The Kindness and Sharing of Friends
Dean’s Talk at the 112-1 Semester Opening Assembly
By Dean Prof. Chao-Shun Kuo
文 / 雲水書院郭朝順山長勉勵話語
2023/ 09 /20
Compassion in Chinese is expressed as a compound word, whereas in Sanskrit, it can be broken down into two concepts: "maitrī" for kindness towards friends (mitra) and "karuṇā" for gentle compassion towards those who are unfortunate. When combined, the two words "慈" and "悲" are interpreted as "removing suffering and bestowing happiness."
However, in Chinese, the term "慈" is often emphasized in the context of "慈孝" (filial piety), referring to the kindness parents show to their children, and the corresponding virtue of children showing filial piety to their parents. This differs slightly from the original Sanskrit focus on affectionate relationships among friends.
The educational theme for this semester at Yunshui Residential College is "Sharing." Sharing means passing on the goodness to others, as famously expressed in a coffee advertisement slogan: "Good things are meant to be shared with good friends." Therefore, it's particularly relevant to elaborate on this concept through the lens of kindness among friends.
As you all know, in our college, students come from various age groups, with both older and younger peers. Consequently, senior students may actually be much younger in age than their junior counterparts. In situations like this, students may sometimes feel awkward, leading to mutual address as "seniors (xue zhang) " 學長out of respect. While this might seem to disrupt the traditional hierarchy based on age, it could also serve as an opportunity to foster a sense of equality in our campus ethics. After all, the care provided by senior students to their junior peers should never be turned into a hierarchical power dynamic.
The saying goes, "There is a sequence to hearing the Way, and each profession has its specialization." Many of our fellow students in the department may have had various professional skills before entering the Buddhist Studies program. It's just that they were drawn to the study of Buddhism and chose to specialize in it. These students may have relatively limited experience in Buddhist studies, but their life experiences or other professional abilities may be profound compared to many senior students. Therefore, showing mutual respect and learning from each other is an important attitude in our academic community.
I look forward to each and every one of our students for not hesitating to share their knowledge and experiences, and to contribute what they excel in with other fields. Sharing knowledge, experiences, and abilities does not diminish what you already possess; instead, it deepens and refines your existing skills and knowledge. When everyone can share, everyone becomes a senior, and as we mutually uplift each other, our academic community will foster an atmosphere of goodwill and mutual respect.
Rather than just discussing the merits of generosity, let us start with the kindness of sharing among friends. This is also the reason why we have the "Service Practicum" component in our practice course.