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Yiu Ka Tung

18th Congregation - Faculty of Humanities, Valedictory Speech

Good morning. Members of the Faculty, distinguished guests, parents and fellow graduates, ladies and gentlemen.

It gives me great pleasure and honour to address you on behalf of the MA graduates of the Faculty of Humanities. To all our fellow graduates, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations. For many of us, it has been an adventurous path to this point. We are students of different ages, life experiences and a variety of undergraduate degrees. Today is a very special day for all of us. It is a day for us to say thank you to our teachers, parents, family, and friends who have support us in our journey here.

First of all, we have to express our heartfelt grateful to all our teachers. Foremost among them, I would like to take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to the founding members of the Department of Chinese Culture, Professor Zhu Hong Lin, Professor Zhai Zhi Cheng, Professor He Guan Huan and Professor Tan Jing Hui. Not only they have provided us with intellectual insights and guidance from time to time, but also they have tried their best to create the most comfortable learning environment for us. At the same time, we are also thankful for all the care and support from all the staff of the Faculty. Finally, on a more personal note, I must also express my deepest gratitude to my wife Jessica for her unceasing love and support.

Today’s ceremony marks the successful completion of one chapter for all of us and the opening of another exciting one. As a MA graduate in Chinese Culture, there are some questions left for me: What is the relevancy of Chinese Culture to us? What are the wisdom and values of Chinese traditions that could be applicable in our daily life? Are all these only academic and useless? To answer these questions, I am trying to pick up a few ideas and would like to share my thoughts through the letters of the word “China” (“C-H-I-N-A”).

The First letter “C” stands for “Commitment”

“What is Commitment and how to commit?” If we were able to ask Confucius, I imagine his reply would be “Humans can make the Way great and the Way cannot make humans great” (人能弘道,非道弘人). He would definitely encourage us to have a strong sense of commitment to our family, our society and of commitment to the betterment of mankind. For Confucius, it is action and not speculation, it is practice and not theory that counts in life. It is worth mentioning that the Motto of our Poly U “To learn and to apply, for the betterment of mankind” (開物成務,勵學利民) indeed is a statement of Commitment in the sense of Confucianism. For our self-realization and commitment, let us always in pursuit of excellence and give our best and look for ways to do better.

The Second letter “H” stands for “Harmony”

Harmony is the common value shared by Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism. In Europe and the Middle East, peaceful interaction of civilizations and religions is rare, religions are often aggressively competitive and therefore inter-religious wars are common throughout history. Fortunately, in China, our inclusive tradition is unique. Our tradition generally recognized that nobody had the last word on truth. We appreciate the value and dignity of every school of thought. That is why in Tang Dynasty and Song Dynasty, we would be able to absorb the Indian Buddhism into the Chinese spiritual landscape. We then developed Zen Buddhism, New Daoism and Neo-Confucianism respectively. Today, with the notion of Harmony in mind, we should appreciate and accept individual differences and beliefs. We should also have the humility to accept that we might not always be right and to respect to other’s views and opinions. I verily believe that the Chinese notion of Harmony can even be offered to the global community, to foster a worldwide culture of peace.

The Third letter “I” stands for “Integrity”

Confucius said “If a man lacks of integrity, I do not know how he can get along” (人而無信, 不知其可也), it means that only a person of integrity can practice benevolence. In particular, it is advisable for all the politicians and management to study Confucius Analects (Lun Yu) in which Chapter two is about the art of governance and integrity. In this Chapter Confucius said “The leader who conducts government with virtue may be likened to the North Star, which, seated in its place, is surrounded by other stars." (為政以德,譬如北辰,居其所而眾星共之). It means that in order to govern the country by virtues, the leader must set an example with his own deeds of a moral character. Only in this way, the leader can truly gain support from the people. In personal and family level, our integrity or the lack of it determine what sort of children we will bring up, because our children will mirror what we do and what we are. We should keep reminding ourselves of its importance and practice it constantly.

The Fourth letter “N” stands for “Nature”

Nature is of great value in Daoism. Lao Zhi said “Man follows the Earth, the Earth follows Heaven, Heaven follows Dao, Dao follows Nature.” (人法地,地法天,天法道,道法自然). Daoism objects to the destruction of natural environment. However, the prevailing modernization models, no matter it is called Washington Model or Chinese Model, in fact are the same, a model mainly for pursuing profits at the expense of Nature. As a result, we can see that ecological and environmental issues are now appeared everywhere. Among them, China acting as the “World Factory” is suffering the most. In the interests of our future generations, we should pay more attention to the Daoist notions of “Unity of Heaven and Man” (天人合一) and “Harmony with Nature”(天人和谐). It is time for us to put these notions into action. Let us work with our hands and green our future.

The Last letter “A” stands for “Awareness”

This concept is borrowed from Buddhism. The world and the society in which we live change often rapidly. New challenges present themselves constantly. The future is full of uncertainties. Inevitably, we would face difficulties in our life. The Buddhist wisdom of “Awareness” tells us to aware of the impermanent nature of these difficulties and tough time. We should be always aware of the fact that life has its ups and downs. But such situations would not be permanent. They will change eventually. No one is down all the time. In this connection, we need not attach to and being trapped by these difficulties. We are capable of overcoming tough time.

The key is in, how your mind perceives the problems. I would therefore like to share with you a poem by Zen Master Wu Man Hui Kai (無門慧開禪師), he said “There are flowers in spring and the cool moon in autumn. There are also cool breezes in summer and snow in winter. Once there are no longer any worries and trivial matters trapped inside your mind. You will be living in the best moment in your life.” (春有百花秋有月,夏有涼風冬有雪,若無閒事掛心頭,便是人間好時節).

Ladies and gentlemen, today, the reasons for us to be here is to celebrate and appreciate, so, let us live and enjoy this precious moment. According to Zen Buddhism, we are now all living in the best moment in our life. Let us also take this opportunity to show our appreciation for our teachers, our family and friends with a round of applause.

Thank you very much. Good health and good fortune to you all.