(1) Educational implications of the four Arya Satya (Four Truths):
‘This world is full of miseries’ is the first truth as viewed by Lord Buddha.
He has regarded the various miseries of the world as a nature of man. If one realizes this truth from the very beginning he will do nothing which may cause any trouble to him. Then he will so conduct his life as to ensure his physical, mental, moral and spiritual development. Thus he will become a good citizen. If the parents and teachers are motivated by this truth of Lord Buddha, children will be developed in a desirable manner and our educational system will be transformed. In the second Arya Satya (truth) Lord Buddha says that one’s ignorance is the cause of misery.
Due to ignorance one gets involved into various intricacies of the world. In the third truth he says that if the drives generated due to ignorance are destroyed, then a person will raise above all attachments (Rag), rivalry, lust and anger. In fact, to obtain this victory is to achieve salvation. Through the fourth truth Lord Buddha has indicated the path towards destruction of worldly miseries.
In this indication he has spoken of eight devices (Ashtangik Marg) which may help one in getting himself free from worldly miseries. Lord Buddha has prescribed a middle course to be followed. He has opposed to torture the body through hard penance. The middle course consists of eight devices. By following these eight devices the ultimate aim of education may be achieved. To obtain salvation (Nirvan) is the ultimate end of life. Salvation is the freedom from the cycle of birth and death. In fact, this may also be accepted as the ultimate purpose of education.
(2) The educational implications of the Ashtangik Marg:
The first step of the Ashtangik Marg is Samyak Drishti, i.e., the appropriate insight this insight will help one to be away from worldly complexities. For being away, Samyak Sankalp or appropriate willpower is necessary. This will-power will help one to proceed towards the path of salvation. After having thus proceeded, Samyak Vach or appropriate speech is necessary. This may be possible through control over oneself. This control will assist one towards proper behavior with others.
After achieving this control, one should exercise due restriction over his physical and mental aspirations. This type of restriction has been termed as Samyak Karmant which means to shun all types of violence through thought, word and deed (Manasa, Vacha and Karmana). After Samyak Karmant comes Samyak Ajeev, which means to earn his bare living through Justice Samyak Ajeev is to be followed by Samyak Vyayam which purports that one should entertain only auspicious thoughts in his mind and should shun evil ones.
The seventh ‘Marg’ (device) as enjoined by Lord Buddha is Samyak Smriti which means that one should always remember the basic elements of the acquired knowledge the eighth manner (device) is Samyak-Samadhi which amounts to perfect concentration of attention after purifying one’s inner self. Antahkaran Kishuddhi. For salvation this concentration is very necessary. Needless to add that the above Ashtangik Marg (eight devices) is full of very powerful education meanings
(3) The educational implications of Pratiyasamutpad:
Pratiyasamutpad refers to the group of worldly miseries, (Dukh Samuday). We have already referred to this in the second truth (second Aryasatya).
But since in the Buddhist philosophy Pratityasamutpad occupies a special significance, so even at the risk of repetition we are taking it up again. Pratiyasamutpad refers to the relationship between cause and effect. This is the middle course advocated by Lord Buddha. This middle course aims at co-ordination two extremes which are atheism and theism. Lord Buddha says that there is always a cause for the origin of anything. The present life is the result of the past life, and the present life indicates the nature of the future life. Lord Buddha believes that the current of past, present and future is always overflowing without any break. The desire and ambition are the cause of one’s birth.
To tell us the cause of birth in this manner is a chief contribution of Lord Buddha. Thus Lord Buddha has made man his own destiny maker, i.e., master of everything.
This pronouncement of Lord Buddha refers to a great educational implication that an individual must not be a fatalist. He should believe, in his own efforts and make his life ‘sublime’. A kind of despondency is generally seen in the youths of these days needless to remark that it is only an inevitable outcome of the wrong education and training given to them. If the teachers of to-day succeed in implanting in the students the notion that they are makers of their own destinies, then the whole society will abound in such well equipped citizens who will successfully help themselves and others. As a result, the society will reach the peak of its growth and there will be no famine, unemployment, immorality and anarchy with which we are suffering to-day.
(4) The educational implications of the theory of Karma:
According to Lord Buddha ‘sin’ and piety (righteousness) are the outcomes of one’s own deeds. The sinner reaps miseries both in this world and in the other beyond, and the pious (Punyatma) man harvests happiness. Due to one’s own efforts someone is rich and the idle one is poor.
It is the outcome of one’s own deed that one is ill and the other is healthy. One is learned and the other is ignorant. Thus the various peculiarities in the world are not God’s creations, but the outcomes of some deeds. Thus Lord Buddha has given the message to the mankind that one gets miseries due to his own deeds.
Therefore he is quite capable of removing them. Thus the theory of Karma has been propounded very strongly. Lord Buddha firmly believes that God is not the giver of the result of any deed. In fact, the deed, itself, gives its outcome to the doer. Needless to remark that Lord Budha’s theory of Karma is pregnant with noble educational meanings.
If our educational centers become imbued with the ideals of Karmavad and the parents, teachers and students begin to behave accordingly, all will be “up and doing” and every one will be the maker of his own destiny. Then no one will curse his fate and sit idle, doing nothing. In some other contexts, we have already referred to this ideal.
(5) The educational implications of the concept of Bodhisatva:
We have already said in the foregoing pages that to attain Bodhisatva is the ultimate objective of Buddhism. This position may be accepted as the highest ideal for any person. A person enriches with this position is embedded with spiritual Excellencies. The objective of a Bodhisatva is to sacrifice one’s life for the welfare of others.
Thus along with spirituality he is equipped with the cravings for the welfare of all. He is an embodiment of compassion and benevolence. In short, it will not be too much to say that the ultimate purpose of education also should be to make each student a Bodhisatva. If this becomes possible there will be no one miserable in this world. Then one’s miseries will be taken up by others as their own and they will try to remove the same.
If our education succeeds in achieving this objective this very earth will become a heaven. Since the Mahayan School has given great importance to the ideal of Bodhisatva, the above educational implicauons are applicable to the Mahayan School as well.
(6) The educational implications of Madhyamik Shunyavad:
Lord Buddha has advised to avoid hair-split discussions and intellectual illusions. To be able to get rid from all these fabrications is to attain ‘Shunyata’.
According to Buddhist philosopher the term ‘Shunya’ means ‘the indescribable’, in other words, Shunya is that which is beyond description or which cannot be expressed in words. The basic meaning of Shunya is freedom from worldly fabrications. In other words, to attain salvation is the real meaning of Shunyavad. In a way within the compass of Shunyavad all the meaning of Buddhism are included.
If by the term education we mean “that which provides deliverance”, then only that education is true which provides deliverance or salvation. Needless to add ‘that within Shunyavad of Buddhism the sublime ideal of education is implied.