Dharma Masters and good advisors: Last Saturday some alumni
of Developing Virtue School returned to talk about the formation
of the group, Dharma Realm Buddhist Youth (DRBY). I had hoped
they would talk about this themselves, but they had too little
time to explain the origin of the DRBY.
I feel a personal responsibility to give everyone a report. DRBY
belongs not to any particular individual, but to everyone in the
Dharma Realm Buddhist Association. It wasn't that any of us had
the wisdom and foresight to form DRBY. Rather, the Venerable
Master Hsuan Hua instructed us to do this more than two decades
ago. When I heard the Venerable Master's tape concerning this, I
thought that as Master's disciples, we should carry out our
teacher's instructions to the best of our abilities. That is the
origin of the DRBY.
Everyone knows that the Venerable Master served as a volunteer
teacher while in Manchuria, teaching several dozen impoverished
students. He also practiced filial piety, and everyone referred
to him as Filial Son Bai. The Venerable Master lived by these
principles throughout his entire life, including in Hong Kong
and many other places. The Venerable Master continuously
provided opportunities and money to help disciples, such as when
his disciples wished to receive an education but had no money.
The Venerable Master had an account in Hong Kong set up
especially for his elder disciples. This account still exists.
When the Venerable Master left Hong Kong, he said that if his
aging disciples were in need of money due to illness or death,
they could draw from that account.
How did the Venerable Master assist young people? I know these
things because every year during the spring and summer breaks I
used to return to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Each time,
the Venerable Master would give me many sutras to take back.
Once, the Venerable Master gave me a bag of money. I didn't
know how much money the bag contained, or whom it was for.
Later, the Venerable Master told me to deliver that bag of money
to a young man in Vancouver. He had been one of the ten
outstanding young adults in Taiwan, but was experiencing some
difficulty at the time. The Venerable Master helped numerous
people from behind the scenes. Many lay people feel that they
can't use the Triple Jewel's money to support their kids'
education because it would be too much pressure for them.
Actually, to respect elders and cherish the young is one of the
Venerable Master's vows of compassion. We must nurture and
provide opportunities for youngsters while also caring for the
elderly. These are the fundamentals of being human.
It is said, "When one's humanity is perfected, Buddhahood will
be realized." The Venerable Master served as a role model for
us, teaching us to pay attention to the basics. That is why
several years before his passing, the Venerable Master wanted
every Wayplace of Dharma Realm Buddhist Association to celebrate
Cherishing Youth Day in the spring and Respecting Elders Day in
the fall. Each year, many people organize activities, talent
shows, meals, and so on for this purpose. It has been this way
for several years. Last year, I wondered: Is that really the way
to respect elders and cherish the young?
Then, I heard an instructional talk given by the Venerable
Master during the Hundred-Day Chan Session that was held when
the Venerable Master and his disciples first moved to the old
Gold Mountain Monastery. The place was a little larger, so the
Venerable Master designated one of the floors as an elders'
home and a youth club. Hence, I thoughts of another way to
celebrate Cherishing Youth Day and Respecting Elders Day.
The Venerable Master devoted his entire lifetime to reorganizing
education and improving social trends. He founded Instilling
Goodness Elementary, Developing Virtue Secondary School, and
Dharma Realm Buddhist University to develop national talent.
Over the years, many students have graduated from these schools
and some are in college now. Once they leave the City of Ten
Thousand Buddhas, how do they continue to study the Buddhadharma?
They are like kites whose lines have been cut: Who could guess
in which direction they will fly? I personally believe that as
their senior, I have the responsibility to help them continue
nurturing their roots of goodness in their busy lives as
students. Therefore, on Cherishing Youth Day two years ago,
instead of the usual performances and food, some of us decided
to organize a meeting for young people and have the alumni from
the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas serve as the core of this
group. I invited them to discuss the various pressures that they
face during college and outside in general, as well as how they
manage their lives and solve their own problems; I also wanted
to ask about their needs.
The very first meeting of the DRBY took place at the City of the
Dharma Realm two years ago. The DRBY was not formally
established at that gathering. It was just a warm-up to give
people a general idea about the youth group.
This year, at the end of last month, the group took on a
rudimentary shape, bringing together enthusiasts of the DRBY
and naming some young people as officers. That was a start. I
personally believe that the youth meeting at the City of the
Dharma Realm was very successful—not in terms of the number of
attendees or the excitement, but because I noticed these young
people's insights into the Buddhadharma and the importance of a
youth group for them. I was filled with the joy of Dharma and
was reassured. [Editor's note: Heng Gwei Shi will give a
separate report on the enthusiastic support and expectations of
parents towards the establishment of DRBY, as well as their
hopes that through DRBY, their children and other young people
will gain a better understanding of the Venerable Master's
teachings and the Buddhadharma to help them in their life
During the meeting, I commented to Dr. Epstein that the idea
proposed by the Venerable Master nearly thirty years ago is
finally being realized, and that we sure move slowly. Dr.
Epstein replied that it is simply a matter of the conditions
having ripened. There was no need previously, for the
Sino-American Buddhist Association was itself a youth
organization. Most of the Venerable Master's students were in
their 20's, so we really didn't need a youth organization.
However, now that we are entering middle age and approaching old
age, there is a need for a youth group.
I also believe that the conditions have ripened, and so tonight
I wish to take ten minutes to play the tape of the Master's
instructions in this regard. If I have an opportunity in the
future, I'd like to share some of the ideas the young adults
have regarding the youth organization and the Buddhadharma.
[The Venerable Master's Taped Instructional Talk: Please see the
article "Treating Others' Elders and Others' Children as Our
Own: Instructions by the Venerable Master" on page 23]
Education is cultivation. To propagate the Buddhadharma is to
model the principles ourselves and open up a bright and wide
path. Together, we can create an elders home and a youth group.
Then the elders have a resting place and the young are nurtured.
That is how we bring peace to the world. The Venerable Master
taught us to work on the root of things, and this applies to
cultivation as well.
Some say, for example, that certain charity organizations really
help the world by providing disaster relief. Of course it is
important to provide relief for disasters, because the victims
definitely need assistance once the disaster has occurred.
However, it is even more important to prevent disasters from
happening in the first place, by working on the root of things.
That's why the Venerable Master actively promoted the trends of
honoring elders and cherishing youth as the very basis of
humanity. This is a matter that deserves our attention.