5 THE NEED FOR GLOBAL ETHICAL EDUCATION AND THE ROLE OF SUBLIME BUDDHIST TEACHINGS

Thứ năm - 09/05/2019 12:29
by Sushant Chaturvedi
47






 
THE NEED FOR GLOBAL ETHICAL EDUCATION AND THE ROLE OF SUBLIME BUDDHIST TEACHINGS

by Sushant Chaturvedi*






ABSTRACT

In rapidly changing world today driven by materialism and self- centered goals, there is need and challenge of bringing Buddhist worldview and philosophy in mainstream education. With the impact of globalizations, there is need to understand the impact of Buddhism in teaching- learning process. The question is this. In what ways a Buddhist perspective change the impact on young minds? Can the pupil become compassionate, ethical and more responsible with the teachings of Buddhism in their curriculum? The conflict management practices have become focal point of attention in global education. For creation of peaceful and mindful society global education needs to center itself on self-responsibility and compassionate communication with others in a rather hostile environment.  A  Buddhist  perspective  is  necessary  to  generate a sense of mindful belonging and real happiness. The feeling of happiness and contentment can be invoked through the Atāga Mārga and through four noble truths called Ārya Sats. Service of man/fellow human beings can solve many of our problems and this perspective stems from Buddhism which can  become  necessary part of global education. There are ethical goals and humanistic concerns in the world to be achieved i.e., not to do any evil, to cultivate the good and purify ones mind.


*. Dr., REC, Ambedkar Nagar, UP, India.
 


Today the whole world is suffering from violence, hatered, malice, frenzy and commotion. This has resulted in unstability and slowed down the process of human development. The health and well being of human world and human life are affected more than never before. There is a big question mark on the continuation of human existence and the very exixtence of human beings. We are living in difficult, horrible times and human beings are clashing like ignorarant armies in a dark battlefield.

If we pay heed to these challenges and try to find out solutions by looking at old order and traditional thoughts, we find Buddhist teachings and ethics to be gems of thoughts and guiding principals. Buddhist teachings sereve as the only sweet oasis for struggling and suffereing humanity. This beacon light available to us can eradicate the darkness of ignorance and self-centeredness and provide us peace of head and heart. Many of the spiritual practices, thoughts and knowledge of Lord Buddha are milestones for human welfare, because Buddha has made a significant contribution in the development of the creation of non-voilent society. Lord Buddha has said that hatred never ends, but only love can triumph hate. Buddhist moral philosophy lays laid important stress on positive qualities like karūṇa and maitrī. Besides, Ahiṃsā non-violence in Buddhism is put forward by twin ideas of maitrī and karūṇā.

The most significant quality of Buddhist ethical values is its practical nature. The practicality of Buddhist ethical philosophy is clearly visible mainly in its ancient period of evolution, when disciples of Buddha came together before him for the purpose of practicing Brahmācārya under his counsel and direction.1 According to Damien Keown “Buddhist morality is a matter of character and cultivation and thus focuses on cultivating character rather than evaluating particular acts.2

The incidents that are happening in todays world are dominated by religious frenzy, violence, unrest, hatred and malice that arise

 
  1. M. V. Ram Kumar Ratnam & K. Srinivas, Buddhist Ethics in Impermanence, New Delhi:
  1. K. Print World (P) Ltd., 2011, p. 79.
  1. Damien Keown, Contemporary Buddhist Ethics, New York: Routledge Curzon, 2000, p. 22.
 


from it. As a result, the world is becoming a hostile world thirsty for blood and the speed of immence capacities of human beings is slowing down, and the future of human generation is being questioned. Everyones happiness, everyones health, and everyone should be on the path of welfare and to make sure that no one is unhappy is the most fruitful thing, undoubtedly. There is wish for wellness, peace and tranquility of all and every object-earth, water space, society, animals, and birds but today we are living in hard times. Man has become an enemy of man.

It is becoming difficult to maintain human rights, save humanity and keep the human environment safe. If we think carefully about this, it will become clear that there is a decrease in our thinking, the gap has widened and we are wandering in the wrong direction. What can be the right or the proper path, which is the welfare of all mankind? It is a big challenge and to look for the solution, we need to look at our heritage and ancient past, then we can realize that the teachings of Lord Buddha are like a gemstone whose light-rays can remove darkness and take us out of our materialistic hallucination and acute infatuation.

Mahatma Buddha gained knowledge, ie, the time whenhe attained Mahanvivan. Time has passed over two thousand five hundred years but the Sangha and monks kept the teachings of Buddha for centuries and offered their whole life in propagation so that the people living on earth could be shown the correct path of knowledge and awakening. In the tradition of knowledge, it was a revolutionary event that presented a new style of perfect life in front of human society. Among the disciples devoted to Buddhist ideas, there was also a disciple named Agrika Dharampal. This Sri Lankan son founded the Mahabodhi Society in India in 1891 and reinstated Buddhism.

Putting special emphasis on best practice of conduct, Buddha asked his followers to follow the ten rules strictly: do not kill the animals, do not steal, do not drink, do not eat food in the afternoon, dance, sing. Avoiding other means of entertainment, staying away from the use of garlands, perfumes, toiletries etc. for beauty enhancement, not to use more valuable clothes, shayya etc. and do not use precious metals like gold and silver. In the early period of
 


Buddhism, the Buddha was a path exhibitor for the disciples, but later in Buddhism he became a rectifier. His fame spread and he was treated as the liberator of humans, meaning that Nirvana would be attained through his grace.
    1. LIFE-PERSPECTIVE AS GIVEN BY BUDDHISM

It is the advice of Buddha for his non-violent followers that disgust does not end in hatred, but only hatred is lost with love. The only answer to the acts of violence is love and kindness. This message can prove to be a milestone for human dignity. If someone wants to learn to read and write, he will have to be admitted to a school. In the same way, to maintain the healthy and strong body one will have to go to a gym. To learn yoga and pranayama, you will have to go to a yoga school. In order to learn the technique of vipassana, which is the essence of Buddhas preaching, it is necessary to go to a Vipassana Yogodhyan Center.
Vipassana: The noble path of human welfare.

If the purpose of meditation is to concentrate only on the mind, then the person should learn the technique of yoga meditation, for which he receives a mantra of meditation from a guru. It can be practiced at home too. This technique will put mind at peace, the mind will get concentration and even the advice received from the mind will be pure and gentle. Vipassana not only pacifies your mind at the suface level but it is deep churning of the mind just like a surgery operation. It purifies the mind to its core at its conscious level. The inner conscience is the place where its needs to be purged off all negative emotions. These vile feelings are accumulated during this life in the depths of or mind, that is, this mind becomes enslaved due to this kind of inferior emotions. Therefore, to achieve this goal it is necessary to make the mind very pure and simple, free from any contaminated environment.

The person can learn the technique of vipasna only by living a moral life and by giving human dignity to all. Moral life can be won by keeping control over mind. To win over the mind and purify the mind, the persons life should be based on ethics human values. Humans should not do any vocal or physical act which disturbs the peace and harmony of the existence of other beings. The mind
 


should remain in equiblirium state and even if the velocity of the poisonous emotions gets increased, it should not get translated into unmindful acts. In the state of vipassa, the person takes a moment to see the truth about himself.

Buddha, meaning one who has acquired knowledge and awakening, is the symbol of Indias all-inclusive thinking, and that image is still intact today. In todays complex times where competition, violence, crime and covetousness are picking up, Buddhas words come in handling us with the adoption of a good way in protecting human rights. Peace, cooperation and cordiality can save the suffering humanity scorching from pain today. To be devoted to human rights, there can be no superior thought other than Buddhas teachings because these are scientific and do not take side with any cult. Gautam Buddha was well aware of his ethical teachings and its influence on human society. In the Dhammapada it is clearly mentioned that: Yathāgāraṃ succhannaṃ vuṭhi na samativijjhati / Evaṃ subhāvitaṃ cittaṃ rāgo na samativijjhati //”3 The Four Noble Truths (Pāli: Ariya-sacca; Skt.: Ārya-satya) 35 constitutes fundamental teachings of Buddhism.

Though, it seems very difficult to encapsulate entire buddhist canon and all aspects in one single research paper but few key concepts and put it into perspective and then to put forward thoughts that make sense to Buddhist scholars as well as common readers. One important concept is the concept of Citta which translates as heart or mind. Real learning transforms persons into better human beings. It changes people deep inside their hearts and minds. This Pali word Citta becomes so cruscial in interpretating and explaining Buddhist approach to learning. It is placed somewhere between mind and heart and which rather combines both aspects cognitive as well as affective. This type of diachotomy is not found in Buddhist approach. There is something which complete and whole and which does not give importance to one over the other. In Buddhist model of learning the heart and mind are inseparably joined or clubbed together. This forms the edifice of a truly holistic approach to education. Joyce Miller says aptly

 
  1. Dhp., verse no. 13.
 


If we put this into practice in our schools the acquisition of knowledge and skills would not be more important that the development of attitudes and values, they would have equal status. Then areas of scientific learning would not be separated from the ethical questions they raise; historical facts would not be acquired without full consideration of their impact and their continuing significance on our lives and our culture…. The Buddhist path is about the cultivation of the mind – bhavana - and, as the Dhammapada says in its opening verses: Your life is the creation of your mind. The development of wisdom (one of the three parts of the Noble Eightfold Path) is the intended outcome of Buddhist practice and it is nurtured through mindfulness, that paying of bare, non-judgemental attention to what the mind is doing. Concentration (the second of the three parts) and mindfulness are the basis of meditation practice, the purpose of which is the development of wisdom – thus the Noble Eightfold path perpetually nurtures and reinforces itself, combined as it is with the third part, morality.

There are four mental states which are tried to develop through practice. These are called Brahma Viharas: 1. Metta or loving kindness, 2. Karuna or compassion, 3. Mudita or ympathetic joy and, 4. Upekkha or equanimity. All of these have their roles to play in teaching learning process as they reflect on meaning and purpose of education and the principles underlying it when it is practiced.

Metta:


Literal meaning of Mettā is friendliness4. Metta or loving kindness is part of fundamental behaviour which stands opposite to anger. This kindeness is not directed towards only ones own fellow beings but rather towards oneself. This grapples with the question of raising pupils self-esteem. It is about responsibilities and relationships towards one-another or with the whole human world and human life and the entire natural world in broder perspective. Behaving morally and ethically right entails five simple principles or rules of training which are given as under:

 
  1. T. W. Rhys Davids & William Stede, op. cit., p. 540.
 


Not to kill living creatures
Not taking that which is not given Avoid sexual misconduct
No to incorrect speech
Abstaining from drugs and alcohol.

Furthermore, according to Piyadassi Thera,5 Mettā is a very pure sublime state of human mind; like a quicksilver it cannot attach itself to anything. It is a calm, non-assertive super-solvent among virtues.

Karuna:


It means compassion6. Prajna gives rise to Karuna and karuna gives rise to Prajna. Both are intertwined and inseparable. Karuna when translated into English comes as compassion or active sympathy which compels to alleviate problems of suffering humanity. One may claim that it is not possible to completely eradicate suffering but sincere efforts must be made to practice Prajna and Karuna. Growing wise means to realize that there is no essential difference between individual me and individual you. Compassion teaches us to interpret truth in a flexible manner and there is no monopoly over truth. According to Narada Mahathera7, the chief characteristics of compassion are the wish to remove the suffering of others. As in Mahāyāna Buddhism it is observed that the Bodhisatta will help others to get rid of their sufferings in the world before getting himself out of suffering.

In The Essence of the Heart Sutra, His Holiness the Dalai Lama wrote,

According to Buddhism, compassion is an aspiration, a state of mind, wanting others to be free from suffering. Its not passive — its not empathy alone — but rather an empathetic altruism that actively strives to free others from suffering. Genuine compassion must have both wisdom and lovingkindness. That is to say, one must understand the nature of the suffering from which we wish to free
  1. Piyadassi Thera, The Buddha Ancient Path, p. 114.
  2. T. W. Rhys Davids & William Stede, op. cit., p. 197.
  3. Nārada Mahāthera, The Buddha and His Teachings, p. 536.
 


others (this is wisdom), and one must experience deep intimacy and empathy with other sentient beings (this is lovingkindness).

The apt reply to suffering is compassion without precondition. The conflict between good and evil does not find any place in Budhhism. Rather, it believes that we are in a constant struggle against suffering. This suffering results from hatred, lust, greed, desire, delusion anger etc. We all have these feelings umless one has attained enlightenment. There cannot be plain, uncomplicated judgments of the behaviour of other people as everbdy in involved in his/her painful struggle.
Mudita (sympathetic joy):

Third sublime state means joy, glad, pleased etc8. Mudita means sympathetic joy. It means that one is able to enjoy the success and achievements of others without being jealous. Mudita does not invite envy. Participation and celebration of participation is mre important than winning or emerging victorious. Emphasis is on cooperation and collaboration rather than on competing with each other. The heart of mudita is love. And love should be the basis of education. In an educational institute where students are really loved and nurtured with affection, is successful to a great extent and pupils are happy. It is joy with reference to the well being of others.9
Upekkha (equanimity)

It is generally translated as indifference. It is hard and long process in whch Upekkha gets developed. It evolves through understanding the real nature of reality side by side also recognising the fact that it is not substantial and not everlasting. It needs two things to become fully realized. A. silence and B space. It is related with spiritual growth. One already has Upekkha when he or she is in a calm state of mind. But we really need equanimity when we are troubled by tragedy, dejection, rejection, loss and criticism. Not to get confused, equanimity is not an escape. It is rather acquiring the skill not to be destroyed or carried away by the forces of life. Equanimity creates


 
  1. T. W. Rhys Davids & William Stede, op. cit., p. 537.
  2. Muditā sahagatena cetasā ekaṃ disapharitvā viharati; M., Syamarahassa Tepikaṃ, XIII, p. 50.
 


power of character and stillness of mind. It is very much aware of surroundings and whatever is taking place in it. To be able to guide students to develop equanimity will relieve them from the hustle and bustle and mad rush of life. It will take them away far from the madding crowd to lead a peaceful, quieter life. The sound and fury of life signifies nothing, in the end. Equanimity helps to become more reflective.
    1. CONCLUSION

In conclusion, one might argue that these traits are unreal and unlikely to be achieved in real world. But then the question arises this. What really constitutes real world? In Buddhist practice, living with joy and equanimity is the real thing. At the heart of life is love and cooperation. On the basis of above discuss qualities we can make this world a better place to live in. Forming a sound base to these traits a more humane, kind, spiritual and effective education system can be developed and maintained. To be able to recognise a deeper and higher purpose of life is one of the long-lasting chief aims of education. We remember only that education that improves our quality of life. The child is the father of the man and an education which has love, compassion, sympathetic joy, equanimity as its core values metamorphoses the lives of pupils. Finally, it increases the sum total of human happiness. It is equally effective in helping professionals. Professor B Labh in his unpublished article Buddhism and Social Harmony says “Buddhism is a pragmatic teaching which starts from certain fundamental propositions about how we experience the world and how we act in it. It teaches that it is possible to transcend this world full of suffering. What finally leads to such transcendence is what we call Wisdom. The enormous literature of Buddhism is not a literature of revelation and authority. Instead, it uses ethics and meditation, philosophy and science, art and poetry to point a Way to this Wisdom. Similarly, Buddhist writing on social concern, unlike secular writings, makes finite proposals which must ultimately refer to this Wisdom, but which are also arguable in terms of our common experience.



 

Reference


M.  V.  Ram  Kumar  Ratnam  &  K.  Srinivas,  Buddhist  Ethics  in Impermanence, New Delhi: D. K. Print World (P) Ltd., 2011, p. 79.

Damien   Keown,   Contemporary   Buddhist   Ethics,   New   York: Routledge Curzon, 2000, p. 22.
Dhp., verse no. 13.
T. W. Rhys Davids & William Stede, op. cit., p. 540. Piyadassi Thera, The Buddha Ancient Path, p. 114.
T. W. Rhys Davids & William Stede, op. cit., p. 197. Nārada Mahāthera, The Buddha and His Teachings, p. 536.
T. W. Rhys Davids & William Stede, op. cit., p. 537

Muditā  sahagatena  cetasā  ekaṃ  disaṃ  pharitvā  viharati;  M., Syamarahassa Tepikaṃ, XIII, p. 50.

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