The Sagely City’s Influence on Me
From the December 1997 issue of Vajra Bodhi Sea
By Eddy Toeh, age 18
The Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas is not only a fine place for spiritual cultivation, but also a fine environment for studying. Here I can really calm my mind down and study without distractions from the outside world. I don’t deny that a student gives up a lot of “freedom” here, but what he learns in return is much more precious and important than the so-called “freedom” of not having to follow rules. This is something he could never obtain through an education where such freedom was allowed.
I have learned to cherish my time and use it in meaningful ways here. Outside, not only would I not be able to concentrate on my studies, I’d waste my time in meaningless pursuits, such as going out with girlfriends, watching TV, and going shopping. It’s for sure that I would do these things, because if I didn’t, other people would think I was weird. That’s how upside-down the world is. So I think I made an intelligent decision in choosing to study at the Sagely City.
The effect of this decision is not temporary; it will affect my whole life. Growing up here, I’ve become used to this kind of lifestyle. I will soon graduate from high school and go to college. Although things will be different then, the habits I’ve developed at the Sagely City will help me live the same way--not watching TV, not taking drugs, and so forth. I realize that as ordinary people, sometimes we won’t be able to resist the temptations of the world; but at least I will have that extra layer of resistance to help me.
My studying at the Sagely City has influenced not only me, but also my parents back in Malaysia. They have no worries that I will turn bad, because they know the learning environment at the Sagely City is the safest one there is. There are no defilements here, and no opportunities to make friends with kids who only know how to eat, drink, and goof off.
The Sagely City has had a tremendous influence on me spiritually. Buddhism is the religion I have long believed in, and it is the only religion I believe in. Yet I didn’t really understand its teachings before. I only knew that we should always recite the Buddha’s name and do good deeds. Since coming to this monastery, I have studied the Buddhadharma at a deeper level. For instance, under the guidance of my teachers, I’ve learned to recite Sutras, recite the Buddha’s name, hold mantras, and meditate. The Dharma Masters who live here uphold the precepts and cultivate. Strangely enough, because we live together with them, people from outside all perceive us as having a lot of cultivation and integrity.
I have learned quite a bit in the past five years. Growing up here is an experience I’ll never forget.