fbpx

Buddhism in a Nutshell course material

The five sessions of the course cover the following topics:

Session 1: The Buddha and His Teachings

Teachings on:

  • Shakyamuni Buddha’s life and the experiences that led to his enlightenment
  • How the Buddha’s life exemplifies the search for the answers to life’s big questions
  • An explanation of the Buddha’s teachings from the point of view of different ways of categorizing them
  • The Buddha’s first teaching on the four noble truths
  • Meditation in the Buddhist tradition
  • The seven-point meditation posture

A guided meditation on:

  • Scanning the body

Readings and meditations from Buddhism in a Nutshell: Essentials for Practice and Study

Points for reflection

Session 2: The Buddha’s Path to Enlightenment

Teachings on:

  • The nature of mind or consciousness in Buddhism
  • The continuity of mind from moment to moment and from life to life
  • What it means to be a Buddhist (accepting the four seals, living in precepts, and practicing the eightfold path)
  • Why the Buddha taught suffering first among the four noble truths
  • The different types of suffering and the causes of suffering
  • How to put an end to suffering

A guided meditation on:

  • Counting the breaths

Readings and meditations from Buddhism in a Nutshell: Essentials for Practice and Study

Points for reflection

Session 3: The Practices of Lower Scope

Teachings on:

  • The three principal aspects of the path to enlightenment: renunciation, bodhichitta, and the right view of emptiness
  • The three scopes or motivations of the three types of practitioners
  • The four features or qualities of the lamrim teachings
  • The need to find and devote oneself to a qualified guru
  • The precious opportunity for spiritual practice provided by a perfect human rebirth
  • The need to contemplate the reality of death in order to not waste our life and how to contemplate it
  • A Buddhist is someone who seeks help, or takes refuge, in the Three Jewels—the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha
  • What karma is and how it functions
  • The four characteristics of karma
  • The four components of a fully complete action
  • The ten non virtuous actions and the ten virtuous actions

A guided meditation on:

  • The clarity of consciousness

Readings and meditations from Buddhism in a Nutshell: Essentials for Practice and Study

Points for reflection

Session 4: The Practices of Renunciation and Bodhichitta

Teachings on:

  • Renunciation means renouncing our delusions, especially our attachment to samsaric pleasures
  • Living life in renunciation by keeping vows, practicing the three higher trainings, and countering delusion
  • The bodhichitta attitude of cherishing others more than ourselves
  • Cultivating the equanimity that is the basis for developing bodhichitta
  • The method of the six causes and one effect for developing bodhichitta
  • The method of equalizing and exchanging oneself and others for developing bodhichitta
  • Living life in bodhichitta by keeping the bodhisattva vows, practicing the six perfections, and engaging in training the mind

A guided meditation on:

  • The mind as knower

Readings and meditations from Buddhism in a Nutshell: Essentials for Practice and Study

Points for reflection

Session 5: The Practices of Calm Abiding, Special Insight, and Tantra

Teachings on:

  • The six circumstances that are necessary to achieve perfect concentration or calm abiding
  • The objects on which one can meditate to achieve calm abiding
  • The six powers and the eight antidotes that lead to calm abiding
  • Developing special insight—the wisdom realizing the nature of reality
  • The way in which we and all phenomena appear to exist and how we actually exist
  • How our mind creates our reality
  • How to meditate on emptiness using the four-point analysis
  • A brief introduction to the practice of tantra
  • How to practice Dharma in daily life

A guided meditation on:

  1. A visualization of Shakyamuni Buddha

Readings and meditations from Buddhism in a Nutshell: Essentials for Practice and Study

Points for reflection

Session 1 

Session 2

Session 3

Session 4

Session 5

X
X
X
X
X
X
X