ne afternoon in early winter, after meditation class, I strolled across the campus with a student who had recently transferred to our school. This naughty student, who had given people quite a few headaches, told me about the situation in her previous school. It seems that fighting, making trouble, drinking, getting stoned, threatening teachers and students with weapons, and dating have become part of daily life in the schools. It is almost impossible to hold a class quietly and peacefully. Students holler rudely in class and openly confront their teachers. The teachers must sometimes display the handguns they carry in order to warn students not to make trouble. And the parents either don’t care or are helpless to do anything. Or else, they harm their children’s bodies and minds with their own abusive and violent behavior. The innate qualities of paternal kindness and maternal tenderness have been completely forgetten. How can our hearts not bleed with sorrow? Even if there are teachers who seriously care about teaching, they cannot maintain their stance for long. They are either forced to leave, or else they have to be fully armed every day as if going to the battlefield. This is the situation of the schools in Ukiah, a small and simple town. Imagine the situation of schools in metropolitan areas. This girl, who often disturbs other classmates, came from a home for abused children. She said with a sincere look in her eyes, “I came to this school because I wanted to have a good education. Good education is very important.” A call from the heart of an innocent child: hearing it evokes a myriad feelings!
‘Education’ is the most sacred word in the hearts of Chinese people. It represents a nation’s long-term plans and is what the people depend on for their existence. Take the Venerable Master’s simple and complete observation which goes right to the point: Education is the most fundamental and the most thorough national defense! In this day and age, the significance of this statement is even more profound. For several decades, in order to bring happiness to mankind and peace to the world, and to awaken the long-dormant sense of morality and conscience in all people, the Venerable Master has spared neither blood nor sweat in his effort to nurture excellent character and scholarship in young people. Reforming education is one of the three great resolutions that the Master has made in his life. As the Master has said, “One goal of education is to select talented people. What kind of talented people? People who demonstrate intelligence and wisdom. For those who are stupid, we should also make an effort to inspire their inherent wisdom. This is one of the goals of our schools.” This is because, as the Master says, “I want to set up education not only to perpetuate the Buddha’s wisdom, but also to perpetuate the wisdom of living beings. Having received a wholesome education, students will know how to conduct themselves in society when they leave school in the future, and they will be able to influence the entire society to reform its customs.” The Master has also said, “In the past, people studied in order to understand the principles. Nowadays, people study in order to obtain fame and profit.” The Master cannot bear to see the future of mankind ruined by the ignorant indulging in the five desires. Thus he is making a earnest and compassionate outcry: “The human race is nearing extinction! This will not be caused by earthquakes, natural disasters, or accidents, but by the fact that people have gradually forgotten and lost their morality and virtue.” This is the enlightened awareness of one who is wise, and whose compassionate mind is boundless. How can we ordinary, foolish people take it for granted? If people do not discipline themselves with virtue, they will eventually fall into an abyss of evil. The schools founded by the Venerable Master are named “Instilling Goodness Elementary School” and “Developing Virtue Secondary School”—from this we can understand a little bit of the Master’s earnest intentions.
→To be continued