|Lighthouse in the Darkness|
Spring Reaches Behind the Walls
Vegetarian food sampling and singing activities at the Kaohsiung Juvenile Detention and Classification Center
[Kaohsiung] Over the past two years, fellow initiates have sponsored a weekly instructional program at the Kaohsiung Juvenile Detention and Classification Center. Though strictly guarded, the Detention and Classification Center is like a junior high school, where most students are under age eighteen, with some only ten. They wear uniforms and are no different than regular school students. Their supervisory officers and teachers are full of compassion, and warmly welcome fellow initiates when they arrive at the center to present their weekly class about Master's message of love. Listening to Master's spiritual stories is their favorite activity, and they often request to see Master's pictures and videotaped lectures.
Students at the center are awaiting their various court decisions. Those who are convicted of committing trivial offenses will be transferred to the adjacent Juvenile Reformatory School, while serious offenders will be sent to the Juvenile Jail. When we first saw the cheerful looks and innocent smiles on the faces of these youngsters, we wondered what crime they could have committed at such a young age. Later, we came to understand their background and crime motivation; most of them had been taking drugs out of curiosity and a small fraction of them had been arrested for fighting or stealing.
Among the students was a dignified-looking one who became a vegetarian right after entering the center. Unlike his peers, he has maintained this diet for several months and is now practicing the Convenient Method. Some of the juveniles have come to appreciate the staff for being nicer than their parents, whether in their daily life or spiritually. One of the students could hardly recognize his friends when he first arrived some time after they did, as their rough personalities had changed so quickly in this new environment. They had become gentler and have become interested in studying, writing, painting, and reciting poems. Even their appearance and temperament had changed.
The Detention and Classification Center requires that all students meditate for half an hour just before bedtime. One day, when a Quan Yin messenger came to teach the Convenient Method, one of the faculty members brought the new arrivals and asked that they learn the Convenient Method. To this, the Q.Y.M. replied, "They have to be willing to learn before I can teach them."
The officer replied, "Meditation is very good for them! It helps to calm them down emotionally. Even when they are sent to other prisons after their verdict comes in, they still have to meditate every day. It's good to learn meditation."
A week after they learned the Convenient Method, we found that their faces were shining and full of joy. One of them confided that he was over his nightmares and could now sleep well. Others disclosed that they found peace of mind and no longer felt troubled or irritated. Many teenagers spend a lot of time playing video games, singing karaoke, or speeding on motorcycles, with little chance to come into contact with religions or less chance to practice spiritually. Detainment at the center has given these students access to religious scriptures. The questions these teenagers raise are similar to those of adults who have studied the holy books. Perhaps, fate has brought them here. If so, then detainment is actually a pivotal juncture in their lives - a chance to know Master's teachings and receive the "method" of practice.
Students eager to learn the Convenient Method at the Kaohsiung Juvenile Reformatory School.
Adjacent to the Kaohsiung Juvenile Detention Center is the Kaohsiung Juvenile Reformatory School. The education director there thinks much along the same lines as we do. He permits us to conduct large spiritual seminars at the center from time to time, with one-to-one counseling every week. Although none of the initiates have had counseling experience, they have been able to communicate with the students with inner love and wisdom that they have obtained from the inner Master.
The first time
we arrived to offer counsel, we were pleasantly surprised when many students
greeted us and asked whether we would tell them some of Master Ching Hai's stories.
These students come mainly from the Tainan, Kaohsiung, Pingtung, and Taitung
Detention and Classification Centers to be reformed after final decisions are
made regarding their offenses. Thanks to the instructional programs we have
given at the centers, numerous students are familiar with Master's teachings.
At our first spiritual presentation, we taught the Convenient Method and many
that volunteered to learn it were those who had heard Master's teachings at
the Detention and Classification Centers.