Buddhism and Youth
By Thor Aye

Theravada Buddhism is a form of Buddhism which most of our Buddhist community practices. Interest in our specific branch of religion is growing in the general
population. We should be striving to reach a more diverse selection of people, and not just the Asian community. There are many people of every ethnicity that would love the chance to partake in our ceremonies, our activities, and more specifically our culture.

Buddhism hasn't had a chance to blossom in many areas. I believe that before we open our culture to the outside world, first we need to study ourselves and what we teach. Theravada Buddhism has been defined as "Way of the Elders." Theravada Buddhism as distinct from Mahayana Buddhism is mainly practiced in the area around South East Asia. In my opinion, the core of our religion is based upon respect. For the most part  everything deserves respect, people, objects, the living, the sacred, the dead and especially our elders. In the American tradition respect isn't taken half as seriously.

I am being educated in the American Public School System. There is a great lack of respect for teachers and office staff. Most students and sometimes other faculty are only motivated to achieve their own personal goals, despite what consequences might be to others around them. I believe if some of our beliefs combined along side our current school systems, would prove both beneficial to our community and the school system. If we showed more respect to our teachers, they in turn would be much more willing to help us, the students that need it. So many people go to school, or go to work in a state of "routine." We do things because we have to, without feeling, without drive.

There are a scattered few who put passion and drive into their daily lives. The roots to starting a more productive society is with the youth. If we teach the next
generation to respect each other, and their elders, the first step has been made in achieving a more successful and harmonious Theravada community.

The author is a 9th grader attending Lynbrook High School in San Jose. He is the son of Dr. Lyn Swe Aye, an honorary member of TBSA, and Dr. Khin Nyo Thet. The parents are the sponsors of the Aye-Thet Scholarship Fund, which helps youth to get more interest in Theravada Buddhism. Thor Aye won the first prize in 1997 Aye-Thet Scholarship exam. He studies about Buddhism whenever he gets a chance. At other times he spends time with his friends, and likes to wrestle and play tennis. He is also the Vice President of Sophomore Class of 2002. - Editor