Today the students came to the podium and spoke about their impressions and feelings regarding their studies and other activities. Their speeches, though brief, were quite interesting. At such a young age, they already know that telling lies is a form of dishonesty. If they cheat others, others will cheat them in turn: This is the law of cause and effect.
I'm very happy that some of the students can recite from memory the “Chapter on the Great Commonwealth of Peace and Prosperity” from the Book of Rites. I hope that every student, whether he or she is Chinese, American, Vietnamese, Cambodian, or Laotian, will memorize the “Chapter on Great Unity.” You should be able to recite it in Chinese as well as English. And teachers, remember, you should teach them to read and speak Chinese.
Today I want to announce that any of the refugee children who wish to stay at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas and attend school here may do so free of charge, as long as they are mature enough to live independently. Parents can work outside the City while their children attend school at the City. This is a very rare opportunity.
Your school years are a “golden age,” because you have a very strong memory at this time. If you memorize your lessons, you will never forget them. You should seek knowledge with great zeal. Don't fool around and waste precious time. The ancients said,
An instant of time is worth
an ounce of gold,
But an ounce of gold can't buy
an instant of time.
Keep these words in mind. If you don't study hard, you won't have a bright future. In school, you should not only acquire knowledge and skills, but also learn how to be good people. How can you be good? You must learn not to have a temper, not to argue with your classmates, and not to be greedy. Then you will be good students. People in the world are greedy and seek after things. Affliction arises from greed. Don't seek unreasonable things. Don't be greedy to hit the jackpot; don't crave blessings that aren't meant to be yours. Don't be selfish and seek personal gain. Take the Six Principles of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas as your guidelines. Then you will help the society be peaceful, instead of causing disorder.
I hope you will all learn to be righteous and virtuous people. You should be bright and true in all you do. Be outstanding people. Don't learn the ways of tramps and bums, lazy gluttons who stir up trouble and disturb the peace wherever they go. Even less should you act like hippies. Don't take drugs or drink alcohol. Instead, you should acquire broad knowledge and excel in virtue as well as scholarship. In the schools of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, you have the opportunity to learn English, Chinese, and many other languages. You should take advantage of this special opportunity. Study hard and use your time well.
Every Friday afternoon, students can come up to the podium to practice speaking in public. Don't be nervous. Let your voice carry, and speak as if you mean what you say. Your speech should make sense. After some practice, you will naturally become an articulate and well-respected speaker. You have the chance to practice speaking now, so that in the future, you will be able to explain the principles so eloquently that your listeners become spellbound. Then you will be able to propagate the Dharma. This is a very special opportunity, and I hope you won't disappoint me. The ancients said,
Only through diligent study can one find
a path through the mountains of books.
Only with strenuous effort can one sail
the shoreless ocean of learning.
If you can study hard with that kind of spirit, you will surely make great contributions to the country in the future.
A talk given on September 23, 1983