|On the Path Interviews with Initiates A School Counselor Follows Master’s Enlightened Example|
Spring Breeze and Rain —
An Exclusive Interview with the recipient of the Taipei Excellent Teacher Award
By the Taipei News Group, Formosa
Cherishing Blessings in Pursuing Her Ideals
“There are several ways to teach people: Some seize the best opportunity to educate like a timely rain; some transform students according to their individual personalities so as to perfect their moral integrity.” These famous teaching ideals espoused by sister Yang are contained in The Mencius (a foundational text of Confucianism). Her untiring and persistent teaching, counseling and guidance, which are based on her students’ needs and aptitudes, won her the Excellent Teacher Award and high praise from Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (see photo). About this special honor, Dean Yang said humbly, “For me, being a teacher is the greatest honor and pleasure. I consider receiving an award based on my work to be an ‘extra prize.’ It is my greatest happiness to be able to help teenagers and excel along with them!”
The teacher-student rapport and trust that Dean Yang has developed over the years arise from her profound understanding and consideration of the needs of others. “Dean Yang was the instructor for our career guidance course and we learned a lot from her! She always wears an amiable smile,” said a second-year student at the High School. “Whenever we see her, we want to run over and greet her loudly: ‘Hi, Dean Yang!’ I think it’s probably because she always puts herself in our shoes and makes us feel she really understands us!” Such sincerity and closeness between teacher and students are further fruits of Dean Yang’s spiritual cultivation as she applies her spiritual insights to make her counseling work more successful.
Enlightenment from a Spiritual Teacher
Since childhood, Dean Young has longed for the Truth. “I often wondered if God heard my prayers,” she said. “Were the stories in the Bible true? Why did I still feel empty deep in my heart? I had always hoped someone could give me the answer to these questions.” She also recalled, “Being raised in a Christian environment, I enjoyed going to Sunday school and singing hymns. I had a very happy childhood there. When I grew up, however, I found that it didn’t satisfy me. Deep in my heart I was still filled with emptiness and perplexity. In senior high school, as I studied history, I became interested in Buddhist and Zen stories. But then another query perplexed me: Why can’t Buddhism be compatible with Christianity? Once, when I had already been a student advisor for a few years, I listened to one of Supreme Master Ching Hai’s lectures, during which I was greatly enlightened and realized that many different religions share the same origins! Besides, at the same time I was deeply touched by Supreme Master Ching Hai’s infinite love. I started my spiritual practice from that time, and now, fourteen years has past.”
For a teacher who views education as her lifelong aspiration, Dean Yang has an unusually deep understanding of and admiration for Supreme Master Ching Hai’s selfless devotion and supreme benevolence. On this topic, Dean Yang says, “I remember Master once saying that She has had no Saturdays or Sundays since She became a Master. Because Her disciples are more diverse and numerous than those of ordinary teachers, She has to totally sacrifice Herself in order to satisfy their needs. So She not only gives public lectures, offering tangible teachings for us to understand and absorb intellectually, but also instructs by example and practice, giving Her care and love according to each disciple’s demands. And this is something that other teachers cannot do. She offers us words of wisdom and meticulous concern that no other teacher is capable of! She treats all disciples with the greatest love. Her teachings, either in terms of verbal inspiration or spiritual revelation, are all the best. Master’s spirit of altruistic sacrifice and devotion is truly amazing!”
“I still remember once after finishing a lecture, Master sincerely said to the audience, ‘I’m leaving. If you’re a Buddhist, continue to be a happy Buddhist. If you’re a Christian, be a happy Christian.’ I was moved to tears by these words! Master’s broad-mindedness was extraordinary. I could feel deeply that She was sincerely blessing each of us, and was profoundly touched by Her love!”
Tapped by Spiritual Practice and
Dean Yang has broadened her vision of education through spiritual practice, and has also applied her spiritual contentment and love to her work. When mentioning the changes she has experienced since starting to meditate, Dean Yang insisted, “Before beginning my spiritual practice, I was just an ordinary teacher making use of my professional knowledge and psychological training in my counseling work. But after starting to practice with Master Ching Hai, I gained a more profound realization of psychology, and since then I’ve been more able to apply this knowledge and utilize it appropriately in my job. Only with the greater love and patience that I gained through practice was I able to bring my academic training into full play!”
How has Dean Yang relied on her experiences in spiritual cultivation to overcome challenges in her work after being initiated by Supreme Master Ching Hai? In response to this question she said, “Master once told us that from the day of our initiation we’re connected with God. I thus put each day in the hands of Master, go to work with the attitude of learning from my job, and see what I’ll experience that day. I majored in psychology and counseling so my work is usually associated with people who are troubled, and their moods often affect me. However, since being initiated and beginning to practice the Quan Yin Method, I’ve been able to face the unpredictable nature of my work and meet daily challenges with a happy mood. My attitude has become increasingly positive, and I look at life in a more natural way. As for my counseling work, which is contingent on my clients’ frame of mind, the most common situation is to see an unhappy student come to ask for help, which often requires putting down a project or interrupting a meal or break to give assistance. Of course, at such times I might struggle a bit in my heart, but I then remember Master, compare my work with Her sacrifices for us, and realize that the slight inconveniences I experience on my job are nothing.”
“Everyone has times of fatigue and low spirits. So we can’t always be sure that we’re doing the best teaching for our students through our speech and actions.” Dean Yang, who meditates daily, sincerely faces the challenges of her career and realizes that endless love and wisdom from within are the best guidance for both her students and herself.
On this topic she says, “It’s very dangerous to live without spiritual practice! We don’t know what kinds of people, events or challenges we may encounter each day. As an advisor, I feel strongly about this as we are unlike other teachers who have routine courses and face the same students day after day. Although our students are required to make appointments before they come to talk with us, we have no idea which part of their psychic experience they will reveal. With some students, you never know why they suddenly appear on a given day. Under the circumstances, if you don’t maintain enough love and wisdom, how can you have good interactions with others? Looking back over the ages of twenty to thirty in my life, it was really a great risk! But now I feel very safe as I clearly experience my inner power by each day contacting God, contacting nature, which gives me the feeling that I’m continuously walking in the Tao. No matter what you do, you’ll feel this great power — ‘Hes’ is supporting you, accompanying you, ‘Hes’ is giving you the best guidance.”
The Expectations of Modern Youth
The confusion of values in contemporary society has a deep impact on our youth as many wonder what course in life to follow. However Dean Yang points out a specific direction: “During adolescence, a student basically doesn’t have much confidence in himself and is still searching for self-identity. Particularly in modern society, people are confused about social values so it’s not easy for a student to find his or her own self or be certain about a direction in life! But we do hope our students or adolescents will gain self-confidence and easily discover their self-identity. I often encourage them to read positive books and see good films so as not to let their hearts become filled with too much sorrow, worry and violent or negative thoughts during this period of their lives; for these influences can affect their entire way of thinking. If students have their own religious beliefs due to family background or other circumstances, and understand that in nature there is a better and higher power to guide them and let them feel they are in the Tao at all times, I believe it will be easier for them to be more positive about themselves.”
Spiritual Practice Benefits Family Life
A successful career woman often has a happy family life. In our visit with Dean Yang’s family, we felt the support and respect between her and her husband, and the inspiration and educational rapport between them and their children. As Dean Yang said, “My husband and I have always loved each other; however, since we began our spiritual quest, our love has grown deeper. There’s nothing that we can’t share. We’re more than friends. I feel very lucky to have such a good spiritual partner and to know that we can encourage and help each other on the spiritual path. We’ve learned to respect and love each other more since our initiation; so I’m able to treat our children with more flexibility, unlike many parents who care too much about their children’s school work and worry too much about their future, thus affecting the parent-child relationship.”
How does this “teacher mom’s” teenage son, who has been a vegetarian and spiritual practitioner along with his parents since early childhood, feel about his mother? In response to this question, he said, “What I like best is that Mom treats me like a friend. We can open our hearts to reveal our innermost thoughts. Our relations are not only like those between mother and son, but like that between friends who always know what’s in the other’s mind.” When asked about the aspect of his family that makes him happiest, the young man said without hesitation, “I have a Mom who’s more ‘fashionable’ than anyone else’s!”
Sister Yang has gained much wisdom from the perfect example set by Supreme Master Ching Hai, and has applied it both in education and in her family life. For years, she has felt a deep sense of gratitude toward Master, whom she has not seen for a long time. As she states, “I miss Her very much and hope that we can have more chances to see Her and listen to Her words as we did before. But Master takes care of us down to the very last detail as She is with us at all times, and so I feel Her love constantly.” Sister Yang’s total faith in Master makes her feel stronger and more at ease than she was earlier in her life; the wisdom and love developed through her meditation practice are the sources of her motivation, enabling her to face the challenges of teaching and counseling in a more balanced way.