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“The most important aspect of life education should be to teach students to respect life, to teach them how to live in such a way that they manifest dignity of life itself, and to teach them how to create value and significance within their own lives.”

Venerable Master Hsing Yun

About Life Education and Venerable Master's Philosophy of Education

Our conditions, such as the understanding we have of ourselves, our relationships with others, as well as circumstances we go through, arise from our respective actions. Thus, we have our own learning approaches and multiple ways of thinking. However, Life Education provides an understanding that we have boundless human potential. To see an individual as a potential is to see an individual’s ability to self-educate, self-learn, and self-reflect without relying on others. The success of our pursuit of self-education is anchored on metacognition, questioning, motivating, diligent effort, and continuously developing our understanding of the self. Thus, Life Education provides various means that adapt to our conditions for us to become a better version of who and what we are each day.

 

Life education is a path to self-awareness.

 To be self-aware is to rely and have faith in one’s own human potential. To have faith in one’s own human potential is to see that the other, too, has the same human potential. Self-awareness is a proof of our coexistence with others and drives us to benefit others through mindfully guiding them to discover and reach their potential. Being self-aware and the realization of our potential are manifested in our daily action, speech, and thoughts. Hence, the understanding and practice of the Three Acts of Goodness are vital to the attainment of our simple yet great human qualities. Venerable Master underlines that when we let these human qualities shine, how can there be no happiness in our lives? How can we not be able to give confidence and faith to others? How can we not not ensure the welfare and safety of our society? How can our nation not be prosperous and harmonious? Thus, through Life Education, we can make a strong resolve and commitment to practice the Three Acts of Goodness and create a meaningful life that inspires others.

 

The Foundations of Life Education

THE MEANING OF EDUCATION BY VENERABLE MASTER HSING YUN

 To be self-aware is to rely and have faith in one’s own human potential. To have faith in one’s own human potential is to see that the other, too, has the same human potential. Self-awareness is a proof of our coexistence with others and drives us to benefit others through mindfully guiding them to discover and reach their potential. Being self-aware and the realization of our potential are manifested in our daily action, speech, and thoughts. Hence, the understanding and practice of the Three Acts of Goodness are vital to the attainment of our simple yet great human qualities. Venerable Master underlines that when we let these human qualities shine, how can there be no happiness in our lives? How can we not be able to give confidence and faith to others? How can we not not ensure the welfare and safety of our society? How can our nation not be prosperous and harmonious? Thus, through Life Education, we can make a strong resolve and commitment to practice the Three Acts of Goodness and create a meaningful life that inspires others.

I present the following four points to elaborate further on the meaning of education: 

The task of education is to inspire students.

The purpose of education is to guide students in learning to identify problems and possible solutions, rather than directly exposing what the problems are, and providing solutions. The aim of education is to inspire students to unlock their potential, rather than rote learning of reified ideals. Hence, the undertaking of education is to inspire students to tap into their innate wisdom.

The secret of education lies in respect for students.

Educational theories on olden days valued the authoritative teacher, who was believed to instill respect for the teaching in students. Educators also believed that authoritative pedagogy nurtured competent students. This all is at the expense of student’s dignity, using corporal punishment as part of the instruction process. The timid students may end up with low self-esteem, causing them to give up on themselves, and ruin their self-development progress. This may leave them harboring antipathy that may kindle defiance. Hence, one should hold respect for students as precursor to educational success.

The foundation of education is built on daily habits.

The purpose of education is to improve one’s daily habits, and enhance one’s quality of life. The goal of education is to cultivate one’s sense of morality and justice, and improve one’s social etiquette. Educational attainment is marked by the student’s acuity of mind and adroitness, and enhancement of moral character. Hence, the foundation of education is not established on one’s stature. Rather, it is built on the cultivation of good daily habits.

The purpose of education is character development: 

While Confucius advocates the assumption that people are innately good, and Xunzi posits that people are innately evil, Buddhism espouses that people are inherently both. Whether people are inherently good or evil, or both, the purpose of education is to enact one’s intrinsic goodness, and to eschew bad tendencies. Hence, the intent of education is to empower people to develop their character by unlocking one’s potential, and cultivating a harmonious disposition.

Mencius proclaimed that “one who is only concerned with one’s fill and one’s comfort, and does not seek education, is no different from birds and beasts.” Human beings, contrary to animals, only harbor a conscience due to education. Education can reinforce one’s moral judgement and heighten one’s humility and loyalty. Most importantly, education’s paramount task is to actualize one’s self-motivation, self-learning, and self-awareness. 

Thus, education can be summarized by the following four points: 

The task of education is to inspire students.

The secret of education lies in respect for students.

The foundation of education is built on daily habits.

The purpose of education is character development.

THE MEANING OF UNIVERSITY BY VENERABLE MASTER HSING YUN

Each year, anxious students strive for successful admittance into university. Their parents become worried and teachers are concerned. Even university teachers and students are preoccupied with tasks such as recruitment, enrollment, and examinations. Evidently, a major segment of society becomes occupied by university examinations and admissions. 

 

University (literally “great school”) is not superior to high schools or primary schools in the sense that it has a larger campus, more magnificent buildings, or a greater number of students. Some universities many even have fewer students and smaller campuses. However, university graduates are exceedingly outstanding. For example, Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States may not be very big, but any graduate from there will be regarded as prestigious.

 

Since the greatness of universities do not lie in their tangible criteria, then, what exactly is the meaning of university? Here are four points of reference:

To have great knowledge.

 “University” in Chinese, literally means “great school”, in others words, university is a place of learning for great people. It must uphold the duties of an international academic center principled on culture and education. To study at a university is to gain great knowledge, great vision, great perspectives, and great thinking. With international, modern, and future perspectives, the whole world is home, and the universe our place. We are thus able to inherit greatness and create a future in educating the world. Only then can we be a person of great vision.

 

To have great morality.

Being in university means one is no longer a child. Being in university means that one must have self-discipline and confidence, and also awareness in developing integrity, aspiring for greatness, and asserting great vows. Only then can one muster great energy within, and bring into play the value and meaning of life.

 

To have great magnanimity.

To have read many books but remain narrow-minded, or to be very knowledgeable but remain small in heart deems your education meaningless. A university, though small in size, can broaden my mind. This allows me to embody the entire world and all sentient beings in my heart and the entire river of history to flow through my mind. With a heart as big as the vast emptiness, and with much cultivation, I am able to become a great person capable of great things. This is the meaning of “university”.

 

To have a great path.

 Most people prefer to drive on wide roads. Six or eight-lane highways are certainly better than four. It is the same in life. Not only must we find our own great path; we must help others do the same. The great path is the truth. The great path is the light of hope. Thus, “university” means to be on the great path. 

Mencius proclaimed that “one who is only concerned with one’s fill and one’s comfort, and does not seek education, is no different from birds and beasts.” Human beings, contrary to animals, only harbor a conscience due to education. Education can reinforce one’s moral judgement and heighten one’s humility and loyalty. Most importantly, education’s paramount task is to actualize one’s self-motivation, self-learning, and self-awareness. 

Thus, education can be summarized by the following four points: 

The task of education is to inspire students.

The secret of education lies in respect for students.

The foundation of education is built on daily habits.

The purpose of education is character development.

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