今天是「浴佛節」，有許多蓮友說他們是DRBE（Dharma Realm Buddhist Elderly）是老青，不是DRBY（Dharma Realm Buddhist Youth）。不管是DRBY或DRBE，我們都可以把今天，特別是今天當做我們新生命旅程的開始，就像我們早上浴佛浴心淨一樣。佛，其實不須要我們浴的，這是藉「事」來表「法」，最主要是我們要洗滌我們自己的身心，重新做人。我們也願意改過自新，願意去面對自己的習氣，這就是一種「青年」的現象，這是一種「青年」的特質。
In the last few years, Dharma Realm Buddhist Books Distribution Society (DRBBDS)’s Cherishing Youth Day has been happening on the day of the Buddha’s birthday. Both become more meaningful because they bring out the best in one another. Shakyamuni Buddha’s birthday represents the start of a brand new life. The birth of the Buddha though, was not merely the birth of Shakyamuni Buddha, but the beginning of a new life for all of humanity and living beings.
Before the Buddha was born, living beings didn’t understand the principles that are true. Like people mired in the dark, they could not tell clearly the real meaning and worth of life. When the Buddha appeared in the world, he opened up a new beginning for living beings by bringing us compassion, telling us true principles, and telling us how to unleash our life’s potential. The birth of the Buddha could be considered the birth of all beings from out of the Buddha nature; compassion, wisdom, and light also simultaneously enter this world.
Cherishing Youth Day. Youth symbolizes an opportunity to soar. One characteristic to being young is that young people are like sponges; they continually absorb and pick up things around them because they are full of longing. This is the time to nurture and educate them so that they can be led down the right path. One sutra says, “All beings die because they take poisons and become born because they take sweets.” When we eat excellent vegetarian dishes like we did at noon today, we’ll all be healthy in body and mind; but if we eat something toxic or poorly suited to our constitution, we’ll get sick.
Young lives require many conditions and foods to nurture them. The food must be healthy. In this day and age, many people talk about eating health food. Similarly, we should also provide the younger generation with something healthy, something that is meaningful and valuable to their bodies and minds. This way, young people can lead a healthy and happy life with compassion and wisdom, meaning and worth.
I haven’t been back to Taiwan for nearly two years now. Coming back this time, I feel that DRBBDS’s children’s classes and DRBY have all improved and not only in a superficial sense. I feel that they’re gradually taking root. For instance, the children’s loud, clear recitations in the Reading Class, their parents’ enthusiasm, and the children’s heartfelt joy for learning are all excellent. Before the meal concluded, I passed by the stairs and noticed that they were filled with kids and their parents sitting there. The facilities of the DRBBDS are becoming too small. If the conditions allow, we hope to find another place in Taipei for everyone. If we can find a location in a natural setting, it will be excellent for the kids as they learn and soak up what’s in that environment. It will be delightful to see kids grow up in an excellent setting.
An adage says, “go down to take root and go up to bear fruit.” Cherishing youth means paying special attention to children’s education. In a time when the media industry is so developed, both adults and kids absorb a lot of unwholesome things. Given that, how do we select a good educational environment for children? How do we plant good seeds for our children? We’ll need everyone’s hard work here!
With regard to DRBY, I find these young people more and more adorable. I remember one year when I was back, DRBY youths asked, “Why are we told to do so many activities?” I believe their attitude in studying Buddhism was different from the present one. The decorations at this assembly was done by DRBY, for example. Some people were busy working until late last night. As they give, they grow. I feel that DRBY is gradually becoming more integrated. We’re very pleased to have new blood pouring in; this is a step towards the bright future of Buddhism.
Today is Shakyamuni Buddha’s birthday. Many Lotus Friends (people who practice the Pureland practice) call themselves DRBE (Dharma Realm Buddhist Elderly). They’re old people not DRBY, young people. Be it DRBY or DRBE, today, and particularly today, should be treated as the start of a journey in our new life as we bathed the Buddha and bathed our minds clean this morning. The Buddha actually doesn’t need to be bathed by us, but this activity symbolizes a teaching. It is most important that we cleanse our bodies and minds, and start anew. Being willing to change ourselves and start afresh, and being willing to face our habits are signs of youth, qualities particular to youth.
Real youth is not in looks, but in whether we maintain an enterprising heart and wish to better ourselves. We will not have betrayed our purpose in bathing the Buddha if we are willing to remind ourselves every day with these words which were carved on the bathtub of Emperor Tang of Shang Dynasty: “If we can really renew ourselves, we can renew ourselves every day and renew ourselves day after day,” hence creating a new outlook on our lives.
Furthermore, with so many people here celebrating Cherishing Youth Day, we are also letting that precious and young Bodhi—be it seeds, sprouts, or trees of Bodhi—develop and become strong over time.