Education and Buddhas
What do we understand by
the word education? Is it a process for learning reading, writing and arithmatics,
training in vocational courses for professional purposes, a discipline to learn, certain
curriculums set by certain people in power, or does the word education connote a process
far deeper and more significant than any of the prementioned conditions at the apparent
The word education, may include the system that teaches special abilities, distributes
facts, right or wrong, and creates values, true or biased.
The purpose of imparting the particular form of education creates a big change in the
meaning of the word.
The difference in the values imparted by the process, creates the heterogenous influences
on the people who go through the process that may be extremely diversified according to
time, place and purpose.
In addition to the work of dispensing some aspects of knowledge of certain matters, the
process of education has great impact in the world of human values, and the process may
produce positive and negative impacts both on the people concerned in diverse manner.
These impacts influence the character. Education may create social opportunists, political
hypocrites or religious fanatics or other types of myopic perverts who may try to harm the
world seriously for what they think as personal gain or even for ego gratification.
As actions are guided by thoughts, the way we think determines the course of our actions.
The training we receive, whether, negative or positive or negative and positive both,
influence our course of thoughts.
Individual aptitudes and abilities create a wide spectrum of diverse results in the
process of teaching and learning yet certain facts remain constant throughout the ages as
The effects of the activities of any individual are not limited to the sphere of his or
her personal material gain or loss or to social gain or loss only.
This has much deeper implications. Every being just does not have a material entity. Every
being has a spiritual entity too and this spiritual existence goes far deeper than the
The development of spiritual self depends on the expansion of the understanding beyond
social and religious bindings. These social and religion based communal bindings are sets
of social values that tend to wall up the ability to think freely and often create biased
and negative perspectives.
There are negative and positive elements in each one of us. The system that increases the
impact of the negative elements such as selfishness, bigotry, unscrupulous mentality
harming the world seriously, is not proper educational system.
Educational system that differentiates between caste, creed or economic class is faulty.
Educational system that does not teach the use of knowledge with compassion and
consideration for the benefit of the mankind and for the planet is harmful.
To create a better world, with balanced and positive activities, a healthier rationale is
necessary to teach people to think in a better way. So, a better educational philosophy is
The system of teaching that promotes humane and considerate feelings and helps to make
considerate human beings who understand and focus on freedom of expression with a
lifestyle of self control is the best educational system.
Here, the wisdom in the teachings of Shakya Muni Gautama Buddha are relevant and
significant. This wisdom, preached more than two thousand and five hundred years ago,
focused on proper teaching for practical life.
Proper way of life encouraging positive emotions and controlling negative emotions was
preached by Buddha in this material world for the benefit of the spiritual aspects of
Personally, I think that Buddhism as a religion has nothing to do with this, as every
religion creates communities with communal feelings that narrow the sphere of
Being a priest even or a bhikshu will not necessarily guarantee real spiritual upliftment.
Religious rites are generally social ceremonies and may have nothing to do with the real
Man, throughout the history, has caused immense amount of pain and sorrow on other human
beings and still do so, in the name of religious beliefs, and the law of Karma or action,
is not confined to beliefs place or time.
The law of Karma, determining the relationship and result of action and reaction is
universal and absolute.
Newtons third law at Karmic level is applicable to every being in every age,
irrespective of personal situation and faith.
Every educational system should be created with the intention of raising the level of
Positive Karma created through conscious and considerate efforts to do positive actions
with goodwill is important. The philosophy of compassion and goodwill may not fit in with
the cutthroat attitude of career competition propagated by many "modern"
In many ways, modern educational systems selfish outlook is encouraged indirectly or
directly by tutoring the dictum that this is a competitive world where one has to leave
others behind to succeed.
Modern educational systems in many ways propagate consumerism in a commercialized world
and focus on the spending power as the dictum of success.
The educational system that promotes unnecessary and wasteful consumerist life-styles
evaluated by the amount of money that one can accumulate or show off, is very harmful.
Buddhas teachings on "Middle path", a way to live with the fulfillment of
needs without unnecessary luxuries are immensely significant, to create a healthy human
Buddha never gave any special importance to cast, creed, class or sect. Spiritual
understanding and its practical application in the material world was most important to
Every teaching of Buddha aims to cearate a system of balanced way of thinking so that a
balanced society can be built with healthy actions that benefit the world positively.
This is proper education. No matter what profession one may accept, it is necessary to
lead a balanced life with real consideration for others and to remember that though this
life is not permanent on the material plane, every person is accountable for his or her
deeds, good and bad.
Buddha realized very clearly that spiritual evolution is the most important aspect of
existence. His teachings are aiming to achieve this end.
The first stage of "Sadhana" or spiritual discipline is to build a good
character with positive actions, mental and physical.
The second stage is to concentrate and focus the mind to gain control over it to eliminate
negative thoughts. After one gains the ability to concentrate the mind, one can focus on
the deeper aspects of existence and reach the final stage of realization.
The way of spiritual evolution is mapped clearly in the teachings of Buddha, emphasizing
the true meaning of education. Education should be a way to develop a person not only in
the material aspect but also in the spiritual way.
Materialistic educational system may indeed create more machines and equipments but these
machines often create an artificial way of life that create more illusions and
Instead of depending on his or her inner strength one starts depending on machines. The
quest for "easier" life-style comes at a heavy cost often and this dependency
may cause unbalanced life-style with many negative implications.
A child tutored in the materialistic system may not even be conscious of the need to
develop the spiritual side when he or she grows up.
Illusions and dissatisfactions created by the materialistic view points disturb the peace
of mind and spread unhappiness in society.
Different types of trainings are needed for diversified professional requirements, and
even in the ancient times different types professional trainings were needed. One should
try to gain good Karma through profession too with sincere and good work for the benefit
of the world through the activities in professional field.
Before taking up any profession, one should judge how beneficial that profession would
really be for the world and for the mankind.
Just engaging in a profession for the sake of money without thinking of the consequences
that work can cause, is poor judgement of life indeed.
If all the work one does professionally is for the sake of money and power, one develops a
very unscrupulous character. The longterm benefits of the work should be considered and
work with serious negative impacts should be avoided. For this reason vocational training
should be given with instructions for proper and positive values in life.
So vocational training and other training is necessary, but with the correct view point.
This is most important if we are to have any hope for a healthier and happier world.
In my essay I have tried to avoid pedantic and sophisticated presentations, and
focused on the effort to explain true aim and meaning of education in context to the
teachings of Gautama Buddha.
My intention is to make people understand that any system of education, to be beneficial
for the individual, for the society and for the world should positively help in spiritual
To clear the confusion between spiritual development and religion, I have elaborated that
point and I have shown that spiritual development caused by good actions such as
compassion and consideration are much greater than any bindings and ceremonies of any
Buddhas way of educating people about the "right way of living" is the way
to save the mankind and the world from destruction by negative forces.
With this thought in mind I have started the Buddha pages with my paper cutting work and
my articles from my published book "the light through the leaves".
by Prabal Pramanik ©
from the book "Light
through the leaves" by Prabal Pramanik
TO VIEW .... CLICK HERE
The birth of the Sangha.
Buddha at venubana Rajagriha
with Sariputta, Moudgalyana
and other followers.
Paper cutting design by Prabal Pramanik
Prabal Pramanik has created a full set of Devasthanakala
paper-cutting art-works on the life of Gautama Buddha. This set depicts scenes on Buddha's
life from "The dream of Mayadevi" to "Mahaparinirvana"
A colourful illustrated book titled "LIGHT THROUGH THE
LEAVES" with all these Devasthankala pictures and informative text has been published
by M/s Orient Book Company. The book was released at a function organized by Mahabodhi
Society of India.
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