The Four Elements of Buddhist Education


The Four Elements of Buddhist Education

About This Resource

Summary These Four Elements of Buddhist Education, based on the bhavanas, are at the heart of Panyaden International School's curriculum development.


The Four Elements of Buddhist Education (Bhavana sii)

 1. Relation to the physical/material world (kaya bhavana)
  • Physical body: learning the importance of nutrition, exercise, and moderation and how to deal with physical needs.
  • Material things: relationship to money and personal possessions, such as toys, clothes, mobile phones, and computers.
  • Environment: responsibility towards the well-being of the planet on which we live. 
Curriculum relevance

Nutrition, physical exercise, sport, biology, time management, computer sciences, geography, environmental studies, and life skills.

  • Healthy relationship with the body
  • Responsible use of possessions, tools, and technology
  • Understanding basic physical needs (food, shelter, clothing, and medicine)
  • Responsibility towards the natural environment
2. Moral/social development (sila bhavana)

Developing a wise and balanced relationship to the social world. Using Buddhist morality as a scheme for living together wisely with trust, integrity, and social responsibility.

Curriculum relevance

Language and communication skills, social studies, history and community service.

  • Not harming others
  • Right speech (speaking agreeably and with courtesy, truthfully, not speaking ill of, or instigating, others)
  • Acting with integrity
  • Responsibility for one’s own development
  • Responsibility towards family members, towards place of work/study, and society 
3. Emotional/mind development (citta bhavana)

Developing skillful means to reduce and let go of negative emotions and bring forth and cultivate positive ones.

Curriculum relevance

Meditation, life skills, social contribution activities, and everyday classroom relationships.

  • Emotional maturity
  • Patience, effort and resilience
  • Focus and alertness
  • Kindness and compassion
4. Intellectual/wisdom development (panya bhavana)

Training the mind to think with reason and without bias, to think creatively, to think constructively, and to be able to reflect upon experience and learn from it.

Curriculum relevance

Math, linguistics, science, decision-making, critical thinking, and creativity.

  • Right understanding (of right and wrong, of what has value and what does not)
  • Right intention (making decisions based on good intentions)
  • Development of wisdom at three levels (reading and listening, thinking, experience)

Photo by Eric Prouzet 

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