Compilation of Speeches in Hong Kong and Other Regions


No.       Content
1 The Achievement of Individual Happiness, Family Harmony, Social Stability, and Ultimately Universal Peace through the Revival of Filial Piety and Respect——A Dharma Talk given at the 2017 Hong Kong Winter Solstice Ancestral Remembrance Ceremony
2 Education on Filial Piety, Roots of all Kindness——2017 Lunar 7th Month Ancestral Memorial Ceremony (Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia) 2017
3 The Real Benefit of Gaining Buddha’s Teaching

The Achievement of Individual Happiness, Family Harmony, Social Stability, and Ultimately Universal Peace through the Revival of Filial Piety and Respect——A Dharma Talk given at the 2017 Hong Kong Winter Solstice Ancestral Remembrance Ceremony

Respected Elders, Distinguished Guests, Fellow Practitioners, Ladies and Gentlemen, My warmest greetings to you all!

Today is the auspicious day of the Ancestral Remembrance Ceremony. We feel very delighted to see this great solemn assembly with distinguished guests from all over the world. Remembering ancestors is a fine Chinese tradition and custom which develops our filial piety and sense of gratitude. It teaches people to be grateful to their ancestors and hence cultivate their virtue. This plays a very important role in bringing social stability and world peace.

For many years, I have visited various places in many countries. Many national and religious leaders have discussed the issues of world peace with me. Some leaders even doubt whether there will ever be peace in the world! This is indeed a big issue. But how to promote world peace? It must be developed through education. People today have lost sincerity and respect. Most people are only concerned with their own interest, and never think about other people. I think this is the root cause of social chaos and international conflicts. So, where does the problem lie? It lies in the issue of education.

The earliest Chinese literature on education, Li Ji·Xue Ji says, ‘To establish a country and govern its people, priority should be given to education.’ In ancient times, sagacious kings always placed education above everything else when governing their countries and people. This wisdom is contained in the Chinese characters for education. The first Chinese dictionary, Shuowen Jiezi, construes the first character, 教 (jiao), as ‘Those at the top set examples, and those at the bottom follow them.’ The left part of the character has two crosses with a child beneath them. It shows that an adult draws a cross and a child coping it. The character tells us the importance of teaching others by one's own example. Jiao means to teach or decree. ‘Cannon of Shun’ in Shang Shu says, ‘Respectfully promote the ‘Five jiao’. The ‘Five jiao’ refers to teaching the people the five fundamental relationships and the five constant virtues. Shuowen Jiezi construes the second character of education, 育 (yu), as ‘to nurture a child and enable them to perform good deeds’. ‘Yu’ means to nurture or bear a child. ‘Yu de’ means to cultivate virtue. Therefore, when combined, ‘jiao yu’, education, means the cultivation of virtue through the advocation of ethics, morality, law of karma, and the teachings of the sages.

Chinese education in ancient time, whether within the family, in school or in the temple, was all about learning to benefit others through self-cultivation. However, over the past few decades, all we have seen are rivalry and conflicts. People fight for fame and profit, and only think of benefiting themselves but not others. The consequence of it is exactly what Mencius said to King Hui of Liang during the Warring States period, ‘When those at the top and those at the bottom fight for self-interest, the country is in great danger.’ So, when everyone in a country only strives for profit but not righteousness, the country is endangered.Clearly, without a sense of righteousness and benefiting others, even if we successfully prospered materially, we would remain anxious and suffer spiritually. We may even have to pay dearly for it.

One of the most significant purposes of holding today’s Ceremony is to enable us to recognise and feel he profound wisdom of our ancestors. It was this wisdom that created golden eras of great prosperity and stability in history. The life that our ancestors led was truly happy and fulfilling.

Reviewing the splendid 5000-year history of China, Chinese ancestors left their descendants teachings of supreme wisdom, including instruction in ethics and morality, and the teachings of the sages. Throughout Chinese history, we could see that every dynasty had enjoyed lasting peace that spanned from several decades to one or two hundred years.Where did the golden eras of great stability and harmony come from? It was from the teachings of the sages embodied in the fine traditional Chinese culture.

So, what are these age-old roots of Chinese civilization? They are filial piety and respect. Confucius said, ‘Filial piety is the basis for all virtues, and where education stems.’ The Daoist Classic, Accounts of Request and Response says, ‘Be faithful, filial and friendly, show sibling love.’ The Bubbhist scripture, The Sutra of Visualising the Buddha of Infinite Life says, ‘Provide for your parents and serve your teachers.’ All these sages taught people to fulfil their filial duties and respect their teachers. Parents are the objects of the practice of filial piety because they have done such a lot in nurturing their children. An ode in ‘The Book of Odes’ goes, ‘How sorrowful it is to think of my late parents, it was them who nurtured me with great effort.’ Hence, children must fulfil their filial duties. Teachers are the objects of the practice of respect. Our parents give us physical life and our teachers nurture our spiritual life and give us wisdom. It is said that the teacher-student relationship is as important as the parent-child relationship. A student’s respect for their teachers should be the same as that for their parents. Over thousands of years, the fundamental practices of filial piety and respect have been deeply rooted in the Chinese people. They have sustained social stability and harmony over the ages.

Today, we shall bring back traditional Chinese education. The most direct way of doing it is opening after-school classes of traditional Chinese culture, just as the ‘the Chinese language after-school class’ run by the respected lay Buddhist Li Bingnan in Taichung. These classes will cultivate sagely and virtuous talents who can continue the true lineage of Chinese culture. Meanwhile, we hope to run a special regional experiment for traditional Chinese culture. In this region, people will put into practice 5000-year-old traditional culture. There will be free education, free medical care, and a paradise for the elderly. In this day and age, people have to be shown the result of a successful experiment in order to be convinced of the wisdom of traditional culture. Without a concrete example, people will have difficulty believing it.

Due to the series of wars and social turmoil in the recent history of China, the practice of ancestral remembrance has been interrupted for many years. We feel the deep significance of resuming ancestral remembrance for reviving traditional culture and improving social practices. Therefore, in recent years we have been actively promoting resuming ancestral remembrance ceremonies for the Qingming Festival, Zhongyuan Festival and Winter Solstice. These are the basis for promoting filial piety. We also hope to resume the Confucius Memorial Ceremony as it represents reverence for teachers. True filial piety must also include reverence for teachers because the general nurturing care of teachers is the same as that of parents. Only by reviving reverence for teachers can we truly inherit the culture. Only with filial piety and reverence for teachers, can we cultivate sagely and virtuous talents. Being sagely, virtuous and of noble character is the standard for being a good Chinese. So, what makes a good person? Those who are sagely, virtuous or of noble character are good persons. Why? It is because they act on the basis of benevolence and love. They love themselves and others, and are easily contented. They are good role models for the general public. By promoting the remembrance of ancestors and reviving traditional culture and the education of the sages, we sincerely hope to cultivate sages, virtuous people and those of noble character who will pass on the true wisdom of the ancient sages and secure lasting peace and prosperity for generations to come.

Upon the occasion of this ancestral remembrance ceremony, we sincerely wish you a healthy and peaceful mind and body. May auspiciousness be upon you all. May all faiths treat one another equally and live together in harmony. May our motherland and all countries in the world have favourable weather and enjoy great stability and eternal peace. Thank you very much.

恢復孝敬 家和人樂 宇清國安 ——歲次丁酉香港冬至祭祖大典開示