On Developing Good Character and Virtue

Constantly trim the crooked branches so the trunk can grow upright; become a big tree that’s useful material for the future.

Young friends! Do you want to fulfill the responsibility of saving the people and the world? Then first of all, you should develop good character and virtue.

What does it mean to develop good character? If you want to be a person of learning and integrity, then don’t smoke, drink, take drugs, or gamble; be free of all bad habits. Don’t learn from ignorant people who aren’t responsible to their country, who don’t fulfill their duties in society, who are careless and don’t observe the rules. They are the black sheep of the flock and asuras in the human realm. They know only about fighting, not about peace. Those kinds of unwholesome people will merely become a great burden for the nation.

Now you are just like young, flourishing trees. Your crooked branches must constantly be trimmed so that the trunks can grow upright. Then you can become great trees, providing useful lumber in the future. It is said, “It takes ten years to grow a tree, but a hundred years to educate a person.” You are now in the learning phase. Don’t get defiled by bad habits. Remember to cultivate an honorable character and maintain honest conduct. Then you can be leaders in the world.

How do you build virtue? Be filial to your parents. It is said, “Among the hundred good deeds, filiality is the foremost.” People who aren’t filial to their parents will be useless even if they bow to the Buddha every day. You should pay close attention to this, young friends!

Your virtue is increasing day by day, and your foundation for being a person is getting more solid day by day. When it’s time to talk, you should say proper and decent things, not improper things. You should always study hard and become a productive person in the future, not a bad person. That is my expectation for you.