The First Noble Truth with its three aspects is: "There is suffering, dukkha. Dukkha should be understood. Dukkha has been understood." This is a very skilful teaching because it is expressed in a simple formula which is easy to remember, and it also applies to everything that you can possibly experience or do or think concerning the past, present or future.
Some people read an article or a book and think they know all about Buddhism and Buddhists.
This is unfortunate.
Some people attend a single teaching on Dukkha (commonly translated as "suffering" or more brutally as "pain") and mistakenly think Buddhists are nihilistic. Or, they hear a monk speak of emptiness and the nature of reality and think, “Buddhists are atheists. They have faith in nothing; they worship entropy! How can they even consider themselves religious?”
This is unfortunate.
Then there are some people who have merely visited a Mahayana Temple and drew the wrong conclusion that Buddhists "worship" three gods and have eighteen "saints" to which they make sacrifices.
This too is unfortunate.
It is an exceptional rarity, for me, to encounter anyone outside a temple or monastic community that has an informed awareness of Buddhism. And when I encounter people on a journey, seeking answers, I am comfortable knowing they are where they need to be and I am where I need to be.
I feel fortunate. I am Bearly Buddha.
I have come to understand the importance of teaching English for speakers of other languages (ESOL or ESL). Both the formally trained ESOL teachers and volunteer teachers of English are educators at the grassroots -- the social justice level of outreach.
Teacher activism is a critical element in the struggle to level the playing field.
There is no question that there is a socio-economic floor for people existing within cultural conclaves. But there is also a ceiling beyond which social and economic mobility is unattainable. Opportunity is denied to anyone who cannot communicate beyond their cultural niche. Instead of being rescued by the social safety net, such people become ensnared; they become unwitting warriors for cultural imperialism.
In America, English education a social and economic imperative.
Research shows that effective (ideologically neutral) teacher activists make three principled commitments:
- to reconcile a vision for justice with the realities of injustice;
- to work within their classrooms to create liberatory space;
- and to work collectively against oppression as activists.
To enact these commitments, they engage in specific, outcome-based, common practices regardless of geographic location or external, ideological influence.
Teachers who are interested in working towards educational equality can leverage a teacher activist framework for success.