Children have a hard enough time keeping up their self-esteem as it is without every botched homework being a sign of lurking inner evil.
As crippling as the weight of one's past lives can be, however, it is nothing compared to the horrors of the here and now.
There are two central claims here: that our own fundamental essence is non-existence, and that the nature of the outer world is impermanence.
The idea of the void-essence of self is one arrived at through meditation, through exercises in reflection dictated by centuries of tradition.
I remember one of the higher monks at the school giving a speech in which she described coming back from a near-death experience as comparable to having to "return to a sewer where you do nothing but subsist on human excrement." Life is suffering. Now, there are legitimate philosophical reasons for holding to this view.
Viewed from a certain perspective, the destruction of everything you've ever cared about is inevitable, and when it's being experienced, the pain of loss does not seem recompensed by the joy of attachment that preceded it.
And it was a wonderful job working with largely wonderful people.
The administration, monks, and students knew that I was an atheist and had absolutely no problem with it as long as I didn't actively proselytise (try and find a Catholic school that would hire a moderate agnostic, let alone a fully out-of-the-closet atheist).
Buddhism is often seen as the acceptable face of religion, lacking a celestial dictator and full of Eastern wisdom.
But Dale De Bakcsy, who worked for nine years in a Buddhist school, says it's time to think again On paper, Buddhism looks pretty good.