Thursday, February 23, 2006

Cambodian Buddhist Education Leadership

Education Foundation

Cambodian Buddhist Education Leadership

By Preah Bhikkhu Vodano Sophan Seng

Presently, Cambodia is in need of human resource development. Only education can liberate the Cambodian people from their bondage of suffering. It is extremely urgent to articulate and solve this deficit. Picture source from . Cambodia now has a very high rate of illiteracy, which is the legacy of our chaotic past. Many scholars, teachers and educated people were murdered. The Khmer Rouge was intentionally targeting and killing this stratum of society in order to destroy all learned people. It was noted that at the beginning of the 1970s, more than 20,000 teachers lived in Cambodia; only about 5,000 of the teachers remained 10 years later. Also a Soviet source reported that “90 percent of all teachers were killed under the Khmer Rouge regime”. Other researchers have said that the many years of Vietnamese occupation in Cambodia, had used the educational system as the principal mechanism for the promotion of a dominant ideology. It also described the Vietnamese process of political education of Cambodians as the attempt to ‘change the brain’ of Cambodians. There is a critical, immediate concern, that the Cambodian educational structure was either destroyed by the Khmer Rouge or manipulated by foreign interests to serve their purposes rather than to serve the Cambodian people.

Traditionally, Cambodian education, in the past, was handled by the local Wat, and Buddhist Monks were the teachers. The students were almost entirely young boys, and they learned the monastic disciplines and memorized the Pali texts. Basically, Wats or monasteries were the front line of education and offered many different subjects to students. Some source said “the curriculum of Buddhist schools consisted of the study of Pali, of Buddhist doctrine, science, hygiene, civics, and agriculture”. After the French colony had come to control Cambodia, the French education model was inaugurated alongside the traditional system, but they neglected to develop an effective educational leadership and initiate a program of long term human resource development. Only seven high schools were created and these managed intentionally to produce only French language interpreters. When Cambodia achieved freedom from the French in 1954, the educational system had been modestly developed through the leadership of many Buddhist monks and other lay-scholars who graduated from French designed system. Somdech Choun Nath and Somdech Hout Tart were recognized as gifted Buddhist scholars in that period. The Buddhist school system was not replaced by secular state schools until the late 1950s and 1960s.

Picture source from
The existence of Buddhist perspectives in educational leadership is well supported by Buddha’s teachings. When Buddha taught the people, he always encouraged them to be critical and arrival at conclusions that they knew to be true, not just based on what they heard. In the Kalama Sutta, he told Kalama people not to have belief or make decisions unless they know by themselves that what they heard were wholesome and good, then accept them and follow them. He also told the Bhikkhus (monks) that a disciple should examine even the Tathagata (Buddha) himself, so that he (the disciple) might be fully convinced of the true value of the teacher whom he followed. This clearly convinces us that a student-centered teaching methodology is an important model for the present day Cambodian educational structure. Through the Buddha’s biography, we can learn good examples of effective, pedagogical teachings such as teaching by the use of two clear expositions: an exposition in terms of people and an exposition in terms of ideas, or an exposition in terms of conventional teaching and an exposition in terms of absolute teaching. Buddha also grouped the different intellectual quotients of human beings into four: the genius, the intellectual, the trainable and the un-trainable. His every teaching is full of compassion, good intentions to provide people with right understanding and right attitude which can achieve real peace, happiness and prosperity. His exposition and teaching approach functions well in the beginning, the middle and in the end.

In addition, Sekha means ‘to learn, study or educate’. To become a Buddhist, one has to study the basic Sekha called Paccha Sekha or five precepts. The five precepts are the basic learning skills required to become a leader in education, especially to be able to offer people the example of the responsibilities of speech and action. To train the people by not allowing killing, stealing, committing sexual misconduct, telling lies and the addiction to alcohol or drugs. These precepts are replaced by accumulating compassion, living with righteousness, contentment with our own partner, to be honest and polite, and to be mindful. Other teachings identified in educational leadership are the Trisekkha or Three Learnings. They are the Learning of Ethics, the Learning of Meditation and the Learning of Wisdom. These three learnings come from the Eightfold Path, which is the truth of the way leading to the cessation of sufferings. The practice of ‘right speech’, ‘right action’ and ‘right livelihood’ are called the ‘Learning of Ethics’. The practicing of ‘right effort’, ‘right mindfulness’ and ‘right meditation’ are called the ‘Learning of Meditation’. And the practice of ‘right understanding’ and ‘right attitude’ is called the ‘Learning of Wisdom’.

Within the exploration of Cambodian Buddhist educational leadership, I have intended to connect the two main streams of secular school and Buddhist school in order to utilize and initiate effective and sustainable human resource development in Cambodia. Cambodian Buddhist education and secular state education is interdependent and inseparable. In many other developed countries, they have separated religion from the State. But in this case, the Buddhist principles of critical thinking and responsible ethics, and their integration within government have never created any conflict within the state. As well, through the evidence of 2549 years old of Buddhism, I can reaffirm this peaceful integration. I can assure and guarantee that to bridge Buddhist education with secular state education will only help to improve rather than contaminate education, especially in proving out that the integration of Buddhist ethics within Educational Leadership in Cambodia can empower my country with an ideology of compassion and peace.

Picture source from
To structure a strong education foundation requires a willingness to implement it, and a commitment to follow up with action on the subsequent results. Educational leadership will play an important role in achieving this reform movement. Most educational leaders interest the education sectors such as policy making, financial management or the public administration reform. United State Agency for International Development reports that “Cambodia’s education system faces many challenges including high pupil/teacher ratios, low enrolment, and few resources”. Other sources have said: Cambodian education depends on an old style model which culturally entrenched notions of hierarchy and power. When a Westernized model is introduced, the clashing of both systems will be unavoidable. To deal with this situation demands a strong commitment of educational leadership. Personally, I conceptualize that to prevail, the young seeds of this Cambodian generation can not eradicate their past valuable cultural identity, but we cannot deny the arrival of the globalization trend whereby education becomes the deciding factor in increasing individual and family income in Cambodia while competing on the world’s markets.

I have impressed on how to help build peace and advancement for Cambodia, and I think that Buddhist education leadership will be a main crusader to achieve this. Buddhist education leadership that approaches to our educational system can provide the cultural glue, and hold Cambodian society together, especially to bridge the Buddhist schools and secular school system. The first theme will be mainly focusing on the education development for reconciliation and peace. Second, strengthening and improving Buddhist education aims for monastic leadership in community-based development. Third, upholding Buddhist education to be equivalent or similar with secular education or other institutions and also to modernize it as has happened with other developed countries. This will be important to encourage the pedagogy Buddhology which encourages the full freedom of learners. Fourth, forming and supporting the understandable concept of having Buddhist education and secular education as an inseparable component in maintaining sustainable development in Cambodia. Fifth, adapting the applicable Buddhist curriculum for monk students and also strengthening social ethics through the use of Buddhist ethics in the secular schools. I may set up a steering committee called the “The Council of Buddhist and Secular Teaching” (CBST). Their initial function will be to initiate research, and publish the applicable Buddha’s teaching curriculum for the use of either monastic students or public students.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Lord Buddha & Albert Eistein

Many have explored the remarkable convergence between the mystical traditions of the world and modern science. However, none of them has done this in a more succinct and convincing way than Einstein and Buddha; this remarkable collection of quotes by famous Eastern mystics and modern physicists is a fascinating contribution to the emerging paradigm.
-Stanislav Grof, author of The Cosmic Game and Psychology of the Future

This anthology provocatively illustrates the points of convergence between the quantitative investigation of the objects of consciousness and the qualitative exploration of consciousness itself.
-B. Alan Wallace, author of The Taboo of Subjectivity: Toward a New Science of Consciousness

Einstein and Buddha provides deep, simple and quotable insights that should help mend the rift between science and spirituality. If you put your thumbs over the quotation sources, you won't be able to tell who said what, when.
-Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D., physicist and author of Mind into Matter, The Spiritual Universe

Einstein and Buddha is an inspired effort to meet the 21st-century challenge of developing a synthetic world view. McFarlane juxtaposes quotations from Eastern contemplatives and Western scientists with insight, clarity and intellectual integrity.
-Dr. Ron Leonard, Dept. of Philosophy, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Inference Source :

Friday, January 06, 2006

Dhamma Talk in Thursday 4, 2006(Abbreviation)

Osothsnaeh asked Question:
- How does the Buddhism maintain Buddha's teachings? When was the Dhamma inscripted as the scripture?

Dhamma_online2005 asnwered the Question:
- There many periods of time in developing the maintenence of Buddha's teachings
1. Buddha's period : his teaching was organized and grouped into numbers like group one, group 2, group 3,..., until group 32 etc. This collection was done by Sariputta

1. First Council
About seven days after the Buddha had passed away, the Venerable Mahakassapa heard of His death, while he was resting on his way from Pava to Kusinara together with 500 Theras. All the junior Theras were plunged in deep grief and were weeping and lamenting. But a monk named Subhadda, who had entered the Order in his old age, was the only one that rejoiced over His death. "Grieve not, brothers," said he, "weep not, we are now delivered of that Great Ascetic. He constantly worried us, saying ' This is proper, this is not proper'. Now we are free to do what we like.

These unexpected words that fell from the lips of a disciple alarmed the Venerable Mahakassapa who became very concerned about the future of the Buddha's religious system, but kept quiet. When the Buddha's relics had been distributed, the Venerable Mahakassapa consulted the other Theras and suggested to them to hold a Council of leading Arahants to collect, classify and rehearse the teachings of the Buddha in order to protect and fortify the Sasana against such attacks as might be expected from monks of the type of Subhadda. They all welcomed the suggestion. King Ajatasattu was informed of the intention of the Samgha, and with his help the First Buddhist council was held at Rajagaha with 500 Arahants.

2. Second Council
About 100 years after the death of the Buddha, monks of the Vajji clan did certain acts which were not becoming of monks. They begged for money, even an anna (a nickel) or two, from lay devotees who came to the monastery on Uposatha days to keep their precepts. The Venerable Yasa then said that it was not fit for monks to handle money. For that reason, they imposed a Vinaya Act on the Venerable Yasa by which it was made obligatory for the person who said so to tender an apology to lay devotees for alleged interference with their charitable motives.

The Venerable Yasa went to the lay devotees and explained the true purport of the Buddha's teachings; and when the lay devotes understood it they showed no further respect to monks who begged for alms in cash. The Venerable Yasa approached the distinguished Arahants and asked them to adjudge the matter, and they pronounced that it was not lawful according to the Vinaya for monks to handle money. After which, 700 distinguished Arahants were chosen and the Second Buddhist Council was held to protect the Doctrine.

3. Third Council
King Dhammasoka understood the essence of Buddhism, and gave great support to the cause of Buddhism by erecting rock-edicts in all parts of his territory enjoining upon the subjects to follow the Doctrine in their daily lives. With his royal patronage Buddhism flourished, and the Sasana gradually grew in importance and numbers. Tempted by worldly gain, many undesirables of alien sects joined the Order and polluted the Sasana by their corrupt lives and heretical views which they taught.

Good monks could not live together with these sham monks and there was trouble. The King consulted the Venerable Moggaliputta Tissa to protect the Sasana. The King tested the monks and disrobed the undesirables to purify the Sasana. The third Buddhist Council was then held by 1000 Arahants, with the Venerable Moggaliputta Tissa as the presiding Thera.

4. Fourth Council
King Vattagamani Abhaya was a staunch supporter and defender of the Buddhist religion in the island of Lanka (Ceylon). One day when he was about to go out to fight the Tamil Kings, the King went to the monastery and said to the Mahathers, "Venerable Sirs, I shall have to go across the Ganga (the river) to promote the cause of Buddhism, and wise the Theras to accompany me on my journeys so that I can pay my respects to them at all times."

The Mahatheras selected 500 monks who were in their prime of life and sent them to accompany the King. King Vattagamani carried on battle while at the same time attanding to the personal needs of the Theras in his company with regard to their food, medicine,etc. The spare used by the King contained a sacred relic of the Buddha embedded in it at its end. His motto runs thus:-"I have been doing my best to make Buddhism last long and not for my own personal gain.

5. Scripture being scripted in Palm Leaves
From the time of Buddha's life down to the time of King Vattagamani's reign, the Tipitaka forming the teachings of the Blessed One were handed down from generation to generation of monks by word of mouth, by being learnt by heart. During the region of King Vattagamani, however, trouble was given by Brahmana Tissa, who rose up in arms and there was also inference from Kings who were disbelievers in the Buddhist religion. The monks could not get enough food for their meals and had to make extraordinary efforts to retain in memory whatever parts of the Buddhist scriptures the had already learnt by heart.

This was a matter for anxiety as, if the monks in future could not commit the Tipitaka scriptures to memory and recite them, the scriptures might disappear altogether. They therefore sought the assistance of King Vattagamani and held the Fourth Buddhist Council by committing the Tipitaka to writing on ola (palm) leaves.

The expression "Writing committed to palm leaves" has come into usage with reference to this first act of the letters of the alphabet being written down on ola (palm) leaves.


Thursday, January 05, 2006

Introduction to GCIFO

GCIFO is a Global Cambodian Inernet Friends Organization which is Non-Profitable, Political Unaffiliated and Volunteering Organization; and it has no distinction of faith, race, color, caste or sex. This organization was initiated by a group of online people who have joined the Dhamma Online Talk in Yahoo Messager.

Dhamma Online Talk was initially discussing about the Teaching of Lord Buddh and His Enlightenment, His compassion and loving-kindness, the true meaning of live, worl's peace, tolerance and non-violence, Cambodian social improvement and conflict resolution.

It was first created in Saturday 24, December 2005 by an informal meeting. We are tending to make this orgization as a vital movement to keep close tie with all people around the world, especially Cambodian people who are living in either domestic or international locations.

Our primitive purposes focus on:
1. To enhance the human resource in Cambodia
2. To support monk students and monk teachers who are persuing the task of providing education
3. To help orphanages and destitute children
4. To propagate the Buddha Dhamma(loving-kindness & compassion), preserving invaluable Cambodian culture and peace motivation.
5. To help those people who are in danger of natural cataclysm or in need.

Our logos symbolizes to:

Circle line is the name of the organization in both Khmer language and English language.

The Dhamma Cakra comprising of eight spokes. It is called that "Set up the wheel of Dhamma in Motion".
We have to move this wheel to activate it forward endlessly following our eight ideals:
1. Right Understanding
2. Right Thought
3. Right Speech
4. Right Action
5. Right Livelihood

6. Right Effort
7. Right Mindfulness

8. Right Concentration

Inside glob represents the round world which move around by its own Kamma and this Kamma informs us the sense of unity and original interdependence.

You are welcome to join with us in order to find some beneficial things for ourselves, Cambodians and people around the world.

"United We Stand, Devided We Fall".

"Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive." - Buddha

Best Wishes !