Gratitude and Blessings
By Bhikshu Heng Lyu, Former Principal of Boys Division,
Abbot of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas
How time flies! It is already the 30th anniversary of Instilling Goodness Elementary School. I would like to express my deepest gratitude toward the Venerable Master Hua for founding this pure educational environment. The hardship and difficulties that he had to overcome are inconceivable and hard to describe. His efforts created a pure and safe place for good and diligent students to focus on strengthening their grounding in virtue, academic excellence, physical fitness, and good social skills (i.e., the four aspects of Chinese education). These students are preparing to lead our society, countries, and even the entire world, toward a bright and harmonious future.
At the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB), everyone takes care and supports the school as their own family and treats the students as their own children. The schools’ success is CTTB’s honor. Confucius said, “At the age of 30, I could stand on my own two feet.” When we reach our 30s, our physical and mental abilities are at their peak condition, so this period is referred to as the “Golden Era.” Likewise, after 30 years of hard work, the Developing Virtue Secondary School and Instilling Goodness Elementary School have also reached a milestone. In addition to selfless contributions by volunteer teachers, our schools’ curriculum and course requirements are notably different from ordinary public schools.
For example, other than the general subjects required by the State of California Department of Education, we offer bilingual education in Chinese and English, and emphasize courses on Buddhist studies, meditation, morality, community service, and in other related areas. These classes help the students develop their character and concentration. In addition, boys and girls are educated separately in both the elementary and secondary schools, and they are required to wear a uniform. This way, the students can concentrate on their studies without distractions. The schools provide a free vegetarian lunch and teach the students the concepts of no killing and cherishing life. Students from other cities, states and countries can stay in the dormitories, which don’t have TVs, computer games, popular music, and other things which tend to distract students. In this simple and pure environment, and under the caring supervision of dorm teachers, the students are trained to develop a sense of independence and feel the warmth of a family atmosphere at the same time.
Therefore, many graduates of the schools treasure and remember the happy time they spent at CTTB. Indeed, being grateful for what they have received, they repay the kindness of their alma mater by returning to the schools to help. For example, some return to teach full-time at the schools after finishing college or graduate school; some use their summer vacations to come back and help with the summer camps by being counselors; some take the time to participate in informal discussions with the current students, sharing their valuable experiences; some volunteer to maintain the environment at CTTB. Moreover, some alumni participate in the meditation sessions, recitation sessions, or other Dharma assemblies. By doing so, they not only relive their positive experience of their student days, they also take delight in the Dharma assemblies as they are filled with the joy of the Dharma by reciting the sacred names of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. In addition, they take a break from busy work schedules and get recharged by participating in the Chan session, and thus are able to immediately attain rare moments of tranquility. In this way, these alumni not only adorn the Bodhimanda with their presence, they also cultivate their blessings and wisdom; this is truly accomplishing two things at the same time.
Venerable Master Hua often encouraged us by saying, “elementary school should teach students to be filial to their parents, and secondary school should teach students to be good citizens. When the children grow older, they should be filial to their parents and also be filial to the Triple Jewel. Students should learn the eight virtues of filiality, fraternity, loyalty, trustworthiness, propriety, righteousness, incorruptibility, and a sense of shame. The Six Guiding Principles of CTTB are no contention, no greed, no seeking, no selfishness, no seeking personal advantage, and no lying. If everyone can follow these principles, then there will be peace in this world!” These are the instructions that we respectfully follow in our daily lives. Regardless of who we are – members of the Sangha, laity, teachers, or students, all of us are constantly mindful of these principles and reflect on whether we are indeed abiding by them. What is most important is for us to be mindful of our every thought; we should maintain proper thoughts at all time so that our actions and deportment will be in accord with the Middle Way. As it is said, “Buddhadharma is not apart from worldly dharma; when one can be a good person to the ultimate point, one realizes Buddhahood.” When students in elementary school know and show filial respect to their parents and become good citizens as they grow older, once they enter the society they will protect, support, and contribute to the Triple Jewel, propagate the Dharma, benefit all living beings, carry out the Buddha’s work, and cause the proper Dharma to flourish in the world. It would be even more outstanding, if the students not only ferry themselves and others across to the other shore of liberation, but to also help others to attain true wisdom amidst the suffering of birth and death, to transcend the Triple Realms, and to realize Buddhahood.
As we celebrate the 30 th anniversary of the schools, in addition to cherishing the causes of blessings, virtues and goodness that brought all of us here at CTTB, I would like to reverently offer my most sincere blessings:
May there be world peace and favorable weather conditions for raising the crops, and may the nation be prosperous and its people living in peace and happiness.
May the principals, teachers, and parents be well in both their bodies and minds.
May the young students have lofty goals and succeed in their great undertakings.
Finally, I would like to express my boundless gratitude toward Venerable Master Hua for his compassion, the principals for their wise leadership, every teacher for their patient instruction and guidance, all inhabitants of CTTB and the parents for their enthusiastic participation, the student body for their cooperation, and the alumni for their active support and assistance. I believe that the schools will continue to flourish and develop and benefit the entire Dharma Realm.