These courses are open to all for general study and practice.

Improving Your Practice - After starting a regular practice in the Vajrayana tradition many practitioners face various difficulties in their meditation. Some practitioners are too relaxed and their visualization lacks vividness, others have to face their erratic mind and encounter difficulties staying focused on the object of their meditation. In addition, with a regular daily practice it is sometimes easy to slip into a routine and lose the necessary components of every Vajrayana practice such as cultivation of bodhicitta.

In order to make progress in the process of mind training in the Buddhist tradition one needs to overcome these challenges. This class will address these and other most common obstacles to successful meditation and ways to deal with them. Thus this class is designed for those who want to improve the quality of their practice and make sustained progress in their meditation. In order to make this happen we will explore in theory and practice three aspects of our mind in relation to meditation: attention, emotion and consciousness. Each of these topics will be reviewed and discussed from Western scientific and traditional Vajrayana Buddhist points of view. Practical implications of this knowledge for one's personal practice will be the core of the class. For example, we will have a look at results of some recent Western research on emotion and attention and relate it to Buddhist views of mindful awareness and virtuous emotions. Implications of such comparisons for meditation practice will be discussed and students will be encouraged to apply them in their personal practice.

What Did the Buddha Say? Exploring the Sutras (Part 1)This class explores some of the documented stories and teachings of the Buddha, primarily from the Sutras (both Pali and Sanskrit sources), as well as commentaries by the authors. The intent is to give Vajrayana practitioners a fuller understanding of selected foundational texts of the tradition, as well as to challenge some of our assumptions and understandings. The course will include presentation and discussion. Resources include: 

  • Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditions – The Dalai Lama & Thubten Chodron
  • The Dhammapada – Gil Fronsdal
  • In the Buddha’s Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon* – Edited and introduced by Bhikkhu Bodhi

* This will be the main text for the course and purchase is recommended

What Did the Buddha Say?  Exploring the Sutras (Part 2): This class continues Part, exploring some of the documented stories and teachings of the Buddha, primarily from the Sutras (both Pali and Sanskrit sources), as well as commentaries by the authors. The intent is to give Vajrayana practitioners a fuller understanding of selected foundational texts of the tradition, as well as to challenge some of our assumptions and understandings. The course will include presentation and discussion.

BOOK SOURCES:

  • In the Buddha’s WordsAn Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon* – Edited and introduced by Bhikkhu Bodhi
  • The Teachings of the Compassionate BuddhaEarly Discourses, the Dhammapada and Later Basic Writings – E.A. Burtt (Editor)
  • The Buddha before BuddhismWisdom from the Early Teachings – Gil Fronsdal
  • Stars at Dawn: Forgotten Stories of the Women in the Buddha’s Life – Wendy Garling

    *This will be the main text for the course and purchasing a copy is recommended.

100-Day Ngondro - The Preliminary Practices to the Path of Tantra (Part 1)

This class will be divided into two 7-week parts, completing the entire 100-day practice, and is a prerequisite for most advanced Vajrayana practices. The ngondro (preliminary practices) provide a very important foundation for the practices of tantra or Vajrayana, yet the high number of repetitions often required can become a serious barrier to lay practitioners. The great master Longchenpa shows us an alternative way to accomplish this in a more compact package. This course is also an excellent refresher for advanced practitioners who have completed the ngondro practices previously. They get even better through repetition.

This class is based on a book by HE Jigmed Lodro Rinpoche explaining the 100-Day Ngondro as described by Longchenpa (PDF in the course), along with The Words of My Perfect Teacher by Patrul Rinpoche (optional).

Ngondro is essential to establishing our attitude and motivation through the Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind. Then, our mental obscurations, afflictive emotions and other mental fixations are systematically addressed through contemplations on the Four Immeasurables, Guru devotion, Bodhicitta, and the Six Perfections. In addition, these practices provide a solid understanding for advanced Vajrayana practices. 

100-Day Ngondro - The Preliminary Practices to the Path of Tantra (Part 2)

This is the second of two 7-week parts, completing the entire 100-day practice, and is a prerequisite for most advanced Vajrayana practices. The ngondro (preliminary practices) provide a very important foundation for the practices of tantra or Vajrayana, yet the high number of repetitions often required can become a serious barrier to lay practitioners. The great master Longchenpa shows us an alternative way to accomplish this in a more compact package. This course is also an excellent refresher for advanced practitioners who have completed the ngondro practices previously. They get even better through repetition.

This class is based on a book by HE Jigmed Lodro Rinpoche explaining the 100-Day Ngondro as described by Longchenpa (see PDF link), along with The Words of My Perfect Teacher by Patrul Rinpoche (optional text).

Ngondro is essential to establishing our attitude and motivation through the Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind. Then, our mental obscurations, afflictive emotions and other mental fixations are systematically addressed through contemplations on the Four Immeasurables, Guru devotion, Bodhicitta, and the Six Perfections. In addition, these practices provide a solid understanding for advanced Vajrayana practices. 

This course looks in detail at the Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Liberation through Hearing in the Bardo (bardo todol) by Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) according to Kharma Lingpa, translated with commentary by Francesca Fremantle and Chogyam Trungpa. The course will also look at a variety of other related practices and texts dealing with death and dying. Although this is an "advanced" course, there are no prerequisites and anyone with interest is welcome to participate. Nevertheless, some background in Tibetan Buddhism and its practices is highly recommended. For example, please see our Essentials of Tibetan Buddhism series of 8 courses.