Visakha Bucha Day. The Panyaden community comes together to mark this important Buddhist tradition with offerings of morning alms to local monks and participating in the ‘vien tien’ ceremony. See more photos here on Panyaden’s image gallery.
In with the new….. Panyaden’s new assembly hall is officially opened by Venerable Ajahn Jayasaro in a traditional Buddhist blessing ceremony. Designed and built by Chiangmai Life Construction , the magnificent structure is testament to the creativity and inspiration that are possible when art and science combine with natural materials.
We were delighted to host representatives from the International Schools Association of Thailand (ISAT) at Panyaden today: President Khun Usa Somboon (International School of Bangkok), ISAT Manager Khun Wanwipa Manyawoot, Khun Poramit Srikureja (Ramkhamhaeng Adventist International School), Khun Nisanart Tavedikul (American School of Bangkok) and Khun Patcharin Jingkaojai (Chiang Mai International School). Khun Usa was particularly impressed with the school’s focus on maintaining Thai language and culture and Buddhist values.
Panyaden teachers and staff have returned from a 5-day meditation retreat at Venerable Ajahn Jiew’s forest temple in Chiang Rai.
The day started with a wake-up bell at 4.30 am, followed by morning chanting and meditation. We then joined Ajahn Jiew and the resident monks for the early morning alms round to the local village 3 kilometres away, where we were privileged to experience first-hand the generosity of the local community upon which Buddhist monks depend.
Each day we combined daily chores, such as cleaning toilets and sweeping the forest paths, with walking and sitting meditation and a Q&A session with Ajahn Jiew. The day finished with evening chanting and a dhamma talk, candles out at 10 pm! Wat Yen Boon has no electricity, basic facilities and all the wildlife one would expect to see in the woods during the rainy season, so this was a very special opportunity to practice in the real manner of the Thai forest tradition!
We are very grateful for the generosity and metta Ajahn Jiew showed us. Not only did we practice the dhamma under his kind guidance but we also were privileged for the insights into every day temple life that we were provided.
Panyaden teachers and staff join the monks on their morning alms round
Sitting and walking meditation
Daily Dhamma talks and Q&A with Venerable Ajahn Jiew
Indriya-samvara (we use the Thai translation at school which is pronounced insee-sang-won) means ‘using the senses wisely,’ or restraint of the senses. The term is often found in Buddhist texts as indriya samvara sila and as such this wise habit means self-control of the senses in order to live a more virtuous life.
While a total of 22 indriya, or ‘faculties’, are referred to in Buddhist literature, we are concerned here with the six ‘’sense doors’ – the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and the mind – through which we experience the external world. To take care of these six senses, we need to be mindfully aware of them so that when any of them come into contact with an object – whether a vision a sound, a smell, a taste, touch or a thought – we are not overcome with desire or aversion, which leads to the arising of negative thoughts and actions. In other words, we should try to cultivate awareness in our daily lives of what our body is doing, what we are seeing or hearing and how our mind is reacting so that we are able to identify our sense-responses leading to better decisions. Practicing indriya-samvara is to use our powers of observation and evaluation to see the results that come from looking and listening in a mindful way.
Venerable Ajahn Jayasaro notes that we are often able to choice what to expose our senses to. A most obvious example for families would be how we relate to the TV. We should ask, what amount of time and what type of use is wise? What are the benefits and what is detrimental? Do you let your child endlessly play computer games? Of course not. This is taking care of the senses. Once we ask, ’’Does it make sense to expose our children to certain media?” we can bring control to our children’s exposure and relationship to phones, TV, computers and the internet.
In 12 Ways to Happiness, Venerable Jayasaro recommends that parents and teachers encourage children not to fear the arising of feelings but to accept and recognise them. We should ask students again and again, ‘How do you feel? How did you feel when that happened? Did it benefit you?’ This encourages conscious articulation and awareness. Venerable Ajahn Prayutt advises us to steer away from viewing things as only beautiful or ugly, or as something to simply like or dislike as soon as we come into contact with it. Otherwise our children will be always chasing desires and avoiding unpleasantness, thus perpetuating the cycle of tanha (unwholesome desire) and dukkha (dissatisfaction).
Children without a principled understanding of how to consume wisely will be easily led astray, distracted in the classroom and prone to over-excitement. Children who understand and practise restraint, however, in regards to eating, watching and listening, will also know how to react to the outside world, how to watch TV, how to use social networking responsibly and that the true value of food relates to health, not taste. With the ever-increasing targeting of children in marketing and accessibility to new media, the challenge to apply restraint is pressing.
For the most part, however, we are not interested in exercising restraint and so we fall victim to unhealthy sensory pleasures. Our discernment has not yet seen the drawbacks of these things. To let go of anything, you first have to see its drawbacks. Simply telling yourself to let go doesn’t work. You have to see the negative impact of the things you’re holding onto, and then you’ll let go automatically. It is like when you grab hold of a hot coal and realise how hot it is, you will automatically let go and never dare touch it again. This is where the wise habit yoniso manasikara (wise reflection) comes in. If we encourage our children to reflect on the cause and effect of sensory indulgence, they will soon learn for themselves what is good for them and what is not, and indriya-samvara will become a wise habit for life.
Here’s an article on Panyaden School’s official opening with our Buddhist ceremony and enshrinement of relics on 24 April 2012 in Chiang Mai Mail. Includes a paragraph about our bilingual education and unique school concept. Click here for full article and photos by editor, Shana Kongmun.
Doing the very best that you can in the present moment
by Neil Amas
Panyaden School Director
There is a common misunderstanding that in Buddhism, all desire is ‘bad’ and leads to suffering. In fact the Buddha recognised that there are 2 different kinds of desire. One is desire borne of ignorance, an unwholesome or negative desire (tanha) which gives rise to suffering. The second is wholesome desire, or chanta, which originates from a clear understanding of the way things are. It means doing the very best that you can in the present moment. It’s a basic Buddhist idea of wise effort.
As explained by Ajahn Jayasaro during a talk at Panyaden last year, this is an important principle in the education of children or in the raising of children by parents. We should not be overly obsessed with results, but, rather, look for quality of action in the present moment. There will be disappointments and things will not always work out how you want them to be, and there will be outside influences that you cannot control, so the best you can do is put effort into things that you can. This is right motivation. Ajahn Jayasaro explained, “An over-emphasis on results in the future tends to have a number of negative consequences in the present, such as anxiety, restlessness, boredom, dissatisfaction, or very easily can lead to dishonesty because if you feel that something you do in the present is merely a means to get what you want in the future, the temptation to take short cuts becomes very strong.”
As parents and teachers we all want our children to be healthy and happy. But if this desire is not wise it may lead to us becoming overly protective causing our children to become too dependent on us, or we may become over-controlling and create alienation and rebellion in our children.
Chanta, then, is positive desire and arises from compassion and unconditional love. In the classroom, as well as at home, this means encouraging our children to be enthusiastic in developing their own learning and knowledge, to try hard to succeed no matter the consequences and to maintain and create good behaviour. For example, a sister who helps her younger brother get dressed for school purely out of love and a desire to help him has chanda. A group of students who are enthusiastic about learning a new subject at school solely from their love of learning and desire to work hard at it regardless of the results, are displaying chanda.
We all know how precious a parent’s praise is to a child. If we concentrate on praising effort, we will help them develop chanta, a wise habit for life.
Many curious people have dropped in to tour Panyaden School since we began construction last year. Some groups such as the fourth year architecture students from Chiangmai University visiting today, are fascinated by how such mundane materials can be creatively integrated using both ancient and modern building techniques.
Armed with sketchbooks and notepads, the students observe and feel the materials, the walls and salas and scribble notes. Led by their renowned Professor, Ajahn Julaporn (an expert in traditional Thai architecture), they bombard Ajahn Decha, our bamboo specialist and master builder, with questions about earth building techniques and types of local bamboo used here.
Other visitors sometimes come by to talk to Markus Roselieb, the Project Manager of the construction and Co-Founder of Panyaden School, about why he decided on using bamboo and earth for construction, and if his company will help them build their own eco-friendly homes. Most of these guests are also parents who want to check out the facilities and to find out more about its curriculum.
These visitors come from Thailand and elsewhere in the world. Today, one of them hails from Alaska! He, like many others, wants to know about the school’s Buddhist and environmentally friendly principles and what it hopes to achieve.
Outside the majestic bamboo, earth and stone Assembly Hall, a famous Thai celebrity is interviewing Yodphet Sudsawad, the School Founder, about why and how she believes that Buddhist principles can be applied to a modern education, about the school’s vision, and its green practices.
Today is another busy day for the Panyaden team who is always happy to share its vision and environmentally friendly practices with the many guests who care about the same issues.