Friday, June 19, 2009

Essential Education

What is Essential Education?

The aim of Universal Education is to help people develop a good heart. A good heart is the single answer to all problems: to the problems of the world, and the problems of each individual person.

That's our target: to bring peace, to stop violence through education about good heart and wisdom.

However we educate, it should be something that now, right now, if the person puts it into practice, brings peace of mind. That's the essential thing about Universal Education. Less problems, less confusion, through doing Universal Education.

Universal Education aims to make a person the best human being, with the most productive life, the most beneficial to the world.

The main goal is to educate others in techniques to have a peaceful life.

The fundamental education of Universal Education is to allow people to recognise the nature of the mind.

Ethics through understanding: that's exactly it.

This is not only for young kids... This project will also help adults to discover their own truth, their own nature, their own potential.

Essential Education, Buddhism and Religion

UE is a way for how to live the life. Whatever religion the person has, or whether the person doesn't have any religion, it is education on how to live the life.

Almost every religion may have something to offer but everybody cannot become Hindu, cannot become Muslim, cannot become Christian. But what everybody can do is Universal Education.

Any method which leads to the person becoming a good human being, to developing a good heart, even though it's not called Dharma, actually that method is Buddha-Dharma.

The name Buddhism doesn't need to be mentioned. It depends on the person – if saying the word Buddhism does not fit the person then don't mention Buddhism.

Some things in Christianity, some things in other religions that are more clear, so we can put there. So like that we can make it most beneficial for each individual.

If children ask about future lives we shouldn't hide this, but we shouldn't give impression of trying to convert people to Buddhism. We should hold to the main principle of benefiting their lives, whether they are interested in Dharma or not. This is why we use the name Universal Education and not Buddhism. So it seems best not to bring up topics of past and future lives and karma in the beginning. Then after a few years if children ask, then it is OK to explain, but not in the beginning.

My main concern is, it doesn't matter whether it has the title FPMT or whether it doesn't have the title FPMT, not so much uptight about the title, controlling or something, but whichever way of doing has the greatest benefit - that is what we should do.

On Education

Education that is just in order to find a job is not enough at all for the peace and happiness of this world. To bring about other's peace and happiness and one's own peace and happiness, to satisfy and fulfil one's own needs and the needs of others, requires something else. It requires an education in good heart.

The most important education in life is happiness and peace. The main reason to go to school is for happiness.

The Practical Development of Essential Education

The main thing is we need guidebooks, that's what has been lacking... so, then, people can put it into practice, and they can each get, you see. Without that, without guidance, then, you see, it is stuck. So uneasy. Even though the project is the most needed in the world.

Once there are these books, then teacher training, then start in a few countries. Then gradually as we get more experience my wish is to be accepted in the government schools, public schools. Then I think it can be a very worldwide education.

The idea is that the teachers have to study these philosophies [the philosophical manuals], have to study, do training. Then we start in two to three places. Then that way gradually to start in more and more different countries.

If their understanding is good then students can teach this type of programme without problem... It has to come from Dharma experience.

It's the methods that matter, not the words.

The aim of Essential Education is to create a more peaceful world by helping people everywhere to develop their natural capacity for compassion and wisdom - to be kind and wise. It offers a contemporary and accessible presentation of perennial wisdom which is rooted in Buddhist psychology and philosophy, combined with complementary perspectives from the natural and social sciences, and from other spiritual and wisdom traditions.

Essential Education, formerly known as Universal Education, was originally the vision of Lama Yeshe, founder of the FPMT. Lama Yeshe urged his students to find fresh ways of sharing the methods and teachings of Buddhism, and to heal the gulf between spirituality and science, so that “people can understand the essence of all the ancient religions without belonging to any of them.” He expressed the hope that everyone in the FPMT would contribute to Essential Education in some way.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche has described Essential Education as a key method for bringing more peace and happiness into the world, especially for “the people for whom the normal presentation doesn’t fit.” He has stressed the importance of using contemporary methodologies such as drama, the arts, games, videos and computer games that can reach out to people of all ages and cultures, most particularly in places where there is violence.

Whatever religion a person has, or whether a person doesn’t have any religion, this is an education for how to live life. If you are able to introduce Essential Education as widely as possible, and people are able to live in this education, then there is a lot of hope for the future. The future world will have much more peace than now.
–Lama Zopa Rinpoche, October 1992

Essential Education represents both the essence of education, and the education that the world needs most urgently. Suitable for people of any faith or none, it offers wisdom and methods for use in schools, businesses, prisons, hospices, social and healthcare projects, and the home. With its combination of the practical and the profound, Essential Education is also proving a popular subject for study and outreach courses within FPMT centers, whose students can then be trained and encouraged to take it out into the wider world.

The Foundation for Developing Compassion and Wisdom started from a conviction that everyone has the potential to be kind and wise, and that developing this potential is a simple yet profound way of creating a more just and peaceful world.

For most of us, the development of compassion and wisdom is a gradual and lifelong process, yet it can be greatly assisted by finding appropriate encouragement and support. This is what the Foundation seeks to provide, without bias, to people the world over.

The distinctive tools and methodologies that the Foundation is developing have been given the name Essential Education because:

  • they embody the essence of education
  • this is the education that can help each one of us to bring about peace and happiness in our own lives and in the lives of the people around us.

Lama Thubten Yeshe

Essential Education was originally the vision of a Tibetan Buddhist teacher called Lama Thubten Yeshe, who called for the development of a new kind of ‘universal education’ in the late 1970s. Lama Yeshe said:

"To completely understand one's own psychology, oneself, one's own physics, I call this universal education."

He wanted to "go beyond religion, go beyond Buddhism... through presenting them in the right way, people can understand the essence of all the ancient religions without belonging to any religion"

Read Excerpts from Lama Yeshe’s advice in a variety of languages.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Essential Education is now being developed under the guidance of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, whose particular goal is "to stop violence through education about good heart and wisdom".

Lama Zopa says, "A good heart is the single answer to all problems: to the problems of the world, and the problems of each individual person."

Read Excerpts from Lama Zopa’s advice in a variety of languages.

Beyond Buddhism

Although Essential Education takes its main inspiration from Buddhist philosophy and psychology, this is fully integrated with contemporary scientific explanations of the nature of phenomena and the mind. Essential Education also draws on complementary wisdom and experience from the major philosophical and spiritual traditions of the world.

Essential Education seeks to avoid all dogma, scripture and 'hidden' phenomena. Instead, it emphasises personal exploration through a process of logical reasoning and direct experience. Its universal message and approach is relevant to everyone regardless of age, culture, faith and gender.

This is a brief introduction to the theory of Essential Education. However the most direct way to understand what Essential Education is all about is to look at how it manifests in initiatives such as The 16 Guidelines for a Happy Life or through Essential Education Programmes.

16 Topics of the Essential Education Core Curriculum

Section 1: Exploring Reality

  1. What is real?
  2. What is the nature of the universe?
  3. How are things connected and why do things happen?
  4. Does everything change?
  5. What are the things that we know?
  6. How do we know things?
  7. What is my potential?
  8. Who am I?
  9. What ascertains reality?

Section 2: Practising Compassion

  1. How can we recognise states of mind?
  2. How can we behave in an ethical way?
  3. How can we develop positive relationships?
  4. How can we create a happy and peaceful society?
  5. How can we care for the environment?
  6. How can we develop peace of mind?
  7. How can we sharpen our intellect?