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The Concept of
Personality Revealed Through The Pancanikaya - Ven. Thich Chon-Thien
Institute of Buddhist Studies
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:
Dr. E.F. Schumacher defined the word "centre" in the above quotation as follows:
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:
And he added:
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 education.
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:
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.
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