The Flower Adornment Sutra is the king among kings of Sutras, and has won the highest esteem and reputation in the history of China. The title of this Sutra, Flower Adornment, means to adorn the Dharma realm with pure lotuses, to help all living beings abide on the Buddha Path by means of the Bodhisattvas' practices, which are as pure as lotuses, and to have all living beings attain the ultimately adorned Buddhahood together through the purification of their bodies and minds. The Worthy Leader Chapter is a very important chapter in this Sutra, in which the completed path of Bodhisattva's cultivation is illustrated. On the bringing forth of the Bodhi mind, there is a section saying:
He doesn't seek the five desires or even the king's throne,
Nor does he want abundant wealth, personal pleasures, or a great reputation,
But only for the sake of forever eradicating the suffering of living beings and benefiting the world does he bring forth the resolve for Bodhi.
This describes how a Bodhisattva brings forth the resolve out of compassion. The Bodhisattva path emphasizes the benefiting of all living beings. The vows, practices, and objects of mindfulness of the Bodhisattvas, who are motivated by compassion, are extremely vast and profound. In this respect, we may notice the remarkable distinction between the Great and Small Vehicles especially if we consider the Four Foundations of Mindfulness taken in a narrow sense, which is the central Dharma door of the Small Vehicle. In terms of the moral education of students, I'd like to discuss why a limited scope of mindfulness detracts from the conduct of benefiting living beings.
Some parents don't care about anything except their children getting good grades in school. They have little interest in the overall balance of their children's thoughts, feelings, and will. They believe that family education can be carried out by pursuing the maximization of a single factor. In some cases this has gone to such an extreme that the quality of food for dinner is determined solely by how well their children score on exams. Such prejudices impede parents' ability to understand their children's physical and psychological development. Effective communication between parents and children breaks down when children are under great pressure to do well in school and cannot live up to their parents' expectations. When this problem builds up to a certain level, it results in the so-called "generation gap." Consequently, parents "lose" their children, which is a serious loss to the family and has a profound and far-reaching impact on the children.
Some parents are wiser and truly wish to understand the overall situation of their children. Every day they take time out to patiently listen to their children talk about their school day. For example, "So-and-so quarreled with So-and-so again. Our teachers criticized So-and-so today. The parents of So-and-so got divorced and his Dad said that his Mom is a bad person. Is it true?" On the one hand, such conversations provide parents with golden opportunities to teach their kids. On the other hand, parents can collect enough information to obtain a more complete picture of their children's thoughts, feelings, and daily life. Because their love has been transformed into practical action and enough time has been invested, it becomes possible for them to fully understand the true meaning of each event in the life of their children. Therefore, they naturally know how to deal with them in a reasonable way.
Next, I'd like to discuss this from the point of view of teachers. Why is it not enough to be compassionate to a few living beings? Why must one expand one's compassion to many living beings?
Taking a different point of view from that of parents, teachers care for their students as a team. To each of the students and teachers, other teachers and students are part of the background of his view of self. If we investigate carefully, we will be surprised to find that different people often have very different views of the same situation. However, many people assume that there is only one reasonable view on a matter—his own point of view. In addition to this, intuition plays a significant role in students' thought patterns. All of the above factors suggest the importance of systematic understanding and investigation of the physio-psychological condition of students and teachers.
To be continued
About the author: Dr. Qingnan Wang was born in Beijing. He graduated from Beijing University in 1985 majoring in Physics. In 1986 he received his Master's degree from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Theoretical Solid State Physics. From 1989 to 1994, he studied nonlinear optics in semiconductor materials at Purdue University and received his Ph.D. there. From 1995 to the fall of 1997, before he came to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas to be a volunteer teacher, he worked at Hampton University in Virginia as a postdoctoral fellow in nonlinear optics.