This level of course covers a wide range of important Buddhist concepts, principles and practices designed for beginner-level students and practitioners interested in Buddhism, especially Tibetan Buddhism.  This level course covers the foundational concepts: The four seals, the four noble truths, what are the three jewels and what it means to take proper refuge in the three jewels.  Courses are offered to help students to understand the nature of Bodhicitta, the wish to help other beings, used as the prime motivation to develop the wisdom of emptiness.

 

The Four Seals of Buddhist Doctrine

Buddhism is characterized by four attributes known as seals. These are: 1) All things are impermanent; 2) That which is contaminated is misery; 3) All phenomena are empty; 4) Selfless and nirvana (liberation) is peace.

Introducing Tibetan Buddhism

Buddhism originated in India over 2550 years ago. It was imported to Tibet in the seventh century and over the centuries four traditions of Tibetan Buddhism – Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyu and Gelug – developed in Tibet. All of these traditions are authentic traditions following both sutra and tantric paths leading to complete enlightenment. Tibetans call Buddhism they practice simply Nangcho or Inner Spirituality.

The Four Noble Truths

Buddha Shakyamuni gave his first teaching on the Four Noble Truths (Aryasatya) and their sixteen attributes such as impermanence and emptiness. The Four Noble Truths are: 1) The truth of suffering; 2) The truth of cause of suffering; 3) The truth of cessation of suffering; 4) The truth of the path that leads to the cessation of suffering.  These truths provide the structural foundation for Buddha’s Teaching.

Taking Refuge in the Three Jewels

Taking refuge in the Three Jewels is the door to the Buddhist path.  Whether or not an individual is considered a Buddhist practitioner is determined by his or her taking refuge in the Three Jewels of Buddha (Teacher), Dharma (Teaching) and Sangha (Spiritual Community).

The Twelve Links of Interdependent Origination

The twelve links begin with ignorance and end with aging or death. The sequential process of these links explains how we sentient beings enter and get trapped in Samsara (Cyclic Existence). The reversal process explains how we can free ourselves from samsara by finding nirvana or liberation.

Arya Nagarjuna’s Letter to a Friend

Arya Nagarjuna, one of the greatest realized expert scholars of Mahayana Buddhism, wrote a poetic letter to a friend in response to a South Indian king's request.  This letter presents the whole of Mahayana Path while emphasizing various points that the king could apply to his administration of his kingdom.  This text may be particularly relevant to American students, who like the king, are busy with their work and everyday life.

Cultivating Bodhicitta – Enlightened Attitude

Bodhicitta is the door to the Mahayana Buddhist Path leading to complete enlightenment. It is the altruistic attitude seeking complete enlightenment for the sake of benefiting all sentient beings. It is the heart of the Bodhisattvas’ practice and life. Without it even esoteric tantric practice will not be productive.

The Six Perfections of Bodhisattvas

Bodhisattvas who are dedicated to the well-being of all sentient beings engage in the deeds of the six perfections. These are: 1) The perfection of generosity;  2) The perfection of ethics; 3) The perfection of patience; 4) The perfection of enthusiastic perseverance; 5) The perfection of concentration; 5) The perfection of wisdom.

The Four Immeasurables

One of the basic practices of Buddhism is cultivating the four immeasurables: Immeasurable sense of equanimity, Immeasurable love, Immeasurable compassion and Immeasurable joy.

Introducing Meditation Practice

Lama Tsongkhapa unequivocally said that everything presented in Dharma is to be put into practice. Meditation practice involves cultivating inner qualities (paths) in one’s mind by way of mindfulness, introspection and analysis. Meditation broadly consists of two types: Single-pointed meditation and analytical meditation.

Eight Verses of Mind Training

The first seven verses of the Eight Verses for Training the Mind deal with the practices associated with cultivating the method aspect of the path such as compassion, altruism, aspiration to attain buddhahood, and so on. The eighth verse deals with the practices that are directed toward cultivating the wisdom aspect of the path.  This Tuesday class joins through the Skype, the Land of Wisdom and Compassion students in Canada exploring in discussion.

Essence of Refined Gold

The Third Dalai Lama Sonam Gyatso authored this treatise. It is one of the most important practice guides that belong to the Tibetan Buddhist Genre called Lamrim or Stages of Path to Enlightenment. This particular Lamrim is neither too concise nor too exhaustive like Great Lamrim of Lama Tsongkhapa but it provides good understanding of the complete path to enlightenment.

Lo-Rig: Awareness and Knowing

Lo-Rig means Awareness and Knowledge. It is the study of consciousness, of mind. Pure in its essential nature, the mind is stained by adventitious defilements. These defilements can be removed. Understanding the mind is essential to understanding Buddhism in both its theoretical and practical aspects, for the process of achieving enlightenment is one of systematically purifying and enhancing the mind. Lo-Rig is the second major area of study during a course of intellectual training within the monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism, so Geshe Sherap believes that students who study with enthusiasm will gain a deeper knowledge in how to deal with disturbances of the mind  HH the Dalai Lama says that there are three categories of Buddhist Study: Buddhist Science, Buddhist Philosophy, and Buddhist Religion. Lo-Rig falls in the category of Buddhist Science, and it is not necessary to be a Buddhist to benefit from the study of Lo-Rig.  The class text will be "Mind in Tibetan Buddhism," by Lati Rinbochay, Elizabeth Naper and can be purchased at the center.