Description of Secondary Content

The syllabus for secondary students consists of eight work units, as well as supplementary material including a guide to basic Buddhist meditation practices, suggested research projects, key Buddhist texts, and detailed information on Buddhist history and culture plus other aspects of the Buddhist world. As students work through the syllabus, they will meet the Buddha, become familiar with his teachings and discover how Buddhists apply these to their daily life. They will also learn about the spread of Buddhism throughout the world, how the tradition has both adapted to and acted on the many cultures it has come into contact with and why Buddhism is still relevant today, particularly in the context of social change.

All the units include a volume of The Jataka Tales, short stories informed by Buddhist morality; The Buddha, and His Disciples, material that give some insights into the Buddha’s interactions with his contemporaries, a Multiple-choice Questionnaire, as well as an Activity Box. The latter may include a guide to meditation, an overview of Buddhist history and culture, a tour of Buddhist countries, monastic communities and important holy sites; a wealth of supplementary resource material to further students’ knowledge and understanding of Buddhism and suggested online research projects. In addition, the Activity Box in Unit 7 includes illustrations from the Sigalovada Sutta, while that in Unit 8 provides links to works by leading Buddhist monks, which deal with society’s ills within a Buddhist framework.

Secondary Work Units (8)

Unit 1: The Buddhist Way
Introduces students to key Buddhist teachings and to the founder of Buddhism, the Buddha. Who was this man who gave up his privileged life as a prince to search for the real meaning and purpose of life? And are the existential questions that gnawed at the Buddha 2500 years ago still pertinent today?

Unit 2: The Four Noble Truths
Offers an in-depth explanation of the core teaching of Buddhism. The Four Noble Truths deal with the cause of human suffering and its elimination once and for all.

Also includes key stories from the Life of the Buddha.

Unit 3: Buddha’s Wisdom and Compassion
The Buddha taught that it is compassion, dedicating ourselves to others, that hand in hand with the wisdom of egolessness destroys most effectively and most completely that ancient attachment to a false self that has been the cause of our endless wandering in samsara.

Unit 4: Becoming a Buddhist
The dividing line between a Buddhist and a non-Buddhist is a Buddhist takes refuge in the Triple Gem: the Buddha (the Teacher and the goal to be attained); the Dharma (the teachings and the path to be realised); and the Sangha (monastics and our spiritual friends). Refuge is taken on the basis of a deep understanding of what the Tripe Gem signifies.

Unit 5: Experiencing Buddhism
Explains how the teachings of the Buddha are to be experienced in one’s own life. This is achieved through meditation and contemplation of key Buddhist concepts such as not-self, karma, rebirth and Nirvana.

Unit 6: The Four Immeasurables
Loving kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity. The Buddha called these the Four Immeasurables. He taught that these positive qualities should replace negative ones such as clinging, cruelty and jealousy. Otherwise human beings can never achieve lasting happiness.

And if students want to know to what extent they embody the Four Immeasurables, they can find out with our special quiz.

Unit 7: Family and Society
The Buddha recognised that most people don’t want to ordain, but choose to remain in the world. That’s why he specially tailored his teachings to suit people with family and work commitments. The Sigalovada Sutta explains how Buddhist principles can be applied in daily life to achieve peace and harmony both at home and in the society at large.

Unit 8: Contemporary Issues
Buddhism is just as relevant to the serious problems facing the world today as it was in the Buddha’s lifetime. That’s because the causes of human suffering – the negative emotions of greed, hatred and delusion – are still the same. Unfortunately the problems these create are on a massive scale now due to globalisation and unprecedented advances in science and technology. But just as these forces have a downside, so too can they be harnessed for the good of society – for instance, to help promote and apply the Buddhist teachings to solve environmental crises.

Supplementary Resource Material

The Life of the Buddha for Secondary Students

This section has been specifically designed to assist secondary teaching about the life of the Buddha. The story of Gautama Buddha’s life, enlightenment and death, is recorded in sixty-four short, self-contained segments, each of which is accompanied by a brief exercise. The segments have an anecdotal feel, and could be used to illustrate Buddhist doctrines that were being taught. This resource will be best deployed if it is dipped in to periodically during the teaching of the unit. Students could be set a research task and given the index page as their starter. For example, ‘Find out about the Prince leaving home, and answer the accompanying questions.’ The exercises that accompany the text-based narrative are straightforward comprehension questions, and it would be repetitive to set too many of these, but some would be a good way of checking learning. There is a comprehensive level of detail included in this section, and selectivity will be the key to using it successfully. The material is not illustrated, but its presentation is clear and

The Buddhist World

Information on the spread of Buddhism around the world and the changes it’s undergone in the process plus a guide to special Buddhist holy sites, monastic life, and how Buddhists celebrate special occasions like weddings and funerals.

Buddhism around the World
Explains how since originating in India, Buddhism has spread throughout most parts of Asia and more recently, into the Western world. Today there are two main schools of Buddhism – Theravada and Mahayana. Both are practiced around the world. It provides information about Theravada Buddhist countries including Sri Lanka, Thailand and Laos, and Mahayana Buddhist countries including Tibet, Vietnam and Nepal.

Buddhist Journeying
Ever since his great passing away, the Buddha’s followers have paid their respects at sites associated with the Buddha’s life and teachings. The four holiest of these are the places of the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, first teaching and death. Information about these, plus if you’re planning your own pilgrimage, offers advice and suggests other places to visit in India and Sri Lanka.

The Monastic Community
What does monastic life involve? Includes photos of the Sangha engaged in typical duties as well as information – along with more photos – about the ordination procedure in the Theravada tradition. There’s information about the robes monastics wear, the rules of conduct governing the lives of monks and one monk shares his own story – about the miracle that changed his life.

Buddhist Festivals and Ceremonies
When Buddhists bow and offer flowers and fruits, what is the meaning of such gestures? A guide to Buddhist devotional practices and objects, including an explanation of a typical devotional service. It also explains significant days in the Chinese and Thai Buddhist calendars, what’s involved around special occasions like weddings and funerals and why the contemplation of death and dying in the Tibetan tradition is so important.

Buddhist History and Culture

Takes students on a journey through time where they meet some of the Buddha’s closest disciples and other key Buddhist figures, relive important historical events and where they can follow the spread and evolution of Buddhism throughout the world. Also included are excerpts from important Buddhist texts, a discussion about the role of women in Buddhism as well as information on Buddhist festivals, ceremonies, art, architecture, ritual and Buddhist deities. For even more information, there’s a FAQ section, a selected reading list and Buddhist glossary.

Timelines of Buddhist History
When was the first Chinese Buddhist monastery constructed? When did the Pali Text Society start up in England? It offers a complete overview of the key events and personalities in the evolution of all the major traditions of Buddhism.

The Spread of Buddhism in Asia
An easy-to-follow graph depicting the spread of Buddhism in Asian countries such as India, Tibet and Japan.

The Buddhist Scripture
Details the Buddhist canon – a vast collection of Buddhist literature that includes texts in all the major traditions.

Buddhist Schools and Lineages
An overview of the three schools – Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana – including the Chinese and Japanese traditions. Plus a look at their major differences.

Early Disciples of the Buddha
Who was Sariputra and why did the Buddha trust him the most? What distinguished Ananda from the other disciples and what important role did he play in the First Council? Find out in these profiles of some of the Buddha’s main disciples.

Profiles of Buddhist Figures
Introduces many of the extraordinary individuals – e.g. Ajahn Sumedho, Robert Aitken Roshi, Atisha – who from the early history of Buddhism right up to the present day have played a vital role in both the spread and interpretation of the Buddhist teachings.

Buddhism and Women
Introduces some outstanding women in Buddhism living both now and at the time of the Buddha, plus explores some of the major issues facing Buddhist nuns today.

FAQs on Buddhist Culture
Do Buddhists pray? Why do Buddhists chant? Are there Buddhist holy places? Answers many of the questions about Buddhist culture you’ve always wanted to ask.

Buddhist Festivals and Ceremonies
When Buddhists bow and offer flowers and fruits, what is the meaning of such gestures? A guide to Buddhist devotional practices and objects, including an explanation of a typical devotional service. Also explains significant days in the Chinese and Thai Buddhist calendars, what’s involved around special occasions like weddings and funerals and why the contemplation of death and dying in the Tibetan tradition is so important.

Historical Buddhist Sites
A guide to Buddhist holy places in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Tibet, China and Japan.

Buddhist Art and Architecture
A sight for sore eyes! Takes in Tibetan and Korean Buddhist art, temples in China and Indonesia, the symbolism of a stupa and Buddha images.

Buddhist Deities and Bodhisattvas
Despite what many think, Buddhism is not a godless religion. Introduces – among others – the Bodhisattvas of Compassion and the Chinese and Tibetan Arhats.

Buddhist Symbols/Iconography
Explains everything from the Eight Auspicious Symbols, malas (beads) and the prayer wheel in the Tibetan tradition to the meaning of mantra, certain hand gestures and the use of bells in rituals.

Statistics on Buddhism
Figures at your fingertips. Discover the number of people that follow world religions, the top 10 Buddhist countries, how many Buddhist organisations/groups there are in Australia and more.

Selected Reading List
Suggested reading – both general and more specialised – to further your understanding of Buddhism.

Buddhist Glossary/Dictionary
The definitive A-Z of Buddhist words and terms.

The Meditation Class
Easy-to-follow instructions with accompanying illustrations on how practice awareness and loving-kindness meditations. Offers a guide to posture as well as a clear explanation of techniques you can use to help attain mental clarity.

Teaching Stories
The Jataka Tales – Vol. 1 & 2
All major spiritual traditions have them – stories that help develop the characters of the people who hear them. The Jataka Tales – Vol. 1 & 2 are no exception. They might have originated hundreds of years ago, but today their main message – on how to live morally – is no less relevant.

Supplementary Text

The Buddha and His Disciples
Kings and queens, society’s misfits, ordinary men and women who left their jobs and families to ordain … So just who were some of the individuals lucky enough to become the Buddha’s disciples in his lifetime?

Buddhism in a Nutshell
Want to find out about Buddhism but don’t want to get bogged down in too much information? These short but comprehensive descriptions of the Buddha, his core teachings and the Buddhist practices of meditation and contemplation provide an easily digestible overview of this ancient tradition.

Buddha, His Life and Teachings
What were the circumstances around the Buddha’s birth? What did he teach in his first sermon? Who were the Buddha’s chief disciples? How did the Buddha die? Find out the answers to these questions and many more.

The Dhammapada
A collection of 423 key Buddhist verses that are of wide influence and importance throughout the Buddhist world. The Dhammapada means Path of Truth and was compiled by the Buddha’s disciples just after he attained final Nirvana.

Online Research Projects(9)

The Monastic Community
• Why might it be easier to practice Buddhism if you’re a monk or a nun?
• What are the main differences between the rules for a Theravadin monk/nun and a monk/nun in the Tibetan tradition?
• Could any rules governing the lives of monks/nuns be modified or done away with altogether, without compromising the purpose and integrity of ordination? If so, which ones and why?

Buddhist Pilgrimage – The Holy Sites
• If you could only visit four pilgrimage sites, which ones would they be and why?
• Choose a pilgrimage site and compare it now with what it might have been like in the Buddha’s lifetime. For example, do people dress differently now? Has the countryside changed in any way?
• Choose a pilgrimage site and script what you would say if you were a tour guide describing it to a group of tourists who knew nothing about the Buddha, or his teachings.

The Spread of Buddhism in Asia
• Choose two Buddhist countries and list the main differences between them in terms of the way Buddhism is practiced.
• Pick a key figure responsible for the spread of Buddhism – either from one country to another, or just within one country – and describe their main achievements.
• Often what the Buddha taught and the way it’s practiced are two very different things, due to cultural influences. Can you think of an example where Buddhist teachings have been confused with a society’s customs?

Buddhist Art and Architecture, and Iconography
• Choose a Buddhist symbol and using the Internet, find three depictions of that symbol in use.
• What are some other Buddhist symbols/iconography and can you explain their use?
• Do any Buddhist symbols/iconography have equivalents in the Christian tradition?

The Work of Buddhist Literature
• Choose a verse from the Dhammapada then describe what it means and its implications in your own life.

Chinese Buddhism: Temples and Deities
• What is the history of the practice of Chinese Buddhism in Australia?
• Locate a Chinese Buddhist temple in Australia, find out about its history and if possible, obtain a program of upcoming events. If you could attend one, which would it be and why?
• Who’s your favourite Chinese Buddhist deity and why?

Theravada Buddhist and Mahayana Buddhist Countries
• What are the main differences between the two Buddhist schools, Theravada and Mahayana?
• If you were a Buddhist, which school would you follow and why?

Buddhist Festivals and Ceremonies, and Devotional Practices
• How does a traditional Buddhist marriage ceremony/funeral differ from those in the Christian tradition?
• Why might the contemplation of death in the Tibetan tradition be encouraged?
• If you were to create your own Buddhist shrine, what would you include on it and why?
• Choose a festival or special day in the Buddhist calendar, then contact a Buddhist temple/centre in your area and find out what they’re doing to celebrate the occasion.

Women in Buddhism
• If you were interviewing a Buddhist nun today, what questions would you ask her, and how do you think she might respond?
• Describe a typical day in the life of a nun.
• How are Buddhist nuns today still discriminated against?