This news update is a continuation from Essential Education’s updates from the January-March 2011 issue of Mandala located on page 26.
Akshay’s Charitable School was opened in October 2006 for children belonging to the downtrodden “untouchable” or “dalit” caste in the village of Amwan near Bodhgaya, India. Dalit children are considered outcasts and live in an environment characterized by poverty, alcoholism, domestic violence, and all the destructive behavior and damaged relationships these can cause. In these environments, there is a great need to develop human values.
I participated in a retreat at the Root Institute where I spoke to Lama Zopa Rinpoche who told me that teaching children to develop a good heart was the most important education I could give to these children. This was an extremely important teaching for me. I contacted Ven. Kabir Saxena, who kindly gave a training course to my teachers, and we started to follow the Maitreya School’s meditation curriculum that had been substantially developed by the late Dick Jeffrey. Later, through Educación Universal in Spain, I learned of the 16 Guidelines for Life and we started to study and practice with the guidelines.
Today, we have meetings with the teachers to study and discuss together the different themes and resolve any doubts that may arise. At the school, children and teachers follow the precepts of not killing any sentient being, not lying and not stealing. Each month we choose a theme from the 16 Guidelines. We work on it for 45 minutes every morning in our Special Program class, accompanied by meditations.
Slowly, the children, teachers and I have begun to change our behavior. The 16 Guidelines have become a very important part of our daily practice at the school and we are taking it into our daily life beyond the school.
Through this education, the children learn to respect all beings and to improve their relations with their family and their neighbors. They learn to be less selfish and to help others. Every day the children tell us stories of how they are practicing these 16 Guidelines at school, at home, with their neighbors and we see how it slowly becomes part of their life.Tags: 16 guidelines for life, akshay charitable school, bodhgaya, children, india