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 participants.
Upasika Ho, Chiu-Lan (Los Angeles, USA):
I had the opportunity to participate in the Buddhist Youth Conference in late May this year. I was glad to do so because although I don't belong to this generation of youth with regard to age, I still want to know how young people born or raised in this country think.
The sight of these students reminds me of the sun around eight or nine o'clock in the morning. They were able to encounter and learn about the Buddhadharma as well as receive the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua's teachings early on. They are a fortunate group, having grown up in a pristine environment without much pollution or distraction. They have also laid down a direction for themselves for the future as they travel the path of life. I can't help but envy them for having sown the seeds of goodness in previous lifetimes.
If I were to compare my own youth to this generation, I would find that we lived in two different worlds and two national settings. This generation receives comprehensive higher education. They are full of ideals and have many opportunities to choose from during their college years.
Due to other business, I was unable to participate in the discussions for long. However, my thoughts and focus remained with the meeting. I perceived the care, attention, and expectations that were directed towards these young people. We of the older generation should give these young people more assistance and support, encouraging them to carry out projects and use their inherent wisdom and capabilities in serving others. At the same time, we should be there to back them up, contributing our own efforts as much as we can.
Upasika Hsieh, Su-Chen (Los Angeles, USA):
The youth in attendance at this meeting made a strong impression on people. They could have gone elsewhere to enjoy their long weekend, but they chose to come to the City of the Dharma Realm to participate in this meeting. I believe they must have planted these good roots in the past. The no-nonsense attitude of the Dharma Masters in leading and organizing this conference was also moving. Although this was only the Focus on Education second meeting, an ancient saying goes, "The thousand-mile journey begins with the first step." Although the Dharma Realm Buddhist Youth Association has taken its first stride, it still has a long way to go. The hard work necessary to reach the final destination will be worth it though.
Chen, Shu-Fen (parent):
I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to participate in the Second Annual Dharma Realm Buddhist Youth Conference here at the City of the Dharma Realm, along with my two sons, niece and nephew, husband, and brother-in-law.
My children, niece and nephew are secondary school students whose current goals are simply to study well and be admitted into a good university. Hence, they aren't interested in investigating the meaning of life yet. Although they did not participate in the entire Dharma Realm Buddhist Youth Conference, they attended a few workshops. At least when they become adults or encounter problems in life, they will not be resentful, blame others, or become depressed or apathetic. Rather, they will use the Buddhadharma to resolve and change the situation. As a result, they will not walk down the path to self-destruction. Their future will be full of hope and optimism. Of course, this will only happen if they stay in contact with the Triple Jewel of the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha in the future.
During lunch on the second day, I heard each young person's express him or herself sincerely. I was very glad to see that they had gained something. I believe that each young person is a seed that will sprout and grow, blossom and bear fruit, and in turn influence their peers and rectify the current trends.
The contemporary culture is rotten at its core. To possess in-depth knowledge alone without the foundation of moral character and virtue will not benefit society. In fact, that will only lead to criminal behavior that endangers society. Therefore, I am grateful to the Dharma Masters for honoring the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua's teachings by taking time out of their busy schedules to organize the Dharma Realm Buddhist Youth Association. This association has a vast and profound purpose, that of revitalizing the current age and rectifying current trends. May "The Buddhist Youth Conference" be known and attended by more people. It will be the blessings of youth that this annual event continues.
Chen You-Yuan (11th grader):
I am grateful to the Dharma Masters who worked so hard to organize this Dharma Realm Buddhist Youth Conference for us young people, leaders of the future. I learned a lot and hope to understand more about the Buddhadharma in the future.
Chen Yi-An (7th grader):
When I grow up, I want to be just like these model big brothers and big sisters. I will draw near the Triple Jewel and help all people.