Fellow students, I am very glad to meet
all of you today. You are all young people of achievement.
However, in order to be a person of achievement you must have
some achievement. If you are indolent, disrespectful to your
teachers and the Way, and fail to create virtue and study hard,
then your achievement is no achievement at all. On the other
hand, if you can respect your teachers and the Way, and strive
to progress in your studies, you will have a promising future.
Then you can set a good example for all families and become
leaders of nations and influential people in the world.
Do you want to set a good example for all families and
become leaders of nations and of the world? Now let me tell you how to do it:
First of all you must be filial to your parents at home. When they call you, you
should respond immediately and not take your time answering. When they ask you
to do something, you shouldn't be upset or lazy. When they admonish you and tell
you to study hard, you should finish doing your homework before you go out to
play. Don't just goof off or spend the whole day watching television, neglecting
your school work. When you do something wrong, you should accept their
punishment obediently. As a child and a student, that is the very least that
you should do. A person's moral foundation is developed within the family.
Next, you should bring this spirit of filiality to school
and be respectful to your teachers. Do not feign compliance. Do not cheat on
tests. Be an honest student now and a loyal citizen when you grow up. Never look
down on your teachers. They use all their energy to cultivate you young shoots,
to make you thrive and grow, to make your trunk strong and branches thick so
that your future will be promising. You should never fight with or bully your
The demoralization of society is now very extreme. Some
elementary, secondary, and college students are already fighting their teachers.
Such unscrupulous conduct is worse than that of animals. You all must have
wholesome roots that enable you to come to this monastery and have such good
teachers instruct you. You should cherish this opportunity and not waste
Remember that your future goal is to help society, not to
make money or get a high position. First of all, you should build a good
foundation of virtue. The ancients studied for the purpose of understanding
principles. Nowadays people study for the purpose of obtaining fame and benefit.
Understanding principles involves studying how to govern a country, how to
influence the world to change its unwholesome customs and habits, and how to
carry out genuine and worthwhile endeavors. In life, you shouldn't be concerned
with just your own enjoyment. You shouldn't think: "I want to be a physician,
because they make a lot of money!" Such thoughts of fame and profit are petty
If you establish a good foundation of virtue, then fame
and benefit are hardly an issue. You'll be influential people who will achieve
great things in the world. Now is your golden age. Don't let it pass by in vain,
or you will regret it later. It is said,
Truthful words jar the ear,
But help one to act wisely.
Good medicine is bitter to the taste,
But cures the sickness.
Whether or not you care to listen, I have tried my best.
A talk given on November 1983, at Gold Wheel
Sagely Monastery, Los Angeles