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Enlightening idea for the classroom

Having taught students about the early life of Siddhartha, we come to the tricky bit where we feel we need to explain Enlightenment. I make no claim to be an enlightened being, by Buddhist standards or beliefs.

Still, the students are expecting. I start by passing out some "Magic Eye" books or pictures - ones that you hold in front of your eye, adjusting the distance and your focus. Students can work in pairs. One follows the specific instructions. When they see the picture hidden in the pattern, they tell their partner. The partner looks at the page, but will not instantly see the picture. Even though they have been told what the answer is they will still need to follow the instructions and discipline themselves before they see the picture with their own eyes.

In the same way, I tell the class, the Buddha, having found Enlightenment, had to tell his followers the method of seeing for themselves. To be told the answer is not enough on its own.

Usually, when they have found the hidden picture once, they will see it instantly each time they look at it again. Enlightenment is secured.

Of course, some students will not see the pictures no matter how hard they look. Is it possible to look too hard? Hopefully a difficult concept is made more accessible.

If you can't see anything in the example below, visit

Ian Millsted Teacher of RE and co-ordinator of citizenship, Stradbroke High School, Suffolk

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