piece of wood。』」一片童稚的笑聲，他是一個很天真快樂的小佛教徒了！
Earlier I mentioned that thirteen-year-old boy whose parents are disciples of the Venerable Master and lay Dharma protectors at Gold Sage Monastery. The boy was originally a Christian, but every week his parents would go to Gold Sage Monastery and refuse to drive him to church. Of course, he was unhappy in the beginning, but there was nothing he could do. Once, he followed everyone, kneeling in the great hall to recite the Great Compassion Mantra. On the way home, his mother said, "You were very good today, you didn't move around. That's good." He thought, "Oh, so that's being good. Okay!" From then on, he was "good" every time he went to Gold Sage Monastery, kneeling and reciting along with everyone else. Now he knows how to recite the Great Compassion Mantra too. We asked him, "Johnny, when you learn to drive at age sixteen and don't need your mom to drive you, will you go to church?" The boy laughed innocently, saying, "No, I've finally turned my Christian brain into a Buddhist one, and now you want me to turn from Buddhist to Christian again? It's too much trouble! I'll just keep learning Buddhism and save some time!" "You still keep in touch with your Christian friends?" Again, he laughed innocently, "Yes, but they all say I'm superstitious, worshiping idols. I tell them, "You're the superstitious ones! I worship a Buddha statue, which is still in the shape of a person. Your cross is just a piece of wood." He's really innocent and happy young Buddhist!
The enthusiastic support of the parents came from their hopes that the Buddhist Youth Association would soon be established under the Venerable Master's guidance, and that the proper Dharma will help today's young people. Everyone knows that in this age of information when you can get lots of information at the push of a button, much of the information has a negative rather than positive influence on youngsters. That's why today's parents worry about how their children will turn out. It's not easy to be a parent in this day and age.
There was a laywoman from Los Angeles who participated in the youth conference, and who was also responsible for coordinating the laity from Los Angeles. She said that from this experience, she learned that people can change their minds very quickly. She had to make over a hundred phone calls merely to coordinate thirty-some participants, she had to make over a hundred phone calls because people kept changing their minds. At first they agreed, and then they would change. After they thought about it some more, they would decide to participate after all. Every single one of the thirty-some people changed his or her mind three or four times, so there were more than one hundred calls to make.
She also was glad about what she learned because her two daughters who originally were not Buddhist came too. When they did homework at home, they would even turn the Buddha image toward the wall. They also criticized their parents for being superstitious. They were finally persuaded to come and attend. Seeing all the young people of the same age range, education, and background, and participating in various discussions, they finally understood that Buddhism is not an old-fashioned, superstitious religion. Rather, it is rational and relevant to life, and full of wise teachings about the mind, people, and living beings.
After the conference, this mother happily said goodbye to everyone and drove her fifteen-passenger van back to Los Angeles that night. We were happy to see her full of smiles. We hope that all the parents in the world will also share the Dharma joy and happiness of this mother.
Lastly, I am grateful for the hard work of the Dharma brothers and Dharma protectors of Gold Wheel Monastery, the City of the Dharma Realm, and the Tzu Chi volunteers. They planned, cleaned up, prepared and decorated day and night. They gave their all in taking care of the myriad affairs during and after the conference. Since the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas is about to hold a Threefold Ordination, many of the novice nuns went there to attend a 108-day intensive training. With the small number of residents at the City of the Dharma Realm and the ongoing roof repair project, it has not been easy. I am very grateful for the harmonious cooperation among Dharma brothers and the Sangha.
Everyone has put in their best effort to make things turn