principal of Ukiah High School. He said he felt very moved by the sincerity and purity of the students and teachers at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, and hoped the two schools could work together in the future.
David Rounds, both a teacher and a student's parent, said that the schools at the City stress virtue, caring and responsibility, and are free of violence and drugs. Students learn that happiness comes from helping others, revering teachers and elders, and caring for the weak and young. The campus has an atmosphere of safety and peace. He remembers that Ukiah was like that in the 1950's, but now it's very different and one hears about murder cases from time to time. Rounds thinks violence and drugs are pervasive throughout the United States. It's very important for students to have proper values in their lives.
After the meal, both the boys' and girls' schools held "Open House" and displayed their projects in each subject. The Boys' School set up an exhibition on "The Book of Changes and Science." Since the topic was special as well as profound, and the preparation was carefully done, many guests stayed to look at it.
One week earlier, when the Ven. Master was celebrating Cherishing Youth Day in Sacramento, he mentioned a recent news story about an American student who murdered his parents and then went to school to brag about it. The Master lamented, "Children in this country don't know how to be filial to their parents. If the children aren't filial to their parents, why would the parents want to raise them? If children don't receive a good education, it would be surprising if they don't turn out bad."
The world today is full of natural and man-made calamities. According to the law of cause and effect, this is the retribution resulting from the moral degeneracy of society and the contention among people as they struggle to fulfill their desires. If we want to reduce the disasters which plague humanity, we must start by reforming people's minds. That's the fundamental solution. For so many years, the Venerable Master has proclaimed the Six Great Guidelines: do not contend, do not be greedy, do not seek, do not be selfish, do not pursue self-benefit, and do not lie. He has also promoted the customs of revering the elderly and cherishing the young, hoping that everyone will practice them and influence others to practice them, thus turning a violent society into a peaceful one. If everyone can turn greed, hatred and stupidity into the light of wisdom, that will be a blessing to all living beings.