Prof Kapila IBC Speech on Community Life
Dear Teachers and Students,
It is an honor and a privilege for me to have this opportunity to address you on this occasion when some of you will receive awards of excellence for academic and conduct performance. As all of you know that IBC is granting awards for excellent academic and conduct performance because of the reason that its prime aim is to produce true Buddhist scholars endowed with both academic and conduct excellence. According to Buddhism, knowledge alone is not sufficient for a person to become a good citizen. Conduct should also go along with the knowledge. Knowledge and conduct should go together. That is why the Buddha said that yattha silam tattha paññā yattha paññā tatha silam. (Wherever there is knowledge, there is conduct and wherever there is conduct, there is knowledge). Conduct means good behavior. Your personality is developed through your conduct. Personality development is the aim of a good education. A scholar who has not developed personality has nothing to contribute to the society. Why IBC is trying its very best to produce good Buddhist scholars is because the aim of IBC is to work for the benefit of the many (Bahũnam vata atthāya).
It seems that though IBC tries to enhance both aspects of academic knowledge and good conduct of the students, many students are reluctant to perform properly the activities relating to conduct. IBC has introduced several activities in order to develop the conduct performance of the students. Among them, the most important aspects are community activities and religious duties such as chanting and paying homage to the Buddha. Most of our students are monastic members. They have the obligation to perform these activities relating to conduct performance dutifully. Daily chanting and other religious duties are the necessary aspects of the life of monastic members. That is why those duties are coming down from generation to generation. In the Theravada tradition, these duties are known as vatta-pativatta. Paying homage to the Buddha is one of the duties of the monks and nuns as part of their religious life. No one who claims to be a monk or a nun can be exempted from these duties for they are integral parts of the religious life in Buddhism.
If you are reluctant to perform these duties relating to conduct, it implies that you think education can be completed through just the learning of academic subjects. That is a completely wrong idea. It is true that through learning and having knowledge of the subjects, you can be a scholar but you cannot be a good scholar who will be an asset to the society. Scholars with mere knowledge without good conduct can be harmful to the society.
Buddhist education consists of three factors. The Mangala Sutta enumerates it in the following way: Bāhusaccam ca sippañ ca vinayo ca susikkhito. Bāhusacca means the knowledge of the subjects. You can learn it here in IBC with your participation in the classes. Sippa means arts and crafts. In the monastic education much attention is not given to this aspect. Vinayo ca susikkhito is the third aspect of Buddhist education. That is the moral discipline. Knowledge and moral discipline together constitute a good citizen which is the aim of IBC.
As you all know, IBC allocates alot of funds for Buddhist education through which proper Buddhist scholars can be produced for the benefit of the many and you also know IBC is not a profit oriented educational institution. It receives its funds from well-wishers and donors who expect the social services offered by Buddhist scholars produced by IBC. Under such an environment, I think, that you have to be very careful with regards to your conduct. If you do not become good Buddhist scholars through the education system in IBC, you would be a person who has misused the facilities provided by IBC. That is a moral crime. On the one hand you have to think of your sponsors and on the other hand you have to think of your own societies from which you have come to IBC for an education. With the completion of your education in IBC you have to go back to your own countries. Your country people are expecting that your arrival there will benefit their society from your education here.
When we talk about community activities, you may question why you have to engage in such activities as you think that they are not part of your education. You came to IBC only for the academic education. Such an idea is totally wrong. I must say that those activities are necessarily a part of your education. Even the higher education commission of the Thai government has approved these community activities for the curriculum of higher educational institutes because they are conducive to make a complete person who can be useful to the society. IBC has included paying homage to the Buddha and the chanting of Buddhist suttas as one of your daily routines. This is one of the important steps taken by IBC to help you build up your character. It is one of the methods for developing your Saddhā on the Buddha. It is said that a person who has mere knowledge but no saddhā becomes a hypocrite. Such people are condemned not only by Buddhism but also by wise people; because they always try to cheat other people. Such people are harmful to the society. Paying homage to the Buddha is a very pleasant activity. When you pay homage to the Buddha, by looking at his serene face, your mind becomes pure. You get inspiration from the Buddha. From that you can have a pleasant mood and a new strength to your life. With that pleasant mood and strength, you can engage in your education enthusiastically.
In your activities, whether they belong to the academic performance or conduct performance you cannot be lethargic or lazy. It is one of the factors for downfall. You must have a strong determination. You all are in the energetic, strong, youthful stage of life. It is the most important time period of your life. Don’t waste this golden time. You are provided with many facilities in IBC. Make good use of them properly to become useful persons to the society. When you go back to your own countries, you should be an exemplary person to others. Then only you can be an asset to the society. If you are not in a good position, you cannot advise others. People in your society will not follow what you say if you are not a reliable person. That is why The Buddha advised:
Attānameva pathamam – patirũpe nivesaye
Athaññamanusāseyya – na kilisseyya panḑito
First establish yourself in a proper position, then only advise others. By doing that you are not blamed by the wise people. I think that I have spoken enough to you already. I am one of your teachers. As an experienced elderly person, I am talking to you with compassion and with great expectations for your wellbeing. Go forward with diligent persistent effort and determination.
ārabhatha kikkhamatha yuñjtha Buddha sāsane
Dhunātha maccuno senam nalāgāramva kuñjaro
Thank you very much for your patience and attention.