December 2, 1970 at Gold Mountain Monastery.
Most youth in this country are heading down the wrong path.
They think that taking drugs and being rude to their parents
is heroic. Why are they that way? It is because their
parents don't teach them well, so they feel that their
parents are the worst. If they were taught filial piety,
fraternal respect, loyalty, trustworthiness, propriety,
righteousness, incorruptibility, and a sense of shame ever
since they were young, they would not have walked down this
Therefore, we should establish a Buddhist youth group so
that these young people will turn away from those improper
paths and walk down the proper path. Which proper path? The
proper path of being filial to their parents. This Buddhist
youth group is a must. There is no reason why it cannot be
formed. In this way, young people will understand what it is
that they ought to do, and thus not let the time pass in
vain. You young adults within Buddhism should be leaders,
role models for others. I believe that in the near future, a
Buddhist youth group will definitely become a reality.
Someone will certainly organize this group. When someone
does, you must all support and help to make it successful.
Consequently, young people will walk down the proper path.
This would help the country, which in turn helps the
society-at-large, the human race, and on an even larger
scale, the entire world. Such a group would ensure that
children know what they should and should not do. This is
There are other things that we need to do. We need to think
of ways to help the aging population. Currently, the United
States government is very helpful to the elderly, giving
them money so that they don't starve to death, and providing
them with housing. This is a good thing. The government can
take care of elders. However, it only takes care of their
physical needs, and not their psychological needs. Although
they have clothes to wear, food to eat, a place to live,
they suffer a great deal of mental anguish. What kind of
anguish? They have no one who comes around to be close to
them and to attend to them. Although they have money either
from government assistance or themselves, their children
have run far away. The children may return on Christmas to
pay a visit, but only if their parents pay for their
airfare. They may even ask their folks for money. This
country considers these arrangements to be fine, but I know
that this is miserable for the elders. Elders must have
people to protect and help them. They can't eat things that
are too hard to chew; they can't wear too few layers of
clothing. They must have their children around them to
protect them so that they feel more secure psychologically.
For this reason, Buddhists must also set up a home for the
elders. What do I mean by a home for the elders? A filial
daughter or son would come and serve a group of senior
citizens every day, each trying one's best to treat the
elderly as if they were his or her parents. The elders would
be happy and comforted, which would be much better than the
way they are in their own homes. They would be joyful and
feel that they have some psychological support. That is the
most critical matter right now.
We within Buddhism must truly take care of the elderly and
the young. We should "serve others' elders as if they were
our elders." I should be filial to my own elder relatives as
well as others' elder relatives. We should "care for others'
children as if our children." I should cherish my kids as
well as others' kids. Therefore, a Buddhist youth group and
a Buddhist elders home are presently important matters. Each
of us should promote and support them. In addition, we
should set up a Buddhist academy.
There is a lot to do for Buddhism. Don't be afraid; all we
have to do is move forward one step at a time. It will be
difficult at first. However, we are pioneers. Perhaps no one
has done any of these things in this country before. You in
the West are very intelligent and capable. You should give
some thought to these matters at hand. Pay special attention
as you execute them. In this fashion, those of you who will
be parents in the future may rest assured that you will be
taken care of when you are older— unlike the unfortunate
elders in the past who have had no one to take care of them
and lived such monotonous lives. Life was meaningless to
As human beings, we ought to take care of each other. Elders
should be compassionate to young people, and young people
should be filial to elders. Filial respect is essential.
Unfilial human beings are no different than, or even worse
than, beasts. Elders should be compassionate to the
youngsters. If they lack compassion, they are comparable to
animals, in the sense that they don't know the principles of
Why do I that say people who are not filial to parents are
worse than beasts? Take a look at crows. As soon as they are
born, baby crows know to feed the older crows. Since older
crows cannot fly after they give birth to fledglings, the
baby crows have to find food for the aged crows. Crows
return to feed their elders. Baby lambs kneel to take milk.
When little lambs drink milk, they kneel with their forelegs
on the ground. Therefore, crows are filial birds and lambs
are filial animals. If birds and mammals know to repay their
parents' kindness, aren't we humans worse than beasts if we
do not repay our parents' kindness?
Some people claim, "So what if I am worse than a beast! Look
at those Americans! Wasn't it published in the newspaper a
few days ago that some people wish to be beasts, some wish
to be deer, some wish to be elephants, some wish to be
birds, and so on. They are all people, and they are all
willing to do that!"
This is not about willingness, but about their past lives.
Now that they have become humans, they feel that being human
is meaningless. These people figure they might as well go
back to their "old home," which they believe to be better.
Therefore they are willing to become beasts. Some wish to be
snakes, some wish to be cats, and some wish to be dogs. This
is because they just came from that particular path. Having
arrived at the human realm, they feel that it's such a
hassle to be humans that they might as well return to being
animals. It was better when they could just eat what is
ready-made and not work. You see, deer, snakes, mice, and
cats eat without having to prepare their meals. Even so,
it's still better to be a human than a beast. Humans are
creatures of intelligence; they are the most intelligent
among all creatures. For that reason, their actions and
behavior should differ from that of other animals.
Youngsters ought to be filial to their parents and elders
ought to be kind to their children. If you are kind, you
will want your children to be better. Wanting them to be
better, you will educate them. "To raise children but not
educate them is a fault on the part of the parents." The
parents are at fault for not teaching their children. "Just
let them develop on their own," you say. Raising children is
analogous to planting a tree. You may plant a tree, but if
you pay no attention to it afterwards, it will grow a stray
branch to the left and a stray branch to the right. It will
not be very useful with so many twigs. You should prune
every branch of the tree as it grows so that it's very
straight. That way, you have the material for upstanding
pillars that could be used for building high-risers in the
To be continued