Discovering Buddhism Study Course
Discovering Buddhism is a fourteen-module program that gives students a solid foundation in the teachings and practice of Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism.
Over 2,500 years ago, historical person, Shakyamuni Buddha gained direct insight into the nature of reality, perfected the qualities of wisdom, compassion, and power, and then revealed the path to full Awakening (enlightenment) to his disciples.
In the 11th century, Atisha Dipamkara, an Indian master who was very influential in Tibet, organized the Buddha’s extensive teachings in the form of a graduated path to enlightenment – lamrim – o clarify how an individual practitioner should best put them into practice.
The lamrim tradition was further systemized and elaborated upon by many scholars in Tibet, including the great philosopher and practitioner Lama Tsongkhapa, and these teachings have continued to be passed from teacher to student up to this present day.
Thus, when Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche began to transmit these teachings to their disciples in the 1970s, they came from a deeply experiential tradition of study and practice.
This tradition is the core of Discovering Buddhism, a fourteen-module program that gives students a solid foundation in the teachings and practice of Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism.
The Fourteen Modules
1. Mind and Its Potential
“The Buddhist Science of Mind” – as Dalai Lama puts it – means a true scientific approach to the nature of mind. Buddhist psychology and philosophy have detailed experiencial and theoretical studies about the mind and its potential.
We´ll examine the nature of mind and how it creates happiness and suffering. We learn to transform destructive thoughts and attitudes to develop a positive and joyous mind.
2. How to Meditate
The Buddhist meditation practice includes many different types of meditation. The word “Meditation”, gom in Tibetan means “familiarizing”; first one familiarizes with one´s own mind, then one familiarizes the mind with constructive mental states.
This is the longterm goal for Buddhist meditation, cultivate constructive mental states and decrease negative habitual patterns and attitudes.
We explore the definition and purpose of meditation, how to sit, how to set up a meditation session, different meditation techniques, and how to deal with obstacles to meditation.
3. Presenting the Path
You get an overview of the entire Tibetan Mahayana Buddhist path to awakening. You´ll discover a unique system for putting Buddhist philosophy into practice – the lamrim, or graduated path to awakening (enlightenment).
4. The Spiritual Teacher
We investigate the role of the teacher on the spiritual path: the need for a teacher, the qualities of teacher and student, and how to relate to a teacher.
5. Death and Rebirth
We explore the process of death and rebirth and its impact on how we live our lives. We learn to fulfill our purpose in life, resolve conflicts, and develop the skills to help ourself – and others – at the moment of death.
6. All About Karma
You´ll learn “all about Karma” – the essential facts about the law and cause of actions and their results. We explore ways to deal with life more effectively and take control of our future.
We are creating new karma on daily bases; all actions of our body, specch and mind give results, wereally can effect our karma!
7. Refuge in the Three Jewels
You´ll find out what it means to take refuge in the Three Jewels – the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha – and the essential practices of refuge. You´ll also learn about the advantage of taking lay vows and their role in enhancing our spiritual growth.
This module – as all modules – connects with all teachings, there is no magic, just logic, and knowing about the nature of mind, and law of cause and effect, is essential in order to get deeper understanding of the refuge in Buddhism.
8. Establishing a Daily Practice
Here you´ll get an assemble of tools you need to develop a successful daily practice and find out the elements necessary to generate realizations. Get some tips for making every action you do meaningful, and bring your practice to your daily life.
9. Samsara and Nirvana
We´ll investigate what “samsara”, this cyclic existende we are in, what it is and how we are stuck in it. We´ll findout what “nirvana” is and how to achieve it. Thy, it is also a state of mind, not a place somewhere else.
We´ll learn how to be free from suffering, constant dissatisfaction, and gain practical tools to deal with and eliminate disturbing emotions.
10. How to Develop Bodhichitta
You´ll discover practices that develop our innate qualities of compassion. Generating compassion, itis mind training. You will learn to apply these techniques to generate great compassion and bodhichitta, the altruistic mind of enlightenment. Bodhicitta known as the very heart of Buddha’s teachings.
11. Transforming Problems
We´ll study the disadvantages of selfishness and the advantages of cherishing others. And we learn to employ the special techniques of mind training – lojong – to transform problems and our destructive habitual patterns into happiness.
12. Wisdom of Emptiness
You learn how to develop calm abiding (shamatha), the ability to remain focused in meditation for as long periods as you want without distraction. We study emptiness of inherent existence, and practice different ways of meditating on emptiness (shunyata), the lack of true existence of the self and all phenomena. This is the realization which is crucial for the attainment of liberation and awakening (enlightenment).
13. Introduction to Tantra
We will learn what Buddhist tantra is, how it works, and why it is a powerful form of practice. We´ll get a broad overview of the four classes of Buddhist tantra and learn to practice simple Kriya tantric methods (the first level of tantra). And we ´ll also see how to integrate tantra with lamrim-meditation – to obtain the best results.
14. Special Integration Experiences
Undertaking intensive practices of purification, a ten-day lamrim course/retreat, and three Nyung Nä retreats creates the inner conditions needed to gain the realizations of the path to fully Awakening (enlightenment).
The purification practices entail
100,000 prostrations to the Thirty-Five Buddhas and
a three-month Vajrasattva retreat of 100,000 mantras
(two of the nine traditional preliminary practices).
The ten-day lamrim course/retreat
can be done at various FPMT centers, including Kopan Monastery in Nepal.
A Nyung Nä is a two-day fasting practice related to the buddha of compassion.
It can be done at many FPMT centers, especially during the month of Saka Dawa, which falls in May-June.
The Center-Based Program
The first thirteen modules of Discovering Buddhism are taught at many FPMT centers, usually over a period of about two years. When the program is taught in its entirety, each module consists of several talks by an FPMT registered teacher, guided meditations and practice days, required and suggested readings, several quizzes to review the material, a final exam, and two days of practice.
Students may do some or all of these components, as they wish.
Those who complete all the components receive a completion card for that module.
These thirteen modules do not need to be done in any particular order and can be done by attending Discovering Buddhism classes at more than one center.
Module 14: Special Integration Experiences can be started at any time in the program but is best started early on, such as after the module All About Karma, as it takes some time to complete.
Teacher for the 13 modules can give a Completion Card for these individual modules, but the final Certificate for entire Discovering Buddhism Study Course acan only be given by FPMT.
When all fourteen modules have been completed, students receive a certificate of completion issued by FPMT Education Services.
For more information about Discovering Buddhism at Yeshe Norbu Mind Training Centre, please mail to the Spiritual Program Coordinator, SPC