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13 Oct 2013

Why Gotama is the Greatest Teacher of all Times

Buddhism officially came to China in 67 CE. The Eastern Han Dynasty Emperor Han Ming sent special envoys to India to invite Buddhist monks to come to China to preach. Since most South-East Asia Chinese came from China, to the Chinese Buddhism is almost 2,000 years old.

Buddhism in that period was regarded as an Educational System and not as a religion.

Indeed in many ways Buddhism is considered as an education and not religion, primarily because Buddhism is not about faith or belief, but about seeing the world in the right way. It is about questioning everything, including the teachings of Buddhism. Only when one has wisdom can one question, thus Buddhism is an education. This is the unique thing about Buddhism as compared with other faiths, religions and schools of thoughts.

Not only that, Buddhism is also about the how to live the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama who ‘founded’ the religion of Buddhism in 563 BCE in North-East India that is Nepal today. Commonly referred as the Buddha, which was Gotama’s title (meaning the Awakened One), the Buddha is concerned to see through the delusion of life and penetrate an understanding of things as they really are.

The goal of Buddhism is to achieve wisdom, which is what education is about. We know that education is not about exams and remembering facts and figures, but the ability to think and have wisdom, which is the right way to see things.

The Buddha taught that everyone has the potential to realize this state of ultimate wisdom, as long as we can break out of the confusion and misconceptions. It is important to have wisdom, for with wisdom we can solve all our problems and turn unhappiness into happiness. Due to our lack of wisdom, we perceive, view and behave foolishly, and thus suffer the consequences evoked by our incorrect actions. Just look at the numerous wars that have taken place on this earth and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Buddha’s teachings contain 3 major points: Discipline, Meditation and Wisdom. Wisdom is the goal and deep meditation or concentration is the crucial process towards achieving wisdom. Discipline is achieved through observing precepts.  This is the method that helps one to achieve deep meditation; and wisdom will then be realized naturally.

Currently there are 4 types of Buddhism being practiced in the world:
  1. Religious Buddhism, which can be witnessed in temples where there are many statues to pray and many rituals to follow. In my opinion, this does not represent true Buddhism
  2. Academic Buddhism or Buddhist Studies, which is being taught in many universities today, where we see Buddhism being treated purely as a philosophy, an academic pursuit, especially in Japan. This to me is also not exactly Buddhism education, for Buddhism is not about knowledge but about practice
  3. Cult Buddhism, which is seen in many temples in South-East Asian countries of Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Here Buddhism is a cure-all, a miracle, and a savior. This type of Buddhism is the most damaging, for it perpetuates blind faith, which is definitely not what the Buddha taught. 
  4. Traditional or original Buddhism, which is about the true essence of the teachings of the Buddha, the Education Buddhism but not as an academic study in itself. It is about putting knowledge into action, that's what wisdom is about. 
I Andy Ng as a Trainer and Coach at am only interested in the 4th type of Buddhism, i.e. Buddhism as an Education.

There are 5 Ways Buddhism is an Education:
  1. The Buddha's teachings is not blind belief, blind faith, and far from superstition. Buddha taught us not to blindly believe what he tells us, he wants us to try the teachings and prove them for ourselves. This is true education, not just believe. 
  2. The Buddha wants us to know, not merely believe. The Buddha's teachings flow from his own experience of the way to understand the true face of life and the universe, and show us a path of our own to taste the truth for ourselves. This is much like a good friend telling us of his trip to Europe, the sights he has seen, and the way to go there and see for ourselves. The Buddha uses a perfectly scientific way of showing us reality in its true form.
  3. The ceremonies, celebrations and rituals in Buddhism all serve an educational purpose, a reminder of the Buddha's teachings and encouragement to all students who practice it. For example, the Thousand Buddhas Repentance Ceremony practiced during Chinese New Year is to help the participants cultivate a humble heart and respect for others. The point of all 'ceremonies' is to help others awaken from delusion and return to Wisdom and Understanding.
  4. The devotion used in Buddhism is not one based on emotion, but one based on reason. Students of the Buddha are devoted to their practice of maintaining Purity of Mind because this practice brings true happiness. We are devoted to help others and the Society attain Complete Understanding and Wisdom. Only through Complete Understanding and Wisdom can we realize our true selves and living environment. The Buddha's education is truly not a religion but an education, teaching us the way to break through ignorance and arrive at a perfect understanding of ourselves and everything around us. The word ‘Educate’ is from the Latin word ‘Educatio’, which is to draw out or take out from a person. Buddhism is really about taking out from a person, in this instance to take out his mind that is cluttered and not focused. Buddhism is about training the mind, and if the mind is not clear and calm we cannot see the world as it is and become confused and unhappy. 
  5. Buddhism is about Seeing the world, getting down to the basics and acting on them. It is not about pipe dreaming or believe in another God or person that can help us solve our problems. The Buddha taught us that only we ourselves can solve our problems, and the 1st step is to See the Problem. Education is about being practical and able to solve problems. It is not about lofty dreams and being impractical. Buddhism talks about Enlightenment, which is being awake in every moment, for reality is here and now and we are already in reality and are not separated from reality. Isn’t this the most practical way to see the world?

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