The Venerable Master said, “Now I want to travel among all the nations with these eight virtues of filiality, fraternity, loyalty, trustworthiness, propriety, righteousness, incorruptibility, and a sense of shame, using this elixir to save the souls, lives, and inherent natures of all young people throughout the world.”
any times, the Master has taught his disciples to learn to take losses and to not be afraid of being cheated, to be patient, to yield instead of fighting, to treat others better than we treat ourselves, not to lose our tempers, not to be stubborn, and to practice kindness, compassion, joy and giving. These kind and faithful exhortations have been instilled in our minds. As the Master often says,
My character is rather peculiar. I’m not like other people. I don’t want what others like, but I want what others don’t like.
The eight virtues of filiality, fraternity, loyalty, trustworthiness, propriety, righteousness, incorruptibility, and a sense of shame, which the Master has been promoting, have long been buried under the competition of modern science and technology, discarded in the flood of the five desires and the dust of history. However, the Master, with unsurpassed wisdom and virtuous courage, has been righteously and single-mindedly reviving the teachings of the sages amidst the life-and-death crisis of education. He demonstrates the spirit of great courage that never flows along with the defiled current of the world. It’s also the manifestation of his spirit of “picking up what others discard and giving others what they desire.”
Words, silence, movement, and stillness are all the Master’s compassionate and traceless teaching. Therefore, if asked what the methods and principles of the Master’s teaching are, one can either spend a few days and nights and still not give a clear explanation; or one can openly and innocently present the Master’s true words, which contain endless wonderful principles: “Be selfless!” Only by being selfless can one be proper and unbiased, public-spirited and unselfish, and understand the profound spirit of the Master’s words,
All people are my teachers, and I am the teacher of all people.
I always teach myself; I am my own teacher.
Isn’t this the ultimate ideal of education? Only under this great principle of selflessness can one be truly replete with and perfect the spirit of respecting teachers and the Way, being respectful and humbly yielding, honest and frugal, and kind-hearted and modest. That’s also why the Master is able to walk behind all people, to credit other people with merit and take their faults upon himself, to work hard and appear as if he has done nothing, to spare neither blood nor sweat and never pause to rest, to “offer up his body and mind to the myriad Buddhalands and thus endeavor to repay the Buddha’s boundless grace,” to bow to tiny ants and mosquitoes, to help living beings realize the Way by whatever method they prefer, and to cause arrogant disciples to feel ashamed when he says,
It’s my fault. I didn’t teach them well.
It’s said that the flavor of the great ocean can be tasted in a single drop of its water. Why don’t we follow this pulse and make it the provisions for following the motto: “In one’s plan for a hundred-year lifetime, one must aspire to join the ranks of the sages.”
Education is without beginning or end. There are no beginnings of semesters, no holidays, and no graduations.
Wherever you are, that place is a school. There’s not a single location that is not a place of learning; and there is not a single moment that is not the time for learning.
These plain, direct words are so simple that everyone can understand them. And everyone should throw himself, body and mind, into this kind of live education and become a part of it. The Master used an analogy of grasses and big trees to illustrate the fact that only with a foundation of cultivation can we nurture capable people. The Master said that grasses sprout in the spring and die in the winter. Though they sprout again the following spring, they are still grass and cannot undertake major tasks. In the same way, people who don’t cultivate, who are transmigrating around and around in the six paths, cannot build a pure, clean foundation for their souls. On the other hand, for people who work hard in cultivation, although their illusory bodies die, unlike the grasses their growth potential still exists. Each spring, new shoots indicate further growth, and they will eventually become useful material. When the Master teaches disciples and exhorts students, he is helping them to purify their minds and to apply effort so that they can become useful material and advance toward the bright future for the sake of mankind and all living beings.
Wherever you are, that place is a school. There is not a single location that is not a place of learning; and there is not a single moment that is not the time for learning.
Let us recall the lecture that the Master delivered at the United Nations Education, Science, and Culture Organization (UNESCO) in Paris in 1990.
The basis of education should be teaching children not to fight, not to be greedy, not to seek, not to be selfish, not to want personal advantage, and not to lie; they should also be taught not to drink, take drugs, or be promiscuous. If this can actually be done, then there is hope for reviving education...In fact, the most thorough and fundamental national defense is education. If education is not done well, then whatever national defense you have is useless...This group of ours is a group that goes everywhere to propagate the education of the Buddhadharma. The education of the Buddhadharma is an education that saves people’s inherent natures, rescues their souls, and also saves their lives. We go around giving clarion calls to wake people up and urge them to reform education, to pull our next generation back from the brink of death, and to avert the danger of the extinction of humanity and of the nations of the world.
Just as Confucius traveled among the feudal states of ancient China employing the elixir of humaneness, justice, virtue, propriety, righteousness, incorruptibility, and a sense of shame and thus saving China from extinction for thousands of years, the Master says:
Now I want to travel among all nations with these eight virtues of filiality, fraternity, loyalty, trustworthiness, propriety, righteousness, incorruptibility, and a sense of shame, using this elixir to save the souls, lives, and inherent natures of all young people throughout the world.