Spring SAVY 2013 Week 6: World Religions
Because of our open house, time this Saturday was even more limited than usual. Our final religion to cover was Buddhism. So I started by posing a problem to the students. In groups, I asked them to answer two questions in three sentences: Why do people suffer? What can we do about it? These are the questions the Buddha addressed in his teachings. Though they did not get his exact answers, students came close. They talked about how suffering is a part of life, and how we can prevent it by being good people. The Buddha also taught that suffering is inevitable, and that we need to be good and moral. Specifically, he taught that suffering was caused by attachment, and that the way to free oneself from suffering was to free oneself from attachments.
One way of doing that is to meditate. To be present in the moment rather than letting one’s mind wander to the past or future. Buddhism teaches: Be content with the now! So I brought in a zafu (meditation pillow) and zabuton (meditation mat) to demonstrate how Zen Buddhists sit, what they do, and why they do it.
Finally, we briefly covered the differences between Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism, and talked about a few branches of the former. After that, students did their post-assessments and completed their course evaluations. Then we welcomed parents for the open house. Though I had met some parents here and there around the Wyatt Center, it was good to meet everybody together and to praise the progress their kids made these past few weeks.
As I mentioned in our open house, I taught world religions about five or six times with Vanderbilt Summer Academy. Over time, I realized that a three-week course (six hours a day) was just about perfect. I thought switching gears for SAVY would be hard. Though we were not able to go into as much depth as I would have liked, I was really impressed with how much our class was able to learn, and I think we have laid a good foundation for future study.