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Ajarn Jayasaro talks on education and key values for children in dharma talk

Panyaden parents and interested people meet for the bi-lingual talk

Ajarn Jayasaro with (from left) founder Markus Roselieb, School Director Neil Amas, and founder Yodphet Sudsawad.

Shana Kongmun
Ajarn Jayasaro is a well-known English monk who has been living and studying Buddhism in Thailand since 1978 and was ordained as a novice in 1979. Formerly the abbot of Wat Pa Nanachat, he studied under the venerable Ajarn Cha. A guiding light behind the principles that form the foundation of Panyaden School, Ajarn Jayasaro travels to the school to give bi-lingual dharma talks for teachers, parents and interested visitors. On Thursday, June 26, 2014 about 30 parents and visitors gathered to hear Ajarn Jayasaro speak on Buddhism, education and the importance of using Buddhist teachings in instilling values in not only children but in living our own lives in a meaningful way.
“The underlying precepts and philosophy of this school, based on my understating of Buddhism as being the most comprehensive and complete education system, differs to monotheistic religions as there are no Buddhist dogmas, no measure of true belief. Instead, there is a commitment to a holistic education that encompasses your whole life, the ultimate goal is enlightenment.” He noted that the system is supremely adaptable for and appropriate for kids, giving them the best possible preparation for life in the real world by encouraging them to think independently, to take personal responsibility and to be mindful of others and the world around them.
He noted that the system was based on the 8 fold path honed to three forms of education; sila or morality, bangya or wisdom and samati which means all skillful means by which we seek to reduce and rid ourselves of the negative states in our heart and bring or promote a positive mental state. He added that another way to look at it was as learning morality, cultivation of the mind and heart in the material world, the social world, the heart and mind and finally wisdom faculty. One thing Ajarn Jayasaro pointed out is that our relationship to the material world encompasses not only our own bodies and how we view food, noting that an obsessive approach to food in any way is not healthy but also how we approach our things, such as money and technology. He said that we need to be disciplined and set a good example for our children through our use of technology as well. Our relationship to the environment is important, “We have gone through a long period of creating karma in relation to the environment and are rapidly approaching the day reckoning.
Finally our relationship to the social world and the need to recognize that the way we behave has a critical impact on our happiness and our lives. “We have to make choices in how we relate to others,” Ajarn Jayasaro said, “We have the ability to say no, we can decide to do or not to do and we seek to make use of this ability in children and ourselves.”
He further discussed the need to teach kids how to view the precepts and how to use them as tools to live their lives , to communicate and to teach them how to do good in the world in whatever small way they can.
Finally he said that the importance of teaching children a sense of flexibility and adaptability is important, that kids need to learn to analyze situations, recognize their impermanence and learn to adapt. Ajarn Jayasaro concluded that “The philosophy of the school is an education system that honors and respects academic systems but also needs to teach the wisdom of the Buddhist tradition.”

Re-planting forests with Flight of the Gibbon

Teams of people from various organizations including students and Region 5 police fanned out into the forest to plant trees on Saturday, June 28, 2014 at Flight of the Gibbon.

Shana Kongmun
In their annual tree planting expedition into the steep forested hills around their site, the Flight of the Gibbon enlisted the aid of teens from Suksasongkloh school but also student researchers from the Forest Restoration Research Unit (FORRU) at Chiang Mai University and officers from Police Region 5, Mae On Police, Huay Kaew District officers, volunteers from the Chiang Mai Zoo Aquarium and members of the media. The large scale tree planting took place on June 28, 2014, the start of the rainy season so as to ensure the seedlings had enough water to start growing.

Students climbed up the steep slopes to plant native seedling trees in the forest. Student researchers from FORRU-CMU and Flight of the Gibbon’s Director of Environmental Affairs Demis Galli oversaw the students and the other volunteers who joined in the tree planting effort. (Photo courtesy of Flight of the Gibbon)

Everyone gathered at the Flight of the Gibbon offices to receive instructions on how to plant the small trees that had already been put in place the previous day. Then they were given a bucket and a shovel and sent off to hike up the steep hills to plant native trees, including figs and edible fruiting trees. The Flight of the Gibbon’s Director of Environmental Affairs Demis Galli said that he had worked closely with FORRU to ensure that the trees they planted were of the right species and variety for the area. Reforestation is pointless, he noted, if the trees are not indigenous. He noted that they had added some native trees with edible fruits for the locals to enjoy and to encourage them to preserve the natural forest.
The large group of volunteers spread out before lunch to plant 800 trees in different areas, most of them on strongly sloping hillsides that, while they had vegetation already, were clearly needing some big trees in place. The Flight of the Gibbon is working hard to engage local villagers to help in restoring and maintaining the forest and in that light is going to start training villagers in creating herbal remedies and cosmetics for sale with the help of Chiang Mai University.

Budding artistic talent at kids’ exhibition

Kids from the Schools of Hope in front of the many artworks on display at Sangdee Gallery at the opening on July 5, 2014.

By Shana Kongmun
Sangdee Gallery saw a room filled with hopeful kids all rather overwhelmed by the attention and the interest in their artwork on Saturday, July 5, 2014. The children from the Stratton ABC Foundation and Schools of Hope had their many beautiful, charming and thoughtful paintings, drawings and art for sale on the walls. John Cope of Stratton ABC Foundation noted that not only did proceeds from the sales go to the foundation or Schools of Hope but that in his case, the artist also got a cut from the sales with one budding young artist named Tai working hard to save money to attend Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Fine Arts when he graduates in a couple of years.

Artist LiLi Tan, who has been working hard with the kids and organized the charity event stands here with Jon Nordeen who purchased art from the two budding young artists.

The kids from Schools of Hope travelled from Chiang Dao to not only help hang their artwork but to also perform for the gathered audience and art-buyers. The Schools of Hope was founded in 2008 by the Venerable Phramaha Virote, Noom Hkurh and Dr. Inger Lise to help orphans and disadvantaged kids from migrant and refugee families.
The Stratton ABC Foundation, registered in 2010, provides care for disadvantaged, orphaned and high risk kids in Chiang Mai city, offering high standard family home care and nutrition, access to good quality education and English language working closely with local educational institutes to offer kids better opportunities.
Many of the gallery goers were thrilled to pose beside their purchases with the young artists who beamed to see their creativity and hard work appreciated by others. The exhibition and works remain on display and sale until July 19 at Sangdee Gallery on Sirimangkalajarn soi 5.

Tai, age 16 from the Stratton ABC Foundation, is working hard to save money to attend the Faculty of Fine Arts at CMU when he graduates in a couple of years. This talented young man also works on commission.

Nu, age 13, produced this watercolor that was later purchased by a young fan.

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story] :

Ajarn Jayasaro talks on education and key values for children in dharma talk

Re-planting forests with Flight of the Gibbon

Budding artistic talent at kids’ exhibition