Tuesday, January 13, 2009
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.