starts from the Womb
Instructional Talk by the
Venerable Master Hsuan Hua
Good and Wise
Advisors, today we are gathered in this large hall to discuss the question of
education. Because education is each and every person's foundation, if we
neglect this fundamental question, we are abandoning the root to grasp at
branch-tips, thus discarding what is near to seek for what is far away.
onwards, what a person sees and hears shapes that person's behavior. Hence
there is the saying: "If near vermilion, one turns red; if near ink, one
turns black. Stained with green, one turns green; stained with yellow, one
turns yellow." To a greater extent, it can be said that the question of
education does not just begin at the time one is born. While one is still
inside one's mother's womb, one is already receiving an education. Prenatal
influence is such that, if the mother is quite learned, it will predispose her
infant to be very intelligent and academically inclined, or if the mother is
constantly losing her temper during pregnancy, the baby she gives birth to
will surely have a fiery temper. Suppose the expectant mother is exceptionally
stubborn and not receptive to anyone's advice, then her baby will be born very
stubborn and intransigent, headstrong and not open to suggestions. That is why
fetal education is very important.
Women are the mothers of the country's citizens, the foundation of the nation.
All women should know how to educate their children, and it should start from
the womb. While women are pregnant, they should not contend, they should not
be greedy, and they should not engage in vain quests. They ought to reduce
selfishness and pursuit of self-benefit, and should not tell lies. If the
expectant mother is dishonest, gets into fights, gives way to greed or
seeking, and if she is selfish and pursues personal advantages, it will
predispose the infant to have the same tendencies. Then her child will not
become a good citizen in society. Therefore, parents-to-be should pay
particular attention to fetal education.
Once the child is born, it is essential for the parents to serve as exemplary
role models. As parents, you should not quarrel or fight, should not be
selfish or scheme for self-benefit, should not be greedy, seek or be
dishonest. Children learn by mimicry. They imitate what they see. If your
behavior is improper, the children will learn the same behavior from you. For
example, children gradually learn to talk by imitating adults talking. They
are easily influenced. Consequently, parents should not simply rear their
children but fail to educate them. To rear your children is to help the
country have additional citizens. But if you cannot provide your children with
a proper education, you are not fulfilling your responsibility to your country
or to society. If you fail to teach your children well and they become problem
youths, even to the point of becoming a menace to society, then you, as their
parents, are to blame.
Parents should give top priority to teaching their children, and not put
earning money and running after fame and profit in first place. They should
consider educating their children as of primary importance. Well-educated
children are far more valuable than all the money you could earn, because they
will grow up knowing how to conduct themselves properly as human beings, and
how to have self-respect. Hence, educating children during their pre-school
years is the sole responsibility of the parents.
Once the children are in school, their teachers should be fine personal role
models for their pupils, inspiring them to develop good moral character and
virtue. Students should first learn about filiality toward their parents and
respect for their elders. The elementary schools at the City of Ten Thousand
Buddhas try their utmost to instill the principle of filial respect in their
young pupils' minds. The teachers encourage their students to do the household
chores for their parents and to accord with their parents' wishes. That is why
the parents of young students at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas are very
satisfied with the results they see at home.
consider educating talented people of the world their "Mandate from
Heaven," and take upon themselves the truly great job of providing
education through voluntary service. They have the children of the people in
their hands, and it is their responsibility to teach those children to become
wholesome individuals who do not smoke, drink, take drugs or engage in
promiscuous behavior. That is where they should focus their efforts.