The Venerable Master Hua said: People in the United States are neglecting filiality,
thus we hold the Celebration for Honoring Seniors in order to
promote filiality and respect for elders as new customs.
The Celebration for Honoring Seniors, initiated by the founder of Dharma Realm Buddhist Association (DRBA), the Venerable Master Hua, was held for the third consecutive year on November 5, amidst the recitation of The Sutra in which the Buddha Speaks of the Difficulty of Repaying Parents' Kindness by the assembly. Branch monasteries of DRBA in the U.S., Canada, and Taiwan observed this celebration on the same day. The purpose of this international activity in honor of seniors is to promote peace and harmony in people's hearts and reduce the violent energy in the society.
At the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, Students of Instilling Goodness and Developing Virtue Schools Demonstrate Talents Over one hundred Chinese and American seniors accepted the invitation and came to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB), in Ukiah, California, to attend the celebration. Reporters from the local TV station, KFWU, radio stations KZYX and KWNE, and the Ukiah Daily Journal all came to cover the event. The principal of CTTB's girls' elementary and high schools, Terri Nicholson, explained to reporters that traditional American culture originally emphasized filiality and respect for seniors. However, Americans have long forgotten these values. This celebration is to help Americans rediscover their long lost traditional virtues.
The girl students of Instilling Goodness Elementary School and Developing Virtue High School demonstrated their talents in performances for the guests, which included Shakespeare's The Tempest, piano recitals, the fan dance, the cup dance, and so on. What drew the most smiles from the seniors was the loud, earnest recitation of the English translation of "The Rules for Being a Student" by students from kindergarten to third grade. When mother and father are calling, answer them right away. When they give you directions, obey them without hesitation. When your parents need to instruct you, respectfully do as you are told. Whenever your parents must scold you, acknowledge your errors and faults.
Mrs. Helene Epstein, an elder American, said delightedly in her interview with TV station KFWU, "This is a very meaningful
activity. It shows our concern not only for seniors but for other people as well. It is especially meaningful for the Eastern and Western cultures to meet here."
Students of Developing Virtue Girls' High School perform the cup dance.
At Gold Mountain Monastery, the Bean Soup Held Special Meaning
Despite the pouring rain, more than two hundred and thirty Buddhists showed up at Gold Mountain Monastery, in San Francisco's Chinatown, to take part in this celebration. Ten students from the University of California at Berkeley, who are also volunteer teachers of the monastery's weekend Chinese school, joined other young volunteers as ushers, waiters, and waitresses to serve the seniors. The Venerable Master also made a special phone call to give his regards to the seniors. The day before, the Master sent to the monastery a package of bean powder that some disciples had given him as an offering. The monastery cooked the bean powder in the sweet bean soup and served it to the seniors so that they could partake of the Master's blessing.
The monastery also prepared sixty vegetarian lunch boxes for Oakland Chinese Community Council Hong Fook Center. Though residents of the Center could not come to the monastery, the lunch boxes provided them with the same warmth and care. The tasty and pure vegetarian food won their praises.
At the City of the Dharma Realm, the Spirit of Fellowship Touched Everyone
The City of the Dharma Realm (CDR) in West Sacramento also invited many Chinese and American seniors to celebrate the event. Students from the Sacramento Chinese School, the University of California at Davis, and Instilling Goodness Boys' Elementary School and Developing Virtue Boys' High School of CTTB came to CDR to give performances for the seniors. Master Heng Gwei told a story about the Master: All these years since the Master established the Buddhist Lecture Hall in Hong Kong, he has deposited offerings received at the Buddhist Lecture Hall into the
bank to pay for funerals and burials for his deceased left-home and lay disciples. Throughout his life, the Master has silently practiced the Way without ever advertising his deeds.
At Gold Buddha Monastery, Small Gifts Bear Great Meaning
Over two hundred seniors showed up at Gold Buddha Monastery to attend the celebration. The laypeople who support the monastery prepared practical presents for the seniors. The celebration included a prize drawing. Held at the end of fall and the beginning of winter, this activity warmed the hearts of many seniors.
At Gold Wheel Monastery, Recitation of the Buddha's Name is the Secret to Longevity
Gold Wheel Monastery in Los Angeles invited the president of the Long Life Association, Mr. Kang Jie-Sheng, to introduce the secret of longevity to over 170 seniors. President Kang summarized his years of study and pointed out that there were three keys to long life: (1) Exercise. Since we are alive, we must be active. We should walk, practice martial arts, and exercise more often. (2) Pay attention to what you eat, and eat less. (3) Keep a wholesome state of mind. Don't lose your temper; don't get afflicted. Anyone who can do these three things will be a healthy, long-lived, and happy senior. Master Heng Yuan also introduced the Buddhist secret of long life: "It's just reciting the Buddha's name!"
At Long Beach Monastery, Amidst the Scenic Views, People Who Understand One Another Gather Together
The President of the Chinese Communication Channel Division of North America TV, Ms. Guo Yuanxun, as well as several professors and many seniors from the neighborhood attended the celebration. More than ten young novices gave a performance of tai chi chuan, recited The Sutra in which the Buddha Speaks of the Difficulty of Repaying Parents' Kindness from memory, and told stories about the Twenty-four Filial Sons. Professor Richard Yang, former chairman of the Department of East Asian Languages at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, hosted this very lively celebration. Professor Yang used his skills as an amateur Chinese opera singer to sing a
song composed by the Great Master Hong Yi before he left the home-life: "Outside the long pavilion, by the side of an ancient path, the lush, green grass stretches to the horizon......
That evening, the local station of the Chinese Communication Channel Division of North America TV in Los Angeles aired a special interview with the Venerable Master, discussing the meaning of the Celebration for Honoring Seniors. The Master, who has never liked to appear on television, granted the interview in order to tell the public to emphasize filiality and respect for seniors, and to promote harmony in the society.
Honoring the Seniors of the Dharma Realm, Cultivating Blessings and Wisdom by Reciting the Buddha's Name
Blessing and Wisdom Monastery in Pin Dong, Taiwan, also held a Celebration for Honoring Seniors on November 5, while Amitabha Monastery in Hua Lian expanded the celebration to a two-day event held on November 12-13.
Honoring Seniors and Cherishing the Young, the Society Will Be in Peace and Harmony while Bad Customs Are Changed
In addition to this Celebration for Honoring Seniors, the branch monasteries of Dharma Realm Buddhist Association will hold a Celebration for Cherishing Youth once again in early summer next year.
In modern society, people's desires have run riot, and their minds are lost amidst wealth, lust, violence, and power struggles. Consequently, natural disasters and accidents keep increasing. Seeing the situation, the Master initiated these celebrations to promote respect for seniors and concern for young people. Everyone's effort is needed to spread this kind of activity to every corner of the world so that people will be filial and respectful to their parents, take care of the elderly, and love others' children as their own. Then the society will naturally become harmonious and peaceful. Accordingly, violence and disasters will gradually decrease and even disappear. Therefore, to promote respect for the elderly and concern for the young is everyone's responsibility. We are duty-bound!