This semester I no longer got that SOSE class in grade 4. However, I was assigned to handle ‘religion’ subjects in grade 3, 4, 5, and 6. As the teaching material, I downloaded it from this link. It means during this semester those classes will discuss – at a glance – Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism.
Below is my record of talking about ‘Buddhism’ in grade three and four. FYI, none of the students is Buddhist.
“Why are we discussing Buddhism, Miss? Are you Buddhist?” one student asked me.
So I answered that I was not Buddhist and during the religion subject, we would discuss some religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, etc, not just one particular religion in order that they know some other religions too, not just their own.
Two things that attracted as well as surprised the students were
• Buddhists don’t have God to praise
• Buddhists do not know the existence of heaven and hell
It is easily concluded the cause why they find the two things above strange is because they have been raised in families where the parents adhere to Abrahamic religions – such as Christianity and Islam. I have never found any student who is a Jewish yet. Abrahamic religions have similarities on the teachings about the existence of God and heaven and hell.
“Then who created the universe if there is no God according to Buddhists?” one student in grade 4 asked.
Luckily one topic of SOSE grade 4 we discussed last semester was about how this universe was created in Australian Aborigine people’s belief. It started with:
“Time began when the supernatural beings awoke and broke through the surface of the earth. ...”
The supernatural beings mentioned were not related by any deity or god that then were praised or worshiped by human beings. Therefore, I reminded the students on our discussion last semester. There are in fact many groups of people in the world who have their own knowledge on how this universe was created at the very first place where they do not related it to god. When the students cannot understand how those people think about the creation of the universe without involving any god, they had better be wise to think that it is possible for those people not to believe any god’s involvement in the existence of the universe. Then it is the best to respect each other’s belief.
“If Buddhist people do not believe in heaven and hell, so where will the dead go?” was another question.
Reincarnation and ‘moksha’ are the two words to answer that question. The main symbol of Buddhism is the wheel of life which symbolizes the cycle of life and rebirth. Buddhist people believe in being born again after death. They will get a better life if in the present life they are good people. On the contrary, they will get worse life if they are bad people. Or even worse they will not be born as human being, maybe an animal.
And when someone has a perfect life – where the life of Siddhatta Gotama is used as one example – he or she will ‘moksha’ after death, just ‘gone’ in the air, he or she will no longer be born.
“What kind of life did Siddhatta Gotama have?” asked one student.
The material explained a little:
“He lived in the fifth century BC and was a prince born into a rich family. He had an easy life. However when he saw the suffering of old age, sickness and death, he decided to renounce his life in the palace and live among the holy men of the day in search of truth and enlightenment.”
To explain further I said Siddhatta Gotama was a rich prince that then left his wealth because he thought it was not fair to live such an easy life while poverty and sickness was everywhere.
“What? Is he crazy or something? I don’t get it!” the same student commented.
“Miss, it is difficult for me to believe in such teachings,” another student responded. Her parents are church activists.
Then I said to the students that the knowledge about Buddhism in religion class (later also other religions) is only for them to know and understand. It is not always to believe in.
GL7 13.23 19/01/12
Some comments from a next door site of mine
rembulanku wrote on Jan 19
PR menterjemahkan iki
onit wrote on Jan 19
afemaleguest saidSiddhatta Gotama was a rich prince that then left his wealth because he thought it was not fair to live such an easy life while poverty and sickness was everywhere.
“What? Is he crazy or something? I don’t get it!”
hmm.. i got this when i was in middle school..
we say "life is not fair" not only when we're unfortunate, but also when we're fortunate compared to others. "we" doesn't apply to all people in the world, of course.
mawarangel wrote on Jan 20
"is only for them to know and understand. It is not always to believe in" sweet tapi sangat sukar diaplikasiin Mba, apalagi di daerah aku yg semi2 kampung,, bullying a/n agama masiiiiih aja terjadi,, *anak ku termsuk korban* dan sbg minor sy tak tau cara menasihatinya yg jujur (selama ini lebih ke cari aman: jgn dilawan, lapor guru, diemin aja) padahal -jujur- aku mau bilang "tinju aja mukanya", but they're just 4th grade,,
mawarangel said"is only for them to know and understand. It is not always to believe in" sweet tapi sangat sukar diaplikasiin Mba, apalagi di daerah aku yg semi2 kampung,, bullying a/n agama masiiiiih aja terjadi,, *anak ku termsuk korban* dan sbg minor sy tak tau cara menasihatinya yg jujur (selama ini lebih ke cari aman: jgn dilawan, lapor guru, diemin aja) padahal -jujur- aku mau bilang "tinju aja mukanya", but they're just 4th grade,,
aku juga bingung ketika seorang sobat curhat ke aku tentang bullying yang menimpa anak-anaknya, dilakukan oleh tetangganya pula, di kota yang ga kecil-kecil amat lho menurutku, Cimahi, masih dekat Bandung ..