A Talk by the Venerable Master Hua at the Translation Meeting
May 17, 1992
I have two vows. The first vow is to translate the Sutras. Since I left the home-life, in confronting the problems of the world, I studied all the different religions, and wondered, why have Catholicism and Christianity become so widespread? How is it that so many people put their faith in them? I think the principles of the Buddha-dharma are so lofty and profound, so wonderful and inconceivable.
Why haven't they become widespread? I discovered that it was because the Sutras (Buddhist Scriptures) have not been translated into foreign languages. English translations are scarce as can be. For this reason, although I understand neither Chinese nor other languages, as long as I am still alive I want to undertake this enterprise. Our goal is to translate the Sutras into as many languages as possible. If we can do that, then even if you didn't want the Dharma to spread, it would spread anyway.
The Dharma Realm Buddhist Association began translating Sutras in 1968. The translators at the time only had a partial understanding, and their Chinese was not that proficient either, so the Sutra translations they did had some errors.
If we do a good job, then I believe the leaders of the countries will all support our work. But we must first lay a firm foundation using the strength of the people. This is my vow regarding Sutra translation.
What is my second vow? Education. I see that education is now on the verge of bankruptcy. Human beings are getting closer and closer to the state of animals. That's why I'm promoting education at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas as being foremost. The promotion of education begins with the elementary school. Right now we are working diligently but silently in the elementary school, secondary school, and university, getting the job done right. Why do I say that education is close to being bankrupt? Take a look-in today's elementary schools, many of the children are using and selling drugs. In high school, of course, it's much worse. And in the university, people take hedonism and pleasure-seeking as their principle. The education in elementary school is aimed at teaching children to compete for first place. Now, in a whole country of people, not everyone can be number one. If everyone is number one, who will be second? This way of teaching is a mistake.
There's another variety of education which teaches children to study hard, so that they can make more money in the future. This is using profit to motivate students to study, and it's not the original purpose of education. The original purpose of education is to teach children to be filial to parents, to respect teachers and elders, and to set a good foundation for being a person. And for that reason in our elementary school we teach filial respect, first of all, so that children will know how to love themselves, and how to love their families.
Because secondary school students have a broader conception, they should be taught to cherish their own country. To truly love your own country means to not attack the country of another. What if another country were to attack us? What do we do? We should strengthen our foundation as human beings, and understand how to act as people and love our country. Then, we will naturally be protected from external enemies by an army of the spirit. This is the essence of secondary education.
What about the university? At the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, we teach the principles of humaneness, righteousness, the Way and virtue. If people can really learn this well, their personalities will definitely be wholesome. This is the basic education, and it is the true defense of the country. This is my second point of emphasis-education.