The Universal School
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Spoken by Supreme Master Ching Hai (to an audience of young people), Hsihu, Formosa, June 16, 1991 (Originally in Chinese) Videotape No. 176 Human beings are the most precious and wisest beings in the world. Therefore, you can go to school at such a young age, understand what the teachers teach, and become increasingly intelligent and better. If you were to put a bird in school, would it learn anything? (Children: No.) However, we humans should be worthy of our behavior, otherwise, we're no better than animals. We humans also have the qualities of animals; for example, when we enjoy bullfighting or cockfighting. What do we look like when we sleep too much? (Children: Pigs.) And what do we look like when we eat too much? (Children: Pigs.) Still pigs? (Laughter) Are pigs so bad? They have both of these qualities. (Laughter) I mean we human beings also have animals' qualities, but that doesn't mean we are lousy. Why do we have these animals' qualities? It's because we have bodies like theirs. Animals also have eyes, noses, ears, and mouths. Some animals also have hands, and some don't have hands, but they have wings. So, we just cann't get away from animals' qualities. However, human beings have an advantage: We can control these qualities, increase or decrease them, depending on how strong our willpower is. For example, sometimes when we eat too much, we can retrospect and tell ourselves, "Oh, you don't have to eat so much. Eat just enough! Otherwise, you will soon get sleepy, or you may lose concentration in school. When the teacher teaches, you will begin to snore." We can warn ourselves like this, and then we'll eat less. Or when it's time to go to school, but we have not had breakfast, we can tell ourselves, "It's time to go to school. That's more important. I can eat when I have time." But a pig can't do that. If a pig goes to school, it has to eat until it's full before it's willing to go. Even if you put the food aside, it will rush to get it. Therefore, although we humans have animals' qualities, we still have wisdom and willpower, with which we can control ourselves and develop other good qualities in ourselves. But animals can't do that, not even the intelligent ones. They can't learn as much as we humans can. People are different in terms of intelligence and talents. Some are smart; others are awkward. The difference comes from their knowledge or inborn talents. Some are born clever; some have to study long to catch up; others are still awkward even if they go to school. Although they can become a little more intelligent than before, the difference is barely perceptible because they don't study hard. However, since we practice spiritually, we understand everything very quickly. That's why some schools also teach their students meditation. But the meditation has to be very short, because they are mostly not vegetarians. Of course, they practice ordinary methods only. But they still benefit a lot, even if they practice like that. Their intelligence grows and they become smarter. Originally, we humans came from very high dimensions, where we already knew everything. Our minds are full of all kinds of materials and they'll be of use if we know how to operate with them. Our brain is just like a computer that's full of all kinds of materials from the universe. It's just that most of these materials we can't utilize because we don't know how to operate it. We practitioners have to find the right "keys" and then we can understand everything, we can do anything, and we can do everything much better than ordinary people. It's because after we practice, our inner wisdom adjusts itself automatically and the inner Master presses the right keys for us whenever we need anything. It provides us with the necessary materials. This is nothing mysterious! If anything we request comes true, it's because we have it originally. It comes out when we press the right keys. There's nothing mystical about it! Sometimes we don't know how to choose the right keys because we haven't learned how. Thus, we pray to God for help because the we will know how to choose the right keys, and miracles will happen. Every request is answered because we've found the right keys. After we practice well, we don't have to pray to God for anything. We have everything we want because we know how to find the right keys. We meditate, keep a vegetarian diet, carry out charitable acts, and observe the precepts. All of these things are part of spiritual practice. The more we practice, the more we know how to handle our own things, the more we know how to use our abundant inner materials, and the more we know what to use in various situations. You have heard many miraculous stories about great practitioners performing magical feats or performing miracles in the Himalayas. They can do these things because they practice, not because they have magical power. Each one of us can have this power. Whatever Jesus can do, we can do also, provided we know how. The same goes for school. Before you started going to school, you couldn't even read the ABC's, but now you can. Why? There's nothing miraculous about it: It's because you have learned them. Those who have not learned them can't read the ABC's however simple they're. Spiritual practitioners go to a different school, one that's higher than universities. Our worldly knowledge ends at the universities. Secondary schools are higher than primary schools, and universities are higher than high schools, but that's the end of worldly knowledge. If we want to know greater things, we want to know about the universe or other mysterious things, we have to practice spiritually. After we graduate from the university, we should go to Buddha's or God's school if we want to enhance our wisdom. It's just another kind of school. But this kind of school is different from ordinary schools because it doesn't involve organizational work. There are no written tests, and there are no tuition fees, and students don't have to go to school every day. That's why people don't think it's a kind of school. Of course, we can do as ordinary schools do, but I think people who can go to this kind of school are already mature. They are good enough and don't need the kinds of disciplinary methods that are used to control children. So, this kind of school is freer. Although this kind of school is freer, students have to study very hard. They have to meditate at least two and a half hours a day and strictly observe the precepts. It's stricter than ordinary schools in this respect. And there are still tests although they are not in written form. Ask your parents. They have a lot of tests. Sometimes, if they can't pass the tests, their levels drop. But that doesn't matter since they can take the tests again! We have no deadlines for the tests. It doesn't matter when or how many times you take the tests! You can continue to take the tests as long as you have patience and sincerity. In this school, you also learn a superior kind of knowledge. Therefore, it's also a kind of school here. I teach different knowledge, which is superior to that of the university. Worldly knowledge cannot compare with this knowledge because there are many mystical things that cannot be explained through worldly knowledge. Universities have their good points; many different subjects are taught there. However, we teach everything here, and it's taught inwardly without the use of language. Our school is thus a superior school. Now you're still in primary and secondary school, so you should study hard and do your homework carefully. But you shouldn't do it for fame or fortune. You shouldn't do it because you want to become a boss, run a big factory or become a president. You should do it as part of your responsibility, to please your parents and teachers, to fulfill your duty as a member of society. After we complete our education, we go wherever God arranges for us to go, and do whatever God arranges for us to do because we know God will take care of everything.
Read Good Books from a Young Age and Cultivate Good EthicsWhen I was a student of about your age, I loved reading books. We should not only read books from school, but also other books that are worth reading, such as scriptures and books about ethics or life philosophy, which are very nice and interesting. If we read many books, we won't misbehave outside, and we won't have too much free time, so our minds won't be misled. You're still young; it's okay. After you grow older, you should read more books and do more research. There are many kinds of books in this world. Some are scientific books and some are medical books or theological books. We can read and research any books that are beneficial to us. If we learn to be a good person at a young age, we won't bring trouble to other people when we grow up. Therefore, we should learn basic ethics from childhood. If there's anything you don't understand, ask your parents first. I think your parents are very good. They practice spiritually, and they have good morals and common sense. They're older than you are and have learned with me longer than you have. Ask them first about things that you don't understand. Ask before you grow up; otherwise, it will be too late. Some initiates come to learn with me when they are old, and I become tired when I teach them. There's an Aulacese saying that goes, "Bend the bamboo when it's tender; you cannot bend it as you like when it grows up." Similarly, my parents trained me strictly when I was young. Sometimes I didn't like it, and I'd say, "Oh, I'm just a kid! Why are you so tough on me?" However, after I grew up, I appreciated my parents very much because everything I do right is to be attributed to my parents' strict discipline. If I do anything wrong, it's my own fault. Although you're still young, you'll grow up very soon. I felt I was like you yesterday, but I became like this very quickly (Master laughs); I've gotten a few extra strands of white hair. Time really flies! When you're still a student, you have plenty of time, so you should study hard, and look for good books to read; otherwise, you won't have time for it after you grow up. Ask your parents if it's true that they don't have time to read books. They can't be absorbed in the books when they do read, because they're always dealing with this and that, busy with financial problems, and busy with daily troubles so they can't concentrate on reading. If you're not a good child now, who can help you after you grow up? Bad kids become bad adults, and they make families and society unstable, and bring chaos to their country. Therefore, for society to be sound and stable, it has to depend on you, the future pillars. You should behave well from now on, and cultivate your manners. Do you remember the story about Mencius' mother moving her residence three times? (Children: Yes.) If it weren't important to study well at a young age, Mencius' mother wouldn't have exerted so much effort to move! Now that you have such good parents and a good learning environment, you should really study well. Read any good books you know of. Ask your parents if you don't know of any. Ask them to find some good books for you. When you have free time, don't play too much. Have enough fun. Do some physical exercises to keep fit. That's enough. Read some meaningful and moral books. You should learn basic ethics from a young age; otherwise, it'll be too late. When I was little, I liked moral books very much, such as books that teach us not to steal under any circumstances, or not to take what doesn't belong to us. After I grew up, there was a time when I drifted. But I wouldn't steal even if I had no money on me. Once, when I was in Au Lac, a friend let me live in his house, but he didn't know that I had no money and I didn't tell him. One day, I was very hungry, but I had no money. It was wartime, so I couldn't receive money from home, which put me in an urgent situation. My friend put all his family's food on the table, and it looked delicious and smelled good. I didn't eat it although I had gone hungry for days because they had not returned home by that time. I didn't tell them about my situation. I tried to get a job or find some other way to settle the problem. I did so because I had been trained that way from the time I was young. My friend's family trusted me very much, and they left me at home when they went out. I didn't touch their property or steal their food because I had learned that from when I was young. My parents didn't wait to teach me only when the circumstances arose, which might have been too late. Just like when you learn Chinese, you should learn when you are young, and then you can speak it fluently later. You will learn how to use all kinds of words, and then you will speak Chinese very well. There was another time when I lived in Paris. I didn't have much money with me, because I was an overseas student. I lived somewhere first and then I had to move to the other place for some reason. I needed money to move, but I didn't have very much money at the time. You know, things are very expensive in Paris! The rent is much higher than in Taipei. So you can imagine how difficult it was for me, a foreign student, to be forced to move immediately! One evening, I was looking for a job, one that offered living accommodations, so that I could resume my education. It was OK for me to study at night and work during the day. I went to look for a job, but did not find one. On my way home, I passed by a park, and a man thought I was a "street girl," so he showed me a lot of money and wanted me to go home with him. Of course, I said, "No!" He first showed me 200 US dollars, and then raised it to 400. I said, "No" again. Then he raised it to 600, so I warned him, "If you say another word, I'll call the police!" The man became frightened, and then he finally realized I was not that kind of woman so he ran away. Six hundred dollars was a lot of money at that time. Why didn't I forget my honor or morality for the sake of money? Because I had read good books from the time I was young, and it became a habit of mine to resist worldly fame or fortune in any situation. I liked to read moral books such as Zhuan Tze, Lao Tze, or the Buddhist scriptures. Others like The Story of the Gods, Spring and Autumn, Tales of the Three Kingdoms, Tales of the Eastern Zhou Kingdoms, The Thousand Flower Mansion, and tales of Chengyaojin (a humorous and loyal character in Chinese folklore) are also books containing moral lessons. In these books, good people obtain good consequences, and receive special protection or help whenever they encounter disaster. Bad people are found out sooner or later, and are punished in the end. These stories teach us and firmly build up our ethics. If we cultivate our basic ethics at a young age, we'll not waver in any situation; otherwise, we'll fail our first test. We'll harm other people or seek fame and fortune in dishonorable ways. We'll not mind even if we sell ourselves or hurt our honor. Therefore, I think you should form the habit of taking care of the moral aspects of your life since you are little and not just read your textbooks, or just learn foreign languages or math. That's not enough; although they make us a little more intelligent. They make us know how to do business, or teach us how to find good jobs, but they cannot build up our moral concepts or protect our souls or dignity. Therefore, if your school doesn't teach you about ethics, you should train yourselves, or read some good books. When you have free time, don't indulge yourselves in meaningless games. You can play games, but don't overdo it; otherwise, you'll waste a lot of precious time. You remember and absorb everything you learn at this age, so it matters what you absorb! Keep away from immoral books and violent movies. Choose the right movies or books so that you can develop a good spirit, and nourish healthy ethics. You should cultivate this habit at a young age and refuse immoral publications and films. You don't have to wait for your parents to forbid you and then protest against it. You should be responsible for yourselves. Even if you're still young, you're human beings. You have eyes, a nose, and ears, just like I do. So if I could read good books when I was young, you can do it, too. From now on, you should begin to discipline yourselves, and get prepared for your future life; or else, you'll have no time for it after you grow up. At that time, you might make boyfriends or girlfriends, and concern yourself with romance. You might also be concerned with taking on family responsibilities after you get married. You might be involved in earning money after you find a job. So how can you find time to train yourselves? Therefore, this is the best time to train yourselves because you don't have much responsibility now, and your parents take care of you very well, buying clothes for you and cooking for you, so you have nothing to worry about. So, cultivate your moral concepts from now on, and make them sound and healthy. Then you'll become a good citizen after you grow up. You'll become a good husband or wife, and you'll be good in every respect! "Cultivate yourself, discipline your family, govern your country, and bring peace to the world." You should undergo all this training when you are young, otherwise when will you have the time to do it later? You should learn from our ancestors, you should learn from the good scriptures passed down from the ancient Masters, you should learn good morals and precepts, and you should train yourselves from childhood!
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