A Discussion on the Deterioration of Morality

A talk by the Venerable Master Hua

 August 22nd, 1988

I have been listening to the speeches by the various speakers about how young people feel alienated from the world, to the point that they are obsessed with a death wish. They do not want to live; they would prefer to die. This pains my heart. The activity of such young people will lead to the downfall of the nation and the destruction of the human race. Nowadays people no longer know how to be people. They eschew moral precepts and the rules of propriety. In fact, some people behave worse than animals. Animals do not understand the rules of propriety. They are unable to discriminate between right and wrong, and it is because of their lack of intelligence that they are animals. Right now we have young people who have no concept at all of how to help others. They don't even know how to benefit themselves. Isn't that pitiful?

The eight cardinal virtues are filiality, fellowship, responsible citizenship, trustworthiness, propriety, righteousness, incorruptibility, and a sense of shame. In addition to this list, there is the eightfold process of

(1) eliminating the desire for material objects,

(2) investigating the nature of things,

(3)making one's thoughts proper,

(4) making one's intentions sincere,

(5) engaging in self-cultivation,

(6) bringing harmony to one's family,

(7) governing the country, and

(8) bringing peace to the world.

That is a method to ultimately resolve all war and contention. However, most people are guilty of selfishness and self-seeking. They are turned upside down by two things-money and sex, and they go against the laws of nature. Men and women indulge in licentious pleasure. They crave money in order to fulfill their sexual appetites. As a result, they bring utter turmoil to the world. Even animals do not stoop so low as to engage in such vile conduct. But people have completely lost all sense of self-respect. They have no shame. Men and women get married and then get divorced; they get divorced and get married again. They do this repeatedly and are always looking out for a new partner while tiring of the old one. They look upon human relationships as some kind of game. This leads to wars between people, wars between families, wars between nations, and wars that erupt on an extensive scale. An ancient one observed, "War results from quarrels over land, and corpses fill the fields. War arises from conflicts over cities, and corpses fill the streets. The earth is made to eat the flesh of people. Such offenses are not expiated by death."

I only hope that the leaders of all nations will establish benevolent governments and dispense justice, banish greed and contention, and most important, never lie or try to cheat people. If the leaders of a nation lie, the citizens will follow suit, and everyone will engage in fraud and deceit. That would certainly lead to the collapse of the social fiber and the degeneration of a country's moral structure. Such a country would quickly invite disaster upon itself and bring about its own destruction.