November is the season for singing the song of farewell. We didn’t talk about how sad we were. Instead, we quickly gathered the little ones, who will be apart from us soon, for a meeting on “survival skills in the vast sea.” The meeting detailed how the students could shine, how to benefit self and others and survive in other polluted schools. “At this time, you students think that you are mature and old enough. However, once you step into grade school, you actually become the weakest ones. Let me briefly tell you the truth about how other schools are.”
“Buo-Yu Chen, if older classmates charge you money as your protection fees, would you give it to him?” “Yes!” “Why?” the teacher exclaimed in great surprise. “We should share what we have, shouldn’t we?” the five-year old answered very seriously.
“Kids, if someone slapped you for no reason, what should you do?” “I will
sayang [Malay word for “cherish”] and hug him,” five-year old Jin-Ying innocently answered it with big shining smile.
“Children, even though the teachers laughed after hearing your answers, we are deeply moved by your wholesome innocent hearts. Aren’t ‘sharing’, ‘loving’, and ‘forgiving’ what we earnestly teach you everyday? Although you didn’t play around or chase after each other, your minds were usually scattered. Yet you have managed to remember the teachings from the class.
“All of you have innocent and pure hearts and minds that never forget the six great principles: do not fight, do not be greedy, do not seek, do not be selfish, do not seek personal advantage and do not lie. However, society at the present time is sick. Even sagely schools cannot escape its influence. How can you avoid being defiled by the mud? Through precepts, samadhi and wisdom.
“I remember a story. One day, an externalist went to the Buddha and scolded him for no reason. His malicious slander made other people very uncomfortable. However, the Buddha was silent. He neither reacted nor responded with any word. Many days passed. One of the Buddha’s disciple couldn’t stand it anymore. He went and asked why. The Buddha replied, “If someone gave you a gift that you didn’t like, what would you do?” The disciple replied, “I would return the gift.” The Buddha said, “That’s right. You can refuse the unwholesome words other people ‘give’ you, and then they will return to them. In this way our minds will be kept pure.”
“Girls, you must not gossip. Don’t discuss people’s shortcomings, or compete against each other for who has better hair clips, backpacks, hairstyles, toys and so on. You should take delight in improving your own virtuous conduct, learning and physical abilities. If someone shows off in front of you, just let her be. This way, you will not lose anything and your friend will be happy as well.
“In grade school, your left-brain will undoubtfully be heavily developed and knowledge will be imported into your little brains systematically. Hence, “Diligence brings merit. Playing brings no benefit. Refrain from doing that. It would be better to urge yourselves on.”
“Okay, let’s play ‘words relay’ one more time. ‘Borrowing other people’s things, you must first ask for them.’ ‘If you do not ask, it’s considered stealing.’ This is an example of not being greedy. Very good. One more. ‘Everything must be harmonious and reasonable.’ ‘Do not merely focus on your emotions.’ Little ones, you must remember that those with good hearts should also have great wisdom in order to have the skills to differentiate between good and evil. To develop and obtain this skill will take time. It is dependent on your mind to lead your good eyes, ear, nose, tongue, body and consciousness.’
“Children, at last, I want to thank the Venerable Master who compassionately and widely advocated a virtue-based education, and the Dharma Masters who sincerely resolved to establish the school. The school has been able to create unlimited wholesome affinities with others. Offering an education with compassion, the Dharma Masters were very caring and bestowed teachings according to the situation. You have eradicated your karma by bowing to the Buddhas, reciting sutras and mantras and meditation; you have been influenced by the wisdom of the Four Books and the Five Classics written by the ancient sages and worthies. I hope that someday these seeds will sprout and your good roots will grow and blossom into wisdom flowers when the causes and conditions are ripe.
“With this, I offer you my sincere congratulations. May the Buddha bless you. Amitabha.”