Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Dalai Lama: Launch of a Secular Ethics Curriculum

After arriving in Delhi yesterday afternoon, His Holiness the Dalai Lama drove out of the city through dense traffic to Meerut in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh this morning. As he arrived at the CJ DAV Public School, children from a variety of schools lined the road to greet him and he was welcomed by the Principal and senior staff.

After a short rest, His Holiness was escorted to the stage where an enthusiastic crowd of more than 1500 faculty, students and members of their families applauded to show their appreciation of his presence. After the customary lighting of the lamp, Dr Alpana Sharma, the Principal of CJ DAV formally welcomed His Holiness to the school. Prof Avinash C Pandey, Director of the Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Allahabad, and former Vice Chancellor of Bundhelkhand University, Jhansi, introduced Ayurgyan Nyas of which he is a founder member.

Established in 2014 with His Holiness’s approval, Ayurgyan Nyas is endeavouring to introduce training in Universal Ethics into the modern Indian education system. The goal is to develop a curriculum that will ensure students’ holistic development on the basis of innate human values.

Prof. Pandey explained,

“With this curriculum, we hope to bring about a positive transformation in the minds of children who are the future of the world.”

The curriculum was formally released by His Holiness and presented to Principals and representatives of 9 schools from Delhi, Ghaziabad, Jhansi, Kanpur, Meerut and Pilibhit who have made a commitment to teach it.

In his remarks, His Holiness explained why he felt there was a need for such a curriculum,

“Since I was born in 1935, I’ve witnessed great violence, including the Second World War. Historians estimate that more than 200 million people died as a result of war in the 20th century. Great suffering resulted from the misguided thought that the way to resolve problems was a resort to the use of force, based on seeing our human brothers and sisters in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’.

“This way of thinking began to change during the latter part of the 20th century as people developed a desire for peace. The indiscriminate suffering that is the result of war had helped open their minds. In this 21st century, at an individual, family and national level we need to understand that the use of force to settle disputes is out of date. We must make efforts to resolve our problems through dialogue conducted on the basis of mutual respect.”

His Holiness stressed his conviction that education is the key to changing people’s way of thinking.

“Modern education tends to be oriented towards material goals and the achievement of physical comfort. It encourages people to seek happiness only on a sensory level of consciousness. The mistake is not to pay more attention to our mental consciousness. Entire generations have been brought up with a materialistic outlook, in a materialistic culture and way of life. Although they want to live in peace, they don't know how to tackle their destructive emotions, which are its biggest obstacle.

“We need to improve the current education system by introducing instructions on ways to cultivate positive emotions like warm-heartedness. Relying on religious tradition won’t appeal to everyone. We need a more universal approach based on common experience, common sense and scientific findings”.

His Holiness drew attention to ancient Indian traditions that deal with concentration and insight, shamatha and vipashyana, that have accumulated profound understanding of the workings of the mind. This ancient knowledge remains relevant today because it can equip us to deal with our destructive emotions and bring about a transformation of the mind, whether we have any religious belief or not.

“This is a country that has the potential to combine ancient knowledge with modern education to achieve peace of mind.”

His Holiness expressed his appreciation of the efforts that are being made to ensure that this 21st century becomes an era of peace and happiness, contributing to the greater joy of all 7 billion human beings alive today.

In reply to a student’s question about whether he missed Tibet, His Holiness replied,

“I was born in Tibet so of course I miss my homeland, but today I consider myself a citizen of the world. In my life I have four commitments. The first is the promotion of basic human values; the second is to foster greater harmony among our religious traditions; the third is to contribute to the preservation of Tibet’s unique language and culture, as well as the protection of the natural environment of the Land of Snow—and the fourth is to encourage a revival of ancient Indian knowledge in this country”.

After enjoying lunch with a group of invited guests at the school, His Holiness returned to Delhi. Tomorrow, he will make his first visit to the north-eastern state of Manipur, where he will participate in an international conference on peace and harmony, organized by the Speaker of the Manipur Legislative Assembly.

original link + photos: https://www.dalailama.com/news/2017/launch-of-a-secular-ethics-curriculum

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