Education 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.

From birth 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.

Teachers should 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.

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