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Rembrandt. The Girl in a Picture Frame also known as The Jewish Bride. 1641. Section.
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(Vaddha Sutta, SN 37.4)
Buddha encourages education for women:

"A female disciple of the noble ones who grows in terms of these five types of growth grows nobly. She grasps hold of what is essential and what is excellent in the body. Which five?

"She grows in terms of conviction.
"She grows in terms of virtue.
"She grows in terms of learning.
"She grows in terms of generosity.
"She grows in terms of discernment.

"Growing in these ways, the female disciple of the noble ones grows nobly. She grasps hold of what is essential and what is excellent in the body."

She grows in conviction and virtue, discernment, generosity, and learning: A virtuous female lay disciple such as this takes hold of the essence right here within herself.


To grasp hold of what is essential and excellent and grow in learning and discernment is very much of what proficient education is about.

  1. Grasp hold of what is essential: Study by finding key points to recall, by such as Tony Buzan's study methods. There are other methods too.

  2. To go for excellence a long way signifies proficient use of time and conditions, and relies on discernment - you should get better (and better) able to discern what is of long-range value or not, for example. Some books about excellence are of management aplomb and the business fare, and re infused with businessman's values, which are limited and may become limiting. Example: In Search of Excellence: Lessons from Americas Best Run Companies by Robert H. Waterman Jr, and Thomas J. Peters.

    But there are other forms of excellence. Abraham Maslow sought a standard of truly worthwhile people, and thought he had found some . Carl Rogers found it fit to talk of the fully developed person in a similar but not quite identical vein, and Carl G. Jung found it good to talk for individuation, which can be aligned with self-actualisation - such individual expressivity. It is suggested that to the degree you attune yourself to higher values (cf. Maslow's pyramid of needs), the greater your mirth should be -

  3. Sound learning is favoured by adequate study methods, but may be more so by genuine, heart-felt interest, and maybe sound study conditions too. At any rate, some measure of interest may be awakened if careful and rewarding study methods is applied to a subject with enough aplomb and consideration. The great idea is: you learn for yourself, to reach your own ends, which should encompass a good life. If possible, your own, fit home. Schools and universities are really not for teaching, but for learning. There is a marked difference between teaching (e.g., rattling off) in front of a "herd" of students, and fascilitating learning in a lot of students who are treated as individuals too. Learning has its own basic dynamics and characteristics, and school education should adhere to them, not fixed methods of teaching and control. A single student may learn to preserve her interest in subjects by study methods and aplomb.

  4. Discernment grows by the independent attitude, observational training (it seems to foster independence of mind), and study skills that should bring out a basis for fit evaluation (actually: discernment). There are other forms of training too. One of the best is to ask for evidence in the face of claims. Much in the cloudy realm called religion regrettably consists in wild or unsatisfactorily proved claims, and demands to put belief into them. Buddha, on the other hand, allows for rational inquiry in the famous Kalama Sutta.

You may see that the four parts of learning referred to above, are intervowen. You can also see there is a possibility for noble growth of each and every of them. Such mental and in part physical development is accomplished by skilfulness, which is strongly advocated in Buddhism. Let it be the right sorts of skills. Also, Buddhism says skills in sound meditation are good. Meditation caters to spiritual development toward great Joy or Enlightenment.

You see from the sutra that virtue and (non-dwarfing) generosity can be developed too.

  1. Virtue. Buddhism lists up these as worth going for: generousity (dana); morality (sila); patience (ksanti); energy, vigour (virya); meditation, focusing (dhyana); and wisdom (prajna). The Ten Perfections of Buddhism also include truthfulness (sacca), determination, gentleness (metta), and equanimity. To manifest all of them, stick-to-it (gentle perseverance) could be needed, and hence added to the list. [More]

    Moral development is from conformity to individually felt things to do, and corresponding attitudes: Lawrence Kohlberg finds that intellectual evolution and the ability to judge morally and sanely, are interlinked, and may be developed a whole lot.

    Kohlberg extended the work of Jean Piaget to include adolescence and adulthood, and speaks of moral stages:

    1. Obeys to avoid punishment. (Preconventional, punishment orientation - outer-directed)
    2. Conforms to get rewards or have favours returned. (Preconventional, reward orientation, outer-directed too)
    3. Conforms to avoid disapproval of others (Conventional - feeling into things as well as just obeying)
    4. Takes to laws and rules to avoid censure and feelings of guilt (Conventional, authority orientation)
    5. Guided by commonly agreed-on principles thought to be valid for welfare, for retaining respect of peers and thus self-respect (Post-conventional, social-contract orientation).
    6. Actions guided by principles that are self-chosen, usually valuing justice, dignity, etc., against self-condemnation (Postconventional, higher-order ethical principle orientation - Quite inner-directed).

    Before he died, Kohlberg eliminated stage six from his theory, and the fifth stage is then referred to as "high-stage principled reasoning". The drift is from being directed by others to being self-directed - perhaps diffusely so at first, at any rate. Further, there is evidence that the stages are not sequencial, and that people use different rules for different situations. His theory has been criticised as "male-oriented", with a tendency to favour caring and concern for the integrity of relations less than so-called masculine justice and rights. [Hi 84-85]

    Abraham Maslow tried to find out what marked outstanding persons, and came up with a list of qualities. The values of developed individuals deviate from the average, and for good. [More]

  2. Sound generosity may be developed. There is next to no research on it in the greed-ridden West. Buddhism delineates a sort of glide away from foolish selfishness toward wise, discerning, and profitable giving. But don't forget to be adequately generous to yourself and your near ones too; Buddha allows the lay follower to get successful and wealthy too. There are good reasons for it. [More]

"Therefore, train yourselves in living the teachings and live decently in everything." - Buddha [Bsa 116].

How to? To go for good quality of various kinds tends to be good. The avenues of learning that "branch out" from the six factors Buddha mentions, may seem hard to tackle. Easy mind-training, lojong helps in that matter. Good luck.

A liberating insight to a student:

"As a student I've really been practicing Wise Buddhism!"


Vaddha Sutta for Women's Development, Buddhist lore, Literature  

Slightly simplified: The term "grows in the noble growth" has become "grows nobly" above. "A female disciple of the noble ones who grows in terms of these five types of growth grows in the noble growth . . . Growing in terms of these five types of growth, the female disciple of the noble ones grows in the noble growth." Compare the corresponding passages above. They are the only changes of the text.

Vaddha Sutta text reproduced with permission.

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Copyright © 2008 Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Access to Insight edition © 2008

Bsa: Lie, Kåre A, oms. Buddhas samtaler: De lange tekstene. Digha Nikaya. Bind 2. Det store bindet: Mahavagga. Oslo: Solum Forlag, 2005.

Hi: Smith, Carolyn D., ed, et al. Hilgard's Introduction to Psychology. 14th ed. Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth, 2003.

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