Zen Buddhist Perspectives on Modern Education Essay

Zen Buddhist Perspectives on Modern Education Essay

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Zen Buddhist Perspectives on Modern Education

ABSTRACT: Many articles and books on Buddhism have been published in recent years, but publications dealing with Buddhist educational views are rarely available. In this paper, I wish to expound on Zen Buddhist perspectives on modern education. The history of Buddhist education is long and complex. In early centuries (400 BCE- 800 CE), Buddhist monasteries in India and China functioned as educational centers where vinaya, sutras and other subjects were taught. Many men and women were refugees from social injustice and the sangha provided them with education, security and dignity. Spirituality and pedantry were always combined in Buddhist education. But from a Zen perspective, modern education has become an occupational training program to promote financial interest. Capitalism, science and technology have formed a new world view; to wit, occupational training has become more essential to one's way of living than the spiritual quest. Today, most students are concerned with finding financial stability and material gain. Against this trend, Zen education encourages students to seek spiritual stability. Because of Buddha nature, this is a natural human inclination, while not everyone is talented to become a computer specialist or an investment banker. Zen education guides students to grasp the "twist and turn" of the samsaric world, teaching them to be compassionate, understanding, patient listeners and well-balanced individuals.

Many articles and books on Buddhism have been published in recent years, but publications dealing with Buddhist educational views are rarely available. In this paper, I wish to expound on Zen Buddhist perspectives on modern education. In the first section...

... middle of paper ...

...nd appreciate ordinary things to fulfill the other missing fifty percent. Learning, then, becomes more complete.


(1) Bapat, P. V. 2500 Years in Buddhism. (New Delhi: Government of India, 1956), p. 158.

(2) Ibid., p. 162.

(3) Ibid., p. 165.

(4) Chen, Kenneth. Buddhism in China. (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1993), p. 43.

(5) Ibid., p. 44.

(6) Ibid., p. 83.

(7) Lin chi. The Record of Lin Chi. tr. Ruth F. Sasaki. (Kyoto, Japan: The Institute for Zen Studies, 1975), p. 14.

(8) Hosaka, Gyokusen. Zen no yotei. [ Secret of Zen] (Tokyo: Kyoiku shincho sha, 1968), p. 57.

(9) Ibid.

(10) Merton, Thomas. Zen and the Birds of Appetite. (New York: New Directions, 1968), p. 31.

(11) Pang yun. The Recorded Sayings of Layman Pang: A Nineth-Century Zen Classic. tr. Ruth F. Sasaki. (New York: Weatherhill, 1971), p. 46.

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