Everyone is greedy—greedy for wealth, sex, fame, food and sleep. We are insatiable and there's no end to our greed. When we see pretty colors and forms, hear pleasant music, smell the aroma of good food, and so forth, we become obsessed by a mad pursuit of these things. For the sake of momentary pleasures, we do things that we may regret for the rest of our lives. How pitiful! The ancients said, "By being content, one is always happy. By being patient, one is naturally at ease." How true this is!
Young friends! When it's time to study, study diligently; when it's time to play, put down everything else and play. Your mental and physical development should be balanced; don't stress one and neglect the other. A Buddhist principle says, “What does not go to the two extremes of emptiness and existence is known as the Middle Way.” You should follow the Middle Way. Do everything just right; don't go too far, and don't come up short.
When you are studying, don't think, “I'm studying because I want to make money and enjoy myself.” If you think that way, you are renouncing the fundamental to pursue the trivial, and forsaking what is near to seek far away. You are forgetting the foundation of being a person. You are forgetting how to be filial to your parents, how to respect your teachers and elders, how to develop integrity, and how to be a good person.
Our ceaseless desires have caused the world to go bad. If everyone can refrain from fighting, being greedy, seeking, being selfish, pursuing personal gain, and telling lies, then the world's suffering and afflictions will disappear.
Fellow students! If you can take the Six Great Principles of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas as your goals for living in this world, and you can deeply understand and absorb them, you will be different from ordinary worldly people. If you neither contend for fame nor try to usurp profit, you won't experience any affliction or suffering.
In the future, you must take on the responsibility of reforming society's tendencies, and transform this evil world into a good one. You must use the five virtues of humaneness, righteous-ness, propriety, wisdom, and faith to build a new world. This is called “establishing heaven and earth.”
A talk given on October 16, 1983