The research team has published previously a “Preliminary Study of Buddhist Life Education at Primary Schools in Hong Kong”. Since most of one’s early life is spent in formal education, the team has gone on to investigate life education in the next phase in 21 Buddhist secondary schools. During this process, the team has kept questioning themselves: “Should we discourage students to grow up if complexity in life is the main cause of their deteriorating life quality? Can we refuse hindrances to wisdom-knowledge (jñeyāvaraṇa)? What roles should schools and teachers play? What comprise a life mentor?” Every question asked is relevant to life quality.
A secondary school student has a life more complicated (less pure) than a primary school student’s. Knowledge is gained by everyday learning. However, the moral education western scholars have proposed separates moral knowledge and moral actions, one cannot be aware of both. Jñeyāvaraṇa occurs when problems from will-, action-, and judgment-levels combine. Improving life quality does not only involve an increase in knowledge. This is also the blind spot of outcome-based learning, which is emphasized in the modern education direction, focusing on knowledge and skills.
Every successful life quality education possesses two particulars. One is dialectical growth in knowledge. In other words, one should view an issue from both the positive and negative sides to see a new horizon when combining two. This is exactly the philosophy of Master Qingyuan Weixin: see a hill as a hill, and then see a hill as not a hill, end up seeing a hill as a hill again. But this new horizon then becomes the new positive side. The process must be repeated to keep life quality improving.
The second and the most critical feature is the function and value of life mentors – leading by example. The philosophy mentioned does not only focus on improving knowledge and wisdom, but also personal experience. One cannot have peace without mentally struggling; one cannot see the great mentor before experiencing himself. If only knowledge is considered, when a man master the philosophy, does seeing the mentor only mean to appreciate his knowledge? If so, can this be regarded as the knowledge of life? The great mentor sees him to share with him his experience in life, to improve and consolidate his life. This is what we call a life mentor. A life mentor does only not teach people knowledge, but spiritually guide.
Keywords: Buddhist Education, Life Experience, Life Quality, Dialogues, Leading by Examples
Dr. Fung Shu Fun
Associate Professor of the Department of Literature and Cultural Studies
Dr. Kong Ho Man Raymond
Project Manager of CRSE