Tag Archives: wisdom

Panyaden in Citylife Chiang Mai

Student learns traditional Thai cotton weaving at Panyaden School

Panyaden is featured in an article in Citylife magazine that looks at innovative and culturally specific educational practices: ”Panyaden is not only unique in its appearance, but also in its principles. The school was founded on Buddhist values with a strong belief in engraining a love and passion for wisdom.” Full article here.

Neil Amas on Panyaden Wise Habit, Sacca

Panyaden students singing about the 12 Wise Habits at school
Panyaden students and teachers singing about the 12 Wise Habits

Panyaden-School-Director-Neil-Amas2-1Sacca (pronounced ‘sat-ja’) is a Pali word meaning “real” or “true.” It means to uphold integrity by speaking and acting according to the truth and to keep one’s word. It is a wise habit of profound importance and yet in daily life it is one of the most difficult for us to consistently practise.

In early Buddhist writings sacca is often found in reference to ariya-sacca, or ‘noble truth’ and, specifically, the Four Noble Truths, the essence of the Buddha’s teachings. In this context, sacca can be translated as ‘reality’, where the Buddha expounds the absolute truth of suffering, its cause, cessation and the path out of suffering. At a deeper level, therefore, applying sacca is more than simply telling the truth; it is seeing the nature of things as they really are. Buddhist scholar and monk Bhikku Bodhi explains, “Much more than an ethical principle, devotion to truthful speech is a matter of taking our stand on reality rather than illusion, on the truth grasped by wisdom rather than the fantasies woven by desire.’’

One way to define truthfulness is by looking at its opposite, false speech or action. This is not only telling lies – we also have a tendency to add things in or leave things out. We often exaggerate in order to make ourselves and our lives seem more interesting and exciting; because we want to be popular and do not think we are likeable enough as we are. Or we use understatement, saying things like, ‘No, no, I’m not upset’ or ‘It’s no bother at all’ when clearly the opposite is true. We do it to please others or because we fear disapproval, whereas in fact we are being quite false. And there are also times when what we say is not a lie, as such, but because of what we leave out it is not the whole truth. Here the intention can be to convey a completely wrong impression, such as describing someone we don’t like in a one-sided way or describing events without certain unfavourable details to show ourselves in a good light. This doesn’t mean we have to say everything we feel in the name of ‘being honest’. “You don’t have to reveal the entire contents of your mind to others. You must ask yourself, to what extent is it beneficial to yourself and to others, to what extent is it harmful? Will it increase the amount of dukkha (suffering)?” (Venerable Ajahn Jayasaro). If our intentions derive from wisdom and goodwill, it follows that our words and actions will be ethical and skilful.

Untruthfulness often stems from being afraid, of one’s teachers or parents, of being punished, or being looked down on or scolded. The ability to be truthful, on the other hand, is a sign of confidence and emotional maturity. Sacca is a great strength of the mind. Venerable Jayasaro has said, ‘’People don’t have much faith in telling the truth all the time. But sacca is the foundation to all the other wise habits.”

dsc_8537 Ven. Ajahn Jayasaro at Panyaden School Chiang MaiVenerable Jayasaro suggests that children are particularly prone to being untruthful because they are so dependent on others for their well-being. It is natural they may have doubts or anxieties that the people they depend upon will disapprove, or even abandon them. To create a love for sacca from children, we should point out how beneficial it is to speak the truth. We should help them see what feelings arise when we are truthful, especially when it is tempting to create a false picture just to get praise; or how good it feels when we keep a promise, particularly one which was hard to keep. By the same token, we need to show our children the suffering and complications we have to endure when we do not tell truth. When the truth suffers, so do we. ‘’We should teach children that if we do something wrong, we should accept it, and make up our mind not to make the same mistake again. It is up to parents and teachers to gain trust from our children by demonstrating our sense of justice, integrity and our readiness to forgive.”

This most challenging of wise habits is a trial for all of us. Every day we are faced with the dilemma of whether or not to bend the truth, to leave something out or to put too much in or to do what we said we would do. If we are able to model this most pure and precious of virtues to our children, we will give them a truly wonderful gift for life, and one which creates a open and trusting society for all.

 

lotus2 transparent

Download Thai here –
คุณธรรม ๑๒ ประการ โรงเรียนปัญญาเด่น : สัจจะ – Sacca_Th 2014

 

Making of A Buddha Image

Panyaden Photo by Ally Taylor

พระปัญญานุภาพไชยมงคล

Phra Panya Nu Phap Chaiyamongkol

Auspicious Victory Through The Power Of Wisdom


This is the name given to the Buddha image that is currently being created for Panyaden School through the collaboration of two Thai artists. It captures the essence of the school’s belief in helping its students develop and apply wisdom in their lives.

The materials uTook & Thana Photo by Ally Taylorsed for the Buddha statue are bamboo and earth mixed with rice husks – the same natural materials that compose the walls, floors and roofs of Panyaden School.The inspiration for this sculpture came from a smaller Buddha image made by Thai artist, Metta Sudsawad (Took). The main sculpturing is done by Chiang Mai artist Thana Chaiyasien. Khun Took is overseeing this important undertaking. She is also instrumental in crafting the details that will make the image come alive.

The Making Of A Buddha Image

We follow the journey of our main Buddha statue as it begins its life on paper as a 5-foot tall drawing made by Pi Took (white Buddha in the main photo above).

Buddha image skeleton Photo by Ally Taylor

 

Pi Thana first creates the skeleton from bamboo pieces which he enhances with rope and holds everything in place by wooden dowels. 3 days later, he starts to flesh out the body with a mixture of earth, rice husks and water. A week later, we join Pi Took as she examines and works out any changes with Pi Thana. Once she is happy with the structure and proportion of the main body, she will start working each day to finesse the little details that are so important in creating the right posture, attitude and feeling that this Buddha image will evoke. It is refreshing to see the two artists quietly working together to create a statue that will embody Buddha’s wisdom and compassion.

Buddha Photo by Ally Taylor

 

I ask Pi Took if her vision for the statue is based on any specific Thai tradition of Buddha art. “I would say it’s a contemporary style, closer to the Rattanakosin School which makes the Buddha image more realistic and closer to human anatomy and features. However, instead of a flame at the top of the head, I will sculpt a hollow lotus bud, which I think is a softer and more peaceful symbol. Ajahn Jayasaro will place a Buddha relic in the bud during the installation ceremony at Panyaden School.”

The Buddha statue has its right hand, palm down, touching the earth in the Bhumisparsha Mudra (ปางมารวิชัย, pang maa ra wi chai or ‘Calling the Earth to Witness’) gesture (mudra). It is believed that Shakyamuni (before he became Buddha) touched the earth, calling out to the Goddess of the Earth, Sthavara, to testify to his purity.

 

The left hand, held flat in the lap in the dhyana (meditation) mudra, personifies “the union of method and wisdom, samasara and nirvana, and also the realisations of the conventional and ultimate truths” (https://www.lotussculpture.com/mudras.htm). The Bhumisparsha Mudra therefore symbolises Buddha’s victory over Mara, the demon that embodies “the Tempter, the forces of greed, hatred and delusion” (https://www.chiangmai-chiangrai.com/buddhist_ceremonies_1.html).

After the torso and refining of the fingers, hands, feet and robe of the statue comes the difficult task of crafting the face.  Pi Took feels that when most people look at a Buddha image, they tend to look at the face first. This is why she wants to spend enough time mindfully crafting it.

“The Mind Is Everything. What You Think You Become.” – Buddha

Working on the statue is almost like meditating. “It’s like communicating with Buddha. I talk to him and it seems like he is talking back to me! I feel close to Dhamma. This helps me become aware of my emotions. I need to clear my mind because I have to focus and put positive energy into it or the statue will not come out right.”

Panyaden Buddha photo and Took by Ally Taylor Ajahn Decha, Bamboo Master Builder of Chiangmai Life Construction looking at Buddha
Buddha Photo by Ally Taylor for Panyaden School, bilingual school in Chiang Mai

 

Further reading about different styles of Buddha images and the meaning of their gestures/positions:
https://www.lotussculpture.com/mudras.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iconography_of_Gautama_Buddha_in_Laos_and_Thailand
https://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/history/buddhist-art/flash/thaiart-flash.html