“Preparing for Life” and “Preparing for Death”
People in all walks of life are preparing to make their own living, but how are we going to die?
No one thinks about this question. So I say nobody is “preparing for death.”
All young old friends and old young friends, if we don't have great affinities, then we must have small affinities in order to gather here today. No one can deny this.
Why do I call you “young old friends”? I call you that because you all seem to have great resolve, and you look mature and sensible. Why did I also call you “old young friends”? It's because there are a few older people here who look very lively yet mild, who are not scheming, jealous, obstructive, or inclined to discriminate about people's rights and wrongs.
A group came from your school last year, but I don't know if you are the same group. There probably are some new people and some who have been here before, so we can say you are both new friends and old friends.
Here at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas our mission is to reform the atmosphere of education. In this world, people in all walks of life are preparing to make their own living, not preparing for their death. No one thinks at all about how we are going to die in the future. Indeed, we are living, but how are we going to die? No one thinks about this question. So I say that nobody is “preparing for death.” But at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, there are some people who are preparing for their deaths, and others who are preparing for life here.
Ordinary people make their living by doing business, by farming, by doing manual labor, by studying, by being government officials, and so forth. People choose to follow a career in one of the five major types of occupations—scholar, farmer, laborer, businessman, and official authority. Some people choose education. They, however, are making a business out of their students—“If I establish a school, how much money will I make from the students? I can make a living!” And they use any means possible to make the school well known, turning it into a “top school.” But after getting a "top school" rating, the school is demoralized. How does this happen? It's a very embarrassing situation to talk about. In many schools, people are openly selling and using drugs. Isn't this pathetic? Many illegal activities occur openly on the campuses.
Seeing this situation, we at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas decided to establish schools: a primary school to teach students how to be filial; a secondary school to teach students how to be loyal to their country; and a university to teach students the principles of loyalty, filiality, humaneness, and righteousness. This means being filial to one's parents, being loyal to one's country, and treating people humanely and righteously. These are the principles of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Also, the primary school, secondary school, and university at the City are tuition-free. I don't want to make money off the students; I don't want to make a profit out of them. This is the City's educational style. At the City, all the students at the primary school, secondary school, and university, as well as all the left-home people and laypeople, are expected to abide by the six great principles. The first principle is no fighting: if I don't fight with people, then people won't fight with me. And even if people do fight with me, I still won't fight with them. If we can be like this, then the disputes in this world will disappear. The second is not to be greedy, not to be greedy for anything. The third is no seeking. The fourth is not being selfish. The fifth is not pursuing self-benefit. And the sixth is no lying. These are the six great principles that people at the City must cultivate.
You are now visiting the City. I'm not advertising; rather I'm introducing the principles of the City to you. I hope you young people will be especially diligent in helping your country, so that the people of this nation will attain happiness. I hope we can mutually encourage each other to do this!
A talk given at noon on May 21, 1983,
at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas,
to students from the University of the Redwoods