Thứ năm - 09/05/2019 08:25
by Rev. Mediyawe Piyarathana

by Rev. Mediyawe Piyarathana*


The objective of this research paper is to discuss the teaching methods which were used by the Buddha to globalise ethics with the purpose of creating a sustainable society. After investigating the teachings of the Buddha, it is intended to find the teaching methods used by the Buddha for introducing ethics for a sustainable society.


If the global society is based on ethics taught by the Buddha through various methods, there can be a peaceful and harmonious society with shared responsibilities. The purpose of the Buddhas teaching methods has been to create a sustainable society with social relationships and to make attitudinal changes in followers towards one-self and others. The teaching methods like Student- centred Method, Lecture Method, Discussion Method, Step Method, Practical Method, Transfer of Training, Problem Solving Method, and the Remedial Teaching Method used by the Buddha are analysed here to find how they can be used for globalizing ethics to create a new sustainable society.

*. Senior Lecturer in English, Head-Department of Languages, Bhiksu University of Sri Lanka.


With the purpose of finding the teaching methods used by the Buddha for globalizing ethics, Buddhist canonical texts were mainly used in this research.

Research Problem

What are the teaching methods used by the Buddha for globalising ethics for creating a sustainable society?

Discussion of Data & Analysis


The process connected with learning and teaching is education. Teaching means guiding or directing to make a permanent change in the behaviour of students. Therefore, teaching or education means making a behavioural change by this particular process (Nordberg, 1962). This emphasises that the student has to accomplish this. At the same time or in the process, the changes that occur temporally in the behaviour are said not the true learning. Welfare of student is expected by the education. It should be step forward or progressed with the activities of children. Childhood is a very complex period. Therefore, it is the duty of elders to persuade children to get the things through their experiences without putting their thoughts into them by force (Lindgren, 1962). This can be presented as the principle of student-centred or oriented method. The student- centred teaching method has been used by the Buddha to globalise ethics for creating a sustainable society.

When the Buddhas teachings are examined, it can be seen that the Buddha has preached the principles of the student-centred method and put them into action. Giving the priority to students can be seen from the term ‘ehipassika’ in the verse on the virtues of doctrine (MN, PTS, P265). From this, it is clear that one gets the freedom to come and examine the doctrine before accepting or refusing it. This student-centred concept has been presented as a philosophy in Kāma Sutta (AN-i, PTS, P190). These free attitudes of the Buddha are considered in connection with a small student, though it seemed to be a deep philosophy, this clearly indicates about the freedom that students should possess in the process of

education. It is necessary for all the students whether young and old, or small and large, it does not matter. Without forcing, according to volition, willingness, by improving knowledge and abilities, it is necessary to give an opportunity to develop them alone. From this, it is clear that forcing of teachers and elders to do particular things and putting them to specific path is not suitable. The Buddha used this teaching method to globalize ethics with the prime intention of making the society a sustainable one.

It is possible to present many examples to prove the fact that the Buddha has emphasized student-centred education in his doctrine. paccattaṁ veditabbo(AN-i, PTS, P148) means that it should be understood by the person himself. Purity and impurity depend on oneself. No one purifies another (D, V165). From these ideas, it can be proven that the main feature of the Buddhas teaching method is that it is student-centred. Even the modern educationists have presented such ideas. By examining them, is possible to understand easily the speciality of the Buddhas method for creating a sustainable society.

It is clear from Buddhism that if the student wants to examine about the teacher, there should be the right or freedom to examine, Bhikkhus, by a Bhikkhu who could read the thought processes of another, an examination of the Thus Gone One should be done. Is he rightfully enlightened or not or only conscious of it?” (Vīmaṁsakasutta,MN-i,PTS,P317). In this manner, student has been given the full freedom. Since students don’t have the psychic power or the ability to know the thought of the teacher, they are free to examine teacher. It is proven from this that the Buddha has rejected teacher and subject centred methods. From these factors, it is clear that the Buddha accepts the student-centred method with principles of them. Therefore, it is important to examine how he put it into operation for globalising ethics.

When the Buddha guided the Five Ascetics for  the realisation of  truth,  he  has  followestudent-centred  method (Ariyapariyesanasutta, MN-i, PTS, P172). The main feature of this method is that the teacher attends to student, explores his possibility to comprehend and guide him to improve it. This way of teaching has first been followed by the Buddha. At that time in India, the existed education  system was that the student  had to bring and

offer thousand pieces of gold to the teacher and learn. This system was changed by the Buddha. Taking two or three ascetics closer to him, having understood their cognitive power or knowledge, the Buddha has preached them suitably to their mental capacity. As a result of it, they understood the doctrine more quickly.

According to the student-centred method, it is necessary to create the environment for the student to study freely. Following this, in present school buildings, the classrooms have been built well. This is a must when the modern education objectives and subjects are examined. But, the Buddha followed a totally different system to this because his target was to give person the necessary ethics for permanent happiness or to give person to the correct path to go beyond this world or for the Liberation (Nibbāna). But, the Buddha selected or used open places for his sermons and he also advises students to engage in studies, having been to forest, to the root of a tree or to an empty house and reflects (AN-i, PTS, P147). There is a certain control on environment in this way. Therefore, the mind of the student may not wander here and there. Even the present classroom system limits the environment.

According to the  student-centred  education  system,  there is an opportunity to find remedies for the physical and mental weaknesses. A result of this is there isn’t categorisation of students into weak or backward. It is possible to get proofs to prove this fact from the teachings of the Buddha. The story of Venerable Cullapantaka is an example that can be taken here (DPK, 1940, P120). Venerable Cullapantakas brother, Venerable Mahāpantaka having tried to teach him to through subject centred way, he became unsuccessful. Then, he decided to expel Cullapantaka from the monastery considering him to be a mentally retarded person. The Buddha approached him; spoke to him kindly rubbing his head smoothly and having showed love to him, the Buddha was able to stop him. Having made use of Cullapantakas potential energy, the Buddha made him aware of the truth by the student-centred teaching method. When reading Cullapantaka story, it is clear that he is not a mentally retarded person or a weak person. It was the fault of the teaching method used by the teacher and decided that the student is weak and neglected him.

It is possible to understand from the story of Aṅgulila (Aṅgulilasutta, MN-ii, PTS, P99) or Ahiṅsaka that the teacher centred education method has faults and student-centred method is more specific in this process. Under the teacher-centred method, student is like a slave. Student has to obey the orders of teacher mechanically. The cleaver student, Ahisaka became Aṅgulila, the killer, due to this method. He persuaded himself to follow the order of the teacher. But, he did not try to think of the benefits or bad effects of cutting fingers and killing people. He did not question or inquire about it before doing the action. The main reason for this was his mental slavery. The Buddha approached to Aṅgulila, aroused his potential energy and asked him a question that created in him some inquiring nature of himself. When the Buddha goes, stating that he stopped, though Agulila stopped, he understood the reality or the truth. Apart from this, the stories like of monks and nuns Khemā and Nandā proves the student-centred method (Dph.K, P58 & P574).

The final aim of Buddhist education and mental development process is to get free all the worldly ties. It is necessary to make that situation depending on the power of each persons mental development and speed. The teacher only guides and encourages in this most difficult activity. But, the teacher also has a great responsibility. By knowing the variations of each student, having formed lessons in a suitable way, the teacher has to present courses. According to those courses, gaining the complete understanding is the responsibility of student (Keneth, 1972, P452). From this idea, the student-centred education system operated in Buddhas education philosophy or in Buddhism, can be understood very well. The purpose of using this method is to globalize ethics for creating sustainable society in a successful manner.

The Buddha has made use of the lecture method for globalizing ethics. If a person with a good understanding of a subject describes the proposition or the particular topic to a person or group of persons, it can be introduced as a lecture. Unlike at present, in the past, since there was a lack of necessary books and other materials for learning, lecture method had become the main means

of teaching. The well-learnt person was known as Bahusuta (the person listened to many things) and it is because he has improved his knowledge by listening to the lectures of the teacher. Western Philosophers like Socrates and Plato used the lecture method as the main medium to teach their ideas to others. Therefore, it is possible to say that lecture method has been in use in both East and West for a long time. At present, though some (Hover, 1972) try to say that the lecture method is a great waste of time of both student and teacher, they have been unable to take it out of the education field. In primary education, the use of lecture method is less; it is very useful in secondary and tertiary level education. It is possible to use this method more effectively with the advancement of modern science and technology.

When the significant features of the Buddhas lecturing method are examined, it is possible to see how cleverly the Buddha has used this lecture method to globalise ethics. In this process, the Commentaries are very helpful. According to one of the descriptions of the Commentary Writers, the Buddha delivered every sermon in one of the following four ways. They are Attajhāsa, Parajjhāsa, Pucchāvasika and Attuppatika (ANA, P12).
    1. Attajhāsa Lecture means preaching with ones own intention and without any invitation from outside (Cetokhilasutta,MN-I,PTS,P101-104)
    1. Parajjhāsa Lecture means preaching with an invitation from outside or on othersrequests (Alagaddūpamasutta,MN- I,PTS,P130-142)
    1. Pucchāvasika Lecture means  preaching  as  an  answer to a question posed by someone (Mahāmangalasutta, Parābhavasutta,SN,PTS,P46-47,P18-20)
    1. Attuppattika Lecture means preaching by taking some story or incident originated from among the fourfold members (monks, nuns, laymen, laywomen) or in the society (Kakacūpamasutta,MN-I,PTS,P122-129)

When stating a lecture, the Buddha addressed the followers like this. “Bhikkhus, I will tell the arising of intentions, listen carefully with  attention.”  (Saṁkruppattisutta,  MN-iii,  P99).  There  is

something special here. It is that the Buddha is giving the topic first that he is going to talk about. Then, the monks will reply as evaṃ bhanteti’ (Yes, Venerable Sir) and listen to the lecture. Starting the lecture like this is a reason to attract the attention of the followers towards him. From such a lecture, there are evidences that there will be changes in the followers with several factors. They are known as Sandassetvā, Samādapetvā Samuttejetvā and Sampahaṅsetvā (AN-iv, PTS, P188).
  1. Sandassetvā presents the concepts that are going to teach students whether abstracted or combined facts
  1. Samādapetva means letting others understand or giving hints
  1. Samuttejetvā means persuading students to study further and creating enthusiasm
  1. Sampahaṅsetvā means finishing the lecture in a way that they are happy with the understanding of the lesson.

Accordingly, it is obvious that a lecture, which is started by the Buddha, ends successfully and also it will be so fruitful for the students. Even at present, if a lecture is done in such an order, it is not possible to reject it saying unsuccessful. The Buddha has mentioned that a lecture to be successful it should be good at three places: beginning, middle and end) (SN-I, PTS, P99). Apart from this, there are another two features of a lecture. They are Uddesa and Vibhaṅhga (Bhaddekarattasutta, MN-iii, PTS, 187). Explaining the same thing is known as Vibhaṅga. According to this method, it is easy for the student to memorise Uddesa as the essence of the lesson.

When a lecture of a Buddha is examined, four analysing methods can be seen. In Saccavibhaṅga Sutta (MN-iii, PTS, 246), they are stated and it is possible to get the expected meanings of these terms from Commentaries (ANA, P224, P454).
  1. Cikkhanā - expressing, presenting in nutshell or short, saying by terms or name that should be lectured
  1. Desanā - planning, giving a clear description, making very clear of the meaning of the text (Pāli)
  1. Pñapanā - letting to identify or organise and understanding in that manner. This means teaching by considering the psychological and intelligent capacity of the student and revealing the meaning.
  1. Pahapanā - setting into the particular topic, giving the meaning in simply, giving the meaning well and emphasizing the meaning.
  1. Vivaranā - explaining by giving reasons, opening like a closed thing,
  1. Vibhajanā - separating into small parts and giving the meaning of them
  1. Uttānikammaṁ- presenting as an upturned and not deepened, explaining in a way that listener gets the meaning of the lecture.

In this manner, when a lecture with all the components is done the listeners can get five kinds benefits. It has been mentioned in a discourse of the Buddha as follows. “Hears what has not been heard, the heard is refreshed, doubts are dispelled, the view is rectified and the mind becomes pleased (AN-iii, PTS, 248).” Because of these five results of listening to a lecture, the lecture will become a fruitful one to the student. It can be seen from the expression of thank and praising at the end of a lecture even requesting to consider as a disciple from that day until the life lasts (Culahattipadopamasutta, MN-i, PTS, P284).

This proves that the Buddhas lecture method became very successful as a teaching method. If even the modern educationists follow this way, it won’t be necessary to propose to give up or put aside the lecture method in the field of education to globalise ethics.

At any time, the purpose of conducting a lecture is to create concepts among the followers. It is necessary to examine the facts about proving those concepts. There are two kinds of concepts. They are concrete and abstract concept. The thing that is visible to the (sense) organs in the material form is known as concrete concept. House, chair, crow and man etc. are examples for this. The thing, that is in the form of mental objects and not in the form of

material, is known as abstract concept. Kindness, good, merits and democracy are examples for this.

When a lecture is continuing, for the understanding of disciples, the Buddha has used various similes, metaphors and stories etc. The usefulness of similes to understand a particular topic has been mentioned in the Pāli texts in the following manner. O! Monks! This is a comparison or simile to explain the meaning (MN-i, PTS, P155).O! Monks! So, I make a comparison. Some people in the world can know the meaning even from a simile (MN-i, PTS, P148).From these, it is clear that the main activity or use of simile is to explain meaning. As a teaching method, it can be seen that the Buddhas use of simile depends on three factors. They are,
  1. Giving the meaning of the topic
  2. Composing them according to the mind of the listener
  3. Using them in suitable occasions

In a way, these objectives are fulfilled; the similes used by the Buddha can be categorized into several kinds. They are the similes on daily life, the similes on biology, the similes on personal experience, and the similes on the incidents of daily life and so on. From all these kinds of similes, the expectation was to create concrete or abstract concepts in person or to teach or give the understanding of a particular ethic. In Buddhism, the ultimate end is introduced as the Deliverance. It is the doctrine that should be understood. It is difficult to describe by words. But, even that most difficult concept has been described by a simile. In Aggivacchagotta Sutta (MN-i, 483-489), the fire has been used to describe the nature of the person who attained the deliverance. The Arahant, who has attained Arahantship and living in this world, has been compared to a flower, which grew in the pond mud itself, which lifted up from the water and remain untouched with the water (Su.N, PTS, P36) To change situation of a person who is with many lustful emotions or passion, dispassionate ideas must be created in him. For this purpose, the Buddha has used compared passion with fruitless or infertile objects or things as shown in Alagaddupama Sutta (MN- i, PTS, P130). In the several incidents mentioned here above, the Buddha has used similes. But, there is some specialty here. It is that

the Buddha has used their long time life experiences as similes. Having made lecture method as the main means of teaching, the Buddha has used similes appropriately to the expected concepts among the students and it is clear through the above examples.

While doing a lecture, the Buddha added a small story in it. By doing so, the Buddha tried to create the expected concept. So, adding a small story to a lecture was one of the ways used by the Buddha. He has narrated those stories in a suitable manner to the intelligent levels of various students. By observing the texts, Jātaka Pāli, its Commentary, Dhammapada and its Commentary, one can see how cleverly he has used this method. More than to elders, it is possible to teach facts or incidents to small children through stories. By this method, it is possible to teach ethics to children or put into the mind of children the virtues like kindness, loving-kindness, non-violence, helping others and keeping company with others etc. By the lecture method, the Buddha has used similes, storytelling etc. successfully with the purpose of socialising ethics to create a sustainable society.

When the discourses are examined, it can be seen that they have become more fruitful and meaningful due to the discussions in them. Sometimes, a lecture has been started with a discussion (Ariyapariyesanasutta, MN-i, P161). It is clear from this that the lecture has been started with a discussion. When a discussion is conducted, there is the exchange of ideas among each other. So, this is a good way for understanding the intelligence level of each other (AN-i,PTS,P187).” There are two ways of discussion.

1. The discussion that takes place among the same aged persons: for this, it is possible to include the discussion among students and the discussion among the students of the same subject.

2. Irregular discussion: the discussion between teacher and student and the discussions that take place among the students studying various subjects
It is possible to take for both kinds of discussions from the

teachings of the Buddha. Whatever the discussion, there is the priority to questions. There are four ways of answering questions mentioned in Buddhism (AN-ii, PTS, 46).
    1. There is a question to be replied directly or one needs a direct reply (ekasavykaraya)
    1. There is a question to be classified and explained or an explanatory one (vibhajjavykaraya)
    1. There is a question to be replied with counter questions (paipucchvykaraya)
    2. There is a question to be put aside (hapanya)

From these, the third one is relevant here. In the teaching process, each other will have to ask questions from the student and to ask question from the teacher. It is possible to get facts or information for this from the discussion that took place between the Buddha and the followers of Niganthanātaputta as presented in Devadha Sutta MN-iii, PTS, P241). Mostly, this method is used to emphasise a fact presented or to prove it (Culasaccakasutta, MN-I, PTS, P228). This questioning method can be used to know correctly the view a student holds regarding a particular matter. On one occasion, a Brahmin called Potṭṭapāda who arrived near the Buddha and questioned thus (Potṭṭapādasutta, DN-i, PTS, 185) “Is then, Sir, the consciousness identical with a mans soul, or is consciousness one thing, and the soul another?” Then, the Buddha questioned again. “But, what then, Potṭṭapāda? Do you really fall back on the soul?” He answered thus, “I take for granted, Sir, a material soul, having form, built up of the four elements, nourished by solid food.” This example shows that it is now possible to continue a discussion without questioning. When teaching, when a student posed a question, if it is not clear, the teacher must ask back the student what it means by that question. From this, another important idea arises that it is necessary to be careful when words with different meaning in the language are used. It is because when the words are misused there can be problems or issues.

The features of the persons whom must be taken into discussions and their code of ethics have been explained in Tika Nipata  in  Anguttara  Nikaya  (AN-i,  PTS,  P197)  There,  those

persons have been introduced by the terms Kacchaand Akaccha. From the term, ‘Kaccha, the meanings like suitable for speech and discussionand Akacchawith the meaning not suitable for speech and discussionare taken. These two persons can be identified according to the responses that are given in a discussion. It is clear from the expression in the discourse (ANA-P455).

When a discussion is going on, when a ekasavykaraya question is posed, this person asked a question that needs a direct answer. If he fails to give the direct answer, asked a question that needs an explanatory answer. If he fails to give the explanatory answer, asked a question that needs a counter question. If he fails to counter question and if asked a question which should be put aside, he fails to put it aside if this person being asked a question does not adhere to possibilities and impossibilities, does not adhere to assumptions, does not allow other views and has no method, if he evades the question and leads the conversation aside, or shows ill temper, malice and  mistrust, if  he  swears, belittles,  mockand disturbs it. It should be known this person is incapable of conversation (ANA, PTS, P455-457). This emphasises that the participants of a discussion or conversation should try to engage in a discussion without the above mentioned non-academic features.  Not  only that, in the Buddhas teachings, it is possible to see that there is a great discussion method. When a discussion is done without those bad qualities, it will become an important study even for a student.

It can be seen that the Buddha has given the time or occasion for students’ discussions in two ways. They are,
      1. Having started a discussion, the Buddha has asked a senior student to continue the rest.
      1. Having done a sermon in brief, the Buddha has given way to ask a senior student the things in detail.

As an example for the first type, Sacchavibhaṅga Sutta of Majjhima Nikāya can be presented. There, the Buddha having started the lecture asked Venerable Sāriputta to continue (MN-iii, PTS, P248). For the second type, Madupiṅdika Sutta is an example (MN-i,PTS,108). Most of the times, in the discussions like these; the senior Bhikkus like Venerable Sāriputta, Mahākassapa and

Ananda have taken leadership for discussing. The Buddha preached that discussing Dhamma on due time will become the reasons for development according to the expression of Mahā Magala Sutta Regular listening to the Dhamma -These rank among the highest success-generators (SN, PTS, 47).” This expression is a persuasion for student monks. And also, another reason is that the Buddha has praised and been thankful for the discussions of student monks.

In the same manner, the Bhikkhunis are delighted hearing Nandakas preaching, and their aims are fulfilled. The least of those five hundred Bhikkhunis is a stream entrant, not falling from that, is aiming extinction MN, iii, PTS, 277).

This reveals that the discussion of Venerable Nandaka was successful and as a result all the Bukkhunis (nuns) became stream- winners. From this, it is very clear that the Buddha followed this discussion method in a more successful teaching method. From these examples, it is clear that it is possible to get the expected results from the discussion method operated by the Buddha and socialise the ethics successfully for a sustainable society.

To fulfil a certain objective, it is necessary for a student who is engaged in education process to make the way for it step by step. This process is known as the Step Method. This method is famous as a method that made a change in the Western Education field and it is modern and Prof. B. F. Skinner is considered as the Founder of this step method.

Though the step method is introduced by Western Educationists as a method which did a great change in the education field in the twenty first century, it seems that it is not a new invention or finding when it is compared with the main methods of teachings of the Buddha. Before twenty five centuries, this step method was a way that the Buddha advised to follow well. It is possible to prove this idea from the teachings of the Buddha.

In Pahārāda Sutta, the Buddha has mentioned that it has to be done step by step when understanding the truth which is the purpose of the doctrine. “Pahārāda, just as the great ocean has a

gradual incline, a gradual leading, a gradual slope, and does not fall abruptly. This dispensation of the Teaching is of gradual instructions, gradual performance and a gradual means of attaining the goal (AN, PTS, P200-201).From this, it is crystal clear that realizing the Deliverance taught by the Buddha as the final goal of person has to be understood step by step.

Another example is found in a verse that wise person should remove his own impurities little by little and from time to time (D, V239). This is the fundamental about step method. From the very beginning, fourteen steps that have to be fulfilled by a student are mentioned in Kītāgiri Sutta (MN-I, P480) and their unprecedented nature is very clear.

In the Buddhas teaching method, there is a step method known as Gradual Instruction Method (ānupubbīkatā). Under this method, progressive sermon, though teaching is done for one student or a group of students, it is presented in a way that each student can understand it to their intelligence capacity (AN-iv, PTS, P186).

In this step method, two parts can be seen. First,, one is starting with the talking on giving gifts and ending with the defiling nature of folly and vanity. Then the students mind will be formed into a suitable position. The second step is doing the most difficult or very deep sermons, which are based on Four Noble Truth. For a person whose mind is not trained for the understanding of the Four Noble Truth, it is possible to make the life successful by doing the meritorious deeds like giving gifts etc. The Buddha followed all those step methods with the purpose of giving the liberation to man from this world.

When the Siṅgalovāda Sutta (DN-iii, PTS, P180-143) and its structure are examined, it is possible to get a clear understanding of the step method. The purpose of the Buddha here was to guide Sigalovāda how to lead a successful lay life and showing him the path for the deliverance, and it has been successful.

According to it, it is necessary for one first to eradicate the four vices in conduct, then, commits no evil action in four ways and he must pursue not the six channels for dissipating wealth. After that he has to protect the six directions. He must do the necessary

duties for six groups of very close people which were known six directions in the discourse. All these teachings have been presented for understanding, operating or acting and they are in step method.

It is possible to get some ideas about reaching the expected objective step by step in Ganakamoggallāna Sutta MN-iii, (PTS, P1-7). The Brahmin Ganakamoggallāna having attended to meet the Buddha asked the Buddha whether it is possible to present a gradual training, work and method to put his doctrine into practice. Answering that question, the Buddha preached the gradual way of leading the followers for the realization of the truth step by step.
Step 1 - Virtuous - (Sīlavā hoti)

Step 2 - Guard the doors of sense faculties - (indriyesu guttad- vāro hoti)
Step 3 - Moderate in eating - (bhojane  mattaññū hoti) Step 4 - Devoted to wakefulness - (jāgariya  anuyutto  vi-

Step 5 - Posses mindfulness and full awareness - (sati sampa- jaññena samannāgato hoti)

Step 6 - Resort to a secluded resting place - (vivitta senāsana bhaja)

Step 7 - Sit down, folding legs crosswise, setting the body erect and establishing mindfulness - (uju kāya paidhāya parim- ukha sati upahapetvā)

The Buddha says that at the end of these seven steps the person will attain the Deliverance. By examining each step, it is possible to see the connection of each step and the significance or the value of this will be clearer. Ganakamoggallāna having heard the above mentioned gradual way of the Buddha asked whether there are persons who don’t understand the reality though the path revealed so clearly. The answer of the Buddha for that question was that those who don’t follow the path shown by him don’t understand the reality or the truth. The Buddha clearly preaches that this step method has to be fulfilled by student. What he does is that he

only shows the path or the way for liberation. It is clear from the expression in the discourse.

In Catukka Nipata of Anguttara Nikāya, there is also an important idea regarding the step method. Accordingly, without completing even one part or step of the Noble Path, it is not possible to pass the steps that come after. According to this discourse, it is clear that is is it is a gradual path (AN-iii, PTS, P200).

Kisāgotami Story of the text DammapadaÊha Khatā shows a certain step method shown by the Buddha with the purpose of giving her the chance to understand the facts. When her small child is dead, Kisāgotami, since she hadn’t heard before that small children die, took the child to doctors thinking that it is an illness. But the doctors said that the child is dead. But, she didn’t accept it. Finally, she approached the Buddha. Then, the Buddha advised her to bring a fistful of mustard seed. Though she thought it is an easy task, she came to know that someone has died in each house. Among them, there were the deaths of small children. So, she was unable to find a fistful of mustard seed till evening from a house in which no one has died (DA, P341). Here, she came to the understanding that the death is an inheritance of all since she heard or received the same reply when she went from house to house step by step. So, it is clear that this is a very successful step used by the Buddha in a suitable way to the occasion to give the understanding of reality. Having put it into action in a more practical way, Kisāgotami was able to get results in a more successful manner. Here, the intention of the Buddha also fulfilled.

The Step Method, presented by the founders of the modern step method Skinner and Cravdar etc. has been used by the Buddha theoretically, practically and in a more successful way in the above manner to globalise the ethics for creating a sustainable society.

Whatever the principle or method is, it is necessary to put into action to see its success. Therefore, among the teaching methods, the most practical method gets the priority. This practical method is introduced in the terms of “Understanding through Action, Active Educationand “Exercise Method. In the modern era, among those

who emphasized this method, there are chief or main persons like
J.J. Rousseau, Div, Mariya Montessori, and Mahatma Gandi. They all
appreciated the activeness of students. Their educational objectives
can be considered as they are connected to the physical section
or world. They intended to give a complete understanding to the
person about the physical world and then to teach person how to
live with it by making use of the physical resources on his behalf
arranging them according to the necessities of person.

It is clear that the Buddha, a spiritual teacher, has emphasized the mental factor more than the physical side. There, before the mentioned educationalists, theBuddhahasshownthepracticalnature of them. Through it, it is possible to see the concept like Understanding through Action. It is important here to examine how they are matching to the modern ideas theoretically and practically.

The objective of the education of the Buddha was to create the virtues of person and through them to create mental purity. It is necessary to examine whether practicality and activity are emphasized in Buddhism to fulfil those objectives. According to the expression Striving should be done by yourselves; the Tathāgatas areonlyteachers(D,V276).wehavetodotheactivities.TheBuddha or Enlightened ones only show the correct path. Another advice is that we must do the activity today itself as shown in Bhaddekarata Sutta, Today, the effort must be made (MN-i, PTS, P187). It should be understood by intelligent ones (MN-i, PTS, P265). From these preaching of the Buddha, the practicality of Buddhism is clear. The expression, “If this single thing is recollected and made much, it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction (AN-i, PTS, P30)” reveals that it is necessary to train more and more the required behavioural patterns for attaining the deliverance. From these several examples of the Buddha, it can be understood that the entire doctrine should be put into action and experiencedandalsocomprehendcompletely.Fromthese,itisclearthat the concept presented by modern educationist about understanding through action or activities can be seen in Buddhism deeply.

In present education, for giving the understanding through activities, various equipment or tools are used for teaching student about physical materials or elements. It is known as visual and

auditory aids. Though this is said about eye and ear, having presented the things subjected to the five sense faculties or organs, it is intended to knowledge through it. Whatever the system is, it should be used in a suitable way to the mind of the student. The Buddha has used such method on the most suitable occasion and in the most suitable manner. For example, for the woman called Rūpanandā (DA, P392) who was very proud of her figure or body beauty. But, the Buddha created a young girl and let her see the figure decay gradually into age (Jarā) illness (Vyādi), and finally death (Marana). While looking her at the figure, the Buddha preached the doctrine suitable to each occasion. He followed the same method even regarding Khema (DA. P393).

Since they were given the chance to visualize the physical objects while listening, they could understand the infertile nature of figure or body and at the same time, they could make it a meaningful experience. For Venerable Nanda (DA, P57) who was with interest of mind or attracted to Janapada Kalyāni and was reluctant to engage in work in dispensation, the Buddha was able to let him understand the infertility of it by comparing a burnt she-monkey in Chena and a sylph. The teaching taught by having presented a corpse or dead body to Sirimā courtesan (or prostitute), and let it be sold in auction, remembers a teacher who goes out of classroom and explains a lesson with visual aids (DA, P387). So, the Buddha preached doctrine comparing the previous nature of Sirimā with the present position. This story reveals an important fact. It is the use of aids not only for the eye and ear, but also the aids have been used in a manner to be known even for the third organ, nose. The corpse was taken to the auction, seven days after the death and with the bad or foul smell. Therefore, the corpse became an important aid to teach the infertile nature of body for the monk who was in love with or interested in Sirimā and others. As a thorn is removed from a thorn, it is important to get the help of body to remove the lust and desire about the body in the minds of person. Therefore, according to the topic, it has been possible to create the expected concept in the minds of students group.

Though the Buddha didn’t use many instruments as at present, from the example presented earlier, it is very clear that the Buddha

has used auditory and visual aids necessary for the fulfilment of his objectives and at the same time, capable of making an attitudinal change in student. Though there is a difference in instruments according to the time, as a method, the method of the Buddha and the modern seems to be similar. On one hand, since the Buddha used auditory and visual aids or instruments in the practical method to give a vast knowledge not only about physical objects but also a deep knowledge about human mind, it is noble or the best method, praiseworthy and significant more than the present method or way.

The Transfer of Training’ operated in education field is not a new concept. This has been a great influence about teaching for a long time. First, it is important to examine what is intended by Transfer of Training. The meaning of Transfer of Trainingis that the training that we gain on some occasion about a certain subject, section, knowledge and ability, will affect at a later occasion for the training of another subject, activity or field (Mohottage,1972,P145). From this, it is clear that the learning on one occasion will become helpful for leaning another subject in another occasionhas become the main concept of this. It is possible to divide the Transfer of Training into three kinds.
    1. Positive Transfer of Training which makes subject learning easy.
    1. Negative Transfer of Training which makes subject learning difficult.
    2. Without a connection and without Transfer of Training.

The aged old concept of Transfer of Training’ can be found even from the teaching methods of the Buddha. On some occasions, the Buddha has made use of this method. Theoretically, when the gradual method is put into action, Transfer of Training is helpful. Three kinds of meritorious deeds (known as Offering (na), Morality (sīla) and Meditation (Bhāvanā) are interconnected doctrines. From this, when offering is going to be performed, the three Karmically wholesome roots (mūla), Greedlessness (alobha) Hatelessness (adosa) and Non-delusion (amoha)) are originated in

the mind of person. It is a kind of training for morality (sīla) which is the mental and physical discipline. The disciplined gained from this is helpful for the practice of insight meditation (vipassana). Since the training gained from one thing directly affects another, it can be seen that a positive Transfer of Training takes place here.

By analysing the Eightfold Path, this Transfer of Training can be further seen. The first path or Right View says the ability or power of person to see with wisdom. In the mind of person with this power, right thoughts will origin. It is the Right Thought of the person with thoughts, speech is good. It is the third path, Right Speech of the person with right view, thought and speech. Actions of the body will be good. It is the Right Bodily Action. The life of the person with these four doctrines is good. It is Right Livelihood. Since his conduct or livelihood is good, it is possible to act for the development of talents or abilities further. It is Right Effort. Right Mindfulness presents the ability of him to control mind since he engages in right effort. For the person with all these doctrinal matters, it is possible to concentrate his mind, which is the Right Concentration. With the power of concentration, it is possible for him to see the world and being with great insight or wisdom. He will gain the insight to see at things in their real nature or realistically (yathābhūta ānadasssana) Therefore, it is clear that the training gained from one thing directly affects for the other and finally directs the person for the objective.

A good example for an occasion where the Buddha used the concept Transfer of Trainingis the story of wealthy man Siṅgala (DN-iii, PTS, P181). According to Sigalovāda Sutta he, following an advice given by his father at the time of his death, early in the morning, having bathed in the river, worships the six directions. The Buddha reached him, having known the information by asking questions, he paid his attention towards different directions with the direction of Siṅgala according to his doctrine. Here, the Buddha, centering person, presented six kinds of persons in the society and showed very clearly that it is possible to live happily and peacefully by fulfilling duties towards them. In this discourse, instead of the gods that were thought to be the guardians of those six directions, the Buddha introduced six social groups close to person. Here, the

Buddha has made an attitudinal change from, the training that had been taken, to a similar another section. The similarity that can be found here is that instead of six directions, six social groups have been presented in the similar manner and also fulfilling duties have been pointed out instead of worshiping.

When the Buddha uses the technique of Transfer of Training, he has considered creating a conceptual and attitudinal change in the student mind. He has used such an activity regarding the monk, Venerable Goddhabadipubba (MN-i, PTS, 130). Since he used to catch snakes or serpents in his lay life, he was named as Gaddhabadipubba. After the ordination, he made use of his lay life experiences to misinterpret or misunderstand the doctrines that were taught dangerous by the Buddha. He considered that those dangerous things are not dangerous with his past experience. It means when the snakes are caught if it is not caught properly, there will be dangers from the snake to the catcher. At the same time, if it is caught properly, there won’t be any danger. By relating this to the Venerable in thediscussions with him, then, the Buddha pointed out that if his doctrine too misunderstood or taken wrongly will create danger and also if it is understood well, it creates good. After explaining like this, the Venerable understood the facts. Main effect here was that the experience, that he had, changed conceptually. Venerable Sonadanda understood the reality by acting according to the advice given with a violin. From these examples, the Buddhas positive use of Transfer of Training concept can be proven.

There are occasions or places where the Negative Transfer of Training concept has been used by the Buddha. When the first learning is unbeneficial for the second learning, it is necessary to give it up and teach. It can be thought that the Five Ascetics, who were the first group of students of the Buddha, could not attain Arahantship because of their prior concept based on discipline based on egoism. Therefore, having preached Anantalakkhana Sutta, the Buddha made them aware about the meaninglessness of the concept of egoism (VP-i, PTS, P14). He has applied a method like this when subjugating Jatilas (VP-i, PTS, P33).

The Buddha does not speak about the thirdly mentioned Transfer of Training concept, question or topic. It means that the Buddha

does not speak about the matters or facts that are not useful to persons worldly development or the super mundane life. This fact can be seen when the Buddha does not speak about ten unsolvable questions (avyākatapan/thapanīya pa––ha)) (MN-ii, PTS, P426). They are the questions undeclared by the Buddha. It can be further proven from an incident found in Abhayaraja Kumara Sutta (MN-ii, PTS, P393-394). As mentioned there, the Buddha does not speak meaningless or fruitless words even though others like to listen to them. According to that policy, the Buddha might not preach the facts related to third factor of Transfer of Trainingconcept.

From the facts presented above, it can be clearly seen that the Buddha has use the Transfer of Trainingconcept as a method of teaching according to his objectives and for the purpose of globalising ethics to create a sustainable society.

Problem solving method can be introduced as a way of going forward by solving a problem organized in the classroom. It is necessary to organize the problem in a way that is a challenge or an encouragement for student. Problem can be considered as something that cannot be solved or answered quickly and at the same time it is a difficult one to solve. In day today life, we have to face various problems that are difficult to solve and it is a challenge to solve them and at the same time it is an encouragement. On those occasions, there is no purpose or use of the books which are composed or written with the intention of finding solutions to them. On those occasions, we must have the enthusiasm to find the necessary facts to solve them, collect data, examine and to analyse them critically. Then, it is possible to solve the problem successfully (Harry, 1943).

Man who faces various kinds of problems considers solving them as a routine event. This situation and for making activeness in students, this method has been formed by making use of remaining social ability or situation. Having presented a lesson as a problem and in the way it is solved, the lesson is developed. At the end, with the presentation of solving a problem in a lesson, due to the active participation of student about it, educational objectives will be

fulfilled (Cūlamalunkyasutta, MN-ii, PTS, 426).

When the teachings or the discourses of the Buddha are examined, it can be seen that before the modern educationists, the Buddha has put this method into practice more successfully. The noble truth understood by Siddhartha Gautama is Four Noble Truth. It was presented to the world and also it has been formed or built up under problem solving method. Firstly, the problem is presented to the followers. What is suffering?” is the first problem. This is not a problem for one person but it is a problem that the entire beings of the world have happened to face. Secondly, the reasons mainly affecting for arising this problem are put forward or presented. Thirdly, the situation after ending those reasons or the solving of the problem is presented. Fourthly, how to solve the problem is pointed out (VP-i, PTS, P10). When these four factors are completed, educational objectives of the Buddha will be fulfilled.

Since the objective of Buddhas education was to relieve beings from Samsaric suffering and to give the Liberation, he presented suffering as the first problem. But, not only suffering but any problem can be made the topic here. When the Four Noble Truth is looked at as a method of teaching, it is possible to say there are only two factors.
    1. A problem and the reason for its origin
    2. Solving of the problem and the way to solve

Persuading to a lesson, explaining facts and giving knowledge are the facts that a teacher can make use of problem solving method. In Kasībhāradvāja Sutta (SN, P13), the Buddha has given the knowledge of doctrine to the Brahmin by using the problem solving method. When Kasībhāradvāja was working in the paddy field, the Buddha arrived there for alms food. The Brahmin sneered the Buddha, asked to him to engage in paddy cultivation and find his food like himself. The Buddha also explained that he also does the cultivations. There, the Brahmin faces a problem that what kind of cultivation this ascetic does. The Buddha himself gave the answer for it. At the end, the Brahmin understands the doctrine and expresses his willingness to ordain. To make that mental change,

the Buddha made use of problem solving method.

When problems are examined, there are two types of problems in Buddhism. There are roblems of students and Problems created by teachers. There will be problems about various facts and incidents for the student engaging in studies. It is necessary to solve them with the teacher. The examples for such incidents are possible to find in the teachings of the Buddha. In Mahāpunnama Sutta (MN-iii, PTS, P15), there is one occasion that one monk questions about a problem arisen to him. The problem arisen to that monk was about five clinging (Paṅca upadānakkhanda). He asked there several questions and the Buddha solves them. It is possible to see a good problem solving way here. When problems are solved, it will be necessary to question oneself or to the student from the teacher. Problems mentioned here are the origins when the student was thinking. Mahā Dukkhandha Sutta (MN-i, PTS, P84) presents a different problem to this. The Buddha solves the problem explaining the difference. At the end, it became a meaningful teaching. The discourses like Mahā Magala, Parabhawa Sutta, etc. found in Sutta Nipāta are such teachings. So, it can be stated that the whole teachings of the Buddha have been preached in the manner of solving problem to globalise the ethics to create a sustainable society through doctrine.

Remedial teaching method means teaching those who are weak or feeble of organs of the body and mentally, with particular way as remedy to them. At present, this method has been developed greatly. The Buddha too is a teacher who used the remedial teaching method for globalising ethics to create a sustainable society. Most of the time, he taught to those who are mentally weak.

In the Buddhas way of teaching, there are evidences where the both physically and mentally deformed persons have found treatments for their deformedness and got education. Mainly, having treated for the mental weakness or deformedness of person, it has been tried to make them happy with the treatment. For the Venerable Pūtigattatissa (DA, P159) who was greatly suffering from a disease of rash, the Buddha preached the doctrine to him

for the realization of the truth after having treated him properly by washing his wounds and when he got the relief from his pain. Even from the story that for the poor farmer who lived in Alav city and who was with hunger, first ordered to give food and then preached the doctrine, it is clear that having found solutions to the physical weakness or disabilities, later, the doctrine, which are for the super-mundane life has been preached for the realization of the deliverance or for the benefit of super-mundane life. The Buddha has seen and mentioned there that since hunger is a serious or unbearable illness, it is not possible to understand anything for the person who is suffering in hunger (DA, P463).

Apart from these, on some occasions, the Buddha, having arrived to the monasteries and before giving doctrinal advices, has questioned the monks whether they receive the alms food very easily and well (MN-i, PTS, 206). The occasions or the incidents like these can be presented as examples for a certain section of Remedial Teaching Method.

The Buddha treated or gave remedies to those who are mentally sick and gave their lives the fruitfulness. According to Buddhist point of view, every person with defilements is certain kind of mentally sick person. Having become serious with that illness and confused in mind due to various reasons, some came to the Buddha for consolation. The Buddha treated them in suitable ways to their conditions. Lady Patācāras life (DA, P463) had become an unfortunate and miserable one due to several factors. At the outset, her life was fallen in an unhappy state owing to being addicted to lust, and then she became bad with the deaths of two children, husband, parents and brother. The Buddha addressed her kindly, gave the real consciousness to her, preached doctrine and paved the way for realization of truth. From the story of Patācāra, it is clear that the Buddha gave her the chance to say about her mental pain and then explained facts to her later. It is a good psychological way of remedy. It is a good way for globalising ethics.

When the demon, lavaka was subjugated, a different remedy to this has been used (lavakasutta, SN, PTS, P31). Lavaka had an intention or idea that he was a powerful person and a leader therefore everyone should obey him. As obeying his intention, in

the first three occasions, the Buddha became obedient to him. Form it, he became very strong in his mind. Having known it, the Buddha showed some strong nature in the fourth occasion. Having taken his mind to another direction, the Buddha showed him the correct path by answering the questions posed by him. Psychologically, this seems to be a great remedy or treatment.

From Brahmayu (MN-ii, PTS, P133-146) and Sela  (MN-ii, PTS, P146) Suttas, it can be seen that the Buddha has remedied each persons mental  conditions  and  taught  them  the  doctrine. To both the young man, Uttara and Brahmin Sela had a suspicion whether the Buddha is with ‘32 Sings of Great Man.  Having known it, the Buddha performed a great miracle and subjugated their suspicion. It is clear from this that the Buddha taught to the students even eradicating their personal suspicions. There are many such examples in Buddhism in Ti-pitaka. From all these examples, it can be seen that the Buddhas remedial teaching method has been put into action in a psychologically great manner. In this process, the Buddha has acted as a great psychologist to globalise ethics to create a sustainable society.


The Buddha, who was known as Tiloguru, the teacher for Three World (heaven, human world, and Brahma world), became the teacher of the three world due to his efforts to teach or give others the knowledge of Four Noble Truths. The entire doctrine that was preached by the Buddha for forty five years is under Four Noble Truths. When the Buddha preaches the doctrine, he expected intelligent followers. He has used various teaching methods when guiding for the understanding of knowledge and globalising ethics to create a sustainable society. He preached the doctrine centring person, creating potential energy and considering the mental capacity or power of student.

The methods used at present like Student-centred Method, Lecture Method, Discussion Method, Step Method, Practical Method, Transfer of Training, Problem Solving Method, and the Remedial Teaching Method have been successfully used by the Buddha to globalise ethics to create a sustainable society. There

were similarities and differences in them. The reason for it was the difference in the educational objectives between Buddhism and modern subjects. It has been endeavoured here to prove that the method like Lecture Method was used by the Buddha more successfully. When the method like Remedial Method used at present is taken into consideration, it seems that the Buddha did not pay his attention to it. The reason has been shown here as the difference in the objective.

It was attempted here that many teaching methods used at present were put into action successfully and shown the results by the Buddha about twenty five century years ago. It was shown here that modernity of the present teaching methods is not with principles but with the instruments or tools used in the process. Accordingly, as a whole, the Buddha can be considered as the greatest teacher, educationist and psychologists ever born in the world who tried to create a sustainable society by globalising ethics through various teaching methods.


AN          - Aṅguttara Nikāya
ANA       - Aṅguttara Nikāya AÊÊhakathŒ D       - Dhammapada
DA          - Dhammapada AÊÊhakathŒ DN         - Dīgha Nikāya
MN          - Majjhima Nikāya
SN           - Saṃyutta Nikāya
Su.N        - Sutta Nipata
VP           - Vinaya Pitaka



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