The Foundations of Buddhism is an online program series in five installments, designed to cover the foundational concepts and philosophies of Buddhism in a way that is self-paced and easily reviewable. Suitable for both beginners and seasoned practitioners, this course provides an excellent opportunity to uncover or revisit some of the most fundamental ideas at the root of the Buddhist tradition.
The Life of the Buddha looks at the biography of the historical Buddha, both before and after his Enlightenment. This timeless story provides a glimpse at the conditions that led to his decision to leave royal life in pursuit of spiritual awakening and freedom from suffering. With special attention paid to the female figures that influenced his path, like Sujata the dairy girl and his wife Yasodhara, Lama Tsultrim’s telling of this crucial story is rich with anecdotes and personal reflections, making it excellent both as a first exposure to Buddhism as well as a re-visiting of this beautiful ancient story.
An Introduction to Buddhism – Teachings & Practice offers a broad overview of the Buddhist tradition from the ground up, with particular focus paid to the Sutrayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana movements in the Buddhadharma. This course includes teachings on The Nine Purification Breaths used in the Tibetan tradition as well as teachings on shamatha (calm abiding meditation), a primary practice of the historical Buddha and a key foundation for all other forms of Buddhist meditation.
The Path of Renunciation covers the original teachings of the Buddha from the Pali canon, taught during the First Turning of the Wheel of Dharma in Sarnath. During this sermon, the Buddha introduced the concepts of the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path, and the Twelve Links of Interdependent Origination. These foundational teachings address the basic experience of suffering – including its nature, causes, process, and methods of amelioration. According to the Buddha, to live one’s life in line with these teachings and renounce the common trappings of cyclic existence ultimately leads to liberation from suffering.
The Path of the Bodhisattva covers the philosophical evolution in Buddhist thought that occurred during the first and second centuries C.E., with more developed teachings on the nature of mind and an increased focus on the cultivation of altruism. This movement gave rise to what we now call the Mahayana, the Great Vehicle of Buddhism. In this vehicle, the goal of meditation practice shifted from the pursuit of individual liberation (pratimoksha) to the vast aspiration to liberate all beings from the bonds of suffering.
The Path of Transformation is an introductory exploration of the Vajrayana vehicle of Buddhism, the tantric path of practice that arose in India and later spread to Tibet with the guru Padmasambhava in the eighth century. In this short course, Lama Tsultrim gives an overview of the philosophy behind this “resultant” approach to Buddhist practice, in which the practitioner uncovers their own inherent enlightened nature through visualization, mantra, and ritual practice. Particular attention is paid to the mandala construct, a kind of energetic “blueprint for sacred reality” found in the tantric tradition. The concept of terma will also be covered, a special tradition of revelatory teachings designed to be uncovered at the appropriate moment in the world’s development in order to address the evolving needs of beings in samsara.