Where to begin?
The Dalai Lama tends to start by talking about the importance of kindness. Another starting point would be the quest for happiness. Peggy Morgan also suggested starting with rainbows and impermanence with young children (1986). Buddhist families and supplementary schools might start with a focus on good behaviour, meditation or ritual practice. Many school textbooks start with the life of ‘the’ Buddha, and then the ‘Four Noble Truths’, which might be the Buddha’s first sermon according to the Pali Canon, but was notably addressed to religious ascetics experienced in various meditation techniques and so not necessarily where to start for beginners, whether children or adults. The tendency is to start with an outline of what is viewed as ‘basic’ Buddhist teaching, which in the UK tends towards a Theravada perspective, and then later deal with ‘diverse’ interpretations which are then seen as later developments, either declining from or improving on the basics. The Big Ideas project decided to start instead with diversity as the current reality and avoid setting up a ‘basic’ version which tends to get stuck. This essay will attempt this starting point, before looking at ‘matters of central importance’ which is where the National Entitlement starts (but the main thing is to start).