2 BUDDHIST EDUCATION: PATH LEADING TO THE AWAKENING

Thứ năm - 09/05/2019 12:35
by Hira Paul Gangnegi




 
BUDDHIST EDUCATION: PATH LEADING TO THE AWAKENING

by Hira Paul Gangnegi*






Buddhism is all about learning how to lead a moral and awakened life for oneself as well as for other living beings. The Buddha is called the Shasta, the teacher and his teaching of his Dharma which is meticulously developed to evolve a holistic life style for the member of both the lay and monastic community. The purpose of education is to achieve happiness through all round development in life. This begins with having physical happiness that is acquired through being prosperous and wealthy in material goods finally culminates in to spiritual awakening. For this, the search begins with finding out and identifying a suitable teacher and the guide who himself is well trained and well established in the well laid down spiritual path of the Buddha Shakyamuni. Under the apprenticeship of such teacher, the disciple acquires fairly good insight into the unsatisfactory nature of this world by activity and ones own deficiencies in handling imminent crisis. In such a dire situation person identifies the Buddha as teacher, the Dharma as his teachings and the Sangha as the companion are the most capable and reliable refuge where one can have complete comfort and ultimate solace.

Education is also a means for inner transformation. This transformation is brought through rational insight, decent conduct and reasonable contemplation. During his last days, on many occasions, the Buddha in his discourses, underlined the importance




*. Prof., Department of Buddhist Studies, University of Delhi, Delhi- 110007.
 


of full development of the higher training in Sila, Samadhi and Prajna -which forms the part of the Noble Eightfold Path- for the sake of final liberation. (p.10). Thus Buddhas teaching begins with bringing change into ones behavior and conduct moreover, religion means as well as change, transformation within which is the law of nature. As the Dhammapada underlines it below:

Do not commit any immoral act; accumulate all that is meritorious (Virtuous).

Discipline your mind completely, that is the teachings of the Buddha.

Along with such broad framework one engages oneself into virtuous deeds and abstains from committing sinful activities. In such a way, the spiritual journey of an ordinary lay Buddhist follower begins. But for the monastic community a higher degree of learning is prescribed, Three Higher Learning. Thus, all this training and learning are the path leading towards the realization of the status of omniscience and the Buddhahood. That is known as higher training in moral conduct (sila), higher training in meditative contemplation (Samadhi) and higher training of the insight wisdom (Prajna) which is the sum total of the Eightfold Path, Six Paramitas and ten stages of the Bodhisattava practices.

It is said that when a Tibetan Buddhist master Dogmi was leaving Tibet for India, his Upadhyaya Shakya Zhonnu and Acarya Yeshe Tsondui advised him that while in India he should;
  1. Listen to the exposition of the Vinaya (moral discipline) for, it is the basis of the doctrine.
 
  1. Listen to the Prjnaparamita (Transcendental wisdom) as it is the essence of the doctrine.
  2. Listen to the Vajrayana for it is the spirit of the doctrine.

Thus all training and learning are the path leading towards the ultimate realization of the status of omniscience or the Buddhahood. Thats the bottom line of the Buddhist ethical values of the universal appeal.
For sustainable social harmony and universal peace efforts have
 


to begin from within the individual to the collective level and from micro to macro level. Thus the social harmony and environmental wellbeing guarantees social security and political stability. Religious Education primarily focuses on attainment of material and spiritual happiness. Happiness is the core issue of all human endeavors. Material wellbeing ensures optimum security and physical comfort that brings mental stability to the maximum extent. This paves the way for spiritual quest and transforms the obsessive notion towards material gain into the higher learning of omniscience.

Education means to develop a wholesome understanding which in turn means see and realize events, things and ideas as they are without having any kind of judgmental position.

Six paramitas:

Dana (Generosity):


This transcendental perfection of giving involves giving away anything, any worldly possession and material object and also scriptural and spiritual instruction above all granting a sense of protection having without any attachment.

Shila (Moral discipline):


This transcendental Moral discipline includes accumulation and performance of virtuous actions and abandoning of non-virtuous deeds.

Kshanti  (Perseverance):


This transcendental Perseverance is all about having kindness towards evil-doers, observe endurance in difficulties for goodness and to have patience and fearlessness over the profound meaning of teaching.

Virya (Efforts):


This transcendental effort is to be diligent and enthusiastic and also always remain engaged in doing wholesome activities.

Dhyan (Concentration):


This transcendental concentration is to carry out a meditative stability without any outer distraction and internal hindrance such
 


as laziness. It is for the freedom from conceptual projection and develops detachment from grasping and to uphold emptiness.

Prajna (Insight Wisdom):


This transcendental wisdom is the discriminating intelligence attainedthroughhearing,contemplatingandmeditatingonmeaning of the reality. It helps to understand the nature of an object as an appearance and nothingness.

Thus these six paramita constitute  the  higher  learning  as the generosity, moral conduct and perseverance forms as Shila, meditation as Samadhi and the insight wisdom as Prajna.

The whole purpose of esoteric teaching is for the attainment of the natural tendency of luminous consciousness. When the body and consciousness is purified then it acquires the luminosity, which is a form of deity. Having luminosity as an essential nature then it transcends the Samsara and Nirvana, thus the state of consciousness is free from bondage and liberation. Thus it transcends the notion of ultimate reality as well.

BUDDHIST EDUCATION AND UNIVERSAL RESPONSIBILITY

The Contemporary world is facing multiple challenges such as social inequality, economic disparity, religious intolerance, environmental and ecological degradations. For our own survival, it demands our immediate attention. Fear, insecurity and dogmatic obsession further caused terrorism that has badly affected our social fabrics. Insatiable greed and ignorance led us to relentless exploitation of natural resources as well as environmental degradation. In such an insecure and insensitive environment, a safe and secured space is needed where individual and society can live in peace and harmony. If religion is meant for accomplishment of both material prosperity and spiritual advancement then to resolve these challenges sole responsibility falls upon the followers of each religious denomination. Therefore, Buddhism cannot be an exception. In this regard the H.H. Dalai Lama has extensively spoken about the Global community and Universal Responsibility. In which he talked about One Human FamilyThe Medicine of Altruism’ ‘Reality of WarWorld Peaceetc. which he has gleaned
 


out of the basic Buddhist idea of compassion and loving kindness that covers not only human being but the entire living beings. Therefore, it becomes imperative to understand that our pain and suffering are due to our unreasonable thrust on our attachment, hatred and ignorance thus proper education and learning is a pre- requisite in handling these problems through loving kindness, compassion and insight wisdom.

Buddhist education is a means for individual and social transformation. It empowers an individual to develop a wholesome life that ensures happiness and prosperity in this very life and life after as liberation or perfect awakening. Therefore; education need to be taken up very seriously. The Shakyamuni Buddha evolved two tier- societies. The monastic institution is to cater the need of education to monastic community and to train the monks as teacher who will futher diffuse his teachings to the lay folk. Buddha himself is known as Shasta the teacher. Position of teacher changed in successive period.

Having faith in Buddhism means to have an insight into the true nature of this phenomenal world and its suffering. This lead one to the undeceptive and most reliable source of refuge called triple gem (Trisharan gaman), the Buddha as teacher, Dharma as his teachings and the Sangha as a community of learned and learners. As stated,in the Sangha teachers are trained then these teachers go to the lay community further diffuse the teachings of the Buddha. In turn, the monastic community, for its food, medicine and other necessary things depends upon the lay follower. This symbiotic community partnership had created a healthy relationship in which every rung of society was benefitted and fostered Buddhism. Consequently Buddhist literature and literary traditions emerged that had strengthened Buddhist teachings and practices. Different disciplines evolved such as five major and ten minor learning became important components of Buddhist academic curriculum. With this, monastic institutions flourished with intensive course materials and practical realization thus Siddha and philosophical schools developed.

The monk centric education pattern of Theravada focuses mainly on what the Buddha has spoken with conventional reality and with provisional in meaning. Following moral conduct and by
 


treading over middle path one can have realization of Arhathood.

This Nobel Eightfold Path (middle Path) is understood in three broad category known as Moral Conduct (Sheela), Meditative Concentration (Samadhi) and Insight Wisdom (Prajna). The fundamental teachings of the Buddha has gradually paved way for further philosophical interpretation that later on became more pronounced as Mahayana. With Mahayana, Buddhism acquired new height of spiritual expression through the concept of Bodhisattava ideal. The Buddhist thought and practice has undergone perceptible change. It has also provided with a congenial space for the efflorescence of Buddhist art and aesthetic sensibility. This has given rise in creative construction of monastic complexes, stupas and cave temples filled with sumptuous sculptures and paintings of Buddhas, Bodhisattava and other narrative arts. In later period fusion of Madhyamika thought and Yogacarin conduct has given rise to the Vajrayana Buddhism that primarily focus on realization of Buddhahood in this very life with this very body. It is also known as tantric Buddhism in which transcendental meditation takes central stage.

Thus, Buddhist learning begins with getting into refuge, mastering three higher trainings, passing through stages of spiritual achievements and finally paves way into the ultimate objective to attain the status of perfectly awakened being as sambuddha with an objective to fulfill its universal responsibility to relieve each and every living being from suffering and cyclic existence.
Following could be included as sub-themes:
    1. Buddhist Ethical values and contemporary Social Challenges.
    2. Buddhist Learning and Spiritual Awakening.
    3. Mindfulness and Buddhist Meditation.
    4. Buddhist Practices in daily life.
    5. Fundamentals of Buddhist Art and Iconography.
    6. On Buddhist centers of learning and Education.
    7. Buddhism its beginning and change (Theravada).
 
 
    1. Buddhism its change and continuity (Mahayana).
    2. Buddhist Education and Scientific Temper.
    3. The Individual and its Social Responsibility.
    4. On Compassion and Loving Kindness.
    5. Buddhist Meditation and Inner -Transformation.
    6. Monastic    Community     and     its     Educational Curriculum.
    7. The Filial Pity and Family Responsibility.
    8. The Bodhisattava and its Universal Responsibilities.

The Buddha never taught sectarian. He taught dhamma, which is universal. This universality is what attracted me to the teaching of the Buddha, which gave me benefit and therefore this universal dhamma is what I offer to and all; with all my love and compassion, for me dhamma is neither Mahayana or Hinayana nor any seat.

“I below that to meet the challenge of our times, human beings will have to develop a great sense of universal responsibility. Each of us must learn to work not just for his or her own self, family or nation, but for the benefits of all man kinds. Universal responsibility is the real key to human survival. It is the best foundation for world peace, the equitable use of natural resources and through concern for future generation, the proper care of environment.(As Stated by SN Goneka,The Arts of living,VRI igat Puri 1988.p.31)

Dalai Lama says


In our present circumstance none of us can afford to assume that somebody else will come and solve our problems; each of us must take his or her own share of universal Responsibility(p. 7).

To me it is clear; a genuine sense of responsibility can result only if we development of human society is based entirely on the people helping each other(p. 7).

Adopting an attitude of universal responsibility is essentially a personal matter. The real test of compassion is not what we say in abstract discussion, but how we conduct ourselves in our daily life(p. 8).
 


The purpose of religion is not to build beautiful church and temples, but to cultivate positive human qualities such as tolerance, generosity and love(p. 9).

(As stated in book The global community and the need for universal responsibility, HH. Dalai Lama, Library of Tibetan work and archives, 2015.P7, 8, 9 Reprint.)

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)


During his school time was not happy with the education system which was lopsided and lay more emphasis on facts and figures and that lacked critical thinking and learning. He was of the opinion that, its not the facts that matter, but ideas. He said to his history teacher Mr. Braun, ‘I don’t see the point in learning the dates of battles, or even which of the armies killed more men, Id be more interested in learning why those soldiers were trying to kill each other.’ The school was not providing Einstein with an opportunity to pursue his passion. He was very good in mathematics and the Geology. He was also passionate about music too.

J . krishnamurty


Education is for the transformation of the human mind and the creation of new culture. It is possible through training in various skills and disciplines. It helps awakening of ones own thinking, feeling and action. This awareness makes one-self critically and observant, this it establish an integrity of perception, discrimination and action, which is crucial to the maturing within him of right relationship to man to mature and to the looks man creates.

Religion spirit and scientific attitude form part of the same movement of consciousness. They are two parallel process of the mind. They co-exist and should be fused to gain mastery and technical skills and acquiring intelligence. To determine what is relevant and what is irrelevant is also the fundamental task of education.

Thus, the students should be given ample freedom to grow and develop a deep sense of inner order. Order is the very root of freedom. Thus both are complementary to each other. Thus education should be  interactive  and  communicate  through  communication  by
 


questioning and counter question till the depth of the problems are exposed and understanding revealed, illuminating the mind both.

The ultimate purpose of the Buddhist education is to achieve the status of omniscience. The bhavana karam of Kamalshila says; those who wish to attain omniscience quickly should focus their effort in three areas; namely: Compassion (Karuna), Awakening Mind (Bodhicitta) and Constant practice (prati-path).

The compassion is the fundamental cause of the entire Buddhist philosophy thus this need to addressed first. The Arya Avalokiteshwara asked the Buddha, if the Bodhisattva do not need to acquire entire Buddhist teaching then what is the one that will cover the entire teaching of the Buddhas at palm top. That one would be the great-compassion (Maha-Karuna) Thus, where ever the Bodhisattava moves the compassion of the Bodhisattava instantly follows, so the Buddhas follow. It is like a life force in a living being and back to the great compassion. The Boddhisattavas conduct begins with the great compassion and its objective beings of the entire six realms. Beings in each realm undergo various kinds of suffering. With such realization the Bodhisattava thinks that as I do not wish suffering. Moreover, it is not known how many birth is taken in past coming to the present life, thus, there is great possibility that these living beings must have be enemy, parents and relatives. Therefore saving them from undergoing more suffering is our responsibility. With such motivation Bodhisattvas remain engaged in to welfare activities in this world.

Generation of compassion begins with ones own kith and kins, and then it is gradually extended toward neighbor, villages, state, region and nation. It is further expanded towards those whom are liking is less. When the same intensity of compassion as we have to our parents and family is felt towards enemy side and then to those who are not identified as my own friends or foe, then the compassion assume the form of the great compassion. This spontaneously generated concern is called great compassion. This great compassion is the path leading towards the attainment of perfect awakening and omniscience.
Compassionisinherentqualityofawakeningmind(Bodhicittas).



It is believed that everyone has seed of Bodhicitta. Bodhicitta in plain language, feeling concerned and warmth towards others. This is stated in two ways. Firstly we wish that like me no being want pain and suffering. Thus, they should not inflict with undesirable situation. May always remains blessed with happiness and joy. Such altruistic motivation is call awakening mind of Aspiration (pranidhi
Bodhicitta) such as Shantideva in his Bodhicaryavatara says; मा कशिचत...........दुमॅन: |
Secondly, when this inspirational mind expands and decides to acquire skills and knowledge that helps ending suffering is called engaging Bodhicitta (Prasthan Bodhicitta). Here the student engages oneself in listening, learning and practicing moral conduct meditative concentrate and wisdom awareness. This cover the practices of six pramitas as means and wisdom (upaya and prajna), along with practical meditative skill with samth and vipashyana. This helps in determining the true and false notions towards the practice and perceptions. Thus, it provides us with clear vision to see the situation and problems is clearly exposed, solution can be effectively employee.
Vaircanabhisambodhi;

TheOmniscienceisbaseduponcompassion.Itscausalcondition is the awakening mind (Bodhicitta) which is accomplished with the skill means.(As stated in Bhavanakaram, p.284).

The blessed one (the Buddha) often gave counsel to Bhikshu thus,

Such and such as virtue; such as concentration; and such and such is the wisdom. Great become the fruits, great are the gain of concentration when it is fully develops by the virtuous conducts;

Great becomes the fruit; great is the gain of wisdom, when it is fully developed by concentration; utterly freed from the taints of lust. Defiling factors becoming and ignorance is the mind that is fully developed in wisdom. (As state in Mahaparnibaana sutta, p-11).



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