This book is a translation into English of a lecture given by a Most Venerable Thai monk in his native tongue. In order to convey the content accurately and understandably to an international readership, some of the cultural references unique to the life and ways of Thai people have been adjusted so that they may be more easily comprehended by those of other nationalities and faiths or beliefs.
Luang Por (‘Venerable Father’) Dattajeevo is a man of immense moral and academic stature to all those who are fortunate enough to receive his guidance personally. Through a lifetime of dedicating his thoughts, studies, words and actions to bring the truths hidden within the Dhamma (the true nature of all things both physical and spiritual) to all people, he has not only accumulated great wisdom and brilliance of his own ‘Inner Light’, but he has developed a manner that commands deep respect while engaging with his pupils in an approachable down-to-earth way. He exudes warmth and a fatherly concern that cannot be portrayed by words alone. He claims to be an ordinary person who has simply studied and practised in accordance with his ordination vows and precepts to the best of his ability. If this is so, it should be said that to all who know him he is ordinary in a most remarkable and respectfully admirable way.
Luang Por’s charismatic approach to engaging his pupils is undoubtedly a gift inherent in his personality and kamma (moral causation), for many diligently strive to attain his level of knowledge and ability to pass on that knowledge without ever matching his level of success. It is hoped that this translation will enable a deeper understanding of the process of absorbing information and passing it on to others. What makes this a different study compared to a purely academic approach is that with Luang Por the ethical and consequential results of the learning and teaching process is of paramount importance to us not only in this lifetime but also into the next.
In an attempt to give an insight into the charismatic approach and character of Luang Por, when confronted or challenged by a question, even a question that may appear to dispute the content of his guidance and one that he has undoubtedly been asked many hundreds of times before, he transfixes the questioner’s attention to concentrate on the answer that is given by characteristically and quizzically tilting his head slightly to one side, warmly smiling with an almost mischievous glint of delight at being asked the question, whilst simultaneously engaging a reassuringly assertive direct eye to eye contact before proceeding to answer with a generosity of spirit, to which even those most resistant to overcoming their own biases and ignorance cannot fail to succumb. His logical and reasoned address is always not only relevant to the subject matter but also appropriate for his pupils’ personal levels of understanding.
Luang Por’s down-to-earth, matter-of-fact approach is revealed by the way he injects amusing or apposite anecdotes of his own life experiences when lecturing, to colour, illuminate and explain how he developed his own ethical foundations and teaching skills, plus the sources of inspiration that led to his ordination as a Buddhist monk and to his lifelong dedication to the purpose of his vows, which are to pass on the Dhamma to future generations. He recalls during his lecture on Training the Trainers, although not included in the main body of this book, that during his schooldays he started training others when he was in elementary class; he always wanted to share with others what he had learned. He gave them knowledge so that they could research by themselves; later they came back and shared with him what they had learned, and so his knowledge increased even more. When he met the much respected Buddhist nun Khun Yai Ajahn he saw how the team of which she was an important integral part wanted to take all beings to Nirvana. He was greatly attracted by this so he joined the team and became ordained.
In the beginning Luang Por was neither sure nor confident of whether he would be able to teach to others the profound truth and wisdom of what he was learning, so he went to Khun Yai Ajahn to ask what he should teach them. She told him to ask himself this question: ‘Ever since you met me, what habits have you already corrected in yourself? When you find the answer to this, teach it to others.’ She told him not to be a person who taught things out of a textbook, but to be a living example that other people would observe and would follow. This implied that he could only teach properly that which he had learned and fully understood himself. Understanding what he had learned and applying it in his own life would give him the capacity, ability and confidence to impart it to others.
Luang Por realized that the problems of the world are the same now as they were thousands of years ago and would continue to be the same however far into the future we might go. The problems stay the same; the world has greed, anger and delusion . . . even in the next million years the problems will remain the same. Nothing will change, except that the degree of greed, anger and delusion, plus the tools used in the name of greed, anger and delusion, will be different. Whatever we can teach that reduces greed, anger and delusion in the minds of people should be taught; when we teach how to decrease these, people will become happier and more peaceful.
In answer to his question to Khun Yai Ajahn of ‘how should we teach?’, Luang Por learned that whichever teacher you have and consider to be effective you can copy or combine that teacher’s style with others and incorporate it into your own style, and that this is a self-improvement process that should be applied throughout life.
The simple yet morally strengthening discipline and habit-forming strictness exerted by his father on the way he was brought up is shared by Luang Por’s account of when he was a young boy and started attending school. His family at that time resided on a fruit plantation and his father, being of a very kind and generous disposition, told him he could invite his friends to pick up fruits that had fallen from the trees. Luang Por duly invited his firm friends, but from afar his father was closely observing them and told him that the next time he invite his friends he should only invite those who were polite, not greedy, and good people with whom to be friends. Luang Por understood and respected his father’s good advice by being more selective in the nature of friends he invited on future occasions.
One day in first grade, Luang Por brought his best friend to his house. His father asked him what his friend’s family name was, and after his friend had left, forbade him to associate or play with that person in future. Luang Por did not understand why his father had given him this stern instruction but, nevertheless, he dutifully abode by his father’s instruction. Sometime later, Luang Por asked his father the reason for this instruction. His father asked Luang Por to trust him as he knew the friend’s father to be dishonest and a thief. Luang Por himself was later to discover that the friend was also not an honest and good person with whom to associate and that his father’s advice, although not fully understood or appreciated at the time, was of great benefit to him in choosing the company he should keep.
From an early age, Luang Por’s father trained him in the home to prepare refreshment for visiting guests and allowed him to listen to the adults’ conversation. Sometimes he would give him permission to ask questions. His father would tell his close and trusted friends that he was afraid that his son, being the youngest, would grow up to be spoiled and naughty; please would they do him a favour and punish his son if ever they were to see him misbehave. He told this even to Luang Por’s teachers at school.
In Luang Por’s mind, his father created a model of what kind of person he wanted his son to be around. However, in the beginning he didn’t realize how lucky he was until he went to university and discovered he was trusted and looked up to by his peers. They always elected him to be class president; he saw that this was because of his mother and father’s good example, training and discipline. This is also why Khun Yai Ajahn in her astute wisdom saw the virtuous nature of his upbringing and selected him as suitable and well prepared to be ordained for further training.
Another story that helps us to see the influence that a good upbringing has on a child is Luang Por’s recollection of sometimes fighting with his sister when his father was away. When his father returned the neighbours would report that the children were fighting. The first thing his father would say, regardless of who was right or wrong, was ‘as the youngest you are not respecting your older sister according to seniority’, and he was spanked. Then, after the spanking, his father
would ask about who was right or wrong. If he was the wrong one he would get spanked again. Regardless of whether he was right or wrong, if he fought with his sister he would get spanked anyway. So he had to find a better way. He learned to wait until both he and his sister calmed down, and then tried to discuss the problem with her. He learned not to fight with his sister, nor give in to his anger as it would make his situation worse.
‘Because I wanted you to be a good person, I have had to be very strict with you,’ Luang Por’s father told him on the day of his graduation. ‘If I was easygoing you would never have come this far.’ This explains why we should think of what our own parents sacrificed to train us, and how we should choose the correct approach and sense of responsibility to be considered as a good and virtuous trainer.
Luang Por’s father had been a soldier awarded with a scholarship to study. Due to his diligence and academic abilities he always received first place throughout his studies. At the end of World War 1 his father’s unit was disbanded and he was discharged from the military due to the country’s economic constraints, so he returned home to be a farmer and work on the land. Despite no longer being in military service, whenever the military units had problems, people carrying huge volumes of documents would come to seek out his father and ask for his advice. This was because of the respect and high esteem his father had won among his peers as an example of knowledgeable and reliable counsel. Closeness with nature combined with an awareness of the human condition caused his father to be curious about his past life, about the results of good and bad, of heaven and hell. As his father spent all of his time on his duties as a parent and farmer, in order to answer his curiosities of a celestial nature he asked Luang Por to find the answers for him, which led Luang Por to Khun Yai Ajahn.
Luang Por’s upbringing included the discipline of waking early, no matter the time he went to bed, keeping self and environment clean and tidy, choosing to associate with good people, and respecting and valuing knowledge. He learned the necessity of training himself from a young age and was eager to learn.
When later in life he met Khun Yai Ajahn he learned of the three levels of life’s goals and became further motivated by the realization that all human beings are prisoners on ‘Death Row’, this knowledge inspired him to find a way to destroy the prison and commute for ever the sentence being served by the inmates. He realized that by himself he could not destroy this prison as it is so enormous and has been built for such a long time. But by sharing with others the knowledge he had acquired from the hard work and training given by Khun Yai Ajahn and Luang Por Dhammajayo (the Abbot of the temple into which he was ordained), his lone candle of enlightened knowledge would in turn light other candles, making the escape path from eternal sufferings infinitely brighter, safer and easier to follow.
Today Luang Por is responsible for many people and the operation of a large temple complex. These examples of what led him to this position in life are indicative of what makes Luang Por a trusted and reliable source of knowledge, gifted with the abilities of a model teacher, worthy of respectful consideration by all who choose to teach or are concerned by how they think, what they say and what they do, plus the effect they may have not only on themselves but also on their subordinates and other people around them, intentionally or unintentionally, by their influence.
Although the Dhamma is a Buddhist doctrine, it is a reflection of the reality of all things and not a product of, or possession unique to, Buddhism. You do not have to be a Buddhist to seek knowledge of the way things are, what is true and what is not true. Any thought or action will have an effect; this is a factual truth that can be proven, not a religious concept. It is hoped that this book will be viewed in a way that readers do not blindly accept its content but instead look within themselves to evaluate the virtue of the guidance herein and how they may suitably apply it in their lives, faiths or beliefs, and circumstances
‘It’s never too late to learn,’ so the saying goes. Every person on earth spends a lifetime learning new things. As technology has evolved, it seems that knowledge can be acquired easily with just one simple click of a computer mouse or touch of a screen. We can access every kind of knowledge or information from every corner of the world.
Nonetheless, the most basic fundamental questions about our very existence have not yet been answered. People continue to search for the absolute truth or knowledge that stems from the beginning of time until today. The reasons for our human condition are hard to comprehend for we know nothing when we are born. We are born with complete ignorance of our needs or the efforts we have to make to survive. We don’t even know we have to breathe until our senses are physically shocked and we cry as if our life depends on it, which it does. We don’t even know how, nor have the ability, to survive without outside assistance.
Humans are driven by their ignorance to want to discover the truth — the what, the why and the how. Ignorance is the source of every cause of suffering in this life. As our awareness and knowledge is acquired we become alert to further dangers that have to be faced and develop more fears and insecurities. We become fearful of things we don’t understand or know, such as when we walk into a completely dark room or place, we are afraid of what we cannot see or know of what may be lurking, hidden in the darkness and shadows of our ignorance. Fear of uncertainty, fear of how we are going to survive from day to day, fear of death and, ultimately, as the concept of self is realized, the fear of not knowing what happens to us after our death; these are some of the reasons that cause us to live in a constant state of suffering. To alleviate suffering, we learn by experience and study to further our knowledge, but even then our fear is not overcome and remains merely subdued, concealed beneath a carpet of denial or illusion until
the day we lie on our deathbed, facing the reality of our mortal impermanence, with all our fears returning to confront us once more.
Knowledge or wisdom that reveals the truth has and will always provide the path that enables us to escape from the sufferings of living one’s life so that when the time comes, we may, with a peaceful consciousness, understand and accept the inevitability of our demise free from any fear or trepidation. Knowledge frees us from suffering. Humans are born with ignorance. Whatever they know must be learned later after birth. Because of not knowing, people are afraid of the unknown, thus leading to suffering. Hence, people seek many ways to free themselves from suffering but the true causes have not yet been answered. If knowledge is found, people can be free from suffering and have all the answers for the very common question about life we have always been asking. What are we doing here? Where do we go after death? What is the purpose of life? It is in fact knowledge that will lead us to happiness, and therefore our search for knowledge is nothing other than the search for happiness. In this search human beings are one; we all desire happiness above all other things.
Whether we use the word ‘knowledge’ or ‘wisdom’ depends on the interpretation by the individual. A human being’s first source of rudimentary knowledge arises from memorization of things experienced by the senses. But this is not a complete basis of knowledge as the powers of self-awareness and reasoned responses have not yet been established.
We have to admire those who are born with a memory like a computer, for they possess an ability to recall anything, anytime. However, they cannot make conclusions or analyze the knowledge accumulated as a source of memorized knowledge without something that is more advanced to make use of their stored information. Memorizing and recalling the formula to solve quadratic equations is of no use if we do not understand how to use the formula or for what it is used.
This leads us to the second source of knowledge, which is attained through work and experience, and application of that knowledge in life and work, plus
the more powerful elements of contemplation, thought and analysis, until the knowledge develops into an understanding of the purpose for which our memorized knowledge has been stored. This is still not complete or absolute knowledge. There is another source of knowledge, another type of wisdom.
The third source of knowledge is knowledge derived from an individual’s ‘Inner Light.’ This knowledge has nothing to do with thought or analysis, memory or contemplation; it is the pure wisdom that arises from within.
An absence of knowledge is often referred to as being ‘in the dark’; not knowing is like being in the dark. As children we used to fear the dark, we used to imagine all kinds of terrible monsters or creatures hiding in the shadows to hurt us, and this caused us to be afraid; it bred fear in our young hearts. But once the sun rose in the morning, light was shed on the Earth, on our world, and we were able to see the truth; what seemed to be a monster lurking behind the old oak tree was merely a broken branch. Our perception was distorted by the night’s obscurity.
But as adults the darkness retains its power, defilements cause our minds to be dark and obscured. Our perception is twisted and we are quite literally ‘in the dark’, in a state of not knowing, in ignorance. We see and perceive the world in an obscured way. The only way to remove the darkness is with light, the inner light. Inner light allows us to see the world the way it is, to see the Truth. Inner light is thus our source of wisdom and knowledge, and the source of our happiness, and it is the same for everyone. ‘Inner Light’ is not only a metaphor, but is the real luminosity of the mind when it stands still. Brighter than the sun at midday, yet not hot and scorching but cool and soothing like moonlight on still water. The darkness or obscurity caused by defilements in our minds influences every aspect of our lives. Thus, defilements influence every thought we have ever had, influence our every decision, our every word and action.
A human being with an untrue perception is likely to cause suffering for himself and for others. Defilements cause us to see differences in humankind. With our defiled minds we label everyone we see, finding negativity in people around us. We develop negative thoughts, feelings and emotions because of our
defiled minds. We see our fellow human beings as enemies because of our defiled minds. Because of defilements we have feelings of sadness, anger, jealousy and we suffer. Thus, once we realize this we can see that defilements are the true enemy of humankind. We will want to be free of the power of defilements; we will want to have knowledge; we will want to know the Truth; and we will move towards Light.
This type of wisdom is the GATEWAY to true ENLIGHTENMENT that is also found with ascetics and monks in many religions and faiths the world over. The intensity of ‘Inner Light’ depends on the technique and depth of the Meditation method applied. Inner light helps not only to know but also to see the true nature of the world and life. Correctly applied this is the light leading to ‘Enlightenment’, that reveals absolute knowledge and the true nature of all things and all phenomena. Only through meditation, can one obtain inner light to discover the truth.
In Buddhism a lot of explanation is given about heaven or hell, about the mind etc. because Buddhists use meditation to achieve the absolute goal of life. And through meditation, Buddhists discover these facts from their inner light. In fact, not only Buddhists, but also anyone who meditates could achieve the same result. After some time of practising meditation the mind can be ‘seen’. One who practises correctly will be able to see the mind as clearly as you see these words before your eyes. In Buddhism there is also a great deal of information about that which negatively influences the human mind; these negative influences are referred to as kilesa (defilements). It is like a radio receiving on a distorted frequency. We have partial information or perception when we receive incomplete information. We develop understanding, feeling and reaction based on that incomplete information. As a result, our reactions towards incomplete information we receive tends to be negative, which in turn will hurt ourselves and/or others, even those we hold dear to our heart. As one can imagine, if these things influence the mind negatively it is of great importance that we are aware of them.
It must be remembered that the practice of meditation is not an exclusive path to enlightenment for Buddhists only, and that any faith, religion or practice that
enables individuals to meditate to the extent of connecting with their ‘Inner Light’ will achieve the same resultant enlightenment as this is a universal truth based on reality without any defilements or misconceptions.
We are all prisoners of our own sufferings and mortality. When human beings are born, they are born into a prison where they are imprisoned for life. These are the proverbial ‘facts of life.’
We are all prisoners of this worldly existence, born into ageing, sickness and death. We cannot escape this; we cannot go anywhere away from this world or universe, so we are prisoners of it. Moreover, we are on ‘Death Row.’ No matter if we are a ruler or a beggar, in the end we are all mortal beings and ultimately will die. Some pass away not long after they are born; others after 10 or 20 years; while some even survive beyond the age of 100. Nonetheless, everyone dies; it is just a matter of time.
Our prison is huge, so huge that we cannot see or visualize its walls as they seem so far away. We are trapped in a sort of loose confinement but, make no mistake, we are trapped here. We can go to the moon, another planet, eventually perhaps another galaxy . . . but we still die. Although our prison cell may change we still remain in this mortal confinement.
In fact, our universe is a penitentiary so immense and complicated that without resorting to perfecting and connecting with our ‘Inner Light’ to reveal its existence we are unable to comprehend the true nature of our perpetual incarceration.
The human mind can be expanded limitlessly. When we feel compassion for others beyond culture, race or religion our minds will expand sufficiently so that we will experience a desire to help and protect them. Greedy and self-centred people think that the world belongs to them, so they take advantage of others, of things, of nature etc.
When the mind expands in a virtuous way, the world becomes small, as if it were an orange in the palm of your hand. Minds of monks or ascetics expand
in proportion to their dedication and sincerity to live in accordance with the revelations that come with enlightenment to the true nature of all things. The mind of a ruler, politician or a person who by way of position in society has control over others, can also expand, but it often expands in a negative way that allows defilements to cloud judgment and actions. This in turn leads to an addiction to possessing material things, power and winning supremacy over others.
If we meditate, our minds expand andwe come to realize the world or universe is our perpetual prison.
Heaven and hell exist, and let me make this quite clear, they certainly exist. But they are just other cells in the prison. Heaven is a prison cell for prisoners with good behaviour, while hell is a prison cell for prisoners with bad behaviour. We will discover this for ourselves with training and meditation. We will also learn later how to upgrade our prison or to escape, and that the very prison in which we are trapped can be destroyed so that we can escape forever. So . . .
- We are prisoners in a huge prison, which is the world and universe.
- We don’t know who built the prison.
- We need to learn the rules of the prison.
One question that is puzzling is why no one had ever revealed the rules until around 2,600 years ago when the Buddha became enlightened, discovering the Law of Kamma, and dedicated his life to sharing this knowledge with others.
The Buddha told people to be careful, that there is such a thing as the Law of Kamma. The Law of Kamma is short and simple: if you do good things you will receive good things in return, but if you do bad things you will receive bad things in return. But there are so many small and fine rules surrounding this that we cannot be aware of them all. It’s like the laws of a country; even the supreme judge cannot remember all of them. However, if we break the law, we will surely be reprimanded in one way or another.
If we knew all the rules and abided by them we would have the knowledge to destroy the prison for ever. No one told us who created this prison, not even that there was a law governing the prison, except the Buddha. Moreover, no one tells us what we have been indicted of or the length of our sentence. If we knew this, we would surely choose to use it to destroy the prison and escape to eternal freedom from the sufferings inflicted upon us in this prison.
To make matters worse, this prison doesn’t provide meals, clothing or shelter. As prisoners we are left to find these things for ourselves. We are not taught where or how to find these things . . . so while struggling and figuring this out we end up breaking the Law of Kamma, which causes our sentence to be longer.
For this very reason monks and people searching for answers meditate. They are not peculiar, weird or eccentric. Rather, they are just like astronauts or scientists seeking to look deeper, go further and discover the truths of the universe. However, meditation is not limited to the existence of the material substance of the universe and may be considered as the vehicle that transports us beyond the understanding of matter to reveal the true nature of all things, including the mind and kamma.
In this prison there are no visible shackles or handcuffs, but there are things that are even more cruel and more difficult to tolerate.
Chains can be removed, but when a person is born disabled, blind, deaf, or loses a limb while fighting a war, or even is born in another life form, this kind of
‘shackle’ cannot be removed in this lifetime. One type of shackle is to be born in animal form. Once a person is in that state, he or she will be trapped for
a lifetime without being able to do anything to promote their life’s quality. This is quite difficult to understand so just be aware that animal is another form of punishment a human can be born into based on actions committed in life.
Having to fight to find food, clothing and shelter, we break the Law of Kamma, get longer sentences, are reborn to fight to find food etc., break the Law of Kamma again and thus receive longer and longer sentences, becoming eternal prisoners of our own self perpetuating kammic cycle.
The human body is composed of the elements, earth, air, fire and water, which are impure. The impurity of the elemental subtances that make up the body cause the cells in the body to deteriorate at a rate of 300 million cells per minute. As our cells expire, we need to refuel the four elements from the sources found outside the body, i.e. the environment. So we eat food to refuel the earth element, we drink water to refuel the water element, breathe to refuel the air element, and wear clothing and live in a sheltered place to refuel the fire/heat element. We need to start refuelling our elements from the moment we are born, and continue refuelling until we take the last breath of life. The impurity of the elements is the cause of certain conditions of the body. But there is more yet to discover about ourselves; that is why we need to go back inside, and know ourselves.
Since our elements are impure and expire, we face the problem of having to survive. We need to refuel the four elements, and in the process of refuelling them we need to earn money to buy the four requisites (food, clothing, shelter and medicines). In modern times we do not acquire these requisites directly but purchase them at the supermarket etc. This brings us to face the second problem, which is to earn a living. As we have to earn money to make a living we need to live in a community with other people. This brings us into conflict with each other, which is the third problem that we face. The body is like a puppet being controlled by the mind, and what the mind produces depends on the program running it. The mind is being controlled by defilements, which can be known and seen once we have the inner light from meditation. The defilements taint the mind’s original pure nature, and make it impure. And since the mind
controls the body, this relates to the body’s elements being impure. This is the fourth problem, which can be said to be the origin of all the other problems of a human being — defilements in the mind. Thus defilements are truly an enemy of a human being.
As mentioned before, the body is made up of four elements — earth, air, water and fire. Earth element is everything solid in the body; air is the gases, such as oxygen, carbon dioxide etc.; water is the liquid element such as blood, fat, lymph etc.; and the fire element is the heat or warmth in the body. When we have a lack of elements there are some indications. For example, a lack of the earth element will cause us to feel hungry; a lack of the water element will cause us to feel thirsty; when we lack air we will feel cold or like we are suffocating; and an uncomfortable level of heat will make us feel too hot or too cold. Everyone feels this, from the beggar on the street, to the king in his luxurious palace. Regardless of our environment, this is the condition of our body that every human being shares.
All human beings share the conditions of hot, cold, hunger and thirst because of the impurity of bodily elements. These conditions constantly cause us to refuel our elements. And the elements we use to replenish ourselves are also impure, as is evident in the waste created.
Therefore, we encounter the conditions of having to defecate and urinate for our whole life. If we did not, it would lead to death. This creates a cycle of deteriorating elements, replenishment and waste. This cycle continues until the day that we die.
When we restrain bodily and verbal action, we can reduce refuelling to the minimum and face less problems in life, lessening excessive use of energy. We go out to earn a living, but restraining bodily and verbal action we experience less strain and less social suffering. If we engage well, we will act in a way that causes us to have less social suffering, and vice versa. Furthermore, if we are respected by others and rarely encounter social conflicts then we may assume that our verbal and bodily actions contribute to harmonious interaction within our immediate community. If this is not the case then we face the consequences
of our actions having brought this suffering of disharmony into our lives and seek to address the causes that are creating and accumulating bad kamma. And our accumulated kamma designates the way we are reborn.
In every stage in this prison of life, as an infant, adult or elderly person, we face the same 10 conditions of the body. We feel 1) hot or 2) cold, 3) thirsty or
4) hungry, we need to 5) defecate and 6) urinate. Moreover, if we cannot restrict our 7) bodily and 8) verbal action they become our 9) social suffering. After we die we are born again, which is 10) the consequence and aggregate of our accumulated kamma.
Animals also share the same prison and need to refuel their elements, as explained later, but they refuel them more directly. For example, when animals are thirsty they drink water from the lake whereas human beings drink popular or even harmful mind-altering beverages. Animals refuel their air element by breathing unadulterated natural air; human beings, however, add perfumed air freshener as a pleasurable enhancement. For heat, animals stand in the sun whereas humans clothe themselves in haute couture products to be fashionable and stylish. When animals are hungry they hunt prey or forage the plants available to them whereas human beings go out to buy pizza or give in to cravings and addictions. This distances us from the reality of our existence and the true nature of things, from what is a necessity and what is not. While it may be a necessity to earn a living to support ourselves and families, this also creates threats and danger from defilements and conflicts that will undoubtedly arise as we seek to refuel our four elements and learn how to make and sustain a living.
Without training to be clean, orderly, punctual and respectful we will not possess the basics with which to deal with our four major problems in life that started from the need to survive and refuel the four elements externally. Then we have to learn how to make a living. Then we have to engage in work and may end up having conflicts or disagreements with people around us. Finally, our defilements increase and overpower our decision making, which generate more problems afterwards. Key elements in our behaviour that we must learn and cultivate to help mitigate the threats and dangers we encounter when
making a living are cleanliness, politeness, orderliness and punctuality or we will be disorganized, socially inept and disrespectful. A well-trained and self-disciplined person will meet with positivity from others, or if badly trained will receive only negativity and fail to interact appropriately.
We acknowledge that a trainer is someone who not only teaches but also practises what he preaches. A trainer is a model for goodness, is someone who shows the brightest way, and a third definition of a trainer is someone who can at the same time point to and illuminate the path of enlightenment for others. That is why we need a proper trainer from the day we are born to teach us how to make the right decisions. This training can be given simply based on the principle of cleanliness, orderliness, politeness, punctuality and respectfulness even while we are being fed or our diapers are being changed. It goes without saying that the earlier in life, even from birth, that a person is taught these basic principles as a habitual self-discipline the easier progression becomes.
Is this easy? Definitely not! If it were easy to teach these basic principles, there would be no more bad people in the world, and human beings would have babies like puppies, not just one at a time. Nurturing to independence and teaching just one child the difference between good and bad is difficult enough. If the meaning of good and bad is incorrectly taught, it is certain that bad habits will develop. The bodily conditions of hot, cold, hunger, thirst, urination and defecation play a big part in habit formation. Our habits start from how we treat these conditions, our state of physical health will depend on how we treat these conditions, and what our life goal is will influence how we treat these conditions. Because it is this difficult to train someone, humans mostly bear one child at a time.
How these conditions are treated will influence whether or not a person becomes angry, jealous, greedy, mean, talks too much, boasts etc. or not. In other words, the treatment will affect the way, and the moral and physical quality of life that person leads.
Treating the aforementioned 10 conditions directly relates to how wisely we use, store and acquire the four necessities of food, clothing, shelter and medicine.
In this prison there is punishment. It is not normal punishment like whipping or torture, which comes to an end; the punishment in this prison goes on forever and ever. Ageing, sickness, death and birth go on forever, with no exceptions. No one is born laughing; we all arrive in this world kicking and screaming. This is one of the punishments and cruel torture methods of the prison. There seems to be no way to escape it. More importantly, we don’t even know that we are being punished. We just think this is the way things are, not knowing that there is anything other than this.
The punishment is inflicted throughout life. We feel hungry or thirsty, hot or cold, we urinate and defecate. We don’t see the one who is inflicting the whipping, but for every moment of life we are open to these tortures. To understand our situation and how best to deal with it requires mindful learning and teaching, teaching and learning and so on, each cycle a step along the path to freedom from suffering. To learn we need to have good teachers and trainers who are equipped and correctly educated in all aspects of creating good self-kamma whilst practising the creation of good self-kamma diligently and continuously themselves on a daily basis
Qualities of an Ideal Trainer
Let us begin by defining the qualities and abilities that are required to be a good educator or trainer, requirements that set the teacher apart from the general community and qualify that person to be entrusted with imparting knowledge and guidance to others. For some the basic requirements are part of their inherent personality and it is these inherent qualities that guide them to exercise their talents in the field of empowering others with the benefits of their instinctive and acquired knowledge. For others it may be their own wisdom and academic achievements that cause others to seek their tuition as mentors or sources of knowledge in the required field or subject.
Firstly, we must acknowledge that the teacher is a human being and must from birth learn the skills required to interact and compete with other human beings throughout their lives. People who choose to be engineers will need to train in the disciplines and science required for such a profession and the same is true for those who choose a teaching career except that the degree of respect they achieve in their profession, and from pupils, will not only be measured by practical and material achievements to do with their subject but also for the moral example they set in their day-to-day lives.
In some ways a teacher must command the same moral standing in the community as a doctor or spiritual mentor, respected as one who can be trusted with the lives of others. It is no light undertaking to enter into such a profession without understanding the commitment that must be made to be excellent in such a crucial role in society. Now, the question is: what are the morals and qualities that the trainers should have? The answer is that not only the knowledge about making a living is important but also the ability to differentiate between good and bad, right and wrong, and what should or should not enhance one’s ability to make the right decision and become a set of principles for a whole life. A good trainer must be equipped with these abilities and demonstrate or walk-the-talk to their pupils. It is important to note that knowledge is not the most important thing but, rather, the ability to utilize that knowledge. The same knowledge of chemistry can make either the bomb or medicine. It depends on the person who
holds that knowledge. A good trainer must guide the pupil to utilize knowledge only in a positive and beneficial way. That way, knowledge will be useful not only for the one who possesses that knowledge but also for everyone in society.
Recipe for a Good Teacher
Just as a good cook understands and ensures the best ingredients and methods of preparation are employed, combining and presenting the finished product of their knowledge, skills and labours, a teacher must have a clear understanding of what goes into making a good teacher.
Apart from the four elements of earth, water, air and fire the main ingredient is a virtuous human being with commendable habits, one who consciously or unconsciously follows the Noble Eightfold Path and has a strong will to think and do based on goodness, with a mind that is not easily distracted or defiled by kilesa. Such a human being brings happiness and provides others with the tools to overcome their own sufferings and those of other human beings in this lifetime and lifetimes to come.
Education, Teaching and Learning
Education is both the imparting and acquiring of knowledge or wisdom through the process of teaching and learning. In terms of a good quality education, the intention is to develop students in body, thought, word and action that will in turn lead to good habits, good behaviour and produce good human beings. The habits of focused studying, engaging in good activities and actions, plus the habit of being aware of and caring for their own health and wellbeing are all essential if students are to realize their full potential as good human beings.
Teaching effectively and appropriately requires orderly well-planned progression if the education is to achieve the required quality of intention and purpose. There are three resources that combine to deliver quality education: Human, Material and Knowledge.
Human resources relate to the principal teachers in the student’s life, parents or guardians, formal tutors, spiritual mentors, and the society and environment around the pupil.
Material resources consist of money and financial support, buildings, facilities or suitable environments and utilities.
Knowledge is the accessible information, facts, truths and principles that the curriculum for living one’s life requires to be complete. It must be noted that with education, the management and implementation of this knowledge can only be assessed with methods of evaluation built into each stage of the curriculum. Without evaluation the student may be perceived erroneously to have progressed despite an incomplete understanding or knowledge.
Throughout the process of teaching, the teacher must constantly be aware of shaping and fashioning the pupils, first and foremost, as human beings. A student of moderate academic achievement who is a good human being, is far more equipped to escape the prison of ‘endless suffering cycle’ than a student with academic excellence but no moral understanding or commitment to achieve human potential in this lifetime. The latter will not only endure sufferings because of an incomplete understanding of the human condition but also will create disharmony all around.
Learning requires self-discipline and good habits that the teacher must instil into pupils if they are to appreciate and benefit from the tuition received. A good teacher will create an enthusiasm and eagerness in the pupil to want to learn and continually gain knowledge. The teacher will develop the correct environment and level of respect that enables approachability by the pupils, and which in turn empowers pupils with the correct approach to be able to seek knowledge from all available and proper resources. The student must be encouraged to review what has been learned, to ensure comprehension and absorption of knowledge precisely and fully. With appropriate encouragement and praise, the pupils will develop the habit of appreciating success to the extent that the thirst for right knowledge continuously increases and is never satiated.
To develop good habits of learning the teacher must instruct pupils to undertake and assume certain responsibilities. These responsibilities are to refrain from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, telling lies and allowing bias into their daily lives, surrendering to the temptations that straddle the ‘Roads to Ruin’, and also
to refrain from involvement with bad company by keeping the company of true friends and fulfilling one’s duty towards each other.
Education is, in fact, to explore ourselves and find out what are our flaws and what are the missing pieces in our lives, what causes us to have bad behaviour resulting in bad habits, ultimately to discover defilements manifested in our minds, which are the true cause of our bad behaviour and bad habits. Ideal education involves looking back into ourselves, thoroughly understanding and identifying defilements and, finally, eradicating them permanently. As will be explained, man consists of body and mind made up of the four elements in the shape of impure and decomposing cells. The elements require constant refuelling and maintenance to prolong their regeneration and extend their survival. The fuel may be broken into the four elements of air, water, earth and fire. Earth is our fuel or nutrition while fire may be considered our shelter, clothing and medication. As humans grow out of babyhood and become independent of their parents, it is essential that they learn how to refuel their bodies and continuously find the resources and means to acquire the elements that fuel and sustain life. This survival necessity of finding, keeping and using causes us to create kamma throughout each and every day of our mortal existence. When human beings allow kilesa to overpower them they do bad things, create bad kamma and endure human sufferings. However, with education on the means to overcome the ever-invasive kilesa, humans may learn to create good kamma in their lives, and lessen or eliminate their sufferings. A life conducted with educated thoughts and behaviour leads to a life blessed with boon (virtue), and also blessed with merit and happiness.
Misconceptions of Education in the World
When people lack knowledge and concepts of self-awareness, the world about them and the effect kilesa will have upon their lives, their education will tend to focus on academic studies, academic achievements and academic standing among their peers in their professions or careers. With no attention to moral application of their learned knowledge, the consequences of their thoughts
and actions may lack honest application and good intent. Through incomplete or flawed education the results may prove to be harmful to themselves, the population and the environment, and no matter how high personal academic achievements may be, great personal and collective suffering will occur.
Inadequate management of national education causes immeasurable problems; the system produces people with knowledge but who lack good judgement, and causes problems that lead to them being labelled as fools, tyrants and people of evil or destructive intent. This is because they have not been taught to distinguish between good and bad, right and wrong, should and should not, having no concept of boon nor of baap (impure energy).
An Ideal Education
An ideal education is one that appropriately depending on their age and gender, enables students not only to acquire knowledge to survive and engage in their future professions or careers, but also to be protected and empowered with the understanding to eradicate the defilements of thought, word and deed that lead to suffering, in other words to overcome what is referred to in Buddhist Dhamma as kilesa. Students must be educated to know and combat kilesa as part of a balanced moral and academic system of education. Students must be made aware by their teachers the benefits of being both smart and virtuous. This is achieved by teachers having a sound knowledge of their subject and the ability to instil virtuous practice and behaviour in their pupils by guidance, tuition and their own self-example.
Creating the framework of virtue and morality requires the pupil to understand and accept their own self-responsibility for their thoughts, words and actions. They must understand the importance that refraining from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct and lying will have on the quality of their lives and those around them. In developing self-responsibility, this must be achieved through right thought without bias, otherwise wrong views will be formed towards society. Developing a sense of socioeconomic responsibility is also essential. The so-called ‘Roads to Ruin’ is a delusional concept of pleasure and possession. The term translates directly from the Pali word, Abayamukha, which explains the sixself-destructive behavioural vices as drinking, nightlife, too much indulgence in sensual pleasure, gambling, associating with bad company, and laziness. These actions may not necesssarily be considered as bad action in themselves but they are starting points of self-destruction when one starts committing to any, some or all of them and becoming addicted. As a result, we should avoid entering through this gate as we might otherwise soon find ourselves succumbing t0 the accumulation of unnecessary wealth or position, consumption of alcohol and drugs, frequenting unseemly places at unseemly hours, visiting dubious places of entertainment, gambling, associating with fools and bad company, wasting time and being lazy. The ‘Roads to Ruin’ lead travellers to worship money as a means to fulfil a self-destructive lifestyle.
Chapter 1 Body and Mind
To know and understand oneself as a human being is essential in the process of recognizing inbuilt weaknesses to be overcome and potential strengths that can be drawn upon. Being human we are distinguished from other living creatures by a superior mental development, power of articulate speech, and a refined and dexterous upright physical form. We also have a conscience to enable the separation of right from wrong in thought and action, plus self-awareness by which we may assess ourselves both mentally and physically. These human traits give us the ability to make reasoned decisions based on instinct, our experiences and accumulated knowledge in this lifetime. Whilst in this lifetime our tem- perament and circumstances may be influenced by our kamma from previous lifetimes, which in turn may affect our personality and reasoning to some degree, with correct guidance the mind may be trained to choose to foster only good thoughts and actions that will be of great benefit to us as well as to others.
If we are truly to grasp what it is to be human we must study the nature of the Human Body and the Human Mind. Let us begin with the body, which is the home of the mind, though not losing sight of the fact that the mind is the master and the body is the servant. When the mind becomes impure with defilements, the body’s elements become impure as well. So, once the mind is pure, the body’s elements will become pure also.
We should consider that the body consists of the four coarse elements — earth, water, air and fire — combined in the form of cells. These cells are the building bricks that make up our organs, circulatory and nervous systems, muscles and skeleton, digestive system and brain or, in other words, the complete physiology
of the human anatomy. However, because the four elements are flawed since conception, the cells in the body continuously degrade and die at the rate of between 20 to 30 billion per day for an average child from the age of 8 to11 years and 50 to 70 billion each day for an average adult.
Humans come into the world through the procreation between a man and a woman, unable to survive without the nursing and care required to nurture them to a state of independence. The body requires food and liquid to constantly refuel the four elements or the cells will become weak and eventually the body will cease to sustain life and will itself decompose. Even with careful refuelling of the four elements, although we may delay the eventual demise of the body, we cannot prevent it.
The physical nature of the average human body consists of an articulated vertical spine and skeletal frame that enable efficient movement for standing, walking, running and sitting. This framework also permits desirably effective movement and flexibility in the horizontal plane and while resting. Although this structure is practical, versatile and efficient, its mortal make-up will ensure that in due course the four elements will break down and degrade to their original form, and any acquired infection or contamination will suffer the same fate. This is the mortal nature of the human body. This confirms that we are all on ‘Death Row’ in the prison of life, without any chance of parole or escape.
The mind is a refined element with the ability to ‘know’ and/or ‘understand.’ It is also a vault of memories we have collected over many lifetimes. The original state of mind is self-luminescent , crystal clear, spherical and as small as a human eye. However, on becoming infected with kilesa, the mind’s self-luminescence deteriorated further and further, diminishing its ability to ‘know.’ Too refined to be seen with the human eye, the mind is visible and can be felt only when its luminescence is restored so that true perception with clarity and shape is achieved through reconnecting with the refined channel of our ‘inner eye.’
Since the mind acts like a satellite which receives impulses from the sensory organs, the eyes, nose, ears, tongue and skin, the quality of the mind directly affects the way we perceive the world. Once defilements diminish the mind’s brightness and clarity, it distorts the impulses received by the sensory organs which are sent to the mind, forcing us to perceive the world in a false way.
However, when our mind becomes clouded with kilesa (defilements such as greed, anger and delusion), the brightness and clarity of the mind is diminished, causing our perception and responses to be inaccurate and inappropriate. We may therefore conclude that kilesa should be perceived as a true enemy of our efforts to be good human beings or educators.
Kilesa is an element that soils the mind, invading with great intensity to override the rational and, if allowed to, is ultimately the cause of mental suffering. Kilesa does not reveal its intrusion to the human eye, but when the mind is viewed through the Dhamma its shield of invisibility is removed and its destructive potential is laid bare. Kilesa lays dormant in the kamma of the mind at birth. It is like an implanted microchip or computer virus that is constantly waiting to seize any opportunity to flourish, contaminate and overpower the pure elements of mind as they arise and develop. Unlike the physical body, kilesa does not die with the body but continues within the kamma of the astral human spirit to be born again in the appropriate realm. The power that we allow kilesa to exert over our minds may be likened to the power of a jailer to place us in a cell of his choice in this prison of life. Should we be reckless regarding the kilesa that will try to influence negatively our thoughts and actions, we will unavoidably suffer the consequences. Kilesa clouds the mind, drawing it into a darkened cave to be manipulated like a puppet for its own ends. The true cause of suffering, it has immense power to turn virtuousness into evilness, delude the mind with wrong perception, and deceive the senses as to what is good and what is bad.
By dividing kilesa into three categories we may more closely examine the nature of its intrusive defilements on the mind.
Greed — If unchecked, greed fills the human mind with an overwhelming irrational desire to have more, and an insatiable hunger or craving that leads to immoral thoughts and actions to achieve extravagances beyond our physical and mental requirements. We try endlessly to fill our bottomless glass while suffering an unquenchable thirst. We resort to any means — cheating, robbing, or even in the extreme to killing — just to feed our greed, but we will never be able satisfy this mind-manipulating demon. From a desire for material things, craving develops into a greed that consumes the mind, and decisions are made to do whatever it takes to fulfil that greed. Although those actions may finally harm us, by then we do not care.
Only through awareness combined with generosity can we combat this suffering. By the giving of alms, support to others, donations and charitable actions we can protect the mind, separating craving from necessity, thereby allowing the mind to experience the peace that compassion and moderation exerts on our thoughts and emotions.
Anger — In the extreme state of anger we abandon all mindful thoughts and actions, responding with emotional recklessness regardless of the consequences. We exhibit intolerance, hatred, bias, aggression and a total lack of consideration for the destructive results our anger may cause to ourselves and others. It may explode like a bomb, blowing away our good intentions in an instant, or it may slowly fester, contaminating our lives and physical wellbeing. However it manifests itself, it is always destructive unless checked and channelled into energy or motivation to do good.
To overcome this suffering, one must focus on the opposite reactions and thoughts that anger brings. Again, awareness of when and how it arises is the first step. Then with the wisdom revealed within the Dhamma one must consider the pros and cons, keep the five precepts and seek to spread loving kindness throughout one’s immediate and extended environment. We must not allow our reactions to be the slave of anger, ensuring that mindful response is our reliable buffer to emotional reaction.
Delusion — This is the easiest of the sufferings to go unnoticed and the most difficult of which to maintain a vigilant awareness. It creates blindness to the realities of thoughts and actions, masking our addictions and infatuations, while clouding our perception of reality. We indulge in false beliefs even when confronted with contradictory advice or evidence. An alcoholic may deny an addiction even when confronted with the reality of the situation; the delusion overcomes reason to justify denial. The darkness of delusion renders us unable to see the consequences of our emotional and physical aberrations.
We can be deluded in many ways, let us suppose someone inadvertently or is forced to witness or hear bad things due to their circumstances and immediate environment. How does one deal with this? Once a memory is stuck in the mind, we cannot delete it. The only thing to do is to only record as many good memories as possible until the good memories override the bad memories. If the mind is a vault of all our memories, then as we expand the content of this vault it is important to consider that the content is key to our kamma. The more good we add the more diluted becomes the bad. Doing this continuously will in time dilute the bad to such an extent that its effect on the good becomes less and less invasive or destructive. Like adding pure water to a limitless glass of salty water, the more pure water we add the less detectable is the salty taste until so much pure water is added that the salt cannot be tasted at all.
Whatever bad things are recorded by the mind that cannot be deleted or undone, we can continue to fill and expand our mind with goodness. If we choose this path we are creating good kamma and the kilesa will be suppressed while the baap will be diluted for it cannot exist in the brightness of a pure mind.
We must learn by Dhamma study and meditative thoughtfulness to illuminate the darkness of delusion. By stilling the mind so that we may reveal the wisdom of our ‘Inner Light’ to detect and see through delusion, we are able to correct our perception and expose the true reality of our deceptions.
From this cycle we can see that kilesa forces us to create bad kamma, and the four elements in our body become impure, and expire. We need to refuel with the four elements from outside the body, which leads us to work for money to buy elements to refuel. Working causes us to create more kamma.
However we must consider that there is both bad ‘Dirty Work’ and good ‘Clean
Work’. How do we define these?
Dirty work and clean work both produce financial rewards. In this way our society has equated the value of good and bad: Goodness = Badness. Consequently, because society views money as the prime purpose of work, having forgotten or being unaware of the purpose of replenishing our expiring elements, society has failed to recognize the importance of goodness and badness with regard to the consequences they have. So we work without considering the kamma we are creating and the effect it has on ourselves and society at large.
$100 and 4 elements
Mind is cloudy and sad Baap, bad habits
Fail in work and make enemies
$100 and 4 elements Good
physical health Happiness,
happy mind Boon and good habits Progress and
Let us compare the effects of ‘dirty work’ versus ‘clean work’. When doing honest work we do so to earn money to refuel the four elements, which is basically the same as for dishonest work. On this level the comparison is still equal. Moving to the next step of the chain of consequences, when doing dishonest work the mind becomes more clouded, reducing the quality of the mind. Because the body and mind are connected the body is also negatively affected and harmed.
When doing honest work the mind becomes less clouded, becoming brighter, which will help facilitate the practice of meditation. This will be the beginning step to reach the inner light and the absolute knowledge. Dishonest work leads to a ‘bad’ quality of mind and thought while honest work leads to a ‘good’ quality of mind and thought. When these respective actions are performed continuously on a regular basis they become habits. This is something we cannot overlook. Honest work performed with a ‘good’ mind leads to good habits, which becomes a programme for life; in the same way, dishonest work leads to a ‘bad’ mind, which leads to bad habits, and which also becomes a programme for life. Good habits lead to better health, the mind is uplifted and boon, or pure energy, is created, giving positive results in life. Happiness will follow, and so will progress in work, and such a person will have good friends because good people like to associate with other people who do good things and have good results also.
Or unclean/impure energy, is created when a person engages in bad or dishonest work, which gives rise to negative results and suffering in this life and the accumulation of bad kamma that is carried into the next life. People who are dishonest will make enemies and form associations with other dishonest people that will further negatively influence the kamma they create for themselves.
Good results follow from good actions, and a person who performs good deeds with a ‘good’ mind will have a favourable destination in the afterlife. Thus, good kamma slowly manifests as peace within oneself, and peace with other people follows.
To know hot you must know cold, and to know dark you must know light, therefore if we can know kilesa we should also know boon — a blessing or power to overcome disadvantages or difficulties, even sufferings. It has immeasurable power because of its purity and may dispel all nature of kilesa, restoring harmony and rationality to the mind, with resultant unshakeable happiness and contentment. We feel its presence in the happiness, contentment and fulfilment that arise in our emotions when its powerful influences are evoked and applied in our daily lives. The boon we create and accumulate in our lives energizes and protects us,
always present as a guardian shadow from lifetime to lifetime.
There are three ways that we can bring the positive power of boon to influence our ability to overcome the negative manipulations of kilesa, as follows:
Giving — This strengthens and confirms our willpower to overcome greed, brightening the mind by right thought and deed. We are freed from our thirst for possessions and cravings regardless of need and embrace contentment in place of discontent.
Observing Precepts — This means embracing an untroubled conscience by restraint, and abstaining from wrongdoing in thought, word and action. The mind will become tranquil and clear in perception and contemplation. Precepts are often referred to by other faiths, beliefs and religions as the commandments or the rules that should be followed in order to live a righteous and moral life. Precepts form the most fundamental values of human needs, which are: respect for life; value for property; family values; and integrity. As a result of our values they become our precepts. To affirm these values there are five precepts we must observe:
- Not to kill a living being; 2. Not to take the property of others; 3. Not to indulge in sexual misconduct; 4. Not to tell lies or engage in abusive speech; 5. Not to partake of alcohol or intoxicants.
Meditation — This is an invaluable and indispensable tool, that will be explained later, allowing the mind to become still within its home, not wandering at the will of distractions and emotions; delusions are overcome enabling the wisdom of our ‘Inner Light’ to guide our thoughts and, ultimately, our actions in accordance with the five precepts and further. Meditation reveals the reality of all things, leading to enlightenment and the demise of all sufferings. Meditation also develops the ability to concentrate and absorb knowledge correctly.
Dhamma — The Dhamma is the pure nature within everyone. The Dhamma is bright and clear, being the source of all knowledge, purity, wisdom and human wholesomeness. The Dhamma is immeasurably clearer than the mind and its brilliance banishes the darkness of kilesa. Once the mind is pure enough the Dhamma is revealed becoming one with the mind.
Chapter 2 Importance of Human Behaviour and Making Choices
Definition of Behaviour
Our behaviour is the result of our thoughts and actions; it is the way we respond to external situations and conditions as a result of our inherent nature and kammic influences. Our thoughts and responses may be developed and swayed by both positive and negative, direct and indirect educational factors and social interactions. For the educator good behaviour should be second nature if adhering to right thought and practice.
We judge others and others judge us by behaviour; as educators we must learn to judge and monitor our own behaviour to ensure that kilesa does not create delusions inappropriate to successful self-assessment. By seeking constantly to invoke boon in our daily lives, delusions are evaporated by truth.
Without education, it is easy to fall into bad practices, behaviour and habits. We may fail to notice the harmful and detrimental effects of our thoughts, speech and actions. Lack of education may allow us to fall prey to addictions such as alcohol, drugs, gambling, physical gratification and socially degrading behaviour, even to criminal and inhumane activities. Such is the power of kilesa without the counterpower of an educated mind to recognize the devastating effects that kilesa has upon not only this lifetime, but also those in the future. A life without education renders one at a great disadvantage to resist kilesa and the hidden sufferings that it brings. We must be educated to recognize and know that kilesa is the master of disguise, offering only suffering hidden beneath a false cloak of fleeting pleasure, fulfilment and satisfaction.
Important causes of suffering from living together include selfishness and bias as follows:
Selfishness leads to suffering when each person thinks mainly about his or her own benefit rather than giving support, encouragement and material things to others. When problems occur in the family, group or community, if there is lack of cooperation and people behave selfishly then suffering and conflict will transpire.
Bias manifests itself in four categories: love, anger, wrong view and fear.
Families, groups and communities that suffer from selfishness and bias cannot be peaceful as each individual acts only in self-interest to the detriment of others, causing conflict and disharmony. Without education this lack of consideration for others will be impossible to overcome as personal selfishness and bias are very powerful causes of suffering, both to the individual and to the others around them. To solve the problems and sufferings that arise due to selfishness and bias, structured education that develops virtue and morality will lead each individual to recognise the sufferings caused by their own selfishness and bias. With educated guidance individuals will be encouraged to understand the benefits of making boon in their own lives for the good of others. There are three ways an individual may do this, which are by giving, by keeping the precepts and by meditation. With these three practices individuals will develop empathy with others and the ability to create harmony and happiness between themselves and others. Their sufferings from selfishness and bias will be eliminated and conflict will turn to consideration, cooperation and support.
To cultivate the nature of living together in society and creating virtue, teachers need to instil a sense of open-mindedness in their students in order that they are able to live easily side by side with others that may not share their own views, values and outlook on life. The student must understand that nobody in this world is perfect and that it is not better to be richer or poorer, an agnostic or a believer and so on, but that what is important and makes a good human being is measured by the thoughts, words and actions of that individual. Not all human beings will be good, nor will they all be bad; the student must be encouraged to understand and practise reasoned tolerance to integrate successfully within society. It is also important that the student recognizes and
overcomes discrimination towards others, be it due to age, gender, handicap, race, religion, status or appearance.
No one can live alone in this world; each individual is directly or indirectly linked to others through environmental, social, economic and political factors from which we cannot escape. As human beings we all share these influences that affect our lives. Only by people working together under the common definition of ‘human beings’ are we able to overcome or manage the problems that these influences have; this may only be achieved by overcoming discrimination and bias.
Correctly and morally taught from an early age to pay respect to and understand the true nature of what it is to be a human being, especially with regard to the cause and effects of thoughts, words and deeds in daily life and the human suffering encountered, will undoubtedly create the most favourable conditions for the pupil to achieve full potential in this lifetime. The good habits and conduct that the pupil acquires will alleviate or eliminate the three sufferings of living one’s life, living together and repelling kilesa. This is the ultimate goal of education in the realm of Buddhism, to educate the individual as well as society at large.
Immediately, after the birth of a new human being, the parents must have sufficient education and knowledge to sustain the refuelling of the baby’s four elements and provide protection, education and guidance. If the parents do not have sufficient knowledge to do this, the baby will not thrive but become physically weak, be of poor health, and fail to grow and develop good habits. As a child, teenager and adult he or she will not have the acquired knowledge and understanding to be able to accumulate good kamma by reasoned thought and actions. Inevitably, kilesa will generate bad kamma and resultant sufferings will follow. As previously explained, kilesa is transferred through our kamma from lifetime to lifetime; even a baby will be subject to these sufferings. For example, when hungry, and if not fed at the appropriate times, a baby will suffer the emotion of anger, clutching and kicking out aggressively towards its mother because of the defilements already implanted in the mind.
Moreover, a good education system is essential in assisting the parent to continue to build the knowledge of the individual along the right path to further strengthen the fabric of human society in a way that is of benefit and diminishes human sufferings. Good community education leads to vibrant mental and physical health, good personal and social habits plus an enhanced ability to source and absorb knowledge. With the right education the pupil will develop the ability to create boon and resist kilesa from an early age.
Definition of Habit
A person is said to have a habit when a response, action or pattern of behaviour is repeated over and over, even though that individual may be unaware of this repetitiveness. Personal habits may fall into three categories: beneficial, harmful and innocuous. Innocuous habits may just be part of the individuality and personality of a person and of no consequence or impediment to realizing full potential as a good human being. However, when we consider bad habits compared to good habits the consequences play a crucial role in the individual’s development and potential.
By their very definition, habits are very hard to change once established. Firstly, one has to be made aware of the habit and, secondly, the individual must have the reasoning and motivation to break the habit. For many, even with reason and motivation, the craving or compulsion proves too much to overcome and the habit remains. There are many people who repeatedly try to give up a particular bad habit they have without success. Often, trying to give up becomes as much of a habit as actually achieving the goal, such is the power of bad habits. Bad habits are the manifestations caused by the intrusion of kilesa into our minds and are always destructive in one way or another.
Good habits, especially if acquired during early development and at the appropriate stages in our lives, have the opposite effect to bad habits. They give us the discipline and willpower to overcome kilesa before it can take hold, even to the extent of avoiding many of kilesa’s numerous avenues of approach altogether. If we by habit refrain from harmful addictive and habit-forming practices and behaviour, then we will not suffer the consequences of those bad habits. The consequences
of our good and bad habits not only affect us in this lifetime, but carry on with us into the next lifetime and so on. Giving into bad habits perpetuates the habit of suffering from one lifetime to the next and therefore should not be considered carelessly.
Once a bad habit has taken hold, it will require exceptional sustained and focused effort based on right education and practice to defeat. Even when defeated, it will remain in the background awaiting a moment of vulnerability to overpower its victim once more. Only when the victim has full awareness of its presence and is armed with the wisdom within the precepts and Dhamma will they be able to follow The Noble Path without fearing what is lurking in the shadows.
The early stages of an individual’s life are influenced primarily by their home environment, the examples they are set by those around them and the standards of self-discipline imposed upon them. They are receiving directly and indirectly, habit-forming knowledge and education and are extremely vulnerable to kilesa during this period. Habits are easy to acquire or form, but difficult to break and should be formed only with the right guidance, right knowledge, informed awareness and enlightened respect for their consequences.
The parent, guardian or teacher should seek to encourage good habits and make their pupils aware of their bad habits, giving them the support and guidance to eradicate or diminish bad habits whenever they become apparent.
Three Essential Virtues in Developing Good Habits
The student’s education is imperfect and critically flawed if it does not include the three essential virtues that must be practised in developing good habits, which are Respect, Patience and Discipline.
The first of these three essential virtues is the respect we pay by acknowledging the goodness that exists in the environment, people, worthy behaviour, knowledge, objects, events and practices as truly embodied within the Dhamma. We reveal our respect with thoughts and physical displays of admiration and deference. Students must be encouraged not only to observe the goodness in others and things as described above but also to absorb these goodnesses into
their own lives and behaviour. Then, with due humility in their conduct of body, thought and action, in return they will develop respect and love from all who know them.
The second virtue is that of patience. This is the capability of an individual to remain calm when confronted with delay, provocation or unfavourable circumstances that impedes their personal progress or causes them to encounter difficulties. A person who posses patience will not suffer irritation or frustration but create goodness in their place. We can consider four kinds of patience. Firstly, that of the body in interaction with the environment, such as having to take a detour that requires walking further, or having to endure hot or cold weather conditions and all kinds of inconveniences of a physical nature. Secondly, there is the patience that is needed to deal with enduring sickness and pain from within our own bodies or, compassionately, through our emotions, for those of our loved ones or others who are in our care or of whom we are aware. Thirdly, emotional patience is required to deal with stress, eagerness, disappointment, despair and heartache. Fourthly, we must develop the patience to maintain endurance to overcome the negative intrusion of kilesa that constantly tries to deflect our positive thoughts, words and actions.
This brings us to the third virtue, that of discipline or, more specifically, self-discipline, which is the ability to apply conscious self-control and orderliness to personal thoughts, words and actions. We may further clarify this discipline in terms of behaviour that is controlled, calm and in keeping with the requirements of being a good human being, a good teacher, a good student and a righteously upstanding member of the community. This discipline of the self reaches into the community by interaction, reducing contention and conflicts whilst creating a climate for right thought, word and deed to be applied in accordance with both the laws of the society in which we live and the moral laws expounded within Buddhist doctrine that apply to all human beings wherever they may be. With correct tuition, discipline becomes a habit of second nature that is employed in all aspects of the student’s life.
Teaching the Habits of Respect, Patience and Discipline
The components that are required to teach efficiently and develop respect, patience and discipline in students are a peaceful and calm atmosphere, suitable facilities and equipment, and good approachable teachers who can manage and balance moral and academic studies.
However, we should note that all this is to no avail if students have not been properly prepared for formal education in that they have developed the appropriate personal skills, values and habits in their early formative years within the home place or community in which they were raised and nurtured. If formative years have been neglected the teacher must first address a student’s desire to take good personal care and to do good things. Then this will create the right conditions for the student to recognize and seek the benefits of a good education.
Effects of Habits Formed and Choices You Make
The Law of Kamma
We are all individual, each unique in our physical make-up and kamma. This is what makes one person different from another, even between identical twins. We have considered the Body and the Mind with the factors that influence their efficiency and operation but there is another factor that makes us who we are, and that is our kamma.
Everyone is subject to the Law of Kamma. When we conduct ourselves in a moral and good way we are rewarded with good and desirable results. Some of the results will be apparent while others will be carried forward to our afterlife and future lives. The circumstances of our present life are results of the consequentiality of our thoughts and actions in previous lives.
Living a good life is the preparation for being reborn as a human being in the next life in preferential circumstances. Alternatively, living a life with disregard to our human conduct and cognitive status as a species will create unfavourable kamma to the detriment of our future afterlives and rebirths. When accumulating bad kamma they are like prisoners in their own kammic cells, unaware of their perpetual imprisonment. Unfortunately, as aforementioned, this prison of life is so vast that we cannot see the walls, often fail to recognize our imprisonment, and fail to take action to remedy the effects of our at-risk and harmful situation.
As kamma has such an important influence on our behaviour and circumstances, to know its nature empowers us with the ability to shape its character and the future influence it will exert over us. The meaning of kamma is action with intention; good kamma is action that is not swayed by greed, anger or delusion. We may have an effect on our kamma in three ways, through thought, speech and actions, mindful that good thoughts, words and actions produce good kamma, whilst bad thoughts, words and actions produce bad kamma, which equates with sufferings.
Therefore, it is profoundly important for a good teacher to strive constantly to create good self-kamma. This is not only beneficial to the teacher but also provides a model of good practice for the pupil to look up to and respect. By creating good kamma from lifetime to lifetime, eventually the prison will be destroyed and the cycle of rebirth and suffering will transcend even the spiritual concept of heaven and hell, allowing the human entity to attain Nirvana.
Chapter 3 Training the Trainer
Defining a Good Trainer
To teach to a high standard requires a sound knowledge of the body, the mind, kilesa and baap as previously defined. From this basis teachers are obligated to put their knowledge into daily practice not only diligently but also continuously, thus ensuring that they maintain their own virtue and morality in line with the respect they command from their pupils. Perfect model teachers are those able to teach themselves as well as others in both the worldly and spiritual sphere.
The Perfect Model Teacher
A person benefits from a model teacher to guide and direct the way of living from birth onwards. It is undeniable that a good teacher should be the person responsible for how one will develop as one grows up. The question is: How can we find the right teacher? How can we distinguish between a good and a bad teacher, and who can we choose to follow?
The perfect model teacher must be all of the following:
A model of worldly awareness with a deep subject knowledge
Mindful of personal physical and mental condition
An upstanding example of good conduct
Skilled in discipline and in the effective transfer of academic knowledge and moral ethics.
Art and Skill of Teaching
Teaching is not just about having knowledge and following a prescribed method of imparting that knowledge to the pupil. Efficient and effective teaching is an art or skill that provides the platform upon which to deliver the
knowledge or science in a way that encourages absorption while correctly and clearly conveying the subject matter to the pupil.
To be skilled in the art of teaching, teachers must not only deliver the subject based on their combined in-depth knowledge and appropriate application but also connect with the pupils by the respect they command by way of their own personality and professionalism as perfect model teachers.
Many of the ills that the world faces today are due to education that does not include ethical and moral virtues that are necessary for a harmonious society and spiritually supported existence in this lifetime. Many academics teach as a lucrative profession but are not teachers in the true sense. When education is incomplete, in that knowledge is separated from morality and ethics, the very fabric of society falls apart. Students are empowered with the knowledge and ability to make changes for which they assume no responsibility for the consequences. Students go into the world unaware of the forces that will lead them onto the ‘Roads to Ruin’. Their actions will carry others along the same path of endless sufferings and rebirths. Buoyed with academic success the pitfalls of their irresponsibility will go unnoticed until kilesa and suffering have already taken hold.
To avoid the consequences of irresponsible teaching it is imperative that teachers review their motives and take a professional or vocational approach to their responsibilities as human beings. The teacher must know how to balance both academic and moral standards in responsible cohesion.
To self-assess their teaching capabilities, teachers must ask of themselves individually the following questions:
Do I teach with theory but without skill?
Do I teach with theory and skill but without moral integration? Do I teach with theory, skill and apply moral guidance?
Do I teach with theory, skill and moral guidance successfully?
If teachers can identify with the latter they will surely produce well-educated pupils that are also good people.
Types of Trainer
Human beings learn from birth in all kinds of circumstances and from all kinds of sources, but for structured formal education we can categorize teachers into three types as follows:
Home teachers — This refers to those parents or guardians who plant moral seeds in the developing minds of the young, teaching good habits from birth. It may be eating, cleanliness and hygiene, sleeping, bathroom use and so on. We may class these things as all the personal and social disciplines that add up to a basic well-rounded individual who may enjoy successful social integration within the family and community. If these basics of home-taught knowledge and behaviour are neglected or impure, the consequences will lead to future suffering and conflicts in society.
Schoolteachers — This refers to those who have a long-term role and influence throughout the formal structured education of the pupil. Because of the considerable number of hours and period of influence that these teachers will have with their students, their prime requirement is knowledgeable spiritual awareness and irreproachable moral values. With this in place the academic nature of their tuition will lead the student in the direction of righteousness in the future application of their acquired knowledge and education.
Spiritual teachers — This refers to educators who are recognized as thinking and doing only good things, englightening the pupil to the merits of understanding oneself and life. They provide spiritual and practical guidance and also encouragement to empowering pupils to overcome the kilesa that will try to rule their lives. These teachers must also be irreproachable moral pillars of support not only in this world but serve as an enlightened bridge between this world and the celestial realm.
But how do we teach children while they are so young to be orderly and punctual? The answer is to make them used to these characteristics, otherwise if it is left to a later stage it will be very hard to change already developed bad habits. With
children, we do not necessarily teach so much through words, but by example through our actions.
But to train children, there needs to be a teacher/trainer.
Let us look more closely at the example of a mother who feeds her baby. The first mother does not feed her baby on time, which will cause the baby to cry for food. This baby will grow up and develop the habit of having a hot temper. The second mother feeds her baby generously, she feeds the baby milk all the time, and the baby will grow up fast and be fat, and very lazy, even too lazy to look at the mother’s face. The third mother feeds her baby on time. This baby will grow up fast, with a good emotions and good health. Growth, quality, frequency and chewing will all become habits. Even after growing up, two children — one who eats dinner together with the family and one who eats dinner separately — will have different habits. Or, children who are taught to wash dishes after dinner, or otherwise leave them, will develop different kinds of habit accordingly. Do not overlook this point; this is only using one example, but we do develop a lot of habits from the way we acquire, consume and store. So each bite will affect how we develop not only our health but also our habits and behaviour.
The most important factor here is the teacher. If we have parents who are clean and thorough and pay attention to detail we will develop good habits from an early age. Most parents want good children, so they send them to educators to be educated. But the success of their education will depend on their habits. And habits depend on their upbringing. When parents raise the kind of children that do not behave, how can educators teach the kind of students that cannot be taught? If education does not start at home, teachers may not have the ability to teach students about good habits and how to judge between good and bad. These children will grow up and become parents themselves, and then continue the cycle of miseducation.
Successfully Transferring Knowledge
Teaching is not a precise science; it requires a certain flair or charismatic quality that enables the teacher to communicate in a way that captivates the attention
of students and commands their respect. Having a sound academic record of achievement or knowledge does not automatically qualify an individual to become a good teacher.
For example, you may have two cooks, equally talented in baking a delicious cake. If students taste the two cakes made by these cooks, but without seeing the cooks, they would not be able to tell one cake from the other. However, if the two cooks take separate classes of pupils and try to teach them how to bake this delicious cake, one group of students might succeed in learning the technique and proceed to be able to copy exactly the taste and quality of the cake, while the other group may fail dismally to remember the process of combining the ingredients, and fail to acquire the knowledge and technique needed to replicate the quality and taste of the original cake.
Both cooks have the same skill and knowledge to make the cake but only one is able to pass on that skill and knowledge effectively to the pupils. Let us consider why. One cook looks the part, neat, suitably attired, well prepared, clear and precise with the instructions, plus displays an obvious and genuine enthusiasm to pass on the secret of making the delicious cake, so the students are attentive and absorb both knowledge and method.
On the other hand, the second cook looks dishevelled, is ill-prepared, muddles the instructions and is unenthusiastic in the process of teaching. The recipe and method applied to make the cake may be the same, but the quality and effectiveness of the teaching is not, and the pupils are not so attentive and therefore not absorbing the knowledge and method as intended by their teacher.
The teacher who possesses the traits of a good teacher passes on knowledge whereas the teacher who does not possess the traits of a good teacher has the knowledge of the subject but not the ability or traits required to pass on that knowledge.
Hence, teaching is an individual skill, which requires the trainer to pass knowledge to students effectively and completely. The best type of teacher is the one who can not only teach but also can guide, advise, direct and demonstrate
directly and indirectly so that students can understand and learn thoroughly. This requires trainers who have not only the first level of wisdom, which is from memorization, but also from the second and third levels, which come from experience and inner light.
The Complete Teacher
This is a teacher who has mastered the art of teaching and possesses the persona required of a good teacher as well as academic excellence and knowledge of the subjects that are being taught. Academic excellence may be broken into two separate, yet inseparable, spheres if they are considered to be complete. Firstly, we may refer to the sphere of the academic world, the knowledge regarding the common subjects that the teacher is required to teach on a regular basis, such as language, mathematics and sciences, as part of the structured curriculum during formal education. The second sphere is that of academic Dhamma, the knowledge of Buddhist morals and ethics that comes with in-depth study, understanding and practice of the Dhamma. Only when the academic world and academic Dhamma are combined will the pupil develop right knowledge that leads to right thought, word and action. Academic knowledge alone has no moral direction and may lead to great sufferings. Teaching only academic world knowledge is incomplete teaching no matter the level of grades attained by pupils. Knowledge without the further knowledge of how to use it to become a good human being is wasted, and is a potentially destructive and harmful knowledge.
The complete teacher must continuously cultivate the three basic principles of respect, patience and discipline so that they become the teacher’s natural habit. Such teachers must maintain the good physical and moral qualities expected of them to command the attention and respect of their pupils. Good teachers must at all times remember that they are role models for their pupils and behave accordingly, paying close attention to their own physical appearance and to their own behaviour, both of which must be exemplary and righteous.
Good teachers, to be complete, must extend their influence and good example of conduct and intention beyond the classroom and into the spiritual realm; this is essential in producing good human beings and to fulfil the right purpose
of their teaching. Furthermore, the complete teacher must be mindful that the lessons and moral ethics imparted to their pupils will not only have lasting and indelible impacts on those pupils in this lifetime, but will shape lifestyles and actions, creating kamma that the pupils will carry into future lifetimes also.
The modern world creates competition among people to achieve, without patience or mindful consideration of the kind of knowledge that they seek to acquire, or of how to use their knowledge for right benefit or to reduce their sufferings in this lifetime and the lifetimes to follow. The Buddha’s Dhamma is the source and the tool to correct this erroneous approach by the pupils and erroneous delivery of knowledge by the incomplete teacher.
Knowledge Transfer from the Immaculate Teacher, The Lord Buddha
The Lord Buddha’s limitless source of knowledge and wisdom was achieved without external teaching, through the power of self-enlightenment to the reality of all things via the process of meditation. Enlightenment is the state of realization and understanding that leads to the permanent cessation of the cycle of rebirth by transcending all human desires and suffering.
The Lord Buddha specified three levels of understanding of life’s goals: elementary that would allow the human to live in peace, medium that would permit access to heaven, and high that would lead to the permanent cessation of the cycle of human reincarnation and the causes of human suffering. This final level, or enlightenment, is the state of Nirvana.
Teachers must draw on the wisdom of the Buddha’s Dhamma throughout their training and then in the application of their teaching commitment.
The Processes of Teaching
The teaching virtues conducive to growth in wisdom were expounded in the Buddha’s Dhamma for the benefit of everyone. The Dhamma mentions these virtues in four steps:
Step one: A good teacher should think, speak and act in a good way, have a complete and clear knowledge of the subject, continue the practice of
self-learning, command respect from pupils and others in the community, plus possess the skills and ability to transfer knowledge to pupils effectively.
Step two: A good teacher must adhere to the principles required to understand and absorb the content of lectures correctly. The teacher assumes the role of the student, listening with respect, identifying the topic and prioritizing the importance and relevance of the content.
Step three: A good teacher must thoroughly consider the purpose of the lecture in order to grasp and understand fully the relevance of the subject matter. The teacher must scrutinize the content with caution to evaluate the worthiness of the lecture and conclude if the content will lead to right or wrong knowledge or guidance. If the teacher is satisfied that the lecture imparts right knowledge, the teacher must consider how to integrate the content of the lecture into the most appropriate teaching method.
Step four: This is concerned with transferring to pupils the knowledge and merit the teacher has acquired. The teacher must know the usefulness and benefit that will be gained by pupils and have patience and consideration for pupils’ difficulties when faced with new knowledge and thinking. The teacher must also be consistent and persistent to ensure the knowledge is passed on both correctly and completely. The teacher must always look to further develop these skills and the satisfactory absorption of knowledge by pupils.
Success and achievement of teacher and pupils go hand in hand, and the benefits to both teacher and pupil of following up on the progress are of great importance. Both the teacher and the pupils will feel confident and encouraged; this creates happiness and a bond of mutual respect. Both will be moved to further develop their personal attainment and skills while both will also move closer to their goals and fulfilment in this lifetime. The success of the pupil is also the success of the trainer.
Training for Living and Training for Life
The True Goal of Education
True education is akin to an elementary level of achieving three different levels of wisdom or knowledge. The wisdom from listening and reading is the first stage of attaining knowledge. Analyzing and experience develops into the second level of wisdom, but the ultimate level of knowledge is the wisdom that comes from meditation (not contemplation). This is the knowledge from a mind that has come to a standstill inside the body, purified by Dhamma. Once we are purified and at one with Dhamma, knowledge will be revealed in ourselves, which is the state called enlightenment; it is the state where our minds are permanently free from defilements. Once we manage to break through and completely cleanse our minds from kilesa we can truly go through to the enlightenment stage, or Ultimate Knowledge. For example, there is a fisherman, and through the clouded murky water he can see movement and guesses that there are catfish or some other type of fish there. But he cannot be sure. However, a fisherman that is more experienced could take a more ‘educated’ guess as to which fish are in the water, yet he too could not be totally sure. The only way to be sure what is in the water is when the water is clean and crystal clear, and the fisherman can then see for himself it is this kind of fish or that kind of fish. This is the same as a mind that is free from kilesa. When the mind is still clouded by kilesa, our knowledge is lacking as we cannot see and know the truth or reality.
When faced with the challenge of overcoming the suffering from living one’s life, it is useful to note as an example that humans are born ignorant of self-awareness and knowledge of the world. Instinctively, we eat for pleasure and to relieve the suffering of hunger; and instinctively, we do not have an awareness of refuelling the elements that sustain life, and certainly we are not born with knowledge of the nutritional value of what we eat or any possible harmful effects. Without education regarding how to refuel our bodies we develop bad habits, overeat due to greed, and consume unhealthy or harmful foods that in due course lead to over- or unnecessary spending, plus possible ill health and expensive medical bills as a direct result of our ignorance. Should our financial status render us unable to
fund the consequences of our bad eating habits, this may also lead to unethical and immoral ways of funding our uninformed or mismanaged feeding of the body and its kilesa-driven greed and excesses.
Education to Overcome the Suffering from Living One’s Life
As long as we have to continue to refuel the elements from sources outside of our body, we have to struggle to survive. This is the common suffering everyone in the world is facing. The moment we are born, we learn automatically that we have to breathe on our own in order to survive. Later on we learn to eat, to walk and so on through the process of growing up. We learn about how to make a living. We spend lifetimes learning about how to live our life as each stage of birth, old age, sickness and death comes anew to us in each successive life.
Nonetheless, the Lord Buddha did leave us the wisdom in his teachings to help us discover the solutions to overcome and eliminate our sufferings. One of the most important lessons to learn is to how we can differentiate between need and want. In order to live happily, living in moderation is the key to influence the way we work and the kamma we create for ourselves. Finding the necessities to replenish the four elements essential to sustain life properly and knowing how to use them will enable us to alleviate or overcome suffering in living our lives without being deluded by desire for that which is neither necessary nor morally advantageous.
Education to Overcome the Suffering from Living Together
Humans are social mammals of an elite status. We need to live together as a community in order to survive. However, every member in society is driven by the need to survive. All are bound to be in conflict somewhere, somehow. Conflicts can start within the smallest unit of society — the family — and may spread like a cancer to invade at an international level of global proportions.
Overcoming the suffering from living together requires us to understand ourselves as human beings without labelling anyone with race, religion or creed. Only then can we learn how to share with our family, community and humanity at large.
Education to Overcome the Suffering Caused by Kilesa
The Buddha’s Dhamma teaches us that the way to overcome kilesa is to follow the Noble Eightfold Path that will lead us to completely eradicate our defilements and endless round of suffering death and rebirth. The goal of a good moral-based and structured education is to encourage the study and practice of the Noble Eightfold Path (which will be clarified later in this book) from the earliest possible age and on into maturity. The young mind will have fewer negative influences from kilesa and therefore will face fewer obstacles to overcome; and this is why it is beneficial to introduce the principles for life of the Noble Eightfold Path as early in life as is feasible and appropriate for the individual.
Chapter 4 Beginning to Be a Successful Trainer
The Noble Eightfold Path
A definitive master plan for development of all human beings regardless of race, age, sexuality, religion or creed, the Noble Eightfold Path empowers all individuals to overcome the aforementioned three problems of life and ever present chaotic and destructive influences of kilesa. Each of the eight principles directly influences the other seven and while inseparable in correct practice should be viewed individually and theoretically to understand their essential relationship.
The Noble Eightfold Path Consists of:
1 Right view
2 Right thought
3 Right speech
4 Right action
5 Right livelihood
6 Right effort
7 Right mindfulness
8 Right meditation or concentration
The Noble Eightfold Path also leads to a cycle of ongoing self-improvement. Considered as a circular path, ‘right meditation or concentration’ ultimately leads again to ‘right view’, ‘right thought’ and so on, each cycle becoming more pure than the last, which will when combined with meditation brighten our Inner Light so that we may in time come to see our own mind.
It is the purpose of this book to illuminate the importance of The Noble Eightfold Path for teachers who, by the very nature of their commitment, must ensure they fully understand and strive to adhere to a principled life and educational philosophy, and a practice of duty based on the principles overleaf.
Ten Right Views
1) Generosity Bears Fruit
The first step of your training is learning to give up something of which you have more than you need and to give to someone whom you love or for whom you care. Learning to give up something you don’t need is called sharing. We can share knowledge, experience, things and forgiveness. These are steps you can take to slowly develop your understanding of kamma.
2) Giving Support Bears Fruit
Once we practise more and more sharing, we will develop the spontaneous desire to give to others, even though we may be giving something that we ourselves may need, but we consider others may need it more. We give it to them because we want to alleviate their suffering and protect them from bad things. Giving to others bears fruit in that it removes suspicion and promotes love and goodwill between the giver and the receiver.
We advance to the next level of our training when we start inspiring others to engage in the habit of generosity and giving support which ensures the continuity of sharing, compassion and charity. The continuity is the fruitful effect of our actions in inspiring others with this right view that motivates people to overcome life’s obstacles together rather than each individual looking out only for themselves.
3) Giving Respect Bears Fruit
People that perform wholesome deeds command respect from others, and the trainer should find inspiration and guidance from those whom are observed to perform good deeds by respecting their virtuous thoughts, words and actions. By emulating these virtuous people others will in turn respect you; this is the fruit of observing and practising respect.
4) Consequences of Wholesome and Unwholesome Actions
Virtuous people provide the example of the consequences of our right views and the fruits that are to be harvested from wholesome
deeds, while people who do not practise right views offer us an example by the suffering and retribution they attract as a result of their actions. This means that each action, be it good or bad, has good and bad effects respectively and is the basis of understanding the Law of Cause and Effect, or Kamma.
5) Belief in the Reality and Existence of This World
Through Dhamma study and meditation we are able to gain a better understanding of the Law of Kamma. We become aware of the existence of this world and how it is affected by our actions in previous lifetimes. What we have done in the past will have the result of what we experience in the present. What we do in the present will have far reaching effects into the future. By this realization we acknowledge the reality and existence of this world.
6) Belief in the Reality and Existence of the Next World
Once we believe in the existence of this world and understand the Law of Cause and Effect, it follows that what we do now will have an affect on all that follows and so on from this lifetime to the next. Understanding one’s kamma is affected in this way, by our thoughts words and actions, and that our kamma was present at birth, it follows that the kamma we were born with is the result of our previous lifetimes and what we do in this lifetime will carry forth to out next lifetime. By this realization we acknowledge the reality of the existence of the next world or the hereafter.
7) & 8) Mothers and Fathers are Influential Figures
The circumstances and parents to which we are born are a direct result of the kamma we have accumulated in previous lives. To be born into propitious Right View family circumstances we have to accumulate sufficient merit by our thoughts, words and actions. Once we are born into such circumstances we owe our parents a debt of gratitude as we are well positioned to continue to accumulate more and more merit, or good kamma, with each rebirth.
9) Spontaneous Arising Beings Exist, & 10) The Buddha and Arahants Exist
One’s Kamma is accumulated in the human world and affects our birth circumstances in the next life. However, between lives we are considered to be in a celestial realm and it is from this realm that being arises spontaneously. The circumstances of our birth when we have attained sufficient good kamma will allow us, through meditation, to recognize these spontaneous arising beings which are an indication of our progress and understanding in the Dhamma. The Buddha is recognized as the supreme enlightened one, and in the Theravada Buddhist tradition Arahants in this world are spiritual practitioners who have reached a high state of enlightenment and are worthy of disseminating the Dhamma and accepting gifts that bring forth abundant results from devotees.
To summarize the Ten Right Views, understanding the first four contributes to living a peaceful and happy life. The remaining fifth to tenth Right Views are the realities of life in accordance with Dhamma teachings but may be compared to interpretations and explanations that are also found in other faiths, religions and beliefs. People can be happy when they do not abandon those who suffer, but instead strive to help them. To do this they have to understand the fruit of supporting others and this will overcome problems within local and global society.
People can be happy when they ignore faults in others, instead seeking to see and extol the attributes of others. This is the benefit of the third Right View, that respect bears fruit that overcomes social and political problems, encouraging the sharing of goodness between one another. People would not allow selfishness into their lives if they understood the results of baap. When a person understands this they will chose to only do good things for the benefit of all. If we consistently follow these steps, problems will be solved permanently. These 10 Steps of Right Views allow people to understand gradually the importance of their actions and the existence of each sequence until finally understanding that the Law of Kamma exists.
The happiness and suffering of each person does not appear without reason but is the result of kamma; this is the understanding of the reality of this world. When people die, it is not the end of their story; they will be reborn into a good or bad afterlife depending on their kamma. This is referred to as the understanding of the reality of the next world.
When we understand the seventh and eighth Right Views we realize that mothers and fathers have virtue because they are the givers of life in the human form, nurturing us from conception with sustenance, shelter and knowledge. The mother and father are the first trainers in a person’s life. Their duty is to train their child to be a human being, and to teach humanity plus the key principles for life. Irrespective of whether the child learns academic or practical skills, they must be instilled with a firm concept of goodness and badness, right and wrong.
Believing in the ninth and tenth Right Views, gives us the understanding that there are celestial entities and concepts loosely called angels, heaven and hell. This empowers people to believe that death is not the end of their being or that they will simply disappear upon death and therefore there is no reason or need to do good in this lifetime.
The Buddha and Arahants are real people who have attained a high level of enlightenment. It is true that people who practise well by dedicating their lives to purifying mind, body, speech and actions, will attain enlightenment and know clearly the existence of Samsara, which is the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Such people will also posses the compassion to teach others, understanding that other people will see and use them as role models.
Teaching the Ten Right Views leads to many benefits as follows:
A person who has these right views will be willing to do good things.
Those who are willing to do good things will also possess the drive to meditate consistently each and every day.
Those who meditate with consistency will have good emotions, and can easily see and understand the truth that everyone has good and bad in them, accepting that people are imperfect yet have to rely upon, and interact with, each other.
When people recognize these two natures of good and bad in others and themselves, they will cultivate respect, patience and discipline. When people have respect, patience and discipline they will refrain from taking advantage of, or doing bad things to, others and will elect to associate with true friends and participate in good activities.
These people will learn more about how to develop themselves to reach a level where they may support others.
Importance of Teaching the Right View
When students understand that giving and supporting bears fruit:
They will know that giving or sharing leads to self-confidence and satisfaction, and will believe in the positive and beneficial results of boon.
By assuming a supporting role they will appreciate the benefits and concept of self-reliance. Helping others will create satisfaction and self-confidence in their ability to do good without waiting for direction, outside support or influence.
Respect — This Habit will raise the Perception that everyone should strive to do
If family and school teach those first four right views to their children, it will allow children to reach the first milestone in life, relying on themselves for their basic needs and necessities. They will understand the dangers and temptations along the ‘Road to Ruin’ and be armed with the tools to identify, avoid and repel them.
When practising the first four right views they will easily develop the three basic virtues, which are respect, patience and discipline.
Knowing the reality of this world and the next will help them to understand, avoid and overcome discrimination, disagreements and differences amongst
individuals, families, communities and nations. Bias will be replaced with tolerance, and inadequacies will be approached with compassion. Those who are faced with difficult circumstances and are able to draw on their feelings of respect will achieve far greater progress than those who respond to adverse situations with disrespect.
All mothers and fathers have virtues. If children understand how hard it is to give birth and to raise a person they will surely have gratitude. Therefore, parents should be good role models, teaching their children the right views from an early age. Furthermore, those who have mastered understanding regarding the Law of Kamma will easily accept the concept of spontaneous arising and the benefits one’s good deeds invoke both in this and future lifetimes.
Right View — Correct Understanding of the Environment and the Human
Teachers should educate their pupils in the 10 right views from the earliest appropriate age and level of development. If pupils are not taught as and when their views are being formed and established, wrong views will be formed that will be more difficult to change later in life.
Developing the right view leads students to understand about boon, baap and the consequences of disregarding the Law of Kamma.
Teaching the right view should be progressive, from simple to complex.
The curriculum must include everyday activities and encouragements that will sow the seeds of the 10 right views.
The curriculum must include activities and tools appropriate to the level of education and age of the pupils.
Whilst it is prudent for teachers to seek out role model students that set good examples to their peers, no student should be ignored or belittled in the teacher’s endeavours to change bad habits or be allowed to remain beneficially unchanged by their tuition.
Teachers should remind themselves often that only good habits cultivate progress in academic and moral knowledge.
Right Thought — About Human Survival, Livelihood and Interaction
Right thought comes from the right view and the ability to overcome kilesa.
All right action and right speech come from right thought. Wrong action and wrong speech come from wrong thought.
When organizing activities for students, teachers should always give thought to and be sympathetic to the feelings and issues that arise between genders. When playing sports, teachers should be aware of students’ feelings of revenge, cheating, and unfair or ill- treatment.
Teachers should remind themselves that in creating good people by sowing the right moral and ethical seeds combined with academic knowledge, their pupils and following generations will enjoy greater peace and harmony.
Right Speech — With Right Intentions and Mindfulness
Students who have been trained to observe and practise the 10 Right Views will definitely not speak untruths or indulge in harsh, gossipy or divisive dialogue.
Teachers may encourage the habit of good speech by promoting polite and endearing speech, and engaging in suitable activities such as words of devotion, praying, and reciting morally worthy words and texts in accordance with their cultures and accredited moral beliefs. Also, good speech may be developed by morally unifying group participation and appreciation in word or song, strengthening the human bonds of compassion, goodness and decency.
Teachers should not say bad things about others behind their back or to their face but should instruct their pupils to follow the wisdom of this ethos.
Right Action — Generates Good Kamma and Effects
Teachers should instil the view that all knowledge one acquires should only be used with good intent, strictly within the guidelines of the first three precepts.
Teachers should always behave with good etiquette and polite manners to maintain their credibility as suitable role models in society, thus engaging the respect of their students to follow their example and instruction.
Teachers should teach that the right view should never infringe on others’ rights.
Right Livelihood — Is Based on Mindfully Applied Effort
Teachers should instil in the minds of their students that every person has to play their part in society to the best of their ability. Self-reliance and social contribution depend on individual mental and physical abilities, effort, education and accepting responsibility for one’s actions to be successful as a self-sufficient good human being in this lifetime.
Teachers should instil in the minds of their students that refuelling the four elements is the primary goal and the most important part of securing a sustainable and moral living. Purchasing the four requisites — food, clothing, shelter and medicines — is secondary to the primary purpose of sustaining a moral livelihood.
In seeking to refuel the four elements and purchase the four requisites one has to be mindful that using the wrong methods creates baap. Also, world resources are limited; gathering more than is needed is greed and results in suffering both to ourselves and others. Those that are disadvantaged compared to ourselves become even more disadvantaged.
Teachers should by prudent self-example, illustrate and instil in the minds of students the relevance and importance of avoiding the ‘Roads to Ruin’ and anything leading to suffering.
Right Effort — Leads to Right Results
Teachers must inform their pupils that to follow the principle of right effort, they must first cultivate the basic three virtuous habits of respect, patience and discipline. Right effort means making the effort to constantly reexamine themselves. If through self-examination a flaw is found, strive for the effort to correct it. When, through self-examination one finds goodness in oneself, make
the effort to maintain that goodness. If there is badness in ourselves, let it go for good. Make the effort not to acquire any new badness, bad habits or flaws. For goodness not yet acquired, make the effort to acquire that goodness. This is considered right effort.
Cultivation of those Virtuous Habits may be Achieved by using the following:
Respect — Pupils must be encouraged to practise discussing the virtues of others, and the historical significance of places and relevant topics. The benefits of books, novels, art and other sources of knowledge that command andinspire respect by their virtuous contribution to society should be explored appropriately at each level of understanding and ability of the pupils.
Patience — Teachers must provide proper guidance and opportunity by creating activities that allow students to practise meditation and calm contemplation.
Discipline — Teachers must cultivate a culture of punctuality and necessity to complete set work and tasks in a timely manner while following the rules and cultural behaviour appropriate to the circumstances and requirements.
These three virtues help to correct bad habits and further create and develop good ones.
Teachers must always be aware that students who see their teachers as virtuous role models will have no doubt as to the benefits of following the example they have been set.
Right Mindfulness — Only occurs when the Mind is not allowed to Wander
A first-class teacher must be an exemplary role model who loves to learn and loves to do good things to and for others.
A first-class teacher is dedicated to passing on those habits to students.
Right mindfulness is achieved by the practice of keeping the mind still at the centre of the body, and not allowing it to fall prey to distraction and kilesa.
Meditation is the most effective means to develop right mindfulness.
Right Concentration — Leads to Understanding and Knowledge Retention
Consciousness that is still and concentration are so closely related that they can be considered to be one and the same.
Students with very good concentration tend to score higher grades in school because they understand and retain the content of the lessons more precisely.
Teachers who encourage and guide students to practise meditation for five to ten minutes before every class each day will attain better comprehension and knowledge ratings in their pupils. The students will benefit greatly and develop respect for the importance of meditation and how it enhances the process of learning. They will also develop, through meditation, the right view in their approach to their academic and moral education.
All of the 84,000 Teachings of the Buddha are contained in the Noble Eightfold
Principles of Practice:
Try to practise all of the eight.
Try to practise all eight at the same time.
Each part of the Eightfold Path should be practised fully, otherwise the deficit could be transferred to the other seven, and thus bad habits could not properly be corrected.
Each part of the Eightfold Path should be practised in the correct proportion. Each part of the Eightfold Path should be practised daily continuously, so that they become firmly entrenched and habitual.
How Does the Noble Eightfold Path Destroy Kilesa?
The person who practises the Noble Eightfold Path faithfully will increase his will to do good deeds.
He will do more good deeds, and therefore do less bad deeds until there is no more new baap created.
The kilesa already stalking the mind will not have an opportunity to strike.
At the same time the power of merit that results from the doing of good deeds will decrease baap.
The three types of suffering will decrease while the four elements in the body will become less soiled and less impure.
To understand the Buddha’s Dhamma, children must be educated to know the ultimate goal in life, which is to purify the mind in order to be free from rebirth into the cycle of existence and suffering.
Body and Mind Training for Sustainable Habits Training to Love the Noble Eightfold Path
The earlier that human beings are introduced to the virtues of learning, understanding and following the guidance of the Noble Eightfold Path, the smoother will be their development and the greater their motivation towards the ultimate goal of the teacher to produce good human beings. The later training begins the more difficult it becomes to undo bad habits and practices. Those fortunate enough to be introduced to correct and complete education from birth to maturity will encounter fewer difficulties in their lives, contributing far more to society in return than would otherwise be the case. This does not imply that beginning correct education at a later stage will not accumulate similar knowledge and merits, but it will require far greater effort and discipline on behalf of the student, at least in the preliminary stages of their correct moral and academic education.
The teacher must also guard against any bias towards pupils, mindful that the wisdom and benefits contained within education, knowledge and the Dhamma are for every gender of every age. If the pupils can walk then the educator may lead, but if the pupil cannot walk it is the duty of the educator to carry and inspire the pupils toward the destination of enlightened knowledge, thought, word and behaviour.
Training Needs the Right Approach and Content Depending on the Environment
Whether it is training for knowledge and skills, or for the habits of the individual, the place or environment must be taken into consideration and training should be provided that is relevant and appropriate to the situation and needs.
It is helpful to look at a few places where training and education occur to illustrate the desirability of this awareness to address the appropriate situation and needs.
In the morning we wake up in the bedroom; we go to the bathroom to clean ourselves and use the toilet; we get dressed in the dressing room or area; and we have breakfast in the kitchen. From there we leave for work and spend our day in the classroom, workplace or office. At the end of the day we return home and have dinner in the kitchen or dining room, go to get undressed, thence to the bathroom to take a bath or shower and, finally, to the bedroom to go to sleep.
Life is spent largely in a combination of just these few rooms, save for a little time spent travelling here and there.
The bedroom is a suitable environment to introduce to the pupil ways to cultivate the habit of loving boon and awareness of baap, and how to resist with apprehension its destructive influences. It is here that the right view with regard to the truth of our existence and the world may have its foundations laid for future life. The bedroom is also suitable for the instruction and practice of prayer, meditation and thoughtful contemplation.
The bathroom is where the pupil will learn the habits necessary to maintain good bodily function and hygiene. It is a place where the young learn how the body naturally manages its physical waste products and impurities, thus leading to the understanding of the meaning of impurities and decay. This understanding may later be applied to visualize the abstract impurities of kilesa that must be expelled to sustain a healthy mind.
The room in which the student dresses is a place to remind the young of the pitfalls of vanity, or the consequences of sexualization of appearance and fashionable extravagances; and also to be aware of appropriate attire and presentation for each occasion.
The living rooms are places where the student will interact with family members and visitors, and will cook, eat and spend leisure time in these places. Therefore, the lessons of frugality, right speech and actions may be appropriate here in the environment in which the pupil will be judged as a human being by those adjacent. Success in absorption and application of the lessons learned will be reflected back in the responses of others towards the student. Lessons well learned and practised will result in good responses, while bad responses will indicate that the pupil must receive further training or correction. Consideration for others, good manners and respect for property and material necessities will follow by the example of the teachers at home, and the skills for harmonious cohabiting with one’s peers, different genders and generations will be acquired.
The concept of home-based rooms has been greatly simplified in this book and does not cover fully all situations and environments. However, in Part II, this subject will be addressed in detail.
The office or workplace is where the student must be encouraged to cultivate a successful livelihood with right thought and practices, and not consciously cheat or deceive with intent for self-benefit. The student must be taught to be mindful not to succeed by deliberate detriment to others, and to exhibit an ethical work discipline through commitment, thought, word and action at all times.
In the home-based rooms where the student receives tuition valuable practical and moral instruction will be gained that increases understanding of how to integrate into society as a good human being. This understanding and subsequent forming of good habits will put the student at a great advantage when carried forward to the classroom, formal study environment or workplace.
Chapter 5 Training the Mind
Goals of Life
Life goals have three levels: the goal on Earth, the goal in the celestial realm, and the goal beyond (Nirvana).
The goal on Earth is to live happily, enjoy good health, be blessed with a good family and be accepted in society. Everyone wishes for this, whether they believe in any religious faith or not.
Those who have faith in a religion have a second level of life goal, because they believe in life after death. This is the goal in the celestial realm. Why do people with religious faith believe in heaven and hell? Many major religions have backgrounds that include meditation in their doctrines and practices — so they already know about
‘Inner Light.’ Buddhism strives to provide a means to brighten this light continuously by looking within, in contrast to other practices that may seek to brighten the
‘Inner Light’ by calling on outside acknowledgement or help from their gods or deities. It is also the reason why kilesa as defined in Buddhism is not mentioned in many other religions or faiths.
The highest level of life goal is the goal beyond heaven, that which we call Nirvana. Only the Buddha taught about this as his ‘Inner Light’, manifested through meditation, which was bright enough to reveal the truth of all things and release him from human sufferings into Nirvana.
The practice of meditation in daily life leads to understanding the value of the right view. Those who do not easily have an understanding of the right view are easily overcome by kilesa. With the right view comes the ability to know yourself and the obstacles that need to be overcome to achieve excellence in the field of teaching and all other aspects of living one’s life.
Meditation creates the right foundation from which to acquire and disseminate knowledge correctly and efficiently.
There are many different schools of thought and methods applied regarding practising, learning and teaching meditation. The Dhammakaya method helps us to comprehend how we meditate by teaching that the mind has seven bases inside the body, with the home of the mind placed at the seventh base. However, the subject of meditation technique is a subject on its own and should be studied separately but in conjunction with the theory presented in this book. Suffice to say at this point that meditation enables one to see one’s own mind through connecting with the ‘Inner Light.’
Willpower, Inspiration and Sustainability
Meditation is the catalyst for developing willpower, deriving inspiration and sustaining a life based on the truths of this world. Even with good intentions and commitment, without training the mind through meditation the focus and progress with regard to learning and teaching will not be as successful or complete. Without a method to understand and look into one’s own mind, it is not possible to become aware of the kilesa or negative influences that cause suffering.
With regular meditation comes the power of sustainability of direction and intent, thought and action, progress and refinement. Meditation alerts us to our failings and distractions and cultivates consistency of behaviour while increasing our potential in this lifetime and the next.
Training with Purpose:The Noble Eightfold Path + Relationship with Training Concepts for the Rehabilitation of Education
Economic, political and social problems arise as a result of incomplete education. Mismanagement and imbalance between academic and ethical education leads to a systemic breakdown within the immediate society and between different societies in other places. Education that does not include Dhamma, or similarly based ethics, will inevitably lead to the forces and influences of kilesa creating serious problems for the individual, community, country, and global stability and harmony. A world inhabited by moral beings would be a peaceful world.
Only with moral education can human beings eliminate conflicts, selfish and greedy tendencies and practices so that man may truly coexist with mindful and peaceful consideration for each other. This state of peaceful coexistence will only be achieved if all parties work together to solve the moral failings caused by incomplete or flawed education.
Rehabilitation of Education
The rehabilitation of education starts with the young in the home and is the result of the six directions of teaching, as earlier described, each reassessing their correctness and effectiveness. The same reassessment must be made by teachers in the classroom, and at the temple or place of moral and spiritual guidance. Reassessments must be based on the principles expounded within the Dhamma to ensure correctness of content and delivery of moral education.
The Success of Rehabilitation
Actual rehabilitation achievements depend on the concepts and practices of three types of teacher:
- Teachers at home are those who are parents or guardians. Concepts that these teachers need to understand and apply are to know the function of each of the six directions and also fulfilling their duty for each direction in the presence of children.
- Teachers at school who are responsible on a daily basis to deliver academic knowledge in accordance with their important role in society.
- Teachers at the temple who are monks serving a special function that is higher than the lay teacher in that it is morally hallowed in approach. They will confirm and enlighten their pupils to the effects of kamma in the present, celestial and future lives. It is also the function of the monkhood and spiritual teachers to teach respect for others and to explain the concepts of hell, heaven and Nirvana, whilst offering moral and emotional support within the mortal realm.
The people of tomorrow are taught by the teachers of today. The kind of people that they become will depend on their level of understanding, the knowledge they have acquired from being taught, and their own desire to learn plus the moral values and examples that they encounter, especially in their early and formative years. This places an enormous responsibility upon the shoulders of those that choose to become teachers and also upon the shoulders of those who are tasked with the training of teachers. Teachers must be fully aware that they are teachers not for self-satisfaction or benefit but have chosen to take responsibility for the future of not only their immediate pupils but also the effect their pupils will have on others. Teachers shape the social behaviour and future happiness of families, communities, nations and the world at large. Good teachers should strive to disseminate knowledge using teaching skills based on the principles of moral conduct and spiritual guidance in accordance with the Buddha’s Dhamma, or comparable ethos, if they are to play an effective role in bringing understanding, compassion, happiness and peace to a world plagued by suffering.
A good teacher will make a good person better and a bad person less bad. The essential disciplines of a moral and wholesome life will be second nature to one who has mastered being a good pupil and a good teacher, for a good teacher is also a lifelong pupil, forever seeking self-improvement and seeking out kilesa, accumulating a protective aura of boon of great personal benefit, and viewed as a desirable example of human excellence to others. They will empower their pupils to suppress detrimental desires and habits with Dhamma tools and correct understanding.
As well as a science, being a good teacher is an art. The teacher paints the canvas of life for students. If the colours are impure or the pictures distorted the students will be given incorrect and poor quality images upon which to base their learning and appreciation. They will not respect the artist and will be uninspired. This book is intended to explain in a simple way how to bring out the pure colours and quality transference of knowledge, both acquired and disseminated. By applying these guidelines, the rewards of fulfilment and happiness far outweigh and overcome the frustrations and challenges faced by teachers and pupils on the journey through this and future lifetimes.
When something is achieved with little effort or consideration the resulting satisfaction or happiness is of small consequence. However, being a good teacher is not easily achieved and requires exceptional personal effort, discipline and commitment but the fulfilment, happiness and peace that ensues is immeasurable.
To teach is a privilege
To teach well is admirable
To teach well is rewarding
To learn from a good teacher is a blessing
Bless others with your good teaching skills and your life will be overflowing with boon
For all those who have read my lecture Training the Trainers, I sincerely hope that this work will be of beneficial value and encouragement to them, plus it is my heartfelt wish that the blessings of their personal faith or beliefs will bring eternal fulfilment, happiness and lasting peace into their lives.