Editor's Note: On May 7, 2000, the Dharma Realm Buddhist
Association organized the second annual Buddhist Youth
Conference at the City of the Dharma Realm in West Sacramento to
celebrate Cherishing Youth Day. Bhikshunis Heng Gwei Shr and
Heng Shr Shr hosted the event, which was attended by more than
fifty young people. Below are some reflections from
Faye Chen (Los Angeles, USA):
The experience of participating in the Second Annual Buddhist
Youth Conference organized by the City of the Dharma Realm was a
valuable one for me. Although I didn't have an opportunity to
participate in every activity during those two days, I found the
youth in attendance to be full of enthusiasm, talent, eloquence,
and fluency in both English and Chinese. With these outstanding
young people at the helms of propagating the Buddhadharma in
nations of the West, I feel there is nothing to fear as far as
our hope for the growth of traditional Buddhism.
The Venerable Master Hsuan Hua had proposed that we form a
Buddhist Youth Association. In his instructions to young people
thirty years ago, he mentioned, "A Buddhist Youth Association
should be established within Buddhism. The Buddhist Youth
Association will ensure that young people walk down the proper
path rather than the improper path. What is the proper path? The
path of being filial to one's parents."
The Venerable Master emphasized filial respect in children's
education. Filial respect is characteristic of Chinese culture.
To bring the Confucian ethical concepts, such as filial respect,
fraternal respect, loyalty, trustworthiness, propriety,
righteousness, incorruptibility, and a sense of shame, to the
United States will help the youth. Youngsters will develop in a
healthy manner, cultivate the right type of energy, know how to
interact with the world and establish their careers, nurture a
wholesome quality, have a proper outlook on life, and so on.
Filial respect is particularly important. If one is not filial
to one's parents, how can one appreciate the Triple Jewel?
Without the kindheartedness needed to be filial to one's
parents, how can one save living beings based on kind
intentions? The Buddha stated in a Sutra, "If one does not show
gratitude to one's parents, one will not penetrate or
experience the truth of the Buddhadharma." Those learning about
Buddhism must begin with filiality as their foundation and root.
If they have not even learned filial respect well, how can they
teach others to believe in Buddhism? How can they hope to become
Buddhas if they have not cultivated well themselves?
This Dharma Realm Buddhist Youth Conference organized numerous
discussions, providing opportunities for young people to express
their thoughts and views on Buddhism. Most of their opinions
were very constructive; but these words will only be effective
if they are followed up with action. The Buddhadharma focuses on
both theory and practice. Theory without application is hollow
and utterly valueless. I believe that if we can complement each
discussion session with the Venerable Master's instructions on
that subject, not only will we be able to review the Venerable
Master words of wisdom and remember his guidance well, but these
young people who are learning will benefit.
Although the Dharma Realm Buddhist Youth (DRBY) association has
only been established for a couple of years, it has already
attracted the participation of these college students. This is
an excellent beginning. I hope that next time we will see more
diversity in the ethnicity, gender, age, and faith of the
attendees. Buddhism is a religion of egalitarianism, liberation
and wisdom. Its most outstanding feature is that those who do
not cultivate or have no faith will discover their inherent
wisdom once they encounter the Buddhadharma. Their thinking will
expand and deepen, their horizons will be especially lofty, and
their open-mindedness will be extraordinary. Therefore, each
person should cultivate and learn to emulate the Buddha. In
other words, everyone can become a Buddha.
I sincerely hope that young people will be able to truly
propagate Buddhism so that it flourishes and shines as the
Venerable Master had wanted.
To be continued