A Talk Given by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, June 5, 1988
If there were one thousand or ten thousand children who grow up without proper control,
the same number of children would have gone bad.
What is education? It means we should teach children how to be upright human beings, and instruct them about the eight virtues of filial reverence, fraternity, loyalty, trustworthiness, propriety, righteousness, incorruptibility, and a sense of shame. They also need to learn how to “choose to follow what’s wholesome, and rectify what’s unwholesome; to proceed if it accords with the Way, and retreat if it does not.” The foregoing principles are parts of the Chinese culture in Asia. In the western culture, people have blind faith in freedom. They misconstrue their freedom to mean the freedom of being irresponsible, the freedom of having children without educating them properly, and the freedom of neglecting their elders. What is the point of having children if you were not going to educate them? Indeed, you would be committing an offense if you were to teach your children unlawful behavior. As for the elders, they should be taken care of. As it is said, “the elderly should be tended, the strong be employed, and the young be nurtured.”
When a person gets old, he is very pitiful with failing eye sight and hearing, useless teeth, and all sorts of illnesses. From the perspective of education in China, raising children serves the purpose of preparing for one's old age. This is not based on selfishness on the part of the parents. Rather, it is because the parents have raised their children to adulthood, these young men and women should take care of their elderly parents, whose blood and energy have waned. Otherwise, what is the point of having so many children, what is the point of getting married? It would be meaningless! In this country, since people have misconstrued the meaning of freedom, they let their children grow up unchecked. As a consequence, you can see that if there were one thousand or ten thousand children who grow up without proper control, the same number of children would have gone bad. Maybe there are a few of them who have inherent humanity and kindness, and they will turn out wholesome and know how to help others. However, not everyone understands humanity and knows how to “choose to follow what’s wholesome, and rectify what’s unwholesome; to proceed if it accords with the Way, and retreat if it does not.” In describing children, there is a saying that, “Those who draw near to vermilion will turn red, those who associates with ink will turn black; something stained with gray will turn gray, something stained with yellow will become yellow.” Therefore, how can we not watch over and pay attention to our children?
Why do many children in the West take drugs nowadays? Take a look! Elementary and secondary school students are drawn to drug dealers. They urge these students to take drugs, promising that, “These drugs will make you smart and happy!” After taking the drugs, these youngsters may feel happy, but actually they are getting more and more mixed-up! If you see people who are on drugs, it may seem that they are in samadhi all day long, because they can stand there and do nothing for hours. However, this is not samadhi; rather, these individuals have lost control of their minds under the influence of drugs. Aren't they walking toward the path of death? If you let children grow up with unchecked “freedom,” they would advance freely onto the path of death! This permissiveness is misinterpreted freedom, irresponsible freedom, and unreasonable freedom.
Let me once again tell all of you senior friends, middle-aged friends and young friends, you should pay attention to this point. What point? Nowadays, education all over the world has gone bankrupt to the point that there is no education at all! What does education teach you currently? It teaches you sexual conduct, and this is extremely wrong! Although sex education is o.k. in of itself, the focus should be on teaching students not to engage in improper sexual relationships. The students should be taught how to cherish themselves, and guard the purity of their bodies. Only until they are grown up, can these youngsters really understand sex. In addition, children who are only five or six years old should not be allowed to watch TV all day long. This T.V. monster has negative influence on these young children. For example, it has seduced these children into knowing how to kiss and hug each other. What kind of world is this? This type of freedom is really pitiful!
Why do I say education in this world has gone bankrupt? Schools don't teach children the fundamental principles of being a human. What do they advocate instead? They encourage students to study whatever subjects that will help them to earn the most money. If being a doctor is the most profitable, then one goes to medical school; if going to the moon means having the highest salary, then one studies science. Focusing on making money, people end up neglecting their parents and spouse. In fact, they ignore everything but money!