Structured study and meditation on Buddha’s essential teachings
Buddhism teaches that to find lasting happiness and meaning in our lives we need to follow a spiritual path. To follow this path it is important to have a close connection with a qualified Teacher who can give us personal advice and encouragement, to listen to pure Dharma teachings and to be a part of a strong spiritual community. In this way we are able to gain a deeper understanding of the meaning of Buddha’s teachings, maintain a daily meditation practice that is both focused and powerful, and make genuine spiritual progress.
A UNIQUE STUDY PROGRAM
Through regular teachings and meditation, systematic study, and group discussion, the Foundation Program offers the same training followed by spiritual practitioners in an unbroken lineage dating back to Buddha Shakayamuni. In this way we can gain authentic experience of the Dharma while still maintaining our contemporary lifestyle. By studying on this program we shall gain great confidence in meditation – from basic techniques for overcoming our everyday problems to practices leading to unsurpassed happiness and permanent inner peace. Warm friendships develop as students inspire each other, sharing insights and experiences of the spiritual path.
WHAT IS THE STRUCTURE?
The secret of the Foundation Program’s success lies in the manageable commitment made by the student and in the clear structure of study. Students sign up to study a book or part of a book, agree to attend every class, learn the material, and to take a test at the conclusion of the study. Class meets twice a week for two hours. If for a suitable reason a student is not able to attend the class in person, he or she agrees to catch up by listening to a podcast of the class. There is also a commitment to participate in at least one chanted prayer session at the Centre per week. Generally, the students take turns putting up the shrine offerings and setting up the meditation room on the day of their class. In this way they learn the rituals associated with Buddhist practice.
WHAT HAPPENS AT A CLASS?
Prior to class, students study an assigned portion of the text, usually a few pages long, and memorize the essential points. The class begins with chanted prayers and guided meditation. The teacher then reads the assigned selection from the book and gives commentary to the text. There is then an opportunity for paired and group discussion.
WHAT BOOKS ARE STUDIED?
The program comprises the following five subjects, based on Buddha’s Sutra teachings and the corresponding commentaries by Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso:
- The Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, based on the commentary Joyful Path of Good Fortune
- Training the Mind, based on the commentaries Universal Compassion and Eight Steps to Happiness
- The Heart Sutra, based on the commentary Heart of Wisdom
- Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, based on the commentary Meaningful to Behold
- Types of Mind, based on the commentary Understanding the Mind
WHAT BOOK IS CURRENTLY BEING STUDIED?
On April 2, 2012 we will begin the study of Eight Steps to Happiness: The Buddhist Way of Loving Kindness. This inspiring book reveals essential methods for developing universal love and compassion, the source of true happiness for both self and others. It gives a detailed and practical commentary to eight beautiful verses that comprise one of Buddhism’s best-loved and most enduring teachings, Eight Verses of Training the Mind. Composed by the great Tibetan Bodhisattva, Langri Tangpa, this short poem shows how we can transform all life’s difficulties into valuable spiritual insights.
The Foundation Program is taught by Gen Kelsang Suma.
WHEN IS THE CLASS?
Class is Monday night from 5:30 – 9:00 pm.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
The annual FP membership is $80 a month. This membership also includes free admission to all General Program Classes and half price admission to other events held at the Centre. FP correspondence is $45 a month and includes access to downloads of FP classes.
For further information please read Wishfulfilling Jewels for Dharma practioners by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.