Teacher–Student Relationships In Buddhist Education

How To Become Good Members In Family

 

Arpril 10, 2016

 

Teacher–Student Relationships in Buddhist Education

          Everyone and everything in this world more or less have the inter-relationships and inter-conditions with one another either indirectly or directly – between people and people, between people and animals, between people and plants, between people and natural environment, so on and so forth. Of all the relationships, the relationships between people and people, especially the relationships between teachers and students, students and teachers are presented in this presentation.
          In the topic of this writing, we see the word Buddhist education divided into two different words: Education and Buddhist education.  The Pāli words of “education” which are “Sikkhā, Sikkhana, or Sikkhāpana” denote teaching, instruction, guidance, training, study, learn, etc., and refer to ethical training and spiritual development of people. Proper education which has the ability to prevent them from an impure body and mind not only teaches people some various means of earning livelihood, but also helps them to lead a stable moral and spiritual life.
          Buddhist education, which means to avoid evil, to do good, to purify one’s mind, is the process of cultivating, recognizing, reforming and transforming wrong into right, unwholesome into wholesome, ignorance (Avijjā) into clear understanding (Vijjā), human nature into Buddha nature, suffering into happiness, defilements into enlightenment, etc. Buddhist education aims at training us to become people of mindfulness and awakening, steadiness and carefreeness, peaceful joy and happiness like an enlightened Being.  
          The objects of education and Buddhist education here are mainly awakening people, who have very close relationships with one another, are understood as teachers and students.  
Indeed, in Buddhist education, the relationships between teachers and students, students and teachers are the specific relationships connected together by sentiment of teachers and students, that of brother/sisterhood, that of Dharma friends, sentiment of co-practitioners, mutual assistance, mutual affection, mutual love, mutual respect, etc. through the practice and application of the World-Honored One’s teachings in their daily lives mindfully and awakeningly, steadily and relaxedly right in this world.
          As you know teachers are the older generation understood as guides who show the noble path; students are the younger generation understood as instructed people who have the capacity to follow the path to which teachers have guided them. Both the instructors and the instructed have a many-faceted close relationship with one another through cultivation, training, application, and taste of the Dharma peace flavors to bring peace and happiness to all.
          According to inter-connected and interdependent views, teachers and students, students and teachers are the inheritors, transmitters and connectors of the Dharma from previous generations to present generations and future generations. Teachers, who are the people of the former generation, have the responsibilities to connect solemnities, fine actions, right thoughts, speeches and doings of teachers of students’ teachers, and to transmit them to followers. Students who are the people of the latter generation have the duties and responsibilities to embrace bodily teachings, verbal teachings, and thoughtful teachings of their teachers, and to transmit them to the next generation, namely students’ disciples.
          Teachers and students, students and teachers are both transmitters and connectors, both connectors and transmitters, both instructors and inheritors, both inheritors and instructors, yet both kinds of those people have the ability to learn the Dharma, understand it, practice it, preach it, and protect the World-Honored One’s Dharma in the present as well as in the future all over the planet. Understanding and practicing like this, both teachers and students have the capacity to lead Buddhism to the future steadily and calmly through the practice and application of the World-Honored One's Dharma in their daily lives, so as to bring benefits to themselves and to others right in this life. Therefore, the relationships between teachers and students, students and teachers are very special, important, friendly, and close relationships.
We know the relationships between teachers and students, students and teachers are mentioned in the Sutta of the Dharma Inheritance (the Dhammadāyāda Sutta) No. 3 of Majjhima Nikāya through cultivation and application of the World-Honored One's Dharma to bring renown, prestige, solemnity, harmony, solidarity, strength, steadiness, and relaxation to themselves, to the cultivation organization, to the community, and to society.
          In the process of preaching the Dharma and serving humanity, first of all, both teachers and students lead their exemplary, mindful and awakening lives through their inheritance of the Dharma, rather than that of material goods. However, inheriting material goods appropriately with the right people, at the right works, at the right places and at the right time, both teachers and students can bring benefits to many people because they are awakening practitioners who vow to live their awakening lives go together on the path of happiness, cultivate to achieve liberation, and make peacefulness of life.
          We know inheritance of the Dharma is the literal meaning, its figurative meanings mean both teachers and students together learn the Dharma, understand it, practice it, protect it, preach it, and apply the Buddha Dharma in their everyday lives to bring peacefulness and benefits to themselves and others right in this life. Inheritance of the Dharma means the process of cultivation and transformation of teachers’ and students’ bodies and minds. In the course of this cultivation, both teachers and students have the capacity to transform unwholesome habits such as greed, anger, delusion, arrogance, wrong views, etc. into practice, nurture and the development of the heart of almsgiving, compassion, wisdom, humility, trust, right view, etc.
By practicing the diligently inherited Dharma, both teachers and students have the ability to bring happiness to people, joy to family, and peace to the world in the light of compassion and wisdom of the World-Honored One. Teachers and students here can be Monastics, or can be lay Buddhists. Both kinds of those people that cultivate well can bring authentic peace and happiness to the many. Those who practice the inherited Dharma of the World-Honored One steadily and calmly will find that their bodies and minds always become carefree, gentle, and leisurely in each mindful breath, thought, speech and action. From there, peacefulness and happiness can permeate and cool practitioners’ bodies and minds.
          On the other hand, inheritance of material goods, we only have needs to benefit us individually, without awareness of cultivation for ourselves and for others, we are will certainly be mocked and criticized by the world. Inheritance of material goods like this brings the meanings of self-benefit, it does not bring the meanings of cultivation for ourselves and for others. Inheritance of material goods in this case means non-generosity, selfishness, and only knowing to come in for our self-interest. Material goods are understood as belongings such as clothing, personal possessions, food and drink, medicine, money, etc.
          However, if inheriting material goods offered by patrons, both teachers and students that have to be aware to know sufficiently rely on those offerings to cultivate, to nurture their bodies and minds, to propagate the Dharma, and to benefit humanity. Inheriting material goods in this way brings many meanings of benefiting oneself and benefiting others. Both teachers and students will never be mocked and criticized by the world.
          Those who practice cultivation inherit material goods appropriately to benefit the right people, at the right places, at the right works, at the right time, and for the right purposes can reap a lot of merit. Those who do not cultivate, or who cultivate slowly and slowly inherit material goods inappropriately not to benefit the right people, at the right places, at the right works, at the right time, and for not the right purposes, will not reap much merit, or sometimes will not reap merit at all.
          Through doing the charitable activities correctly and inheriting material goods appropriately, we can reap a lot of merit and virtue; merit and virtue which are obtained are due to the process of our practice, cultivation, and creation of merit such as attendance in the charitable activities, supporting poor students, helping the poor and the needy, etc. With merit, we develop our spiritual lives very steadily by practicing and applying the World-Honored One’s Dharma in our daily lives.
          For typical example, if money which is donated by a benefactor is used for bringing up Monks and Nuns to cultivate and train them to become talented people, we only use that money for nourishing Monks and Nuns. Conversely, if we use that money for building a Temple, casting a bell, erecting a statue, although those works bring the meanings of doing for Three Jewels (the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha), in this case, the above-mentioned doings do not bring the meanings appropriately because we have used that money not for the right people, at the right place, at the right work, and not at the right time.
          However, sometimes we use money which is offered by a benefactor inappropriately, not with the right people and not for the right works, for instance, money is offered by benefactor for building the Temple and Stupa, we use that money for printing Scriptures. As practitioners, we try to correct and transform unmindful thoughts, speeches, and actions into mindful thoughts, speeches and actions to bring faith and prestige for ourselves and for the community. Therefore, money is offered for training Monks and Nuns, we only use that money for doing that purpose. Money is offered for building the Temple, we only use that money for doing that purpose.         
          In the above-mentioned circumstances, we need to be careful and fully aware of inheritance of material goods offered by patrons. Whether big or small undertakings, as long as we act in consciousness of mindfulness and awakening, we act in accordance with the right Dharma and receive material goods with a sincere heart, then those actions have the capacity to bring peace and happiness to the many. We can cultivate and reap merit and virtue in the here and the now, in the present life. When others hear and see that we are acting in right mindfulness, then they will feel happy and support our right actions. Cultivated energy, lively experience, the light of compassion and wisdom, peacefulness and happiness in us have the ability to illuminate many people.
          Thus, having received material goods, if we consume each day a bar of gold for the charitable purposes, with the right people, the right works, at the right places and at the right time, we feel happy and at ease, and other people also feel happy. If we use material goods for the charitable doings inappropriately, not with the right people, the right works, not at the right places and not at the right time, when we consume each day a little bit of gold, our mind feels unpeaceful and unhappy, our heart feels uneasy and uncomfortable, and sometimes we are reproached by the world. In this case, the offerer gets very much merit, but we get very little merit. Those who acquire material goods without making an effort to cultivate and transform one’s mind, then are not easy to reap merit and virtue.
          For example, an offerer, viz. benefactor is exampled as a knife, an offered person, viz. practitioner is exampled as a grindstone. If receiving material goods from benefactor, the practitioner who is not careful to cultivate diligently does not live a mindful and awakening life, uses donations of benefactor to do the charitable things inappropriately, not with the right people, the right things, at the right places, and not at the right time, the grindstone of the practitioner will become more and more worn out; it means practitioner’s merit becomes less and less. Conversely, the knife which is offered by the benefactor becomes sharper and sharper; it means merit of benefactor is increasing more and more.  
          Virtue is invisible, but it is expressed through the cultivated life of each of us. Virtue can be seen via the peaceful and happy life of monasteries, in which teachers and students that are monastic intellectuals and practitioners vow to lead an awakening life with the sentiment of co-practitioner, the sentiment of brother/sisterhood, with the time of cultivation to preach the Dharma, and benefit humanity. 
          Being clearly aware of these circumstances, we who skilfully know to cultivate lead our mindful and awakening lives, know to use material goods which are offered by patrons to do the charitable things appropriately, our confidence and prestige increase. When hearing our right actions, everyone is happy to open their minds and to support us with both material goods and spirit. Understanding and practicing like this, teachers and students, along with patrons, feel happy in their hearts. From there, peacefulness and happiness have the ability to permeate and make their bodies and minds cool and fresh through practice and application of the Buddha’s teachings in their daily lives lissomely, appropriately and skilfully.
Above, the writer speaks of inheritance of the Dharma and that of material goods. Next, he talks about thankfulness and gratefulness between teachers and students, students and teachers in Repayment Ceremony or Thanksgiving Ceremony of Buddhism.
          We know every month in the early morning, Temples that usually conduct Thanksgiving Ceremony. In this Ceremony, homage is paid to kinds of gratitude, such as gratitude to parents for their giving birth and nurture, gratitude to teachers and students for their teachings, transmissions and instructions, gratitude to patrons for their assistance and donations, gratitude to national heroes in countries where we were born, grow up, work and live for their founding and safeguarding the country, gratitude for defence and protection of natural environment, gratitude to Patriarchs for their preaching the Dharma and serving humanity from ancient times till now, gratitude to disciples for their continuation and inheritance, and so on.
          In kinds of the foregoing gratitude, in this writing, the writer is concerned only with the close and good relationships between teachers and students, students and teachers.
In Repayment Ceremony or Thanksgiving Ceremony, apart from chanting and expressing homage to kinds of gratitude as above, the practitioner pays respect to the following gratitude to teachers and to students. To express respect and esteem to teachers, students pay homage to their teachers like this: “We disciples who would like to thank our teachers for their defence, protection and tutelage, bow down and pay homage to the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha residing permanently in many directions.
          In the course of cultivation and learning, students learn many good words and nice ideas, especially lively experience and meaningful cultivation experience from their first teacher. Apart from their first teacher, students still learn much virtue, education, science, medicine, philosophy, etc. from monastic teachers as well as lay teachers, to whom students are deeply thankful and grateful for their teachers’ teachings, instructions and help.
          According to Asian culture, especially Vietnamese culture, those who teach us a meaningful experience, a good word, a good meaning, useful and practical work, are our teachers. Indeed, in Buddhist education, teachers play very important roles of guides who show the peaceful and happy path to disciples. This peaceful path is exemplified as a freeway with eight lanes. Each lane represents a right thing, eight lanes that symbolize eight right things include: “Right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration
          The eight lanes are gathered in the path, eight right things are gathered in peaceful joy and liberation; peaceful joy in cultivation, liberation in the practice and application of the Dharma of World-Honored One in one’s daily life. One is eight, eight is one and all. Both eight and one, one and eight support together, like an image with its shadow. Both teachers and students, students and teachers, who rely on and assist one another in life of cultivation lead to enlightenment and spiritual deliverance like wave with water, which cannot be separated. Understanding and practicing like this, students feel happy and teachers feel satisfied and joyful. Both teachers and students have the capacity to bring flowers and fruits of peacefulness and happiness in the here and the now in the present life.
          Next, to express the happy heart when seeing students even surpass teachers, who uprise their mindfulness and encouragement mind say like that: Children are better than parents whose house gets blessed, students are better than teachers whose school gets blessed, disciples are better than masters whose Temple gets blessed. Of course, where their family and Temple get blessed, there parents and teachers are more advanced than their children and disciples, but we know in secular education as well as spiritual education, people always expect the next generation to be better than the previous generation in matters of talent, wisdom, virtue, etc. Indeed, in the context of Buddhist education, the school is considered as a Monastery, the Temple is considered as a Vihara, students are considered as disciples, who have the ability to bring the Dharma and the people to the future brightly and forthrightly in the word.
          In training the young generations, fathers, mothers and teachers always wish their children, students and disciples to be better than them. With a bright view of the future, the next generations are better than the previous generations, especially in talent, wisdom and virtue, they have the ability to build and to develop the Dharma path and the people, the nation and the world by the path of moral rule, namely the Dharma learning, the Dharma practice, the Dharma understanding, and the Dharma joy. Understanding and practicing like this, everyone tastes peaceful joy and happiness in the Dharma of the World-Honored One.
          In everyday life, applying and practicing the Buddha’s teachings regularly, steadily and relaxedly, calling upon the Buddha in himself, the master nurtures his mind to chant and pay homage as follows: “We disciples who are grateful to our disciples for their linkage of the light of the Dharma, bow down and pay homage to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha residing permanently in many directions.
          Indeed, in choosing them the direction of proceeding brightly, peacefully and freely, both teachers and students vow to light up the torch of the Dharma together, light up that of love for the present generations as well as the future generations. They who are authentic practitioners have the ability to bring peace, peacefulness and happiness to themselves and to others all over this planet.
          Moreover, as practitioners cultivating the awakening path, rising on the cultivation path to upper and to good, to peaceful joy and liberation, to peacefulness and happiness for themselves and for others, both teachers and students always understand and recognize their mindful thoughts, speeches and actions in every breath and gesture of their awareness.
Every year, in three months of the Sangha’s Summer Retreat or Raining Retreat (Vassa), there is the ending day of a three-month retreat, that ending day is called the joyous day, Tet holiday of Monastics, who join together with each other to recognize their mindful activities. Among those Monastics, especially teachers and students, students and teachers that are present together in the solemn and pure Dharma Center come face to face with one another to express their grateful and respectful hearts and say:
          In the days of cultivating with the Great Assembly, if I have done something mindful or deficiently mindful, I beg co-practitioners to kindly show me the good things in order that I may know how to uphold and increase them; the non-good things in order that I may know to correct and transform them. In this Dharma Center, I would like to acknowledge my sincere gratitude to my fellow practitioners for their instructions. Realizing that if I have weaknesses caused by deficient mindfulness, I promise to vow not to repeat my old mistakes, or if I have the good and beneficial things formed by right mindfulness, I tell my heart to try to uphold and promote the benefits to bring peacefulness and happiness to the many.”
          Understanding and practicing like this, both teachers and students, students and teachers can contribute together to bringing the Dharma to life and help life add joy and lessen suffering. In everyday life, lay Buddhists and Monastics understand and apply the World-Honored One’s teachings flexibly, mindfully and awakeningly, steadily and relaxedly, they have the ability to bring joy and happiness to themselves, to their relatives and beloved ones in the monastery, in the family and in society.
          To sum up, through the above-mentioned things, the relationships between teachers and students, students and teachers are specific relationships in Buddhist education connected with one another by thoughts, speeches and actions of love and understanding, by sentiment of teachers and students, that of Dharma friends, that of co-practitioners, that of the Dharma protection and the Dharma propagation through the practice and application of the Buddha Dharma in their daily lives to bring peacefulness and happiness to many people.
          Both teachers and students understand and practice the Buddha Dharma like this, peacefulness and happiness have the ability to permeate and to make their bodies and minds cool and fresh. From there, peacefulness of teachers is mainly that of students, happiness of students is mainly that of teachers. When having obtained peacefulness and happiness, both teachers and students have the ability to bring peacefulness and happiness to the family, the monastery, the school, and to society. And conversely, both teachers and students who do not practice like this do not reap their happy and peaceful seeds.
          Buddhist Education has the ability to help teachers and students, students and teachers lead their mindful and awakening, stable and relaxed lives so as to recognize, cultivate and transform the seeds of unhappiness and unpeacefulness into flowers and fruits of authentic peacefulness and happiness in the here and the now in the present life if both teachers and students know how to practice and apply the World-Honored One’s Dharma diligently in their daily lives.

          Indeed, the close relationships which have very practical values in the present are tied together with one another by the substance of cultivation, by the sentiment of mutual assistance, mutual affection, mutual love, mutual respect, harmony and solidarity, by transmission and continuation, by guidance and inheritance of the Dharma of World-Honored One mindfully and awakeningly. Both teachers and students, students and teachers that are practitioners of peacefulness and liberation have the capacity to protect, uphold and develop Buddhism in the present as well as in the future, and have the ability to bring Buddhism to the future brightly and resplendently all over the world.
May you all dwell in peace and instill the World-Honored One’s teachings!
By Ven. Thích Trừng Sỹ


Dec 24, 2015

How To Become Good Members In Family

          Good evening Professors, lecturers, and students,
          Dear friends!
          Today is Wednesday, May 25, 2011. My Dharma name is Venerable Thich Trung Sy and my Dharma brother’s name is Senior Venerable Thích Nguyên Kim. We are from Co Lam temple. Having received the invitation from Seattle University, and being guided and allowed by the Most Venerable Thich Nguyen An, the Head of Co Lam Temple, we are very happy to come here to present and attend this religious Seminar at this University organized by Professors. This evening, the main speakers are Senior Venerable Nguyên Kim, Catholic Priest Thành, Youth Leader Mr. Sơn, and Venerable Trừng Sỹ.
          My topic presented here is “how to become good members in family.”(1)
As you know family is a cell of society, the primary educational unit of society, a basic and steady foundation of loving education. In family, parents play very important roles of professors in teaching their children love, peace, and happiness. Children that are students learn love, peaceful joy, and happiness.
          Loving father, loving mother, or loving our children, first of all, we must be authentically present right here and now for our loved ones. Being present right here and now is for us to listen and learn what our loved ones say. When he or she says something good, we learn to uphold and develop that theme. When he or she says something non-good, we also learn, recognize, and eliminate it gradually. Something we would like to stress here is loving speech and deep listening.If father and mother say, they love their children, but they do not stay at home, they are not present here and now, they are always busy doing business, they do not have free time to play with their children, to eat, drink, sleep, take a rest with them, and to look after their children.
          Therefore, according to the author, in each day and night, in twenty-four hours of watch, we should put aside time of at least two hours, one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening to take care of our children’s studies, eating, drinking, sleep, rest, and life. When we guide our children and practice like this, it is easy for them to become good members of our family, good students at school, and good workers or officials in society.
          However, wanting to teach our children well, we who must be exemplary wife or husband live our mindful and awakening lives by applying and practicing loving speech and deep listening in our daily lives. When the wife says something angry, husband has to practice the conduct of listening with his unprejudiced, non-judgmental and non-opposed mind. Waiting for his wife to finish speaking, at that time, the husband starts to speak skillfully and flexibly. Conversely, when the husband angers, the wife also has to practice to listen deeply to what her husband is speaking. Waiting for her husband’s to finish speaking, the wife begins to confide and share in right and wrong, happy and unhappy things. 
          But, over the course of practicing loving speech and deep listening, sometimes she speaks out loudly by responding to her husband with upset words while he is speaking. Conversely, while His wife is speaking, he also responds to her with his unpleasant words, but both husband and wife realize that actions of their rough responses are unlovable and do not bring the good results and benefits to both. At this point, a person with practice is different than a person without practice. Initially, if husband angers and says something unharmonious, his wife tries to listen to what her husband says and understands about 20 percent, gradually building up to 40, 60, 80, and 100%.      
          Cultivation is the process of transforming; transforming non-listening into listening, transforming anger into joy, transforming frustration and suffering into peaceful joy and happiness; happiness for oneself and for one’s relatives and the loved ones in one’s family. We know that loving speech and deep listening are the conduct of practice of gentle Mother Avalokiteśvara.(2) Those who practice the conducts of loving speech and deep listening gather flowers and fruits of authentic peace and happiness for themselves and for others in right here and right now in the present life.    
          One more thing, when saying something, if the wife or husband has to speak at the right time, at the right place, and with the right object, her or his speaking gets meaningful and valuable. Conversely, if she or he does not speak at the right time, at the right place, and with the right object, her or his speaking has no meaning and no value.
          In the family, the wife and husband practice like this, they are happy, their family is happy, and their children are also happy. We should remember the wife’s happiness is also the husband’s happiness, and vice versa, the husband’s unhappiness becomes the wife’s unhappiness and the children’s unhappiness. If we understand and practice like this, our family is happy, our children and we feel peaceful and joyful.  

          May all of you be peaceful and happy all the time!
          Thank you so much for your attention!      

 

http://www.daophatngaynay.com/vn/files.php?file=images/2011/quy2/IMG_0272_886406389.jpg

 


  This tittle which is presented in the the Annual Regional Buddhist Teachers Meeting at the Sakya Monastery in Seattle hosted by
the North West Dharma Association on Saturday, October 1st, 2011.
See http://www.northwestdharma.org/news/Fall11/teachers-meeting.php/ http://giaoducphatgiaophapnhan.blogspot.com/

   See Pāli-English Dictionary. Eds. T. W. Rhys Davids & W. Stede, London: Pāli Text Society, 1921-25. (First Indian reprint, 
New Delhi: Oriental Books Reprint Corporation, 1975): 11 & 708.

   Rousseau J J A. Discourse on the Origin of Inequality. London: 1970: 169.

   Swami Sivananda. Religious Education. 1983, Ch. I, Bliss Divine, 1991: 126.

   Dhp. v. 183.

  Thích Nhất Hạnh. The Heart of The Buddha’s Teaching. New York: Parallax Press, 1999: 246-7.

  See Dhp. v. 88, 97, 378, etc.

  See the Discourse on the Turning of the Dhamma Wheel (Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta) of Connected Discourses on the
Truths (Samyutta Nikaya, 56: 11).    

 

 

 

(1) This topic presented will take up about fifteen minutes. See Seattle University news through website www.seattleu.edu/commons/post.aspx?id=73883   
(2) This Bodhisattva has the ability to listen to human beings' cries to assit and help.

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@ Phap Nhan Temple - Del Valle, TX

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