There is a quiet excitement in the air as we gathered at K. Tik’s house to meet the Venerable Ajahn Jayasaro, the Spiritual Advisor of Panyaden School. He had come to Chiang Mai to visit the school construction site and to give a dhamma talk to the trainee teachers and to the Panyaden School team (foremen, the local liaison Ajahn Sorn, the ‘Bamboo Boss’ Ajahn Decha and many more).
Once we are all seated, Ajahn Jayasaro is given booklets that Kru Maggie (Principal and designer of the school’s curriculum) and the trainee teachers have brought with them after their 2-day nature jaunt in Doi Inthanon. The teachers had written down short poems, sketched or painted their meditations on the connection between life and nature.
Ajahn Jayasaro went through the booklets, smiled and made comments before he began to share his thoughts on education.
In his dhamma talks, Ajahn Jayasaro often states that “Buddhism is not a belief-based religion” but an education-based one which teaches people to “liberate themselves from all suffering through a clear penetrative understanding of the way things are.”
The biggest obstacle to true happiness in life is ignorance. The Buddhist teachings show us how to transcend ignorance. “From then you can see it is a matter of education.”
Ajahn Jayasaro is a well-known advocate of “adapting Buddhist developmental principles to the education process” – one that involves teaching children to develop wise relationships to the physical, social, emotional worlds they inhabit.
“Most importantly, the jewel in the crown of Buddhism is its emphasis on wisdom and the practical technique to develop and to nourish this …A Buddhist approach does not overlook “the traditional features of an educational system but adds on to it…”
“In order to flourish in the world, it’s not then a matter of merely accumulating a body of knowledge, so much as cultivating a strong but supple mind and the ability to develop life skills such as skillful communication, the ability to work in a team, patience, resilience (the ability to bounce back after disappointments), the ability to manage one’s moods, and to protect the mind from pride, arrogance, greed, hatred, depression, anxiety, and panic. These abilities are being increasingly recognized as being more useful and necessary in the long run to a successful working life rather than having a particular degree under your belt.” (Ajahn Jayasaro, “Buddhist Wisdom In Education”, Buddhist Approach, https://www.panyaden.ac.th).
After the talk, Ajahn answered questions from the floor before guiding everyone in meditation. An appropriate ending to an insightful afternoon.