Discovering Buddhism is a fourteen-module program that gives students a solid foundation in the teachings and practice of Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism. Each Subject Area / Module can be 5 – 7 weeks long and comes with practice questions, readings and discussion. They are not necessarily presented in the order below.
The whole Discovering Buddhism course could take several years to complete, however these modules can be studied in any order.
The current module being offered is:
Subject Areas of Discovering Buddhism:
1. Mind and Its Potential
Examine what is “mind,” its nature and function, and how it affects our experience of happiness and suffering. Explore the differentiation between mind and brain, mind as the creator of our experiences, and the implications of possessing a mind that has no beginning and no end. In addition, learn methods to transform destructive thoughts and attitudes and create a positive and joyous mind.
2. How to Meditate
Basic meditation techniques. Learn the definition and purpose of meditation, how to sit properly, how to set up a meditation session, the different types of meditation techniques one may employ, and how to recognise and deal with obstacles to meditation.
3. Presenting the Path
Get an overview of the entire Tibetan Buddhist path to awakening. Hear about the life story of the Buddha and study the basic teachings of Buddhism. Discover the unique system for putting Buddhist philosophy into practice contained in the lam-rim, or “graduated path to enlightenment.”
4. The Spiritual Teacher
Take the time to investigate the role of the teacher on the spiritual path: the need for a teacher, the qualities of a teacher, the qualities of a student, and how to relate to a teacher for greatest benefit in one’s spiritual life. Consider the challenges we face when thinking of entering into a “guru-disciple” relationship and learn how to overcome these skillfully.
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5. Death and Rebirth
Explore the process of death and rebirth and its impact on how we live our lives. Be guided in skillful reflection on the meaning of death and what to expect at the death-time. In this way, fulfill your purpose in life, resolve conflicts, and develop the skills to help both yourself and others at the time of death. Eventually, through Buddhist practice, one can overcome death altogether.
6. All About Karma
Learn the essential facts about the law of cause and effect and generate a clear understanding about how karma works. Discover effective tools to accumulate merit – the cause of happiness and success – and purify mistaken actions done in the past. In addition, explore ways to become adept at dealing with life most effectively and thereby take control of your future
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7. Refuge in the Three Jewels (Commencing July 16th)
Find out what it means to take refuge in the Three Jewels – the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha – and the essential practices of refuge. Learn about the advantage of taking lay vows and their role in enhancing our spiritual growth.
8. Establishing a Daily Practice
Assemble the tools you need to develop a successful daily practice. Using Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s A Daily Meditation Practice as a guide, become familiar with the elements necessary to generate realisations in the mind. Also, receive some tips for making every action of the day meaningful.
9. Samsara and Nirvana
Investigate what “samsara” is and how we are stuck in it. Find out what “nirvana” is and how to achieve it. Develop the determination to be free from suffering and empower yourself with practical tools to deal with and eliminate disturbing emotions forever.
10. How to Develop Bodhichitta
Discover the clear meditation instruction available in Tibetan Buddhism that enables us to develop our innate qualities of loving kindness and compassion. Become skilled at applying these techniques to generate the mind of bodhichitta, the wish to attain enlightenment for the benefit of others, known to be the heart of Buddha’s teachings.
11. Transforming Problems
Consider well the disadvantages of self-cherishing and the advantages of cherishing others more than ourselves. Be inspired to “exchange yourself with others,” and then be guided in how to employ the special techniques of mind training or “lo-jong” as a means to transform problems into happiness and learn to like problems as much as ice cream!
12. Wisdom of Emptiness
The realisation of emptiness is crucial for the attainment of liberation and enlightenment. Take this opportunity to enhance your ability to bring about this realisation. Learn how to develop calm abiding and different methods to use in meditation on emptiness. Practice accumulation of merit and purification of obstacles – indispensable for generating realisations within the mind.
13. Introduction to Tantra
Learn the definition of tantra, how tantra works and why it is a powerful form of practice. Get a broad overview of the four classes of tantra and learn how to practice simple Kriya tantric methods. In addition, find out how to integrate the practices of tantra with lam-rim meditation for optimal results.
14. Special Integration Experiences
By undertaking intensive practices of purification and a minimum two-week lam-rim residential retreat, prepare your mind in the best possible way to gain realizations on the path to enlightenment. Purification practices include: 100,000 prostrations, three-month Vajrasattva retreat, and Nyung Nä. This is a great way to seal the blessings of this program.