Children are Like My Mirrors
A Talk by Yidan on June 2, 2009, in the Buddhahall, CTTB
All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, Venerable Master, All Dharma Masters, All the good knowing advisors, good evening.
My name is Yidan. I am from Shanghai. I have been in CTTB for almost ten months. I learnt many things within the ten months while teaching. Growing up with the children happily and joyfully is one of my biggest aims in coming to CTTB. There were moments of happiness, sadness, patience and impatience with FIRE. I realized that teaching itself is cultivating the Path. Children are like my mirrors, whatever I say and do will be reflected back in their speech and their action. So I have to be very careful and mindful of whatever I say and do. Because if the teacher has virtue, the students will have virtue too.
I remember once, the class was fundraising for the children in Africa. At the end, I told the class to make a postcard to show their compassion. I looked around at what they have drawn and written were so touching. One child drew a hand, and she placed many children on her hand; behind her hand, there was a sun. I asked her: “Why did you draw that?” She told me: “The hand is her hand, the children in her hand are the African children. The sun means brightness." She hopes she can bring her brightness into the African children’s lives. She said: "Their lives are in my hands. I wish they will have a better life." Another child drew two butterflies holding on to each other. She said one butterfly is her and the other one is an African child. They hold hands and they share the same world. Children have no ethnic difference, no nationalities difference. All they have is a heart to help others，a heart that is pure and a heart which never seeks. Looking at them, I was so touched and happy by what they’ve done.
There was another time when the class raised a fund of 100 USD, we laid the money on the floor and I asked them: We have earned 100 dollars, how are we going to spend it to help the African children?
We listed the things that we can do to help, for example: Buy food for African children or donate the money to dig a well so they will have clean water to drink. At the end, we watched the movies about Malaria and AIDS. Three thousand children die in one day because of Malaria 3000, incredible. After watching the movie, two children who normally don't get along decided to be good friends, because they realized how lucky they are.
The class had a big discussion about how to spend the 100USD wisely to help. They said: "Oh, there are so many different ways we can help others，that is great." At the end, we decided to buy mosquito nets to help prevent them from getting malaria in Africa since Malaria is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes. When the United Nation Malaria Organization thanked us and told us we helped out 44 children, the children said with joy: “Oh, we can save so many children’s lives.”
Before the class ended, I asked them: "When you grow up, earned your 100 dollars, how are you going to spend it?" They answered without having a second thought: “I will help people who need help." Jenny said she wants to build a hospital in Africa. Emily said she wants to build a school called Instilling Goodness in Africa. Abby said she wants to be a doctor when she grows up to help cure the people with diseases in Africa. After I heard that, I said: "You are all so good and compassionate. I am very proud of you." One of the children held my hand and said: "Because we have a good teacher." That moment happiness arose from bottom of my heart. I realized that teachers can make things happen. I have to thank the Venerable Master for bringing Buddhism and virtue into our daily lives.
The Venerable Master said: "Those with virtue are truly wealthy; those without virtue are truly poor." So that is why Master Hua named the school developing virtue. Master Hua also said: “Developing virtue” does not refer only to developing students’ virtue; it also refers to developing the teacher’s virtue as well as developing the virtue of the nation.
Teaching helps me to understand and realize that true beauty starts from the heart; the source of the beautiful heart comes from the beautiful soul. The beautiful soul is of course filled up with virtues. So I choose to be a “Soul engineer”.
Venerable Master’s Six Principles [no fighting, no greed, no seeking, no selfishness, no seeking for personal advantage, and no lying] are the best guide for becoming a soul engineer.
Finally, I have to say I am so lucky and so fortunate to become a volunteer teacher in CTTB.