By Andrew Ha
May 9, 2010
I was raised in a Buddhist family. My mom, dad, sister, aunts and uncles, are all Buddhists. But within my family members there are only a handful who are serious devout Buddhists. Fortunately my mom and dad are Buddhists, and thus in turn, I have picked up from them a strong foundation of Buddhism. Buddhism has guided my family through thick and thin, kept us strong and keen, helped us become better people, and most of all helped us through life.
Since young I have been coming to CTTB, I met the Venerable Master before but it's sad to say I can't recall the exact event. My mother and father constantly took me to the temple every week. At the age of four, I started going to the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery. Every week I would go there, learn various virtues and have a great time, which enabled me to draw closer to Buddhism, and even more closely to the Venerable Master. I am more than grateful that I am currently a pretty devout Buddhist because it has made me a more mature and well rounded person. Although I still have many flaws, but without the guidance of Buddhism I would probably be in a dark place.
Through the first 13 years of my life, I was surrounded by Buddhist monks, nuns and virtuous people. Growing around an environment like that really causes you to change for the better. While I was younger, I would be so scared of the dark, not knowing what is around me and my imagination playing tricks on me, Buddhism really helped me get past that phase of my life. Every time I was scared I would recite Gwan Yin and that brought me a peaceful mind, although there are other methods I could have chosen, the Gwan Yin dharma door seemed the perfect one for me. To this day, when I am faced with difficulties, I recite Gwan Yin's name or recite the Great Compassion Mantra, which helps me overcome difficulties.
I started attending the Developing Virtue Boys' School in the year 2005-2006. Through that time period, I have grown into a tremendously responsible person. My first year was learning to be independent and learning the traditions and rules of the school which is in the vicinity of a Buddhist Monastery. After the first year I learned more and more about responsibility, slowly getting more and more responsibility, from the teachers, from my parents, and especially from myself. Once I felt that I could be responsible to help the dorm and the school, I felt obligated to do so! During my junior and senior year, I have tried to change the dorm and school for the better, from monthly dorm meetings, to decorating the school for special occasions, and even Leadership Retreats. I believe the dorm has changed tremendously from the first year I lived there, till now. There are still lots of faults that need to be fixed but we are on our way.
I know two experiences that I would like to share that makes me the person I am today. The first was that I was faced with the difficulties of trying to live on my own, without a parent guiding me. I knew that I needed to grow up and that's the reason I chose to come here, not because of my mom or dad, I just wanted to become a stronger person. There was one difficulty that I would never forget, and that was 4 weeks before graduation. My older fellow student who was a good friend of mine was in serious trouble for breaking certain school rules. At that time I knew the wrong things he was doing but I was too afraid to confront him and tell him what he was doing was wrong. That cost him his diploma. I was also close to getting into big trouble for knowing what he did and not telling the teachers, but fortunately the teachers forgave me without any punishment. I was devastated by the recent event but from then on I knew that I needed to learn to confront people, not all the time, but at the right time, and at least give them the choice to change, even if they are older than me. Sometimes the young ones see clearer than the older ones. The Second major experience I faced was when I was in 11th grade. I broke the dorm rule of bringing an ipod and that had major consequences. I was kicked out of all extracurricular activities for the whole semester and had community service to do everyday after school. I also lost the trust of various teachers and was in no position to be a leader. When the teachers told me of the punishment that I was to receive, I was shocked that breaking the rule of having an ipod would be so severe. I knew I did something wrong but was it that bad? I was mad at the school for a month or so until I realized the severity of my mistake. At that time I was a big influence in the dorm and my actions were watched constantly by teachers but that was not the big deal, it was the effect on the students, I was being a bad role model to the younger and older students which was the biggest mistake. The point of our school is not just about studies, it's about the person you become in the future. You could be a smart student but even some smart people don't know how to be a good person. This is what I realized from my actions.
I look back at how I came to be the person I am today, and there are various reasons. First and foremost is my parents, if not for them I would not be here today. Secondly, the Venerable Master, if he did not put in place the monasteries I went to, I would not be here, the Venerable Master set everything up for kids like me, let me meet all these wonderful people who are my friends, teachers, brothers, sisters; even if they are not blood relatives they treat me just like one. These are the reasons for my existence.