Buddhism - Values for living

In short...

Themes: Buddhism; the life of the Buddha; caring for our world; kindness to all living things; living a good life.

Summary: This assembly, suitable for an act of collective worship, uses two stories from Buddhism to help children explore values and the way they influence the way people live their lives - in this case the value of caring for all living things.

Resources: A short quiz / challenge begins the assembly, during which you can display the picture of a swan.

The video

The video includes two stories, which follow a short 45" introduction to Buddhism. You could decide to use only one of the stories as part of your assembly, or both.

The first story, 'Siddhartha and the Swan', tells how the young prince who became the Buddha saves a swan that has been injured by his cousin Devadatta.

The second story, 'The Monkey King', tells how the King of the Monkeys gives his own life to save his subjects from a cruel human king - thereby teaching the human a lesson about being a good leader. The stories focus on caring and self-sacrifice.

Duration: 4' 08"

End of speech: '...and the bamboo forest were protected forever.'

"I would do anything for them! It is my duty to care for them!"

The Monkey King

Video questions

  • What did the Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) do as a young prince? (Gave up his wealth to travel and learn about the world)
  • How is the swan injured? (It is shot with an arrow by Siddhartha's cousin, Devadatta)
  • Why does the teacher decide the swan belongs to Siddhartha? (Because Siddhartha saved the swan and gave it love)
  • Why does the Monkey King tell the monkeys to pick the mangoes? (To stop humans from knowing of their existence)
  • How does the Monkey King save his tribe? (He makes a bridge from his body so that the monkeys can escape)
  • What does the human king learn from the Monkey King? (How to be a good and compassionate leader)

Key links

Assembly framework (pdf)
Picture of a swan

Suggested framework

1. Entry music
Play 'The Swan' from Camille Saint-Saens' suite Carnival of the Animals and show the picture of a swan swimming. Ask the children to imagine a swan swimming smoothly through the water as they listen. It's a very calming piece of music, so children might like to listen with eyes closed.

2. Introduction
How many different creatures can children name in 1 minute? You could do this as a timed quiz, with two teams of children, or as a whole assembly. Ask the children to say what the values are promoted within your school and why the children think those values are important. Connect the idea of 'values' to living life in a particular way - perhaps 'wisely' or 'always caring for others'. Connect this to Buddhism and the values that shape the lives of Buddhists, which will be explored in the video.

3. The video
Play the video, which includes two stories from Buddhism. The story of 'Siddhartha and the Swan' starts after a 45" introduction and the final words are '...and then released it back onto the river.' The second story, 'The Monkey King', begins at 2' 14" and ends with the words '...and he ordered that the monkeys and the bamboo forest were protected forever.'

4. After the video
Use the story questions to help children identify some of the values that are important to Buddhists.

5. Time to talk
Ask children to suggest words that they would use to describe Siddhartha and the Monkey King and link them to your school values.

6. Time to sing
An opportunity to sing your chosen song. Suggestions from BBC collections are below.

7. Opportunity for reflection
We've heard today about some of the values shared by Buddhists all over the world - including caring for all living things...
We've shared stories that are important to Buddhists...
We've heard how Siddhartha cared for the injured swan, standing up to his mean cousin...
We've also heard how the Monkey King bravely risked his own life to save the monkeys...
And taught the human king a lesson about being a good leader...
I wonder what we might learn from these stories...and how they might help us to live better lives..?
What might we do today to show that we are caring for all living things, as Buddhists try to do..?

8. Opportunity for prayer
Dear God.
Thank you for the wonderful world that we all live in.
Thank you for what we have learned today from our stories.
Help us, like all Buddhists, to care for all living things.

Suggested songs

Song: 'Give me oil in my lamp' (Come and Praise, no 43. Vocal version)

'Give me oil in my lamp' - Come and Praise, no 43

SongCollectionSignificant words
'From the tiny ant'Come and Praise: Beginning, no 32'Care for them it's up to you / us'

Related links