This morning at assembly, we had 2 special performances from our students. Through song and dance, Kindergarten 3 showed what they have learned about how healthy food, regular exercise and other good habits keep us healthy. Then Prathom 4 kicked off our new “Student Manners Project” to promote the use of polite speech like saying ‘sawasdee’ with a ‘wai’ and ending with ‘khrap’ or ‘kha’, saying please, thank you, excuse me and so on.
This morning Panyaden School gathered to celebrate the unique language and culture of Thailand with local dances, music, stories and traditions that are important in Thai life. Kru Dokmai and Kru Neil opened the day’s celebrations with speeches in Thai which focused on the importance of language as a gateway to understanding and preserving culture. The speeches were followed by a lovely performance from our Dance and Drama Club students. They danced to a lively local song celebrating life in Thailand.
Next our schoolmates entertained us with a short play about why we chose to celebrate this day. Our friends had spent time researching the famous Thai poet, Sunthorn Phu who wrote the well-loved Thai classic, Phra Apai Manee, about a hero who overcame obstacles to find his father. Then lo and behold! A character from the story, the evil hermit with a long unruly white beard popped out unexpectedly from behind the stage to capture our hero!
We then listened to Prathom student representatives who read some Thai verses and literature. Some shared their creative essays while one of our foreign classmates told us in Thai how much she enjoys learning the language.
Later we enjoyed Thai traditional games and activities like grilling sweet potatoes and other local desserts, making natural crafts like banana leaf containers and swords from banana stems. What a fun and interesting way for us to learn more about and appreciate Thai culture!
This morning, Prathom 2 treated us to two skits they had planned and written themselves. The stories centered on this week’s wise habit, ‘Mattannuta’ which means ‘knowing the right amount’ in our daily lives such as saving electricity by not spending too much time playing video games or watching TV, always keeping in mind the negative impact on ourselves and the environment if we overuse or waste electricity and other energy resources.
Dhamma Talk (English/Thai) @ Panyaden
By Venerable Ajahn Jayasaro
You are cordially invited to a Dhamma Talk by Panyaden School’s spiritual advisor, Venerable Ajahn Jayasaro on Thurs June 26th, 2014, 2.00pm – 3.15pm @ Panyaden School Assembly Hall. All are welcome!
Seating is limited. Please call to reserve a place 053 426 618.
We are currently learning about Avihimsa at school. Here is some information that we hope you find useful when reviewing this wise habit with your children.
Avihimsa (pronounced awihingsa in Thai (อวิหิงสา), is a Pali word which means not causing harm. It originates from the Sanskrit himsa, meaning injury or harm which, when a- is added, takes on the opposite meaning, non-harming (a-himsa). Not causing injury or harm has a broader meaning than simply not physically hurting a fellow human being or animal.
To practise avihimsa is not to say or do anything that creates suffering for oneself or for others and also not to say or do anything that creates or encourages the cause of suffering in oneself or others. This includes avoiding words or conduct which provoke negative thoughts or instigate harmful actions. For example, we might say something to a friend which, though not directly hurting them, may lead to angry thoughts and therefore creates negativity within that person’s mind.
Avihimsa relates particularly to the Buddha’s teaching on moral conduct. He taught about the benefits of ‘’right speech’’ and ‘’right action’’ and proposed an essential minimum of 5 moral precepts (sila) for lay people to follow:
- To abstain from killing any living creatures
- To abstain from stealing
- To abstain from sexual misconduct
- To abstain from false speech
- To abstain from intoxicants
These are not an empty formula dictated by tradition or religious scriptures, but rather a practical means to ensure one’s speech and actions harm neither others nor oneself. They are essential pre-conditions for the development of a peaceful mind (samadhi) and arising of wisdom (panya).
False speech is not only about whether we are telling the truth or lying. It is defined by the intention of one’s speech and whether that intention is against the best interest of the other person or is for personal interest or gain. A child who teases a classmate because she is ‘fat’ may claim she is only telling the truth and so is not breaking the sila. But if the child’s words cause the classmate to feel inferior and depressed, she is causing harm.
We are teaching our students that avihimsa means not harming others with your actions, your speech and even your thoughts. That thinking badly of others is just as harmful as saying something mean to them because it is also harming you. Thoughts of revenge make us unhappy. Gossiping about somebody else, even if they are not in the room, creates a negative mind and atmosphere for oneself and those present. We can use our children’s actions and reactions in the classroom and at home to teach them the negative impact of harming, and positive impact of avihimsa. We should point out how bad an atmosphere is after someone has used hurtful words. Or we can reflect on how much more fun it is playing with friends when there is no teasing or name-calling. We need to help children see negative thoughts as they arise and redirect them to something positive, to encourage them to see the good aspects of others instead of getting caught up in ill-will or resentment. This is using the Wise Habit yoniso manasikara, orapplying the mind skilfully.
Avihimsa means neither physically nor mentally hurting humans, animals and nature. From killing ants to polluting rivers. We want to help our children understand that harming others is unwise, not because it is a ’sin’ or breaks a ‘rule’, but because of the very direct consequences such actions, words and thoughts have on us as well as others. Practising avihimsa creates a community based on trust and good intention, one which knows how to forgive instead of blame; moreover, making it a habit in daily life will help us to reduce our own negative thoughts, making our lives lighter and increasing happiness.