One Mind, Two States
by Kalu Rinpoche

ENLIGHTENMENT AND ILLUSION

Mind has two faces, two facets, which are two aspects of one reality. These are enlightenment and illusion.

Enlightenment is the state of pure mind. It is nondualistic knowing and is called primordial wisdom. Its experiences are authentic; that is, they are without illusion. Pure mind is free and endowed with numerous qualities.

Illusion is the state of impure mind. Its mode of knowledge is dichotomous or dualistic; it is the “conditioned consciousness.” Its experiences are tainted by illusions. Impure mind is conditioned and endowed with much suffering.

Ordinary beings experience this state of impure, deluded mind as their habitual state. Pure, enlightened mind is a state in which mind realises its own nature as free of habitual conditions and the suffering associated with them. This is the enlightened state of a Buddha.

When our mind is in its impure, deluded state, we are ordinary beings who move through different realms of conditioned consciousness. The transmigration of the mind within these realms make up their indefinite rounds in conditioned, cyclic existence, or the cycle of lives – samsara in Sanskrit.

When it is purified of all samsaric illusion, the mind no longer transmigrates. This is the enlightened state of a Buddha, which is experience of the essential purity of our own mind, of our Buddha nature. All beings, whatever they happen to be, have Buddha nature. This is the reason we can all realise Buddha nature. It is because we each possess Buddha nature that it is possible to attain enlightenment. If we did not already have Buddha nature, we would never be able to realise it.

So, the ordinary state and the enlightened state are distinguished only by the impurity or purity of mind, by the presence or absence of illusions. Our present mind already has the qualities of buddhahood; those qualities abide in mind; they are mind’s pure nature. Unfortunately, our enlightened qualities are invisible to us because they are masked by different shrouds, veils, and other kinds of stains.

Buddha Sakyamuni taught:

Buddha nature is present in all beings,
But shrouded by adventitious illusions.
Purified, they are truly Buddha.

The distance between the ordinary state and the “enlightened” state is what separates ignorance from knowledge of this pure nature of mind. In the ordinary state, it is unknown. In the enlightened state, it is fully realised. The situation in which mind is ignorant of its actual nature is what we call fundamental ignorance. In realising its profound nature, mind is liberated from this ignorance, from the illusions and conditioning that ignorance creates, and so enters the unconditioned enlightened state called liberation.

All Buddhadharma and its practices involve purifying, “disillusioning” this ·mind, and proceeding from a tainted to an untainted state, from illusion to enlightenment.

Kalu Rinpoche 14.

Despite the uproar of the rolling five Turbidities in this decadent age, despite the greed and ignorance of the sentient beings, I will never part with Dharma practitioners as long as they are still doing virtuous deeds, continue to listen and contemplate, and vigorously practise in loneliness and solitude.

— His Holiness Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche

Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche (晋美彭措法王) 10.

 

五阴身不可以离开法身,法身也不能离开五阴身
慧律法师

如果如来的清净法身与五阴身不异,就是两个是平等的,那就麻烦了。五阴身是无常的。若不异阴者(五阴),如来的法身,如果不异于这个五阴身,色受想行识所构成的这个色身,那么法身应是无常啰,应是无常就麻烦了,人死了以后,法身跟着坏,对不对?就变成无常。

我们这个五阴身是无常,对不对?无常一到,这个色身死了,色受想行识灭了,是不是如来法身也灭呢?没有!它还是存在的。意思就是说:如是如来的清净法身跟五阴身,如果不异,不异就是清净法身就是五阴身,那么就变成了跟五阴身一样都是无常,那么无常败坏,法身应死,就变成断灭,不存在了。

如果说如来的清净法身与五阴身若异,“异”就是完全不一样,就是没有关系,用没有关系,你才比较听得懂。

如果清净法身跟五阴身没有任何关系,方便则空。那么你度众生,你这个五阴身度众生修了无量的善根、福德、因缘便空,便空,修福德没用啊,因为不一样嘛。清净法身也不会把你保留起来,对不对?所以你修种种的福德,没有用啊;善根没有用啊,修种种的智慧也没有用,因为异,“异”就是不同,没任何关系。

那没任何关系,你五阴身所修的度众生方便之相则空,“空”就空无所有,就落入断灭了,那你什么善根、福德、因缘,怎么累积起来?无量亿劫来的法身慧命统统免谈,因为五蕴身跟清净法身完全没关系。

可是我们现在很了解,我们用这个五阴身来学佛,生生世世却能够培养出法身慧命,法身慧命,为什么?每一个人的善根、福德、因缘都不一样。是不是?如果你们没有累积了无量善根、福德、因缘,你们怎么可能坐在台下,听至圆至顿的《楞伽大法》?那不可能。

高雄市有二百万人口,今天坐在一楼、二楼、三楼的,才几个人而已,一百多个、两百多个而已,可见我们累积的宿世善根、福德、因缘在这里发现了,那为什么呢?就表示五阴身不可以离开清净法身,清净法身也不能离开五阴身。如果说完全没关系,那么你今天你在这里忙什么也没有用啊,培养什么善根、福德、因缘?累积一点用都没有。

若二者应有异,“应有异”就是如果两个是不一样的,那应该有所差别。意思就是:如来法身跟五阴身有异的话,如果是二,应当有所差别,就是如来的法身跟五阴身应该有所差别。

如果是二的话,清净法身跟五阴身是有差别的。怎么样?如牛角相似故不异,如来法身与五阴身就像牛角相似,牛角来自一头牛嘛,本来是一体所生,所以是不异。所以说如来法身与五阴身,就像牛角一样的比喻本来是一体所生,所以是不异。

但是呢?左边的牛角跟右边的牛角长、短差别故有所异,一切法亦如是。左边的牛角跟右边的牛角有长短差别,所以还是有差别,一切法亦如是。

Ven Hui Lu 161.

If we did not have any fears and had the power to attain enlightenment, there would be no need to seek refuge. However, it is not like that for us now. Since beginningless time we have been oppressed by the slothful mind of ignorance, bound by the noose of karma and mental afflictions, and punished by birth, old age, sickness, and death. . . . Through confident faith in the three jewels, which have the power to protect from such fear, one has the mental state of complete trust and confidence.

— Ngawang Tenzin Norbu

Ngawang Tenzin Norbu 1.

Purity, Impurity, and the Five Elements
by Asa Hershoff

Purity is not a word you hear once a week, or even once a month — except in a commercial for a new laundry detergent. Yet every culture is based on specific ideas about pure and impure. Socially, these concepts determine status, reputation, and trustworthiness. On a personal level, they inform our morality and ethics, as well as motivation and life goals. While we don’t tend to use the word in relation to health, its equivalent — detoxification — is a major theme in the healing world. Energy-based practices like yoga, breath work, and mindfulness rely heavily on fundamental ideas of bio energetic purification. And it is at the very forefront of all religions, both as a moral dictum and an esoteric methodology. When a theme or motif shows up consistently in so many different forums, we should pay attention. It means there are deep layers of meaning held within these ideas and practices, some obvious, some secret.

WHAT IS IMPURE?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines impurity as something adulterated, contaminated, diluted, polluted, tainted, thinned, weakened. That paints a vivid picture and conjures up meaning, wherever we may choose to focus. Some ideas of purity and impurity are culture-based, learned beliefs. But many are hardwired, innate realities that are associated with these words. There is no argument about drinking mud from a stagnant pool rather than from a sparkling fresh brook. There is an established way that everything in the known universe is meant to work, whether it is a tree, a star system, or the psyche. In spite of the variations within the range of normal, there is a point at which something is toxified, in trouble, damaged, and leads toward its own destruction. In the human body, a few degrees of temperature, or a few percentages points of blood oxygen level is the difference between life and death. In terms of human behaviour, we have a much wider latitude, but at some point in the sullied mind there is delusion, there is madness, and yes, there is evil. So the idea of purification is both objective (factual) as well as subjective (individualised or personal) and it becomes crucial to know which is which in each circumstance.

WHAT IS PURITY?

Because impurity exists, so does purification. We have a certain biological nature, a certain mental harmony, a certain inherent purpose, and a certain amount of free will. In all these cases there can be contamination. This can happen as part of collective karma, being born in difficult times or places. We may be victimised (for example, by glycosphate in our food). Or we may make bad choices (eating processed junk food), or we may intentionally poison ourselves or others (smoking or selling cigarettes). There are degrees of harm and a seeming infinite number of circumstances and variables that only discriminating wisdom can differentiate. Purification means rectifying these factors on any level and simply returning us to our original purity — things as they were meant to be, doing what they were meant to do in some optimal fashion. This purification process is inherent in every cell, in every species, in every ecosystem. And in subtler ways, it is part of mind, including sleep, “which knits up the ravelled sleeve of care.” We can start our cleansing journey by taking a tour of what the impurity-purity polarity means on different levels — body, mind, energy, spirit — and then look at a possible way to accomplish the Herculean task of “cleaning the Augeas stables” with a single shovel.

PURIFYING THE BODY

The saying “healthy body, healthy mind” is certainly true from a biological perspective. A toxic body with heavy metals, pesticides, and viral loads will impair and dysregulate brain function, neurotransmitters, hormones, immune defences, and so on, affecting mood, vitality, clarity, perceptivity, decision-making, and casting a shadow over our entire life. Still, a purified, well-oiled organism does not a saint make! One can be a fit psychopath, a super-healthy racist, or a trauma-filled vegan. By the same token, enlightened beings eventually become sick and die. Age, time, and genetics all play their role. But to be sure, poor diet and a toxic intake have no upside whatsoever. And a purified diet and metabolically detoxed organism give us a great advantage toward our material, psychological, energetic, and spiritual goals. That is why purification methods are a core part of every traditional medical system, from the ancient Greeks and Egyptians to the Daoist, Hindu, Buddhist, Arabic, and Native American approaches to healthcare. Oddly the ideas of physical detoxification, standard throughout recorded history, have no place in the pharmaceutical drug approach of today. In fact, they themselves provide a formidable source of toxicity.

PSYCHOLOGICAL PURIFICATION

There are a vast number of approaches to mental wellness, ancient and modern, but they all agree that the laundry list of hostility, anxiety, confusion, doubt, depression, self-hatred, and addiction are debilitating and not life-affirming. They destroy society and debase the already difficult human condition. And in all cases, it is agreed that a purified psyche is known by the qualities of peace, calm, compassion, alertness, creativity, courage, integrity, rationality, decision-making, and all the various attributes listed in what is currently called positive psychology. Some methods seek to modify behaviour, purging our life of wrong actions. Cognitive psychotherapy aims to “purify” the mind of wrong ways of thinking and perceiving. Because many of these conflicted mind styles are learned, rather than innate, it is possible to change. Yet it is a long haul, as psychological patterns become deeply habitual and embedded, surrounded by defence mechanisms and justifications of an ingenious variety. Chronic mind habits and biology-based “impurities” can be managed through breath work, yoga, homeopathy, and many other mind-body interactive approaches. Mindfulness itself is a threshold therapy, partly an energy-based system, simply allowing the wild and unstable “winds” in the body-mind to settle, while developing the habit of awareness, itself a purifying force.

SUBTLE BODY PURIFICATION

Here we move outside the field of mainstream psychology and medicine, while re-grounding in the body. Hindu yoga, Buddhist trulkor, Daoist qi gong and tai chi, among others, are physical-based exercises that can have profound transformative effects. Bio-energy fields are like the interactive hub at the centre of body, mind, and spirit. Detoxifying the subtle body thus impacts our total being. But in working with bio-fields we are not just moving energy around like pieces on a chessboard. Instead, we enter the arena of pattern-change, of shifting the very blueprint of our lives. Bio-energy medicine includes homeopathy, Chinese medicine and Ayurveda. These affect physical and mental symptoms, but on a deeper level, they can change the long-term weaknesses and susceptibilities that are part of the individual’s constitution. Even past trauma and karmic imprints can be cleared through refreshing the original template of our energy-body. These powerful methods need to be used with precision, which is why energy medicine systems such as acupuncture and homeopathy have a highly complex architecture that can require decades to master. What is important is that energy fields are the access point for affecting all other levels. And these fields are always present in a five-fold, five-element pattern.

SPIRITUAL PURIFICATION/EMPOWERMENT

Religion spends a great deal of time addressing the issue of morality, negative emotions, and the actions that they engender. In past epochs and cultures, and still in our own time, religion can take the place of philosophy and psychology in attempting to purify the minds of individuals. Christians have the seven deadly sins, Buddhists the 10 negative actions of body, speech, and mind, and Hinduism, Islam, and all the rest have their list of non-virtuous actions. In general, we are told to purify the mind and heart by avoiding these acts and not turning them into bad habits. This is basically behavioural therapy, and it is certainly true that whatever we persist in eventually becomes our norm. But this may not go deep enough to change underlying psychological structures. After all, this an esoteric aspect of religion and is not inherently a spiritual practice. Every religion also has numerous forms of ritual purification, usually involving water or ablutions, but fire is a common vehicle as well. These are seen universally in Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, and so on. They range from the Japanese tradition of washing before entering a temple, to Christian baptism through water, or the Hindu bathing in the sacred Ganges. Many of these traditional ablutions are actually hygienic, protecting one from contagion and uncleanliness. They are also symbolic, an obvious expression of the wish to purify one’s mind and heart. Rituals can be incredibly effective as a reminder of one’s spiritual commitments, but it can also become empty, a habitual action devoid of meaning. On the other hand, there is the possibility that they are more than merely a reminder or a symbol, but part of the path itself. The North American Indian sweat lodge is both a physical therapy and a potential visionary experience. Practices within Buddhism and Daoism combine bathing with visualisations or mantras that cleanse on multiple levels. Indeed, every well-worn religious ritual had its origin in some act of actual transformation. By repeating the ritual, we attempt to recreate that original purificatory event and partake of that sacred experience.

KARMIC PURIFICATION

In its most basic sense, purification simply means eliminating what is harmful. Yet beyond our current thoughts, our speech, and our actions, there are always underlying causes. These causes must, by the nature of our time-based reality, be centred in the past. Everything has a precedent, all is subject to cause and effect. And so, at least in the East, the understanding arose that we need to clear all the past negative seeds that we have planted so that they do not ripen in our present or future. Especially in Tibetan Buddhism, there are sophisticated ways of purifying karmic seeds before they manifest as obstacles of mind and body, events and experiences. It is taught that good behaviour may do this — over countless lifetimes. But for those who don’t want to wait, visualisations, mantras, and meditations, such as that of Vajrasattva, provide a very rapid path for clearing vast swathes of karma in the space of hours or days, instead of decades or lifetimes. Clearing these patterns, one may expect to see changes in one’s health, well-being, and spiritual unfoldment. Indeed this may be the only way to verify the existence of the invisible threads of karma that bind up one’s life, until such time as the invention of a “karmometer” that will be able to detect and measure these quanta. One could say the single greatest cause of failures in both physical and mental healing (medicine and psychology) is the lack of attention to the karmic aspect of sickness and mental suffering. Karmic work does not substitute for working directly with the body or mind, but ignoring it shows how unwise we have become in our technocratic, materialistic age.

PURIFYING CONSCIOUSNESS

As so many spiritual paths tell us, Buddhism prominent among them, consciousness does not need to be purified, as it is the inherent stainless, primary canvas upon which all experience is painted. The Vajrayana practices of Dzogchen (the Great Perfection) and Mahamudra (the Great Seal) are designed to bring the aspirant to a point beyond the duality of pure and impure. Directly experiencing the ground of all, it is as of one taste. All of the tensions of opposites are resolved. Such a realised being is liberated from the false dichotomies that torture us in our mundane condition. This is considered the ultimate purification, where even observer, observed and observing are not separate, but seen as different aspects of a seamless whole. Note, however, that this state of realisation, even when permanent, does not make the polarised, toxic world go away! It persists for us and it persists for the “realiser.” But he or she will pass through life as if it were an apparition, an appearance with no fixity beyond the stainless consciousness in which it is reflected. At death, we may be reborn in Buddhist Pure Realms. These do not exactly correlate with the Christian view of Paradise, a place where all the contamination of mind and body no longer exists, and even death and decay hold no sway. Heavens and Pure Realms are not identical, as heavenly realms or states may exist in this vast universe, but equally, there will be hellish realms and states where polarisation and impurity reach new levels of distortion and darkness. Both exist within luminous consciousness, from which anything can and does manifest.

VAJRAYANA: THE SINGLE SOLUTION

Looking at the many factors and levels involved with purifying our being, the task seems immediately overwhelming. Fortunately, through the skilful means of Vajrayana, we have a singular weapon that cuts across these multiple layers and lines of development. That weapon, that tool, is actually at the very centre of Buddhist tantra. The Five Element model was already an intrinsic reality in the pre-history of ancient India, Tibet, Egypt, and Mesopotamia, and eventually Greece and the Western world. And if that view of reality is indeed correct, then it is also at the core of our universe. It is the template of the physical world, biological world, psychological, karmic, and spiritual worlds. This means that working directly with the Elements can impact the entire fabric of our personal journey, and provide a real shortcut for the arduous purification process. This is not a new discovery, for in fact, such multi-layered purification methods have also existed for thousands of years within various spiritual lineages.

For example, purifying an area in the body that has a toxic build-up of Earth, with contraction, rigidity, and hardening, may also help clear some rigid, fixed, conforming part of the psyche. This may in turn clear some ancient karma or trauma tied to the Earth Element. Through purifying and altering our energy field, our spiritual connections are enhanced. Then again, with Elemental karmic purification, both body and mind begin to shift, sometimes subtly, sometimes very tangibly. In the Vajrayana tradition, Element work descends from the highest spiritual level, flowing down in a stream of purification, though it is also seen as originating from the sacred elements within our own human form. All in all, these are two-way streets — or multi-lane highways — every action of Elemental purification moving up and down the chain of being.

There are practices within the meditative rituals of Chöd, for example, where one goes through each Element, emptying out all toxic imprints of body, mind, and karma, and re-infusing oneself with the pure Five on all these levels. This Elemental “oil change” is multi-faceted, designed to heal each person according to whatever blockages and distortions they have come to embody. Such impurities don’t necessarily go away easily. A deeply embedded, ancient karmic pattern, or a long-established physical illness, will take significant time to be dissolved away. Fortunately, if you are reading this, you still have some time.

Lotus 299.

Real compassion is without attachment. Pay attention to this point, which goes against our habitual ways of thinking. It’s not this or that particular case that stirs our pity. We don’t give our compassion to such and such a person by choice. We give it spontaneously, entirely, without hoping for anything in exchange.

— His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama 109..jpg

培养孩子的美德:孝道
文|萧瑶

古人云:树欲静而风不止 ,子欲养而亲不待。 这是说树希望静止不摆,风却不停息;子女想赡养父母,父母却已离去了。这是丘吾子说给孔子的话,旨在宣扬儒家的孝道。此话是从反面来告诫孝子们,说明行孝道要及时,要趁着父母健在的时候,而不要等到父母去世的那一天。这句话反映出百善孝为先的重孝观念。千百年来,孝道文化一直被人们所称颂,在当今社会,我们也不应该忘记父母对子女的养育之恩。他们是这个世界上至亲至爱的人。让我们感受到了父爱和母爱的温暖,知道并懂得感恩,是一个人做人的基本准则。

2020年是非同寻常的一年,在这一年里,全世界正经历着突如其来的疫情。生老病死本是人之常情,然而,这种疫情之下的生离死别,却让人们有 一种痛彻心扉的无力感!当疫情已经逐渐改变了人们的生活方式时,令大家不得不去重新审视关于亲情和家庭的可贵。在疫情尚未结束之时,我心里有个非常强烈的愿望就是:等疫情结束了,第一件最想做的事就是回家看望父母。虽然我知道身处国外, 陪伴他们的时间是有限的,但趁父母还健在时,尽尽自己微薄的孝心,比起父母给予我们的爱,我们的回馈可以说只是轻如鸿毛;而父母之于子女的爱却往往重如泰山……虽然知道:父母在,不远游。为了年少时不曾实现的理想,对于亲情虽然万般不舍,却也执着地一路前行。

有一首古诗《游子吟》传颂至今,令多少游子感同身受、感慨唏嘘!也体现了孩子想要报答母亲养育之恩的心情。

慈母手中线,游子身上衣。
临行密密缝,意恐迟迟归。
谁言寸草心,报得三春晖。

慈祥的母亲手中拿着针线。为将远游的儿子缝制衣服。临走的时候,母亲用针线将衣服缝得严严实实,害怕儿子此去迟迟不归来。谁能说儿子象小草一样的点点孝心,可以报答春晖般母爱的温暖?

在我们华人传统文化里,对于家庭的影响和长的尊敬,从古已有之的《弟子规》里便可见一斑。

父母呼 应勿缓 父母命 行勿懒
父母教 须敬听 父母责 须顺承
父母呼 应勿缓 父母命 行勿懒
父母教 须敬听 父母责 须顺承……

这些在小学生就能朗朗上口的言语中,我们家长试问对于孩子的教导是否有遵从其中的含义呢?

如何让孩童建立孝顺的价值观 呢?有以下几个方面的建议:

1. 日常生活中的父母言传身教

“孝顺还生孝顺子,忤逆还生忤逆郎”。不用教孩子将来如何孝顺你,你做好了样子孩子自然效仿。

平时生活中,家长要以身作则,随时注意自己的一言一行,在怎样对待孩子的爷爷奶奶的方面, 家长要为孩子树立一个良好的榜样,因为孩子是会模仿的,孩子的爷爷奶奶的今天,就是家长的明天。

2. 常给孩子讲述一些历史上尽孝的故事

自古以来,历史上有很多孝顺父母的故事,家长可以平时稍加留意,在与孩子平时陪伴、玩耍或 聊天中自然而然地带出故事,寓教于乐,让孩子感受到孝顺父母是我们日常生活中必不可少的事,在孩童成长过程中时时提醒他们,让他们理解这种正确的价值观:孝道是一种美德。

3. 孩子有孝顺的行为后应及时加以鼓励和赞扬

众所周知,如果要一个人心甘情愿地去做某一 件事情,无非是源于对他的鼓励和认可。当家长在孩子有产生了尊敬或孝顺长辈的行为时候,应当及时给予正面的支持和鼓励;这将有益于孩子心智更加健康的成长;并且因此令孩童从小建立起是非观, 他们受到表扬后会更加努力、积极去表现自己。久而久之就养成了孝顺父母的美德。父母的一个微笑、一 个拥抱都是最好的鼓励。

4. 培养孩子孝道要尽早

俗话说:三岁看老,对于孩童早期教育,一直以来不容忽视。天真无邪的孩子,在孩童时期犹如 一张白纸,我们可以尽情去书写最美好的图画。

因此,孝道教育应该从小抓起,例如每次给孩子吃东西时,应该当着孩子的面,自己也分一份吃,吃鱼时,自己也夹一块鱼肉吃。这种做法,不是为了与孩子争吃,而是让孩子明白一个道理:吃东西要先让父母吃,在幼小的心灵中埋下“谦让”这棵文明的种子,同时,也表示对食物的冷热甜辣的先试和共享,以示关心,建立了两代人之间的感情。

另外,在适当时候还可让孩子帮家长做点力所能及的家务,如扫地、擦桌子等,尤其是让孩子帮父母添饭、沏茶等,这不是为了单纯的劳动,而是有意无意地在培育孩子孝敬父母的心理。

从小引领孩子养成孝顺的美德非常重要!一切正如古圣先贤所说:“孩子不用管,全凭德行感”,要想孩子成为什么样的人,自己先成为那样的人。前有车后有辙,做好自己,引领孩子成为国之栋梁。

Lotus 273.

With conduct, listening, contemplation, completely train in meditation.

— Vasubandhu

Vasubandhu (世親菩萨) 17.

The Buddhadhamma as a Fount of Creative Education
by Nagasena Sraman

The Buddha’s teachings are for the purpose of liberating oneself from the cycle of birth and death. This cannot be achieved through intellectual understanding alone, however, refined. The human predicament is that there is, in everyone, always a conflict between reason on the one hand and emotion on the other; what one knows to be wholesome or unwholesome is one thing, what one actually does is another.

Buddhism suggests that this human predicament is the result of our intrinsic and existential — in the sense of being rooted in human existence itself — inability to see things as they truly are (Pali: yathabhutam). This is due to the inherent mode of operation of our consciousness, which has been conditioned from beginningless time by the negativities succinctly described as greed (raga), hatred (dosa), and delusion (moha). This is the Buddhist view of conditioned human nature.

In traditional Buddhist terms, liberation from this existential predicament cannot be achieved by sheer will, nor through “intelligence” or knowledge. It is possible only through the attainment of panna or prajna, which is often rendered as “spiritual insight.” This is an insight that fully harmonises reason and emotion so that one’s being is perfectly in line with one’s knowing. It frees us from all negative conditioning and indeed all conditioning. It transforms our consciousness from the reactive mode to the creative mode. Then one is empowered to truly “abstain from doing evil, do what is wholesome, and purify one’s mind.” (Sabba-papassa akaranam. Kusalassa upasampada. Sacitta-pariyodapanam. Etam buddhana sasanam)

All this amounts to a fundamental transformation or a revolution of consciousness. For Buddhists, this is not possible through the education system or a philosophy, or even a thorough ethical system. It is only possible through training in the Dhamma. This spiritual system helps a person to grow spiritually, to progressively unfold his human potentialities. This progressive transformation and unfolding of human potential is the closest Buddhism comes to a spiritual anthropology. In this sense, Buddhism is a humanistic religion and we call this system of spiritual transformation “creative education.”

I am reminded of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s remark that modern education should incorporate the development of the heart: “When educating the minds of our youths, we must not forget to educate their hearts.” (The Star) When I refer to creative education, I am thinking of a system of education that is openly aimed at transforming a person psychologically and intellectually. Involving the heart and direct inspiration is important, or the student will at best be a scholar absorbing information without psychological and spiritual change.

As a humanistic religion, Buddhism finds many affinities with several schools of psychology and psychotherapy. Erich Fromm, Carl Rogers, and Abraham Maslow are often respected as the founders of humanistic psychology and psychotherapy. Fromm and Maslow define the term creativity as “productiveness” and “self-actualisation.” Fromm explains productiveness as: “man’s ability to use his powers and to realise the potentialities inherent in him. If we say he must use his powers, we imply that he must be free and not dependent on someone who controls his powers. We imply, furthermore, that he is guided by reason since he can make use of his powers only if he knows what they are, how to use them, and what to use them for. Productiveness means that he experiences himself as the embodiment of his powers and as the “actor;” that he feels himself one with his powers and at the same time that they are not masked and alienated from him.” (Fromm 1947, 84)

To these authors, a creative person is defined as someone able to bring out or manifest good qualities such as kindness, compassion, and love through self-actualisation and productiveness. Modern education provides students with intellectual knowledge, which is primarily geared toward material acquisition. In contrast, Buddhist creative education prioritises the emotional, intellectual, and ethical development of a student from an integrated perspective. Buddhist creative education generally works on the principle of “meta-motivation,” which was firstly coined by Maslow, while “typical” education is governed by materialistic motivations, such as career advancement, financial stability, and professionalisation and industry specialisation.

Buddhism has a long history of maintaining the dynamic interaction between teacher and student. Ideally, the teacher takes full responsibility for imparting knowledge and providing spiritual training to the student. Having absorbed the learning from the teacher, the student lives accordingly, transforming his personality. This transformative efficacy is what distinguishes the Buddha’s teaching as “creative education,” in contrast to ordinary education, where skills are more or less simply accumulated.

The Tripitaka provides many examples of people transformed by the Buddha’s teachings. Patacara was from a prosperous family but lost everyone dearest to her: her two sons, husband, parents, and brothers. She was depressed and mad. She would run through the street without clothes, as people chased after her. Then she entered the Buddha’s grove of Jetavana. When Buddha saw her he called her over, kindly saying, “Sister, be mindful.” After listening to the Buddha’s sermon, she became mindful and realised that she was naked. Somebody from the crowd gave her something to wear. Then the Buddha preached to her the Dhamma and she became a nun. She practised diligently and was able to transform herself from a suffering being into a liberated arahant.

The extraordinary story of Angulimala shows how creative thinking and empathy tame even a dangerous bandit. The Buddha’s advice to Angulimala compelled him to become a monk. The Angulimala Sutta (MN 86) presents an account of his life as a serial killer. He was a bandit who was living in Kosala. The sutta explains the type of person he was:

He is murderous, bloody-handed, given to blows and violence, merciless to living beings. Villages, towns, and districts were laid waste by him. He was constantly murdering people and he wore their fingers as a garland. (Bhikkhu Nanamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi 1995, 710)

When the Buddha met him, it is said that he was just short of one finger to complete his personal target of collecting 1,000 fingers. Nobody wanted to cross paths with him. However, the Buddha saw with his divine eye that Angulimala had the potential to become an arahant if he heard the Dhamma. Had the Buddha not intervened, he would murder even his own mother, who was on her way to inform him that the king’s army was looking to arrest him. Angulimala was happy to see the Buddha because he could complete his 1,000 fingers (murders). He took his sword and chased after the Buddha. Through supernatural powers, the Buddha made it so that although the bandit was running as fast as he could, he was unable to catch the Buddha even though the Buddha was walking normally.

Angulimala was disappointed and shouted at the Buddha: “Stop, recluse! Stop, recluse!” The Buddha responded, “I have stopped.” Angulimala then addressed the blessed one:

“While you are walking, recluse, you tell me you have stopped;
But now, when I have stopped, you say I have not stopped.
I ask you now, O recluse, about the meaning:
How is it that you have stopped, and I have not?” (Bhikkhu Nanamoli, and Bhikkhu Bodhi 1995, 711)

The Buddha replied:

“Angulimala, I have stopped forever, I abstain from violence toward living beings; But you have no restraint toward things that live: That is why I have stopped and you have not.” (Bhikkhu Nanamoli, and Bhikkhu Bodhi 1995, 711)

The Buddha’s brief teaching immediately touched Angulimala’s heart. The Buddha told him that he was free from unwholesome actions, whereas Angulimala was running after unwholesomeness and performing wicked actions. After realising the Buddha’s teaching, he threw away the sword, worshipped the Buddha, and requested to go forth as a monk. What a transformation! Initially, he had wanted to kill the Buddha and now he worshipped the Buddha out of gratitude for showing him a different path. This episode further encourages us that an evil, harmful, and dangerous person can become good if he receives proper exposure to the Dhamma. He became a monk, found meaning in the Dhamma, and later became an arahant.

The case of Suppabuddhakutthi is another example of personal transformation. He was a beggar and concerned only about food. However, when he encountered the Dhamma during the Buddha’s sermon, Suppabuddhakutthi was inspired by the Buddha and proclaimed to himself: “Whatever is of the nature of arising all that is the nature of ceasing.” (Yam kinci samudayadhammam sabbam tam nirodhadhamman’ti) He realised this profound knowledge through simply processing the Buddha’s speech. He gained insight (panna) and went to see the Buddha as a transformed person.

The Samannaphala Sutta of the Digha-nikaya is about King Ajatasattu. According to the scripture, the king was unhappy and could not sleep well because he was depressed. He had consulted many religious teachers, but their answers had failed to satisfy him. He had committed many atrocities to maintain power, including patricide against his own father, the devout Buddhist king Bimbisara. The text describes him as enduring great psychological torment for these crimes. He visited teachers with the hope of consoling his mind.

Jivaka, who was the Buddha’s personal physician, led the king to the temple where the Buddha was staying. The king became suspicious of everyone. DN Sutta 2 states:

And when the king Ajatasattu came near to the mango grove he felt fear and terror, and his hair stood on end. And feeling this fear and the rising of the hairs, the king said to Jivaka: “Friend Jivaka, you are not deceiving me? You are not tricking me? You are not delivering me up to an enemy? How is it from this great number of twelve hundred and fifty monks not a sneeze, a cough, or a shout is to be heard?”

“Have no fear, your majesty, I would not deceive you or trick you or deliver you up to an enemy. Approach, sire, approach. There are the lights burning in the round pavilion.” (Walshe 1995, 92)

After approaching and worshipping the Buddha, Ajatasattu asked: “Can you, Lord, point to such a reward visible here and now as a fruit of the homeless life?” (Walshe 1995, 93) The Buddha pointed out the visible fruit of a celibate life. The Buddha said that one comes to discipline oneself by following the Dhamma. As the king listened to the Buddha’s teaching, his heart began to shift. He exclaimed that he understood and confessed his transgressions. The Buddha gradually led him to see the benefit and visible fruit of following the Dhamma. The king confessed his faults and asked for forgiveness.

According to the Panna Sutta of the Anguttara-nikaya, a person will change their lifestyle after learning the Dhamma. When they amend their lifestyle they can ease into a daily practice of the Dhamma, with a positive feedback loop between everyday life and mental conditioning. The text says one will have “seclusion” in body and mind. That means one is not going to engage with anything that is in violation of the Dhamma, nor with mental activities that are unwholesome. They further understand that the Dhamma helps to discipline them in body, speech, and mind. When a student can control themselves physically, verbally, and mentally, they will experience fewer problems and control their interior impulsiveness or recklessness.

Creative education mostly focuses on innovative thinking. Students should be trained in skills geared toward problem-solving from new angles, rather than simply training in the old disciplines for economic gain. The challenge to each student is not so much the volume or content of the curriculum, but the methodology in which they must build on to develop originality. Instead of standardising how students approach a problem, different responses are encouraged. As Sulak Sivraksa, one of the fathers of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB), states: “Modern education deals almost exclusively with the heads and not the hearts of students; cleverness is recognised and rewarded materially, and generosity or awareness of social evils is not necessary for success. Indeed, it may be an impediment. Students are led to pursue wealth and power, rather than to understand that these do not lead to happiness, especially where, as in modern society, wealth and power rest on mass poverty and ecological destruction. This is indeed the fostering of avijja, ignorance, and moha, delusion, rather than real education.” (Sivraksa 1998, 66)

Creative education means not just throwing information at students, lest it ends up being the same as other education systems. Learning the Dhamma is effective and fruitful only when one puts what has been absorbed into practice, after the aforementioned personal transformation. Indeed, the transformation is not auxiliary but essential to the entire approach. Otherwise, students will remain stuck at the level of intellectual understanding. Professors and lecturers are able to explain the Dhamma logically, but the ineffable nature of the Dhamma goes beyond logical categories and limitations. That is why the Buddha enigmatically described the Dhamma as profound, difficult to see, and difficult to understand.

The difficulty the Buddha spoke of was not an intellectual one, or else it would have been figured out by our formidable brains at one point or another. It is that even the best logic deployed cannot express it properly. Consciousness must first be transformed. Hence, gaining insight or wisdom, not intelligence, is the goal of Buddhist education. That is why Buddhist education is called creative education. It shows us how to deal with our psychological problems and fundamental interior being in the world. The Buddha’s teachings are creative because they are fundamentally aimed at re-creating a person; since the person does not possess a self, no one is rooted in their unskilful habits. The Buddha is the perfect creative teacher who is ideally placed to transform a student. Buddhist teachers, in emulating his example, should strive to understand the mentality of each individual student and tailor their methods according to the kinds of teachings that they need.

Lotus 298.

It would be reasonable to fear something that causes one to suffer, but since emptiness completely eradicates all suffering, why should one fear it? There is nothing to be afraid of. . . . Since there is no self, who is there to be afraid? Fear does not make sense. Therefore we should cast away our faint heartedness and be quick to meditate on emptiness.

— Mipham Rinpoche

Mipham Rinpoche (麦彭仁波切) 19.