Our temple suggests a model of doing charity that places emphasis on ethics. We form a group of Buddhists; these Buddhists will contribute their own money as well as ask for money from many sponsors. We come to poor areas or orphanages, etc. in cities, rural or secluded areas to offer our help. Particularly, we pay much more attention to building morality for students. So, we come to schools and ask them to select ethical students to be praised according to these four criteria:
1. Having filial piety for the parents
2. Having respect for the teachers
3. Being kind to friends
4. Being patriotic and united and helping others
The schools must then carefully select students to be appreciated. For example, they can choose one student among five ones. If a school has five hundred students, there will be one hundred ones to be commended and given gifts to. We will give gifts to these one hundred students. When giving gifts to them, we will praise their ethics. Doing that sort of charity also costs us money as when we give food to the poor. However, because we focus on morals, the schools will take much care of their students’ morals, and the teachers will teach morals carefully to the students, and the students will try to be moral to be honored. This kind of charity is a high-level good deed that promotes morality in schools. If we do charity by only giving food but without helping them have morality, then our help does not improve anything but help them not to be hungry in a few days. So it’s better if we both give them food and assist them to build their morality.
Speaking of morality, we particularly emphasize that people should make others believe in and understand the law of Karma. If you can do this, you will earn a great blessing. So, being Buddhists, we should, throughout our life, try to spread the law of Karma all over the world because when people have belief in the law of Karma, they will live more righteously, and their life will improve not only in this life but many lives after. It is a great merit.
In a Sutra, there was a story about a man who did not follow Buddhism and one day he asked the Buddha “If we do not practice Buddhism, will we be able to come to heaven when we die?” The Buddha answered, “In the past ninety-one lives (that is, since the time the sky and the globe were created, rather than ninety-one lives), I’ve not seen anyone who didn’t follow Buddhism came to heaven after his death, except one class of people who often preached the law of Cause and Effect to others.”
What the Buddha wanted to convey to us is that those who often remind others about the law of Cause and Effect will be greatly blessed. So, if you want to be so, always talk with others about the law of Cause and Effect. If you cannot, have other people do it for you, or you can give others books, records. You also earn a huge blessing.
In fact, the differences between right and wrong are vague like when we are in the middle of the sea. The sea is so immense that we cannot clearly identify the shore to head to. Likewise, we cannot correctly recognize what is good and what is evil for sure. However, it is lucky for us that from a distance, the Buddha had built a lighthouse. Thanks to that beacon, we can identify where we should go to so that we can avoid going to the land of demons that eat humans. The Buddha built a lighthouse for us so that we can correctly identify what is good, and what is evil.
(There was an ancient myth that when you were on the sea if you did not come to the right destination, you would get lost to islands of devils. These demons appeared as charming women. When you reached their island, they would give you a warm welcome, but after that, they would throw you into a furnace of fire).