May , 2019
A Buddhist view of education and psychology
18:39 pm

Padma Shri Professor Dr. Ravindra Kumar

The Buddhist viewpoint of education is not much different from the general Indian view of education. Shiksha the basic spirit of which is to realize, develop and draw out what are already within and on the basis of that, the purpose of education is to lead a human being to the pathway of all-round development. The Buddhist teachings reveal that in knowledge – true education, the first thing is to know oneself. Additionally, the purpose is also to realise the part of us that is pure, wise, full of truth, peaceful and perfect.

Similarly, the Buddhist philosophy is usually in agreement with the common Indian view of psychology, which is the science of behaviour and mind occupying a high place in the field

knowledge. It is in the words of Swami Vivekananda, “the science of sciences.” The foremost features of Indian psychology, especially perception (Kalpana), realisation (Anubhooti), imagination (Anumana) and deliberation (Vichara) are the part and parcel of Buddhism. On the basis of these characteristics, Buddhism also lays stress on preview, to decide and to implement.

Along with this, Buddhism, by making the process of study and analysis, especially related to the state of

self-realisation (Atmanubhooti), meditation (Samadhi) and deliverance (Nirvana) accords a dimension to the Indian

view of psychology.

It is the worth and significance of Buddhist perspective of psychology that it has from time-to-time left its deep impression on thoughts and works of scholars, teachers and thinkers all over the world, especially educationists of the West. Not only this, due to the uniqueness of its being imbued with systematic and detailed method of study and analysis (research), the Buddhist perspective has widely impressed Maslow’s theory of self-actualisation and transcendental actualisation, which establishes the link to the major part of ancient Indian theories and methods, and the whole of ancient Indian writings that become in a way or the other, physiologically significant. This reality could be categorically observed from frequent influence of writings, Buddhist scriptures in particular, on psychology of consciousness, parapsychology, psychology of mysticism, psychology of religion, and transpersonal psychology.

Along with Sigismund Schlomo Freud (1856-1939) – an Austrian neurologist who is known as the founding father of psychoanalysis, the Buddhist influence could emphatically be seen on thoughts and works of scholars like Franz Alexander (1891-1964), a Hungarian-American psychoanalyst and

physician who is also considered as one of the founders of psychosomatic medicine and psychoanalytic criminology. This fact becomes apparent from study of his write up entitled, ‘Buddhist Training as an Artificial Catatonia’. Having the Buddhist monks in the centre Alexander especially points out, “The ascetic training of the Buddhistic monks is a systematic suppression of all emotional life. Analytically, this means a closing of all the erotic outlets of every kind.”

Further, this impression can be well experienced on Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), a Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist

who saw much of value in the eastern thought, especially in Buddhism from a psychological viewpoint.

Gautama, the Buddha, as we all know, spoke at length about ignorance – Avidya, its cause and effect. Carl Jung, impressed by the eternal viewpoint of the Tathagata says, “While we are in Avidya, we act like automatons, we have no idea what we are doing; Buddha regarded this as absolutely unethical. Avidya acts in the sense of the concupiscentia and involves in suffering, illness and death.” Not only this, the three foremost treasures of Buddhism – the Buddha (the Awakened one), the Dhamma (the Law – natural, spiritual and teachings) and the Sangha (the community of monks) have for hundreds of years been a great source of inspiration for thinkers, scholars and educators.In his work entitled, ‘Buddhist Psychology’, an eminent psychologist Eric Pettifor, from the department of psychology at the Simon Fraser University, Canada (quoting Mizuno) recognises the above three to be very important treasures of Buddhism for all those associated with study and research in psychology.

The Buddhist thought and method are - even after approximately two thousand six hundred years - in line with the objective spirit of modern science and the law of parsimony of science. It is the significance of the Buddhist view and method of psychology that it can be easily incorporated into a scientific framework.

  Dr. Ravindra Kumar is a Former Vice Chancellor of CCS University of Meerut.

[The view expressed here are personal and don’t reflect those of the government]


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