Ven. Master Hua’s foresight and our aspiration from the perspective of global trends and developments in higher education
Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Ven. Master, Dharma Masters, teachers and students, good afternoon.
I am very honored to participate in the commencement exercises of Dharma Realm Buddhist University, and of the Sangha Laity Training Program. At this moment, I am filled with Dharma joy but at the same time, filled with shame, because I am not really qualitied to speak in the commencement.
I took refuge with Ven. Master Hua in the spring of 1990 when I was teaching at George Washington University. The Ven. Master taught us to be good, honest people and cultivate diligently. He wanted us to become Buddhas before he did. He once said, “I am a little ant, willing to walk beneath the feet of all Buddhists. I am a road; I hope every living being can walk on me to reach the ground of Buddhahood from the ground of ordinary people.” The Ven. Master’s 18 vows makes me deeply grateful for his compassion and the strength of his great vows. Hence, I would like to talk about the Ven. Master’s foresight and his expectations for us from the perspective of globalization trends and developments in higher education.
Globalization-oriented thinking, with its core values and corresponding educational philosophy and direction for higher education, has sparked different discussions and debates. The fact that governments in various countries have poured resources into higher education to strengthen their competitive edge has brought about a major qualitative change in higher education. Higher education is now categorized as just one more kind of competitive business on the market. Education, originally a profession of the conscience that strives to nurture students’ inherent virtues and wisdom, has now turned into an industry within the economy. This phenomenon is an issue that greatly needs the attention of concerned parties.
Take, for example, the competitive advanced MBA programs in the world’s most elite schools. These universities regard such programs as an important source of revenue and profit. Students also strive to establish their social networks via these programs. Although it is reasonable and understandable to expect an emphasis on operational strategies as well as effective and efficient action plans from the aspect of professional knowledge and expertise, virtue, humaneness, and the aim of benefiting living beings are rarely mentioned here. As a result, MBA programs have become a business commodity and the price of tuition determines the quality, social prestige and recognition.
Secondly, we also see many professional development plans in higher education. These plans primarily focus on how to enhance one’s professional expertise and internal mobility in a globalized environment and how to strengthen the connection with the industry in order to upgrade the students’ ability to compete in the job market and workplace. Therefore, such education has been evaluated in terms of career development and employment after graduation. Meanwhile, the commercialized international rankings and competition have generated a craze to pursue studies at a “name brand” university. But basic virtues and ethics, which would guide students to sustain right livelihoods and create blessings and wisdom for the rest of their lives, are utterly lacking in the educational process.
處於當今快速變遷的網路時代，所有各方面領域的知識創造、形成與分享都是即時性的，而且是爆炸性的。專業知識以及任何一種學科領域 (Discipline) 的典範 (Paradigm) 因此恆常處於變動的狀態，創新 (Innovation) 成了主流，不僅造成了學習面向的多元發展，也造成了全球在多元知識的建構和價值觀的形成過程中，以指數式成長 (Exponential Growth) 的速度，超越了一般常人所能吸收與判別辨識的能力。
In the digital era of rapid changes, all aspects of the creation, formation and sharing of knowledge are instant and explosive. The expertise and paradigms of any discipline are in a state of constant change. Innovation has become the mainstream. This results not only in learning having to confront diversified developments, it also means that the rate of exponential growth in global diversified knowledge construction and value formation has exceeded the capacity of ordinary people to absorb and discern.
Frankly speaking, such a development for the students in their field of study is itself a great challenge, but the bigger problem is how we take care of the students, especially in the process of shaping their character as a whole person, when their bodies and minds are bombarded with constant changes and shifts in the world of phenomena. The current situation presents a serious topic, namely, how to develop a healthy and wholesome educational philosophy and system so that the mainstream and the content of education returns to universal value of timeless ethics and virtues. As educators, this is a path we must tread on.
另一方面，當資本主義的發展在全球化的推波助瀾之下，一切均講求快速競爭的步調，我們所處的依報世界，也產生了重大的變化。現在大家都在談天災人禍，越來越多人覺悟到世間無常、國土危脆，人類的文明發展無法阻止災變不停的發生。一切法從心想生，世出世間一切生滅的現象，都是從心的作用而產生，如何把世界或環境的災難化解、減輕，我們必須從最根本處的人心著手，努力去改變自己，因為我們與十方法界所有眾生的關係均存在著可課責性 (Accountability)，從佛法的思惟而言，不僅包括了有情與無情 (即山河大地、草木礦植物等) 的眾生，也包括了一切外在物質與環境世界的依報。面對這一切的困境與挑戰，只有「心」的教育才是最根本的解決之道。
On the other hand, the development of capitalism under the intensified effects of globalization stresses fast-paced competition. Consequently, major changes are taking place in the material world in which we live. Nowadays, everyone talks about natural disasters and man-made calamities. More and more people have realized that the earth is impermanent and frail and that development of human civilization cannot stop disasters. We know that all Dharmas are created from the mind. The phenomenon of what comes into being and what perishes in both conventional and transcendental worlds are also made from the mind alone. How do we mitigate or solve environmental problems or global issues? We must fix their root cause – that is the human mind. We should work hard to change ourselves because we are also accountable in the relationships we have with all living beings. From the Buddhist perspective, living beings include both sentient and insentient beings, such as mountains, rivers, great earth, grass, plants and minerals, as well as the material world and the external environment. In the face of these predicaments and challenges, the fundamental method to solve these issues is to transform the mind.
Ven. Master Hua dedicated his entire life to propagate the Buddhadharma, with particular emphasis on education. Dharma Realm Buddhist University focuses on activating students’ inherent wisdom. It not only conveys knowledge but also nourishes each student as a whole person by guiding him or her through sutra studies and actual practices grounded in virtue and humanity. The ultimate goal of such education is to inspire students to benefit living beings.
Today is also the commencement of the Sangha and Laity Training Program. With a good and solid foundation, the graduates’ mission is to participate in Buddhist works so that they can share the Dharma and carry on the Buddha’s lineage. The various educational institutions that Ven. Master Hua founded return education to its core value of basic human virtue and ethics. It is indeed a clear stream in the turbid world. Being able to walk into CTTB to learn is a supreme and special opportunity. CTTB teaches people how to be truly human. All of us can become Buddhas. Our teacher, Master Hua, told us in order to become a Buddha, one must know how to be a good person. This is the lamentable aspect of higher education in today’s world, which has replaced the goal of learning how to be a good person with how to pursue and satisfy personal desires.
When the Ven. Master returned to Taiwan to propagate the Dharma in January 1993, he exhorted us to fulfill our basic duty as human beings by being filial to our parents and practicing the Six Great Principles of not fighting, not being greedy, not seeking, not being selfish, not pursuing personal advantage and not lying. He said that if we could cultivate with our true hearts, honestly, step by step, we will certainly realize Buddhahood. The Six Great Principles sound quite ordinary. But in the process of practicing them, one knows every single word points directly to the mind. Everything becomes a test. It’s said, “the straight mind is the Way.” The Six Great Principles test us all the time to see if we are using the crooked mind to cultivate the Buddhadharma or to create bad karma in body, speech and mind to deceive ourselves and others.
As for filial respect, Ven. Master said parents are our heaven and earth. Parents are our teachers, and parents are Buddhas. If one wishes to become a Buddha, one must first be filial to one’s parents. Therefore, the most important practice is filial respect. The subject of conventional filial respect is usually our own parents. The extended filial respect that Buddhism teaches points to a deeper level: all living beings are equal and are identical with me. Additionally, as all living beings have been transmigrating in the Six Paths for innumerable eons, we have been one another’s parents. Based on the spirit of extended filial respect, we should make a vigorous resolve to seek awakening. We can then end the cycle of birth and death, become Buddhas, and help all living beings to realize the unsurpassed and right enlightenment as a way of repaying their kindness. The Ven. Master’s 18 great vows are the epitome of filial respect.
今天各位的學習即將暫時告一段落，如何培養服務人群的精神，建立我為人人的大志向，謀求大眾的幸福，是大家可以努力思考的方向。由於立志是古今讀書人最重要的一件事，「立志」在佛法裡是一種誓願或願力，諸佛菩薩和師父上人在願力中，所行持的慈悲、智慧、戒律與方便均是不可思議，而且直至盡未來際不可計劫，仍然持之以恆，堅定行持。希望能夠藉由上人的許多法語，在今天的典禮中，與大家共同勉勵、共同學習「以師心為己心，以師志為己志」，如大佛頂首楞嚴神咒云：Today, your studies may have come to an end temporarily. However, the spirit of how to serve others and the aspiration of seeking to bring benefits to all people might be something you would want to think about. For ancient scholars, finding one’s aspiration is a most important task. In Buddhism, one’s aspiration means one’s resolve or vows. The kindness, compassion, wisdom, ethical discipline, and skillful means that Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and the Ven. Master have practiced from the power of their vows are really inconceivable. For innumerable eons, they persevere in their practices. I to use the Ven. Master’s words of Dharma to encourage everyone in their learning and practice. “Take the teacher’s mind as your mind, take the teacher’s aspiration as your own aspiration. As the Shurangama Sutra says,
“I vow to reach enlightenment, and as a Dharma-King,
Return to rescue beings countless as the Ganges’ sands.
This deep resolve I offer in the myriad Buddha-lands.
By this may I repay the kindness shown me by the Buddha.
“I ask the Buddha to be witness as I take this vow
To enter first the murky realms of five turbidities,
If even just one being still has not become a Buddha,
Then I will wait before I seek the leisure of nirvana.
Once again, I am grateful to have such an opportunity to participate in such a great event. I still feel a sense of shame in my heart. In the end, may everyone be filled with Dharma joy and perfect in both blessings and wisdom.