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Curious about buddhism?

Yeshe Norbu
BUDDHISM IN A NUTSHELL

Introduction to Buddhist Psychology, Philosophy, and Practice

Buddhism in a Nutshell is an FPMT introductory course that provides an overview of Buddhism in general and Buddhism in the Tibetan Gelug tradition in particular.

This course presents a scientific and logical discussion of the nature of our lives and the source of happiness and dissatisfaction. It studies how the mind is the creator of our world and experiences and how the full potential of our mind can be achieved. 

The course consists of the following topics:

  • what the mind is and how it works,
  • the four noble truths – a look at happiness and suffering, how we create them, and how we can achieve lasting happiness,
  • genuine empathy and compassion,
  • the profound wisdom realizing the nature of reality,
  • meditation and mind training as methods for transformation.

Each session consists of teachings along with short guided meditations. These teachings are supplemented by longer versions of the guided meditations, each approximately thirty minutes in length, for a total of ten guided meditations.

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

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