今天已到了教育破產的歷史關頭，佛教徒應該挺身而出，肩負起推動 教育的重任，導引青少年走上正路。 改革教育是很艱鉅的，因為現在的青年人道德淪亡，已達前所未有的程度 。所以要力挽狂瀾，就要拿出雄健的氣魄。現在的學生讀書是為了什麼？不是作醫生，就是要作專家等等。學生為什麼要學這些科目呢？他們回答說：因為這些工作的薪水高，因為這些工作的地位高，名聲好，受人尊重。如果學生在讀書階段，持這種觀念的話，其害處是很大的。
The Need for Education
As many educators in the West now point out, lessons in virtue are weak or missing from the curricula of elementary and secondary schools. Further, there is a growing awareness in academic circles that higher education in the West has abandoned its first duty: to form the moral character of, and to instill ethical values in its students. Leaders in government, business executives, attorneys, physicians, and professionals in all walks of life perceive a widespread decline in ethical standards in schools and in their own professions, stemming from mis-education.
Most professions require a minimum of four years in higher education, and often additional years of graduate training. Students can sit in schools for sixteen or more years, and yet never meet a systematic challenge to their values, prejudices, and philosophies. The failure lies with the educational system, its aims and methods, if graduating students cannot wield the rudiments of ethical, decision-making skills and lack the ability to bring informed opinion to questions of right and wrong. If the future leaders of a society do not forge their values during their school years, if they miss that chance to identify their life-values in harmony with standard social norms, they can hardly be expected to gain unprejudiced, expansive viewpoints and righteous, informed, opinions after entering careers in the marketplace. A society whose senators, judges, teachers, artists, and leaders of opinion cannot bring to bear on important questions facing the community, historical precedent, personal conscience, honesty, and a keen sense of obligation to represent the moral consensus, is a society that will not prosper, and may collapse when crises arise. Thus the future leaders of the world now find themselves woefully ill-equipped to handle the complex ethical issues and choices they inevitably must face.
A spokesman for Buddhist educational policies stated:
“At this time in history, education has become bankrupt. Disciples of the Buddha must rise to the occasion and shoulder the responsibility of advancing education, so that young people can walk the right road. The job of remolding education is a heavy task, because the moral fibre of today's youth has reached an all-time low, so that salvaging the situation from disaster will require an heroic effort. Why do students study now? If it is not to become a doctor, then it’s to become an expert technician, or a specialist of some sort. Why do students want to learn such things? They answer, ‘Because those jobs pay the highest salary. You can get fame and high status in these jobs.’ For students to think this way during their years of study is to do great harm.”5
A Harvard Magazine poll of entering freshmen over the past two decades shows the values most desired are to be “very well-off financially”, to gain personal recognition, and to “have administrative responsibility for the work of others.” The goal that has fallen furthest is the desire to find “a meaningful philosophy of life”.6
The Harvard poll reveals a general lowering of expectations from the learning experience. What students entering that school during the 1970’s and 1980’s hoped to get from their studies does not echo what Harvard was designed to give them. An early statement of the challenge to Harvard’s teachers, written into law in 1789, and reaffirmed in 1826 by the Massachusetts legislature, reads,
“The President, professors, and tutors of the University at Cambridge, shall exert their best endeavors to impress on the minds of children and youth committed to their care and instruction, the principles of piety and justice, and a sacred love for truth, love of their country, humanity, and universal benevolence, sobriety, industry and frugality, chastity, moderation, and temperance, and those other virtues which are the ornament of human society, and the basis upon which a republican constitution is founded.”7
Most universities have fallen far short of the lofty aims expressed in their creeds and founding principles. President Derek Bok of Harvard explains that in practice, as early as the Civil War, the focus in education at Harvard had deteriorated from transforming students’ character, to merely transmitting information and skills. This shift in aim was established fact by the 1920’s.8
Even if most universities have abandoned their original stated ideals, the need for their noble goals has not diminished. The challenge and role of Buddhist educators in contemporary society has been expressed as follows:
“A true education advances filial respect, and fraternity, as well as service to the nation, trustworthiness, righteousness, courtesy, incorruptibility, and a sense of shame. Making these Eight Virtues part of every child’s thinking enables him to seek happiness for all citizens when the child grows up. It enables him to bring blessings to the entire world, and to benefit all of humanity. When we do a good job of educating people, then there will be no disasters in the world, and problems will be solved by themselves. Children will be obedient and well-behaved. They will naturally practice filial respect for their parents.”9
Venerable Master Hua identifies filial respect as the fruit of good education. Filial respect, and the other virtues taught to school-children in traditional societies could be easily adapted into teaching materials suitable for western students and English-speaking audiences. Let us briefly consider first the Chinese paradigm, then the Indian background that fostered the Buddha’s life-long teaching on filial duty.
5. Venerable Master Hua, from an unpublished talk delivered to the Trustees of
Dharma Realm Buddhist University in Taipei, Taiwan, November 1, 1989.
6. Derek Bok, “Ethics, the University, and Society,” Harvard Magazine, May-June 1988, p. 40.
7. Bok, ibid., p. 40.
8. Bok, ibid., pp. 41-42.
9. Venerable Master Hua, from November 1, 1989 address.
To be continued