Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Enlightenment 101

This picture is provided by: Derick

There is a fundamental difference between the way teaching and learning is done in the Eastern cultures and the way we do it in the West.
The Eastern approach to education is very practical, very hands on, while the Western approach is very theoretical, very academic.
Our students learn about things, while in the East the students learn things.
To make a parable, our school system teaches our kids how to swim by using scientific data and visual aids, while the Eastern school system teaches their kids by throwing them in the water.
What we end up with, is a lot of college graduates that know a lot about, medicine or engineering but don’t know medicine or engineering.

Another thing about how we learn things in the West is that we dissect them, take them apart, in order to study and understand how they work. We start with the simple concepts and mechanisms and work our way up to the full system, to the whole, while the Eastern approach is totally the opposite: They start from the general understanding on how the whole works and make their way down to the components or the simple concepts.

This has created rather very specialized fields of knowledge in the Western culture.
We, to give you an example, have a doctor for almost every part or organ of the human body, but these specialist have very little or no knowledge of how the whole organism works together.
The Eastern medicine incorporates things like music, movement and color, nutrition and breathing, meditation and medication.
For the most part the Western approach to medicine is pretty much medication, although lately more and more things like nutrition, dieting and exercising have inched their way into the way we approach health.

I am making this foray in the way teaching is done in the East in order to make you understand the paradoxical nature of teaching and learning Buddhism in the Western culture.
We approach Buddhism with the wrong mind set, the wrong techniques and the wrong expectations.
We learn how to swim or better said, about how to swim in a purely theoretical way and when we are thrown in the river of life we sink and we don’t understand why.
So normally we assume that we don’t know enough or that we have not discovered the “secret” yet, so we go back and do some more studying. Like that would make any difference!

So if you are interested in a course in enlightenment or have studied Eastern philosophy and religion and “sunk”, stick around for an informal dive into the mysteries of Zen Buddhism.


Anonymous said...

I thought that was what the purpose of internships were? To combine theoretical knowledge and physical application.

It's an important that the education comes from both sources. The school system should throw the kid in the water, and then teach them scientific data and use visual aids while they're in there. Or reverse the order. But you get my drift.

Matt Welsh said...

It seems like one difference is how they view the left brain/logical thinking and right brain/intuitive thinking. Hopefully, our education can get to the point where we integrate both capacities

Talon said...

Interesting. Again, it seems to come down to balance...practical application vs. theory as The Clandestine Sumarai already said. Maybe one day the educational systems will get the best of both.

Brad said...

This is very true. I never learned much in school because we were always taught about different subjects but then never had a chance to apply it to solidify the learning experience.

In consequence, every thing I know now is either by self study or hands on learning (mostly the latter).

The teachers in my courses seemed like their position was just to get through the day, it was their job and thats it...maybe at one time it was their passion, but that wasn't so much the case any longer.

Buddha said...

@ Samurai - It seems that the medical schools emphasize the internship aspect of education more than others – I think because of the liability problems rather than wisdom. I wish I had an internship but like Brad I was just dumped into the waters of work market. Ideally we should fallow the “middle way” but looking at the current state of our education system I doubt it would ever work that way.

@ Matt – That is a very interesting perspective. I have to stop and think about it.

@ Talon – I don’t think the politicians and the government in general are serious about education in this country. It looks like we are more into wars and bailing out corrupt, greedy financial institution. We even spend more a year on prison inmates that on students!

@ Brad – My experience was about the same; get through the curriculum and pass the tests. Guess what? I found out that life is not a multiple choice test. I had a brain but my diploma didn’t teach me how to use it.

Crazed Mom said...

Nurses and nurse practioners focus more on holistic healing and the whole patient. I am learning care plans in nursing school and we're all about education, prevention, healthy living. I really like the thought process behind this philosophy.

Thanks for checking out my other blog Crazed Brain Blurbs. Depression is not my constant companion, just visits now and again. :)

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

I always thought that in the east they were much more holistic in the way they looked at things...like for instance i know people who go to a Doctor and get given a pill or an operation where a change of diet and more excercise would solve the problem.

as saumurai said - surely the combination of the two roads is where the future lies?

This Brazen Teacher said...

This Gold Star Post Worthy! Mostly because it has to do with what I have been gnoshing in my brain these days. Linking you now.

Buddha said...

@ Crazed Mom – I am glad that you are embracing the holistic approach. I am also glad that you are doing well. Keep in touch.

@Pixie – We should all be more open minded and look at how other people and cultures function.

@ Brazen Teacher – We need more teachers like you – and I don’t mean just gorgeous and sexy ;)

Brigit said...

I think the western world has a lot to learn about the holistic approach, not just in medicine but in everything. We seem to be forever forgetting that we are all part of a whole. If only we could focus more on all parts of the whole working at their optimum together - wouldn't the world be a better place?