for it is in the minds of men and women that the defences of peace and the conditions for sustainable development must be built. ~UNESCO

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fulfilling an Unfulfilled Project- College Magazine PART VII

Mind Your Mindfulness
Ngawang Chejay, III EP B
What is mindfulness? 
Mindfulness is about thinking things through and being in the present moment. So many of us are projecting into the future or thinking about the past that we have no time for the present.
How is mindfulness beneficial? 
According to Professor Jane Carpenter from the Naropa University, mindfulness is extremely beneficial in every aspect of our lives. It helps us tune into our inner selves and this in turn helps us relate to the people around us. The mindfulness that we put into something is the mindfulness that we get out of something.
Mindfulness benefits to pay attention, but is not the same as concentration. It is a quality, which human beings already have, but they have usually not been advised that they have it, that it is valuable, or that it can be cultivated. Mindfulness is the awareness that is not thinking (but that which is aware of thinking, as well as aware of each of the other ways we experience the sensory world, i.e., seeing, hearing, and tasting, smelling, feeling through the body). Mindfulness is non-judgmental and open-hearted (friendly and inviting of whatever arises in awareness). It is cultivated by paying attention on purpose, deeply, and without judgment to whatever arises in the present moment, either inside or outside of us. Mindfulness meditation practices seek to develop this quality of clear, present moment awareness in a systematic way so that the practitioner may enjoy these benefits. Being more aware in each moment of life has benefits both to a person doing specific spiritual practice, and also to the same person in everyday life.
The objective of the Mind and Mindfulness Meditation at the college of education in Paro is to contribute to the development of models of the mind that originate from the bridging of the scientific knowledge and research with the phenomenological and psychological knowledge derived from the contemplative traditions. The multi-faced aspects of insight meditation and its effects on the mind are studied through the integration of different disciplines. Mindfulness techniques such as meditation and body scanning helped to reduce depressive symptoms, improved social functioning, increased attention to the positive facts about life, and decreased the focus on harmful, depressive thoughts. The final aim is that of a scientifically validated model of the mind that is able to incorporate the full-spectrum of potentialities and defects present in humans.
Take a mindfulness test.  Pick a situation or circumstance and see if you can devote the entire time to being in the present moment. Once your thoughts move to the past or future, mindfully bring yourself back to the present. You will see how much discipline is needed to do this task. This is a test that everyone should take. This test has no boundaries, limitations, or educational requirements. Anyone can take this test.

Media: a curse or a blessing?

People all around the world would have been idle and dull if there aren’t any media facilities. As the standard of living in this world is rising, people find themselves investing in high speed internet connections, thus increasing their exposure to media as the World Wide Web. Media has both the good and adverse effect as it has a very big influence in our lives and functions as a tool for establishing and marinating prevailing believes. The media is a tool for communication and the one in charge of the media has control of what they want the audience to believe. Television, radio, magazines, advertisements, etc all persuade us to believe their version of reality. Thus, the main function of the media is to inform the people in every nook and corner of the world.

When it comes to media there are some people who believe that media should be given the full right to the information and still there are some who believe they should be restricted from the information. Bit of the too first statement is more appropriate as it is through media; people keep themselves informed about the world around them. For an instance if media is restricted from the information that is of dire importance to the people, it will be the loss on the poor soul, as they will be deprived of the news unless they visit the place of incidence.

Media has the power to influence the whole community. People now are much more expose to the world. Their living styles are standardized and their house managements are not a piece of mess anymore but a piece of hygienic paradise. What mist have influence it? It is through the media, although it can have negative influence as we can see our youth carried away by the western culture which is threat to the unique culture of ours. However the positive influences are a heap of gold over adverse influence because the thinking power of our youth and the creativity are advanced. The reasons they give are more sensible than people used to give then and it has all resulted from the media. So is media no a blessing?

Since the invention of media facilities people around the globe has been benefiting, as they need not have to travel the world to collect the news. Think back of the time when people has to go on foot to deliver the message where there is every chance that people might have been misinformed. But today with the advancement of the peop0le have all their luxury to sit back on their cozy cushion and they are informed of all the things under the sun. They are not confined within the tiny communities now as in the years then. Their ears go beyond the hearing of birds chirping to hear the chaos of the world; their eye is no more struck to greenery beauty of the environment but sees the red bloodshed of the world. As the result they are made to realize the peace. Had there been no media facilities people might not have even realized it.

Media not only imparts news but also creates awareness in the mind of the innocent. They make people aware of the natural hazards and how to prevent it. For an instance during the solar eclipse time on June 22nd 2009 people were well informed about the dos and don’ts at the time of incidence and almost all people contemplated it. It is also through media that people are aware of so called ozone layer and how it is depreciating with the cruel human activities.

Life without media is unimaginable. It creates awareness and keeps us up to date with the things around us. It also enhances critical thinking as what we do and act is not only our own ideologies but also the knowledge we have gained from the media. So having media facilities means the sustenance of the knowledge.

Chador Wangmo

The Negative Effect of Television

Firstly the television is an electronic communication medium that allows the transmission of real-time visual images, and often sounds. Television plays a great role in educating the child. They get exposed to different cultures and know the names of the trees, animals, plants and many other geographical features from the channels like national geography, history and discovery. People know and update the current situations through the live broadcast from the news channels.

Television has become a “member” of almost every important single family on our planet. And not just an ordinary member, but a very important one, because the time spent next to it exceeds the amount of time spent together with any other family member. We do not have to apply with our little son/brother after a hard working day. But for every coin there are two sides and every advantage has disadvantage. So TV has positive effects as well as negative effects on people.
We can simply turn the TV on and everything is done: kids are quite, our wife is not complaining and we feel absolutely happy. It is so simple that it has become an integral part of the culture of every family. It is the only time, when a person can forget about all the family troubles and the failure of the day. The sofa opposite the TV set has become the place of “reconciliation and spiritual unity” of the family. it is senseless to deny the all –embracing negative effect the existence of television has brought to our lives. But to make my point of view ultimately convincing I will introduce to your attention certain facts that people do not want to accept and often try to justify. The base of the tomorrow’s society – are children today. And on the way they develop depends on how the world is going to look like tomorrow.

As regards the negative effects of television, the negative effects of television are well known to every single parent, but are ignored by them in order to put the responsibility for bringing up kids and showing them examples through interaction on the shoulders of somebody else. Contemporary parents work a lot, but when they come back home they are not eager to spend time with their child, the consequences of this fact are the following: kids are given to themselves and watch everything they want or TV plays a role of a babysitter. Therefore children learn moral principles from the television, where

Statistics have proved that the growth of time spent next to the TV-set scales up the development of aggression. Many years before the examples come from hit-thrillers and violent films where the personage imitated are cruel, impartial and often purely negative personages.

Nowadays, as a result of this phenomenon, children instead of playing leap-and-frog on the open air pretend to be “terminators” and run around “killing” each other. The fact of a ild’s identification with a “negative” destructive image has a vital impact on the Development of his or her personality. Violence becomes an ordinary way of interaction, alongside with anger.

All the listed above may cause a trauma to a young consciousness and in combination, the violence may produce an unbalanced and unhealthy conduct. We do not have to go far away for examples when kids get guns and go to their schools shooting their teachers and school mates. This becomes a call to get somebody’s attention to them; the result of the TV violence and examples influences that overfills their minds. Television has also a great influence on the self image of people watching it. We see perfectly shaped bodies hundred of times per day. All the man shown on the TV screen have big muscles and are handsome, and all the women shown are very skinny and their faces and bodies look like a complete perfection. This has caused numerous eating disorders, especially in the teenage group. Such things as bulimia, anorexia and self-mutilation became a well-spread phenomenon.
A person, especially a child that spends a lot of time next to the TV-set has a very high probability of damaging the eye mechanics and the ability to focus and pay attention. Anther negative influence that is connected with the sight is the spoiling of the hearing due to the shortage of auditory stimulation. Another reaction of a child to the TV violence besides his aggression is fair. A child or a person may become so much scared of what they had observed in the television that it might cause depression and emotional misbalance.

Television prevents children from doing their homework and adults from completing their work. Influencing in a very bad manner the school grades and work productivity. It lowers the overage level of physical fitness of a person, breaking the coordination.
Children being attached to the TV-set loose the possibility to learn the world through real nature, games, sports, etc. They do feel the world with all its colors and peculiarities. They do not read and get acquainted with the unforgettable characters of the book they are given to read. They do not learn the message that a book carries inside.

All the negative effects listed above concern grown-ups as well, but through the special sensitivity of children towards the influence we need to show to the full the destructive power of television.  It has turned our live into an addiction that suppresses the beauty of our real life the violent substitution.

All in all, television has both positive and negative effects but I can say that it has more negative effects than positive. And without any doubt I can call it one of the worst intentions of modern times.     
Yeshey Norbu

Achieving food security in times of crisis

The basic need for all of us, regardless of gender, color, religion, places we come from or the language we speak, has to be food the fuel that drives us to go on the path we choose to be on, every single day. Nature might not have provided us with the fountain of immortality but it surely did provide us with the fruits of sustenance. The meals we consume everyday sustains us as living beings on earth. Therefore, we all value food and we must.

Disasters that ravaged the lives of millions in Sichuan Province in China and Myanmar recently raised questions on nations’ preparedness in tackling crisis international help may be on the way but the question is, ‘how long can a country sustain the damages before timely intervention?’ we do not know what the future may hold for us but we know for sure that hard times will come our way, not a question of ‘if’ but the question of when. Bhutan is a small country lying in the earth quake prone zone and tremors are bound to occur any time as we experienced in Bhutan (eastern Bhutan) few days ago. Global warming, leading to global climate change will bring a tremendous impact on the production of food crops. The drying up and dying of rivers, lakes, and streams will reduce volume of water thereby making farming not only difficult but the life of farmers itself more contentious  and volatile. The unpredictable weather phenomena in Bhutan in the recent past has caused tremendous strains on the environment in the form of floods, storms, landslides, soil erosions and roadblocks which directly or indirectly influence the production and marketing of food items.

Over 69% of the Bhutanese population are engaged in agriculture as it is stated in MoA website. This indicates that we have enough people and area for producing crops to feed the country. With improved methods in farming and new variety of crops available for the farmers, we can produce enough to get us through troubled times. The introduction of hybrid seeds and high yielding varieties are eventually aimed at increasing food production and ensuring self sufficiency. The recent successful introduction of rice cultivation in Bumthang will no doubt add to the overall food security. Farmers are oriented into using the new resources and ideas. Improved and locally suitable practices like the “integrated farming methods” help maintain the farmers to not only increase  and diversify the produce but also ensure soil fertility.

Roads, the veins of successful civilization, are beginning to connect every rural settlements of Bhutan with the urban hubs (the consumers) and thus making accessible and transportability a dream come true. Mitigation of problems in times of food crisis both temporary and permanent can be more wisely resolved if a country has better and efficient infrastructure in place and Bhutan is certainly heading in this direction.

The first step towards achieving food security has to be awareness, for with words of calculation and concern would provide the wheels to move the country and its people towards the safer zone in times of threat from natural and unnatural crisis as nothing beats being prepared. The next step is the government’s will and intention to strictly implement the policies at the grass  root level and reach out to as many farmers as possible. One such bright idea Bhutan has initiated is the policy to retain the wetlands to boost the production of rice which is the staple food. Food Corporation of Bhutan (FCB) has done a good job in storing the surplus food grains till now which are mandated in the policy and has even started to purchase the surplus maize from the farmers as well. We need well stocked reserves (food granaries) of mushrooms, chilies, food grains and vegetables (reducing the cereal intake), contributing to food self sufficiency. These excess food articles have to be t\dried suitably and well stored, canned in the bottles and tins. The storage facilities, esp. in the warm areas need to be improved to avoid damage from micro organisms, insects and rats. The forest provides us with a wide variety of vegetables like ferns, mushrooms, and wild fruits which add to income of the farmers thereby enabling them to supplement their nutrition. Raising the cash crops like apples oranges and cardamom plays a vital role in improving the living conditions of the farmers.

The ‘alarm fencing’ in the south is another pertinent initiative taken by MoA for the protection of crops from the wild animals in rural areas. This is new and an improved way to keep wild boars and elephants at bay. The milk processing unit at Rukubji has started to operate with the supply of improved breeds of cattle, free improved pasture seed distribution and subsidized fodder tools to boost up dairy production, processing and marketing. Self sufficiency is important when going through hard times as prepared response can outdo any level of level of crisis a country would face, for what is the use of full rations in stores if the supplies there cannot be maintained and distributed carefully.
Living on this planet and facing extremity of the disasters occurring in it are just a part of the whole scheme of life. We can just be prepared for that time to come and have ample fuel to sustain the engine that runs the world, the people.

Pema Tendar

Eclecticism in Bhutanese education system
Conceiving education as an art of technocracy has made our past and current education and its system so mechanical that neither educationists nor learners in our country are able to outgrow. Today, at this juncture, considering the fact that education is weighed in terms of morality and money, the approach to impart education to our current and future generations has become a tremendous challenge for some responsible and realized educators.

Our education has been exposed to various experimentations; many foreigners brought many philosophies to actually better our education mechanism. But the question is, did it work in our Bhutanese education setting? Are these philosophies only the answer to our situation? What if we work out our own way through? Can’t eclecticism be the answer? Eclecticism is destined to be in our education system. It’s a boon to better our teachers and learners altogether; like the unique democratic form of government that we have today.

Eclecticism is the call, which we need to attend urgently. Then, what is this so called eclecticism? The Wikipedia defines it as a conceptual approach that does not hold rigidly to a single paradigm or set of assumptions, but instead draws upon multiple theories, styles, or ideas to gain complementary insights in to a subject, or applies different theories in particular cases. So, how can Bhutanese educationists imbibe the method? Will it work out? These are some of the questions that linger around.

Mind you, in order to apply an eclectic method, one has to be well versed in all other methods and philosophies of education and then only teachers can afford to be eclectic in teaching. This new phenomenon can be the answer to our Bhutanese education service. Let us make teaching spontaneous and lively with the adoption of eclecticism in teaching.
But owing to the skepticism of some of our policy makers and educationists, we still exhibit teaching that is so rigid, technical and boring; and it’s a pity to watch our teachers look like the trained robots. The flexibility in their lesson plan is a ‘taboo’. And if you peep through their lesson plans, it’s more of product oriented than processes. When the teacher plans his/her lesson, it is done in such away that the responses and behaviors of the students are predicted in advance, which is totally absurd. What if the responses are not as expected? Then what does a teacher do? Most often, the unpredictability of the immediate class situations too govern our teaching process, which means the teacher has to take into account of their current mood and then think of his/her approach to teaching with his learners. So, the eclectic approach is in the forefront. When students are eclectic in nature, so should the teaching method be.

Having an eclectic frame of curriculum do not guarantee that every teacher will adopt it. The most heart breaking part is that some actually use it without realizing. The term ‘eclectic’ is hardly heard in the teaching arena, which clearly implies that it is discarded. If that is the attitude of our educationists, then we fail to bring forth or local Socrates, Shakespeare, Albert Einstein and many more genius.

Today, as time progresses, so does the people and their needs. Bit of perennialism, bit of reconstructionism, bit of essentialism, and a bit of progressivism are what we have to integrate to get eclecticism. Likewise, all the teaching strategies and methods ought to be richly used so that all the sections of learners are catered in one sitting.
Let us give a new face to our education service; and that immediate initiative should come especially from the policy makers and the educationists. Let s make our teaching more spontaneous rather than making it more methodological

Sonam Gyeltshen
EH III, 2009

Thinley Wangmo, MPA III

There was a time when neither of us would hold breathe in our absence. There was a time when neither of us would spend the day without seeing each other. There was a time when neither of us could sail without association. And there was also a time when love blossomed in our hearts.

Now, gone are those days which were the best days of my life. Honey, you could have dragged me out when my eyes were drowning in the ocean of tears. You never cared. Out of frustrations and grievances, I cursed god for all the mishaps that crept over my serene life and made my gorgeous life a living hell.

At times, it pricked me with question as to why was life was extremely unfair to me. Honey, why did you abandon me? Why did you do that to me? Why? Was there something wrong in me? Am I not so adorable in your eyes?

Honey, I cherish you for having taught me how to live independently, having taught me for loving and appreciating little things in life, having taught me to enjoy the beauties of life, having taught me to dream enormous, and ultimately, having taught me to erase you entirely from my life. You know what, that’s so kind of you for having taught me the little aspects of life.

Now, I can’t dream of sailing with you anymore because the ship I was sailing got wrecked in the stormy ocean of tears.
The Death  
Pema Tendar, III Biology / HPE

Death is often seen and heard, but its certainty is uncertain. Life is mortal and death is inevitable. I consider death as an unquestionable mystery of life. We can neither escape from it nor prevent it. But we do have choices to have a peaceful death. There is no place on earth where death cannot find us. Death will always be there waiting for us. We are all scared of death and we live in the terror of it. That is because of our instinctive desire to go on living. When we die we leave everything behind including our body that we have nurtured so much.

Death is not an end of a life but the beginning of the next life. Chuang Tzu, one of the greatest Buddhist Masters, said that the birth of the man is the birth of his sorrows, the longer he lives the more stupid he becomes. How very true!

We try to live as if there is no death. We desire to possess many worldly things. We desire enormous wealth, beautiful wives and handsome husbands and keep attaching to these surreal things. Actually, our lives are monotonous, petty, repetitive, and are wasted in pursuit of trivial desires for more comforts which gradually enslave us. Everybody is aware of ever changing things on earth and that’s how life is. The changes are no more real than dreams. This is not a theory but truth that we eventually come to realise.

The Buddha rightly said, “This existence of our life is as transient as autumn cloud.
To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking at the movement of the dance.
Life is like a flash of lightening in the sky, always rushing like a torrent down the steep mountain”. Therefore, when we have the opportunity, it is essential that we make best use of it in order to be better men and women in the next life.

 “What you are now is what you have been, what you will be is what you do now”, said Buddha. Guru Rinpoche also said that “if you want to know your past life look into your present conditions, if you want to know your future life look at your present actions”. Therefore, try to avoid all the negative and violent actions and try to practice some of the teachings of Buddha.

One must always bear in mind of the inevitable death and must start preparing for it so that when it comes, we can face it without any fear. Preparing for the death means to purify our negative actions.

Letter of Gratitude
Kinga Penjor, EPB III

Paro College of Education,
14th June, 2009

Noble Teacher,

Today as I stand proudly as a college student in one of the country’s premier institutes of learning with independent thoughts to live by, perfect wings to flap, and capacity to aspire, dream, love and tank purest wisdom, I think of the days, the days of your hard work and sacrifices at the expense of laying concrete foundation of what I am today. Your selfless service in bringing out best person in me still rings in my ears, which in a way, reminds me to serve humanity with unwavering faith and dedication. My conscience, my third eye, keeps alerting me how poor I would be without your service delivered with tender love and affection when I was just a shoot thrusting from the earth.

Without the music of nursery rhymes, wonder of story books galore, fun of modelling clays, cutting out shapes with scissors, etc once upon a time, I would not be in a position to appreciate and rejoice the beauty of arts and literature, and marvels of science and mathematics. Things would have remained as it is been— plain and lifeless that I would not have journeyed beyond what is being literally presented to me. You expanded the horizon of my thoughts. Now whenever spring creeps in, my hope renews. I can celebrate the summer’s bloom and autumn’s harvest. Cascading waterfall, creamy snows almost draping the inspiring mountains and glistening dewdrops means more than that meets my sights. The chirping of birds is soothing and whisper of pines refreshing. These are none other than the manifestations of the beauty of your heart.

By the dint of concrete foundation you laid for me, I can withstand the change and challenges kissing my feet with indomitable confidence, perseverance and determination. With purest wisdom you sowed in me, I can defy the gravity of modern plague of human lust and selfishness. I can remain unmoved by the wind of change.

The influence you had in my life is immense and unfathomable. There is nothing more precious than the touch you had in my life, nor is there any earthly thing that can be weighted with it. It is worth all the riches and more precious than rubies and diamonds. It is the light in times of darkness, comfort in times of distress and direction in times of uncertainty. All in all, it is solution to all the problems.

Thus I owe you deeply, my teacher, the engineer of my dreams. I vow and thank you for being my guiding star and my most influential person. Till eternity you will be remembered as elixir of life and faith. I shall never forget you, my guru, not even a moment.

Lastly but immensely, once again, thank you. May you live long and continue to cascade the juice of ambrosial wisdom from your rich heart for humanity’s cause. May your soul, as always, dance to the tunes of spontaneous song of success and jubilation.

With love and gratitude too deep for articulation.

Your student 

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