SARNATH: The pioneer of secular ethics for the 21st century and Tibetan spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama steered a two-hour seminar on the need for secular ethics in modern education with vice chancellors from more than 150 Indian universities in Sarnath today.
His Holiness was taking part in second day the 92nd Annual General Meet of Association of Indian Universities at the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarnath.
“Through an education system which is motivated by compassion, we can expand the sense of well being of all people, not just for your own circle and eventually bring peace to entire human being on this planet,” he said, opening the first of a kind meeting.
“At young age, our basic human nature is most alive. But once children are enrolled in modern education, they gradually develop the sense of ‘we and they’. So the kind of education instead of helping human beings rather breeds too much discrimination of ‘we and they,” His Holiness said as he pointed the failure of modern education.
He said the existing system has overshadowed the basic human natures with an extreme materialistic attitude and culture.
“Without relying only on sensorial consciousness, just focus on mind and try to train that level. Sensorial experiences are just a way to bring information, real joyfulness is not with sensorial but in mental experience,” he noted.
“The ancient Indian knowledge of samatha and vipassana are training of not sensorial but mental experiences..this science of training destructive mind and emotions are far more advanced than modern science”.
Referring to scientific evidence of basic human nature being compassionate, His Holiness said that there is a ground of hope for a better and peaceful world.
His Holiness cut his talk short and precise and asked for the main discussion to begin.
Lobsang Tenzin Negi, Professor and Director, Emory-Tibet Partnership gave a presentation on ‘Values and Necessity of Secular Ethics in Education’.
”This is really humbling to be in presence of His Holiness to present the very essence that His Holiness has devoted to bring in education. As His Holiness mentioned our modern education has in many ways prioritised the external development and in the process neglected inner development. We are seeing the impact of such neglect,” he said.
He discussed the World Happiness Report in 2017, which through a number of qualitative and quantitive survey, proved that mental happiness was the primary factor for quality of life.
“They analysed based on 4 different countries: in the US, UK, AUS, Indonesia with thousands participating in the survey to see what constituents the quality of life. What they found is that number one factor for our happiness or quality of life is the mental health. When the mental health is suffering despite education, financial and even physical health, they don’t contribute towards health.
He informed that panel that the spiritual revolution— the revival of basic human values—initiated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama sits at the heart of the solution and are fundamental to human flourishing.
“When you bring this kind of education, there is a whole host of benefits of personal happiness interpersonal relations, social well-being, emotional welling and these are very encouraging. They are fundamental to the continued survival of our species,” he concluded.
Professor PB Sharma, President of Association of Indian Universities, talked about the relevance of His Holiness’message and called upon the Vice Chancellors to heed his message.
“Yesterday His Holiness has made it clear that we, occupying the highest chair of university authorities have to understand the value and worth of compassion, karuna. This is beyond religions and this is not akin to a particular cultural group, geographical boundary. We have the responsibility to create a peaceful world, where harmony, peaceful coexistence spread to all religions and those who don’t believe in any religion, we have to consider that all of them are our sisters and brothers. It is with this kind of mindset the world will be thousand times more peaceful and beautiful than it is today,” he said.
Professor Girishwar Mishra, Vice Chancellor, Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishvavidyala said, “In a very precise sense, His Holiness has made it very clear that vast gap has taken place between real human nature and education. I would like to submit that education itself shiksha is a value, the direction of shiksha should be towards enlightenment, vidya, it should be for making us free from various kinds of problems.
What has happened is that we have forgotten our true nature and we have considered all the attachments as indicators of true natures. So we need to have more and more possession… The direction of education is increasing individuation and decreasing connectedness in society”.
The discussion was followed by interactive Q&A session with His Holiness.
As proposed by President PB Sharma, Association of Indian Universities, all the 150 Vice Chancellors will institute a centre for secular ethics, professional morality and scientific values, in their universities to start up initiatives for better education, sound and healthy education.