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The Concept of
Personality Revealed Through The Pancanikaya - Ven. Thich Chon-Thien
Institute of Buddhist Studies
V.2 Chapter 2
Solutions for Current Crises
Men's thought is the root cause of their actions. Their wrong thoughts condition wrong actions which cause troubles and crises in individuals' mind and in human society, then series of troubles and crises arise and arise... The search for solutions for them become more and more complicated. However, with a great determination, the writer believes, human beings can resolve all by changing the direction of the operation of their thoughts.
V.2.1. SOLUTION FOR "THOUGHT CRISIS"
The most basic crisis of individuals and society is the crisis of individual's thought itself.
From the old days men's thought has been regarded as the measure of existing things: It gives value to everything. It has been used as the crucial means for the search for truth and happiness. But, it is this which creates an imaginative self for things, while they have in reality no self at all. From this, men's thought creates a world of imaginative values full of contradictions and troubles. The more human beings engage in this imaginative world, the more they sink in the darkness of thought and in a crisiscalled "thought crisis".
With self-thought, people see things as having a permanent self and grasp it. This seeing is called "inversion of view" which hinders their mind from reality itself. So, the way to resolve the above crisis is coming out of their "inversion of view" or coming into "right view" which sees the truth of Dependent Origination existing in everything. In seeing this, people come to realize that: self-thought is empty; desire is coming from self-thought; the phenomenal world of selfness is empty; and desire, ill-will or illusion relating to that world also is empty: they become free from the bondage of them. This is solution for "thought-crisis" people are expecting.
No mystery exists in men's desire, suffering or happiness, etc. except their self-thought. The extinction of self-thought is the extinction of "thought crisis" indeed.
V.2.1. SOLUTION FOR "DESIRE CRISIS"
Self-thought also causes another crisis: from it, desire for things arises and causes troubles in man's mind as the author discussed in (II.1.2) of this work. A human being exits in life as a thirsty man in the open sea drinking salty water. The more he drinks, the more he becomes thirsty and wants to drink again. Drinking salty water is not the solution for the thirsty man. It is the same for a man in life: desiring for senses and things is not the solution for his suffering. This is called "desire crisis", or the "inversion of mind".
Falling into that "inversion", people often do not have any choice other than continuing desiring: their desirebecomes so strong that it is understood as the real meaning of life, therefore they see no way out. The Buddhist doctrine of Dependent Origination (PaticcasamuppÓda), of the five aggregates (PancakkhandhÓ), and of the Four Noble Truths (CattÓri AryasaccÓni) say the same thing: "desire is the cause of suffering", and the way out is the way of ceasing men's desire as the author discussed in (IV.1.5) and (IV.2.1)
So, if self-thought ceases, "desire crisis" ceases; if non-self thought operates, "desire crisis" will come to destruction. This is the solution for "desire crisis".
In addition to the above crises, some other crises are present by the presence of self-thought as showed next.
V.2.1. SOLUTION FOR "HEART CRISIS"
Self-thought tends to give a permanent nature to every existing thing. To the love for parents, it gives a name called "filial piety", and defines it as duties done by a daughter or son toward her/his parents. If these duties are not performed by her/him, she/he does not deserve being a human being. Such is the meaning of "filial piety" suggested by Confucianists.
To the love for a country, it gives another name called "loyalty", and defines it as duties done by a citizen for her/his country or her/his King. If these duties are not realized by her/him, she/he is understood as "unfaithful citizen" who does not deserve being in life. Such is the sense of "loyalty" suggested by Confucianists.
To the love for a sweatheart, it gives a name called"Love", and defines it as an intimate relationship which requires some duties done for each other. If either a husband or wife is unfaithful to the other by any reason, she or he is known as the evil one who does not deserve to exist in life. Such is the meaning given to "Love" by Confucianists.
However, life is very complicated, people sometimes meet with situations in which they can do their duty either for their parents, or for their country/king, or just for their husband/wife; in these cases they will be either "unfilial", or "unfaithful", or "unloyal" and will be too suffering to make a choice, and too suffering to survive. These are tragedic cases caused by the conception of "filiality", of "loyalty" and of "faithfulness" created by self-thought.
So, in those cases - many cases happened in the history of the Chinese and Vietnamese the story of "Le Cid" in French literature also is a typical one - people should follow the call of their beautiful heart, but not the call of imaginative conceptions. No choice deserves to be made here, because it actually is full of tears. This is called a "heart crisis" caused by self-thought.
With regard to non-self thought, "filiality", "loyalty" or "love" is conditioned and selfless; it must be redefined in an "open sense" how to be very human and very helpful to individuals and their happiness in the present.
In addition to the above cases, some customs, some social laws, or some disciplines in schools which may bring tears to men should be revaluated too for happiness ofindividuals as human beings.
V.2.1. SOLUTION FOR "EMOTIONAL CRISIS"
"Heart crisis" mentioned above is caused by reasons outside of man. There exists another aspect of "heart crisis" caused by reasons inside of man, by sentimental habitude which is called"emotional crisis". This crisis operates in the following manner:
The above "emotional crisis" seems simple but really is a dangerous hindrance of one's mind. The solution for it must be the practising again and again one's regard of wisdom to have new emotion replacing the old.
V.2.1. SOLUTION FOR "MORALITY CRISIS"
Morality is also a value of life created by man's thinking or self-thought. It is understood as the "should do's'' and the "should not do's" for an individual, for his family, community and country which really are the production of man's thinking. So, when "thought crisis" appears, "morality crisis" comes into existence.
"Heart crisis" as mentioned is something of morality, something relating to morality; when "heart crisis" is present, "morality crisis" must exist.
In another aspect of human society, morality is known as the relationship among human beings in a society; when the sphere of economy is developed fast, that relationship must be changed out of one's mind. It is the same, when the policy, or the sphere of politics, in a society is changed, the relationship among men cannot remain as what it is. This causes a "morality crisis".
If people follow Lord Buddha's teachings on the Eightfold Noble Paths, and consider "morals group" (including right speech, right action and right livelihood) as morality on life, there will never be any "morality crisis" regardless of the change of life. This is a right solution for it.
Morals group is a way of life wearing no label. It does not have any meaning of any religion at all, so itmay be applied in schools for students without any discrimination.
Is it right time for education to accept "morals group" as morality of modern schools ?
V.2.1. SOLUTION FOR "ENVIRONMENTAL CRISIS"
Environmental crisis is a hot problem people over the world are concerned much about.
As the author mentioned in (II.2.3), environmental crisis is environmental pollutions caused by ionising radiation, nuclear fission, natural dusts, forest fires, transportation, incineration and other minor sources. This is the result of the fast industrial development, as said in the beginning of this work, which is very harmful; it also is the result of the lack of responsibility toward environment of people which may bring mass-destruction to human beings in a very near future. So the protection of environment should be done as early as possible. For protection, a philosophy and a way of education for environment are needed to arrange lots of things as follows:
Educating men to recognize the close relationship between human beings and nature by the doctrine of Dependent Origination or/and the five aggregates, so that they themselves may voluntarily protect environment.
Explaining to men the terrible dangers caused by pollutions.
Showing that men's desire for advantages and powerscan cause suffering to people.
Suggesting what to do for environmental protection.
Such a philosophy and education, as the author has displayed through out this work, may be found from the doctrine of Dependent Origination and/or the five aggregates. This is solution for "environmental crisis" and for the safety of life on earth.
V.2.1. SOLUTION FOR "EDUCATIONAL CRISIS"
It is very evident that all the above crises are present because of the presence of a cause called "educational crisis".
If education is not based on a right concept of personality created by a regard of wisdom, it will lead to a wrong course of transferring empty knowledges and unsuitable things of education to students, and will bring sufferings to life. Dominated by self-thought and self-perception, all standards of value in this education can only create an imaginative world for men to live, but not reality itself. What can people expect from this world if not a fateful loss of hope ? What can people expect from economy, politics, competition,..., together with desires, ill-will, illusion, hatred, etc. if not building up on Earth a colossal market for goods, weapons of mass destruction, etc. bringing harms and fears ?
If education is based on non-self thought regarding a man as a compounded thing of depend Origination or the five aggregates, but not an entity, education will find a right way for "what to educate" and "how to educate" men: the role of education then is helping persons see what they really are, what the world really is, and get rid of all causes of troubles and sufferings from them for happiness in the here-and-now. This is a positive solution for "educational crisis".
The above are current crises of human society and solutions for them
The history of human kind shows that self-thought of dualism has dominated human culture on Earth over thirty centuries, but the suffering of birth, sickness, old-age, and death caused by men's attachment and craving are still there, contradictions, fights, despairs, harms and fears of human beings more and more increase without solution. What can human beings expect from that way of culture ?
Lord Buddha's teachings recorded in PÓli pancanikÓya suggest a new way of thought of non-self which is different from the point of view of other religions and philosophies. This way of thought does not regard a human being or the world as an entity having a permanent substance, but as a conditioned and conditioning thing, it may bring human beings happiness in the present and interesting solutions if it is applied in actual life. These teachings may be used in modern schools and universities as a major subject of a study branch of philosophy; educational philosophy, educational psychology, educational psychotherapy, or personality theory. Why not? -This way of thought, or regard to things, will helpeducation adjust personality theories which are unreal, adjust the educational spirit of competition which harms the spirit of co-operation; it will help students develop independent thought and creativeness, and effectively deal with their problems and troubles in daily life; lastly, it will suggest a standard of value based on happiness of individuals and the commonwealth but not on morality, based on wisdom but not on imaginative knowledge, based on human love and humanness but not on hatred or fighting; etc.
This is the reason why the author chose the topic entitled "Concept of personality revealed through PancanikÓya" as his Ph. D. thesis in Buddhist Studies. In choosing this topic, he realizes the difficulties in presenting Buddhist doctrine as a way of life and education for worldly people, and the difficulties in persuading others to accept that way. But, difficulty does not mean impossibility, so he comes to persuade himself to proceed with this research work by his belief in the condition of possibility. Let the work be tested, he thinks. What should come will come.
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