Is there a ‘right way’ to think and live?

Although China has had many violent periods in its history, there have not been wars fought in the names of the different belief systems that we have studied. The different ways of living (Buddhist, Daoist, Confucian) have coexisted peacefully and complemented one another.

Following from this, we discussed whether there is a ‘right way’ to think and live, which feels like an important question to ask at a time when London and many other parts of the world are subject to terrorist violence.

Here’s a selection of thoughts from the class. The general feeling seems to be ‘yes,’ there is a right and a wrong way, but not just one right way, an infinite number of possibilities – and the world is better for this diversity. As Faith says, difference is a good thing not bad.

Kaliyah. There are definitely right and wrong ways of thinking and some people have definitely passed the limit; they have started to do things that are totally unnecessary: terrorist attacks and killing. There is definitely not just one right and wrong way of living because everybody is different and their brain has developed differently. If we tried to make everyone the same we would fail because we aren’t all the same.

Sylvie. Different people have different backgrounds and different experiences and no-one is the same so why should we try to force people into thinking one idea, to one peephole on the world. Life is much richer if there are more possibilities. There is a line – you cannot accept racism, sexism, violence etc. – but the world is complex and one plane of understanding would be strange, almost inhuman as everyone’s different.

Jim. I believe there kind of is a right and a wrong way of thinking and living but I feel there should be more than one right way. But you should be free to think what you want to an extent. As long as you follow the basic rules of law and rights I feel that is the right way. No one is the same so everyone has a different interpretation of life. Jacob picks up the point about the role law, saying ‘Maybe in some ways all people are the same because of laws but if it wasn’t for laws there would be war at least once a year.’

Emily. There is no right way to understand the world. Everyone has different experiences, so everyone will believe different things because no two people are exactly the same. So if you take an extremist/terrorist and ask why are they like that, because people are not born wanting to kill, it is the people around them and their experiences who shape who they are.

Olivia. We all have different experiences, so having one right way of thinking and living is basically impossible, and it would make our world boring, and no-one would learn from their mistakes, making us unintelligent creatures who do only one thing.

Myah. I think that the wrong way is saying things like everyone should be the same and no-one should be individual, and the right way is persuading people to think for themselves.

Faith. There are 100,000,000,000 ways of thinking. Some people believe in monsters and spirits, some don’t. Different people believe in different things. It would be weird if everyone was alike in the world – our memories are different. Difference is a good thing not bad.

We’d normally stay away from politics on this blog, and President Trump does not get a good press from many in 6CM, but a post today from daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump, in response to the latest violence in London, feels helpful to our discussion.  She wrote: “Even if my neighbor doesn’t understand my religion or understand my politics, he can understand my story. If he can understand my story, then he’s never too far from me. It is always within my power to build a bridge. There is always a chance for reconciliation, a chance that one day he and I will sit around a table together and put an end to our history of clashes. And on this day, he will tell me his story and I will tell him mine.”

 

 

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Buddhism and the ‘middle way’

As the next part of our lessons on ways of thinking and living in China, we discussed Buddhist ideas about seeking a ‘middle way’ of living that is in harmony with the world and causes no harm – a way of living that also seeks to avoid greed and selfishness that might arise from thinking we are more important than everybody else. Does this make sense, we asked? Is it desirable?  Is it achievable? Here are thoughts from Myah, Sylvie, Kaliyah, Mohammed, Archie and Faisal.

Myah. I do think that the idea of the middle way makes sense because if you go the low way it means you decide not to take opportunities that lay in front of you which I don’t think is right. And if you go the high way, you will take everything and become spoilt and rich and have nothing to do but lay down and think about what will come your way next.

Kaliyah. I think the middle way is perfect because then you don’t get too much or too little of anything. Greed and selfishness are big problems in the world because we have many homeless people who have to beg for money. If we weren’t so selfish and greedy, we would just give money to them or buy them something to eat. Some people are so selfish that they just walk past them or pay no attention to them whatsoever. I think it would be good if people were both Daoist and Buddhist because you would be caring to both nature and people…. and in harmony with the world properly.

Sylvie. I think achieving the middle way would be quite a hard thing to accomplish. Because if you’re homeless with about £2 in your pocket you can’t create a middle way if you’re begging for scraps of food and you wouldn’t have the resources to create this ‘middle way’. Life, I’ve got to say, won’t let you have a middle way. People go through hard times and you can’t make yourself think it’s all going to be fine and nothing’s wrong, trying to make life how you want it. I think people are too greedy because they just create this excess, waste and destruction in their path. Sometimes natural greed comes in simple ways like you’re really hungry and there’s only one chip left in the box and you know you’ve had more than anybody else and you still take it. AND people who are greedy take all the money for themselves and leave people starving – possibly to death.

Mohammed. I think the middle way would never work because everyone is different and has their own way of living. To think of others before yourself is nicer than thinking of yourself straight away. Some people will be rich and/or selfish and some people will be poor and/or kind – but we are all people so why turn away from each other?

Archie. It does make sense to me but right now I don’t think there will be a perfect world – maybe one day, but not now. I feel it could be realistic but with all the terror attacks going on right now it doesn’t look like it will happen any time soon. I think greed and selfishness are both problems and solutions in their own right. Greed can be good because some people says it gives the world new technology but bad because it causes bad actions like violence. Selfishness is good because in some people’s cases it causes success in life. Nina argues the same, saying ‘I think you shouldn’t have too much greed and selfishness… but a little greed is normal and natural’.

Faisal. I think the middle way is a great way to end fighting and I think it could end world war and create world peace. I think that nobody can change who they really are and that it is natural to be greedy and think of yourself before others.

The Dao

In our project on ways of thinking and living in China, we are trying to open our minds to new ideas and ways of understanding the world.

Is this a good or a bad place for a tree to grow?  Ask your children to give you the Daoist perspective!
tree on rock

Here are some of the class’s thoughts on the unfathomable “Dao” and the yin and yang.   They said the Dao is

– how we are all connected to nature and everything around us (Olivia)
– the rhythm of nature and Earth (Sarafina)
– the way of life and nature (Kaliyah)
– a big world, small people (Reaiah).

On Yin and Yang, that they
– show how even opposite things need each other…. how everything in life is linked (Olivia)
– are opposites but need to be in balance to be right (Ignas)
– are the balance in the world (Ellie)
– show how opposites cannot live without one another (Kyrell).

 

Macbeth’s sililoquy – the girls

We’ve really enjoyed studying Macbeth.  Here are some of the sililoquies that Shakespeare might have written… look out for Temmyyaa’s BRILLIANT AND HILARIOUS Scottish accent and some wonderful dramatic performances

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