I was born in a rural area and received little schooling, so I don’t know very much. That’s why I want to gather everyone together, so that we can “canvass many opinions and benefit from them.” Let’s use everyone’s wisdom in discussing the issues. If you have an opinion, please bring it up. We’ll take it into consideration in our effort to improve education.
After I left the home-life, I found that the state of Buddhism was deteriorating day by day, and I wanted to do something about that. I also felt that education was deteriorating day by day, and hoped to bring about some improvements in that area. I resolved to put my efforts into doing something beneficial for others. Consequently, I have established Dharma Realm Buddhist University, Developing Virtue Secondary School, and Instilling Goodness Elementary School at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. And to fulfill my resolve, I have declared these schools to be tuition-free.
Why have I done this? Is it because I’m hoping to get famous, or because I want to do something different? No. My intention is to change the idea that schools should be run like businesses; I hope to reform the attitude of people who regard education as a profit-making venture, and help them see that the true purpose of education is to help students become good people by developing their talents and potentials. Although the idea that schools are businesses is deeply ingrained and cannot be changed overnight, I hope everyone will join in this endeavor and gradually influence profit-seeking educators to examine their consciences and realize the sacred nature of education and the joy of being able to teach the nation’s young generation of budding talents. If such deluded educators continue putting students’ futures at stake in order to make a few stinking dollars, their offense will truly be unpardonable and they will be plagued by eternal regrets. We should realize that money is superfluous. We didn’t bring it with us when we were born, and we can’t take it along when we die. As it’s said, “You can’t take anything along (at death) except your karma, which follows you wherever you go.” The karma we created in our life will follow us down to the hells, where we will undergo uninterrupted suffering. At that time, our regrets mean nothing!
The Commencement Exercises of Dharma Realm Buddhist University will be held on May 27, 1984. Diplomas shall be awarded to students who have completed their course of study and who have demonstrated excellence of character and scholarship. Generally, university graduates wear square black caps. This style of cap is worn whether one is receiving a Bachelor’s, a Master’s, or a Doctoral degree, and it is recognized the world over.
The caps worn by the graduates of Dharma Realm Buddhist University, however, will have an improvement: There will be square caps for Bachelors, pentagonal caps for Masters, and hexagonal caps for Doctorates. Why is this? The shape of each cap has its own significance. The square represents that all people within the four seas are brothers; it also signifies the four quarters, or the four unlimited aspects of mind (kindness, , joy, and giving). The pentagon symbolizes the five elements of metal, wood, water, fire, and earth; the five basic precepts (not to kill, not to steal, not to engage in sexual misconduct, not to lie, and not to take intoxicants); or the five continents of Europe, Asia, Africa, America, and Australia. The hexagon represents the six perfections of giving, morality, patience, vigor, concentration, and wisdom; the six directions of east, south, west, north, above, and below; or the six arts of rites, music, archery, charioteering, calligraphy, and mathematics. These are my opinions. I hope you will bring up yours so that we can discuss them and come to a decision.
Someone says, “The graduates of all other universities wear square caps; that’s the tradition.” My point of view is that if there is something better and we don’t use it but insist on sticking to the old way, then we’re just being stubborn, or you might say, stupid.
In the West, I have yet to meet a graduate of a genuine Buddhist university. Buddhism has just begun here. It doesn’t have a fixed system yet. Dharma Realm Buddhist University pervades all of space throughout the Dharma Realm; it is boundlessly vast. Although very few people know about it at the present time, in the future many people will take our university system as their model. So I suggest that the lay graduates wear black caps while monastic graduates wear yellow ones. I don’t know if there is any value in this suggestion.
A talk given on April 20, 1984