Unifying the Strength of All Virtuous Children at the 7th Annual V-Star Event
Saturday, December 8th is the day of unity where one million V-Stars – inspiring students from all over Thailand who will help revive the world morality – will gather at the Dhammakaya Temple in Pathumthani to learn about moral standards, practice meditation, perform good deeds, and participate in numerous fun activities.
In past events, V-Star participants consisted mostly of students from the elementary to university level and an assembly of teachers representing their respective institutions who made the journey from various parts of Thailand to take part in this great event.
The term V-Star takes its root from the Revival of World Morality Program, and the V-Star Project was developed in 2008 in response to the Most Venerable Phrathepyanmahamuni’s (Luang Por Dhammajayo), Abbot of the Dhammakaya Temple, aim and commitment to resolve the troubles and challenges facing citizens of the world as a result of the negative impacts brought on by our society’s declining moral standards.
The effects from these chronic problems have seeped into and intertwined with our everyday life that it is now difficult to even identify what is actually harming us. If our approach is merely to ameliorate the problems rather than to prevent them, then it may be too little too late. Therefore, a more practical method would be to tackle the issues at their cores by immunizing our youths with a greater understanding and development of moral values; and in conjunction, we can begin to change this world into a more peaceful and happy one.
The objective of the V-Star Project is to cultivate aspiring young leaders – known simply as V-Star or Virtuous Star – with virtues, moral principles , and a firm foundation in discipline, respect, and perseverance.
The V-Star Project first introduced a daily exercise termed the Ten Daily Activities to numerous participating institutions that had initiated a V-Star Club that was open to any students who were interested. In its inaugural year, as many as 200,000 students from 5,000 institutions in Thailand registered.
The Ten Daily Activities exercise includes getting up early; making one’s bed; dressing appropriately; observing the 5 Precepts; saving one’s money; showing respect to one’s parents, elder relatives and teachers; recording the good qualities in our teachers, friends, and family; chanting before going to bed; helping with the house chores; reading class books or beneficial books; and practicing meditation.
These activities are the preliminary exercises that all V-Star students must complete and document everyday in their diaries before having then examined and signed by their parents. Then on the following day, they would present these diaries to their teachers who would provide additional recommendations or feedbacks. In essence, what the teachers are doing is guiding, encouraging, and motivating their students to do more wholesome deeds.
Through their participation of the V-Star Project, many positive changes in the behavior of these children were easily recognized, earning praises from parents and adults alike and inspiring their parents to follow suit and to perform these wholesome deeds as well.
For instance, in the case of Miss Pinyaporn Chuenram, a 12th grader and president of the V-Star Club of Baan Nong Song Hong School in Buriram Province, who mentioned: "Previously, my father drank daily and I didn’t like it. Every time my father drank, he never had dinner with us – almost as if we didn’t have a father. I don’t hate my father; I love him dearly, but I detest alcohol.”
According to Mr. Pinyo Chuenram, Pinyaporn's father, who works as a janitor at Baan Nong Song Hong School, said that he has been drinking for the past 20 years. “I was very addicted and had to drink all the time; and I also smoked. Later, I saw my daughter participate in the V-Star Project and noticed her transformation into a good and obedient child. When she returned home from school, she would come and bow to her parents. I was stunned the first time she bowed to us because she had never done this before. Once she started doing it, her siblings began to do it too. I was so happy. Whenever her teachers discussed about the consequences of smoking, drinking and other bad habits, she would bring back brochures or put the no-smoking sticker up at home so that I would see it. One day she approached me and said, ‘Father, I would really like you to quit drinking.’ I decided right there and then to quit drinking for her, for my family and for myself.”
The Five Precepts or moral discipline is the foundation for world peace. This was mentioned in an interview with Master Mr. Anuwat Pingyoth, vice director of student affairs and coordinator for the V-Star Project at Sarnsatvitedromklao School in Bangkok, a Christian school that stresses the cultivation of morality and ethics in their students by integrating the teachings of Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. "Today, we often cite and talk of morality, but we lack role models who can clearly demonstrate what being good truly entails. I was very pleased when I saw the V-Star Project because it was exactly what we had been looking for, especially the V-Star diary where students could log all the good deeds they performed and learn more about morality in the provided handbook. I like this project tremendously. I had in my hand a manual that explained how one could easily perform good deeds, and it was very practical.”
I don’t believe religion is an obstacle in performing good deeds, and the activities found in the V-Star Project can be completed by anyone. We just need to set aside the religious aspect and focus only on morality and ethics. Each morning before class at our school, students would undertake the Five Precepts and practice loving kindness meditation because we believe that these practices are the foundation to peace in the world. Parents are also very pleased by the positive transformations in their children after participating in the V-Star Project. They see their children chanting and being able to clearly comprehend and convey what it means to be virtuous. Parents are delighted and proud each time they place their signatures on their child’s diary logging their good deeds. I am confident that this project will soon be integrated into every school in Thailand.
Good deeds are not difficult to do and everyone can perform them. Mr. Voravut Gongngern, a V-Star participant from Radaprachanukrot School in Srisaket, indicated: "I am very proud to be a participant in this project. Many people may think that good deeds are difficult to perform; however, once we start doing it, it is not as hard as imagined. Before, I was a bad kid who was headstrong, but when I began following the simple guideline on how to perform wholesome deeds, I realized that they were not difficult because I had a step-by-step manual of how to do it. Eventually I was able to perform and recorded them daily in my diary.”
As the 7th Annual V-Star Unity Day draws near, we reminisce about the past events and how children, big and small and with bright smiles on their faces, joyously gathered together and met with friends who represented their schools. It was an excellent occasion to see and interact with other virtuous children like themselves.
This V-Star Unity Day, every children and guests will have the chance to experience the world’s most extensive presentation on the life and times of the Lord Buddha, explore the exhibits on heaven and hell, view replicas of famous landmarks from the 208 countries around the world, watch a 3-D animation movie about heaven and hell, participate in a signing contest for the song “Change the World,”engage in many more fun activities and win prizes. All these activities will take place at the Dhammakaya Meditation Hall and the Grand Meditation Stadium on Saturday, 8th December 2012.
In the evening, one million V-Star children will congregate around the Maha Dhammakaya Cetiya and fill up the vast and open space of the Grand Meditation Square to enthusiastically belt out the words to the song “Change the World,” a moving song beautifully sung by a collection of artists of various nationalities.
After which, the presiding monk of the event, the Most Venerable Phrathepyanmahamuni (Luang Por Dhammajayo) , Abbot of the Dhammakaya Temple, will guide everyone in a meditation practice. Anyone with the opportunity to witness the sight of a million young virtuous children sitting peacefully, in perfect rows and order as they practice meditation will be left in extreme awe and be just as impressed of these children as their parents. When all one million of these children understand the value of performing good deeds and aspire to become virtuous individuals, the rest of the world will not be able to remain indifferent but can only be truly inspired. So, let us all come together to help change this world.