- The Concept of Personality
Revealed Through The Pancanikaya
- Ven. Thich Chon-Thien
- Part Five: Conclusion
- V.1 Chapter 1
- A New Course of Education and Culture
From Lord Buddhas teachings recorded in the five collections of
Paĝli Suttapitaka, the author has discussed the doctrine of Dependent Origination and its
operation, the five Aggregates and their operation, and Buddhist spirits of education for
Individuals. He has introduced a human being as a conditioned being, and has not come to
any personality theory in which a man is regarded as an entity having a permanent self.
This is, to his best knowledge, a special feature very helpful to personality theorists
and educators of the coming century in opening a new course of culture and education for
human beings peace and happiness
It is time for them to make a choice between these two things: one is
considering self-thought way of thinking as the basis on which all values in life are
based, and considering the fulfilment of ones desire as a means to ones
happiness; the other is developing non-self way of thinking as the wisdom regard showing a
way of life, and accepting the control of ones desire as a means to ones
happiness in the here-and-now, regardless of all difficulties one may meet with in life.
The former has brought to life a lot of troubles and crises; only the latter is a belief
and a hope of releasing those social troubles and crises. This is the content mentioned in
the fifth part of this work.
The truth of life, as discussed, says that:
A man must be a man of some education and culture, and an education or
culture must be education or culture of man. They cannot be separated from each other.
Lord Buddhas teachings for human beings on what the world really
is, what a man really is, on individuals problems, their causes, their cessation,
their way to their cessation, and on spirits of individualized education, really imply the
meaning of a way of education which is going to be showed more clearly in the next lines.
V.1.1 NEW COURSE OF EDUCATION
Now, let us take a look into the following points of view on education
suggested by some outstanding persons before coming to a discussion about the details of
the educational problem.
Dr. E.F Schumacher, the well-known author of a very interesting book
tittled "Small is Beautiful" wrote:
" Education can help us only if it produces "whole men". The truly
educated man is not a man who knows a bit of everything, not even the man who knows all
the details of all subjects (if such a thing were possible). The "whole man", in
fact, may have little detailed knowledge of facts and theories, he may treasure the
Encyclopaedia Britanica because"she knows and he neednt", but he will be
truly in touch with the centre. He will not be in doubt about his basic convictions, about
his view on the meaning and purpose of his life. He may not be able to explain these
matters in words, but the conduct of his life will show a certain sureness of touch which
stems from his inner clarity". (1)
Dr. E.F. Schumacher defined the word "centre" in the above
quotation as follows:
" The centre, obviously is the place where he has to create for himself an orderly
system of ideas about himself and the world, which can regulate the direction of his
various strivings." (2)
For him, the root purpose of education must be helping a man understand
the truth of himself and the world he is living in, see his course of life, and be
responsible for his deeds. Although he cannot say what that truth is, but his words sound
very humanist and pratical. His point of view on education deserves to be considered.
As a very well-known economist, journalist and progresssive
entrepreneur, an Economic Adviser to the National Coal Board from 1950 to 1970, in
England, a Founder and Chairman of the Intermediate Technology Development Group Ltd.,
etc., his advice on problems of rural development praised by many overseas governments,
his above mentioned book printed 34 times from 1963 to 1993, his ideas must be thoughtful,
especially ideas on man, economy and environment. (3)
For Albert Einstein who is one of the greatest scientists of our modern
age, he delivered some other special opinions on education which runs as follows:
" The school has always been the most important means of trans-fering the wealth
of tradition from one generation to the next..."
" Sometimes one sees in the school simply the instrument for transfering a certain
maximum quantity knowledge to the growing generation. But that is not right. Knowledge is
dead; the school, however, serves the living. It should develop in the young individuals
those qualities and capabilities which are of value for the welfare of the commonwealth.
But that does not mean that individuality should be destroyed and the individual become a
mere tool of the community, like a bee or an ant. For a community of standardized
individuals without personal originality and personal aims would be a poor community
without possibilities for development. On the contrary, the aim must be the training of
independently acting and thinking individuals, who, however, see in the service of the
community their highest life problem..." (4)
And he added:
"It is not enough to teach man a specialty. Through it he may become a kind of
useful machine but not a harmoniously developed personality. It is essential that the
student acquires anunderstanding of a lively feeling for values... He must learn to
understand the motives of human beings, their illusions, and their sufferings in order to
acquire a proper relationship to individual fellow-men and to the community. (5)
So, Einstein supposes education has a role of maintaining the wealth of
tradition, but he doesnt emphasize the role of developing it, and choosing which of
the traditions should be maintained, which of it should be reconsidered, because the root
purpose of life is to live in happiness but not exactly to live with tradition.
He also supposes education has a role of educating men to be a man of
power-or a social man with specialized knowledges; and a man himself who must know the
wholeness of himself, his illusion and suffering..., and his community. This sounds very
interesting, although it cannot say what a man himself really is.
As a very outstanding scientist, Einsteins seeing things is so
scientific and seeing human beings is so realistic that it should be brought into
practice. His opinions on education, to the author, may suggest a good course of
For Bertrand Russel, a very well-known U.S writer and thinker of the
second part of the twentieth century A.D., mentioning the problem of "Education and
social order", he wrote:
"Three divergent theories of education all have their advocates in the present
day. Of these the first considers that the sole purpose of education is toprovide
opportunities of growth and to remove hampering influences. The second holds that the
purpose of education is to give culture to the individual and to develop his capacities to
the utmost. The third holds that education is to be considered rather in relation to the
community than in relation to the individual, and that its business is to train useful
Russels speech reflects rather faithfully what education of today
is. His view is "no one of the three is a adequate by itself", and a right
system of education must apply all the above three theories.But all those three theories
still lack of the most important thing which is the truth of a man and the true way to his
happiness in the present. In principle, providing opportunities for the growth of
individuals, and helping a man develop his capacities to the utmost are very necessary to
every good course of education. For the problem of training useful citizens, it should be
noticed that a citizen, or a social man, must come after a man himself; without a man
himself, a citizen can never be trained. So, here emerges a significant realization that
the truth of the world and of human beings Lord Buddha Gotama discovered twenty six
centuries ago is an invaluable discovery for mens new education and culture if it is
to be brought today into schools for use. It must be known as a way of life bringing peace
and happiness for individuals as well as for their commonwealth, and must be regarded as a
major subject of philosophy, psychology, and educational psychology. This new branch of
education will offer people a new regard to values and attitude of life leading to the
calm of desire and ill-will, and to the destruction of wrong perception and thought. This
branch of education will help individuals analyse their own mind, behaviour and trouble to
find the right way to live: they will come to recognize that happiness does not ask them
to do anything more than stopping their desires, and that the very present moment of the
here-and-now is when they really are free from troubles, because it always is completely
new. At that wonderful moment, no one, or no power, puts any trouble into their mind.
However, to abide in that moment a person should know how to control his self-thought and
desire by the insistent practice of wisdom regard and of the four foundations of
mindfulness. Here he only needs guidance, advice, encouragement, and wakefulness from his
teacher and others. This means a helping role of education is needed, but not command,
force or power; school discipline is still maintained for providing appropriate atmosphere
for learning and opportunities for the development of individuals mind and
capacities; and the content of teaching aims at transferring knowledges for understanding
and cultivating individuals mind, and for the service society in response to the
commonwealth-requirements of safety, peace and prosperity. Methods of teaching are also
demanded for wakefulness rather than stuffing with senseless notions.
With regard to the above way of education, the appraisal of learning
skill of a student, award, punishment, exams, etc., must be reconsidered according to the
new course of education.
In the authors opinion, if the above things are adopted, a way of
education for the wholeness of man, humanness and wisdom will come into existence and
survive. Because the truth of life and man wears no label, so this way of education will
wear no label either. Since it wears no label, it may be a way of education for all people
of all time. Because a man is but the operation of the five aggregates, so no image of
personality is created for any pattern of education to be followed: for individuals, the
meaning of life is to live with what he is in the very present moment without attachment
to it: in doing this they will realize peace and happiness in their mind and body; the
meaning of life is not anything of thinking or wishing: thinking or wishing only creates
an image of life which is dead. Since individuals are strongly influenced by their old
kamma, or old habits, by environment and by culture, so education has another role of
helping them see what influences are hindering their mind, obsessing them, from seeing the
five aggregates as they really are, to get rid of them.
If the performance of all above requirements is done, that way of
education is then regarded as education of humanness, reality, wisdom and creativeness.
This is the meaning of a new course of education.
V.1.2 NEW COURSE OF CULTURE
From a new course of education, a new course of culture originates.
As quoted in (V.1.1), Albert Einstein, a creative scientist, thinks
that Education plays a role of maintaining, transferring and developing culture from
generation to generation. This culture is defined by The Random House College Dictionary
as, "The sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings transmitted
from one generation to another" In the authors mind, it may be understood as
all aspects of life of a group of human beings made up by education and its creative works
to cope suitably with nature and to be improved on. Regarding this meaning, a new course
of culture is discussed.
As mentioned before, the current culture of human beings is dominated
by self-thought which has created the meaning of goodness, badness, gain and loss, success
and failure; superiority and inferiority, etc. These meanings appear in life as a strong
worldly wind that makes mens life-boat rock in the ocean of suffering: it is those
meanings which act upon mens mind and cause troubles to arise; these troubles, in
their turn, hinder mens regard to things from truth, and pull off their mind from
abiding in the very present moment, and so pull off men from true life - besause true life
only exists in the present.
That self-thought makes arise in ones mind perception of "I
am", "I am this" "I am that", "I am not this",
"Im not that", "I was", "I was this", "I
wasnt this", "I was that", "I wasnt that", "I
will be". "I will be this", "I will be that"..., "May I
be", "May I be this", "May I be that", etc. These perceptions
therefore are root causes of craving for sensual desire, craving for existence, cravingfor
non-existence, hatred, anger, etc. They lead men to sorrow, lamentation, grief, suffering.
Such is the operation of self-thought.
Regarding the doctrine of Dependent Origination, self-thought means
ignorance (avijja), and its operation really is the operation of ignorance: this is the
arising of Dependent Origination leading to suffering, and is the truth of this current
culture. Self-thought, therefore, exists as what determines the fateful suffering of human
beings. If all efforts of those who are searching for happiness are based on self-thought,
happiness will always be out of their reach. Such is the current culture.
In fact, all efforts of human beings to build up a culture aim at true
happiness as the final purpose of life. So, to achieve that intimate purpose, self-thought
or ignorance must be replaced by the destruction of ignorance, or wisdom (vijja or
pannaaĝ): all actions of human beings must be put into the operation of non-self thought
as what Buddha taught. This operation will open a new culture or a new course of culture
leading to the destruction of suffering. Here is happiness.
Non-self thought will function as an intelligent architect who ardently
constructs new aspects of life, such as:
* The most important aspect of life, called the most important
architectural work, is love for life: love for human kind, for a country, for parents, for
husband or wife, for children, relatives, neighbors, etc. This love led by wisdom (right
view and right thought) comes from onesseeing the truth of selflessness of existing
things. It can extinguish a lot of causes of suffering in life.
* The next architectural work is giving the true sense to
"loyalty" and "justice": morals group, or right speech, right action
and right livelihood, is the giver of the sense. If a person practises right speech, right
action and right livelihood, he must go on the way of "loyalty" and
"justice" faithfully: right action implies the meaning of "justice"
right speech means "loyalty" and so on.
* Morals group itself means morality and humanity.
* Non-self thought leading to happiness shows that: happiness of
individuals, the commonwealth and the culture, tradition of a country are two separate
things: in the case culture and tradition cannot bring happiness to individuals and the
commonwealth, they must be revaluated and improved.
* Non-self thought helps people see the co-existence of human beings
and environment so that they come to protect environment from pollution and human beings
from war. Tragedies and sufferings.
* Non-self thought will open a way of thinking for men, creating new
concepts of value for the beauty, architecture, painting, etc.; serving happiness of men.
* All the above new aspects of life will make up a new culture, or new
course of culture, for peace and happiness.
* The world is in serious crises: social crisis and environmental
crisis. If the course of culture is not changed, those crises cannot be resolved, and
human beings will be drowned in that ocean of crises. It is time for the world to make a
choice between the operation of self-thought and that of non-self thought. The
writers belief in the latter is clear. It will be shown next.