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Dharma Realm Buddhist Youth Conference (continued)

比丘尼恒貴 講於萬佛城大殿2000年7月 11日晚 By Bhikshuni Heng Gwei at the Buddha Hall, CTTB on the evening of July 11, 2000
比丘尼恆奘 英譯 English translation by Bhikshuni Heng Jhuang

剛才提到的那位十三歲小男生,他父母是上人的弟子,也是金聖寺護法居士。小男生原是基督徒,但是每星期父母要到金聖寺,不會開車送他到教堂。開始時他當然老大不願意,但也沒瓣法。一次,他跟著大家跪在大殿念大悲咒,回家時媽媽對他說:「你今天很乖,沒有亂動。這樣就對了。」他心想:「噢!原來這麼容易就是乖了。好吧!」他於是每次去金聖寺就這麼「乖」,跟著跪,跟著念,現在他也會念大悲咒了。我們問他:「哎Johnny!等你十六歲,有駕駛執照可以開車時,不必媽媽送,你會不會自己去教堂呢?」小男生笑得很天真,說:「不會!我好不容易才把我腦子從基督教變成佛教,現在又要我再把佛教轉變為基督教,太麻煩了!就讓它繼續佛教,省事多了!」「你現在還和你的基督教朋友聯絡嗎?」他又天真地笑著說:「有呀!但他們都說我迷信,崇拜偶像,但是我反駁他們說,『你們才是迷信!我的佛像,還是一個人的樣子;你們那個十字架,只是一片木頭,a 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 out well.

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