This course is open to all, providing an in-depth exploration of the foundational Buddhist teachings of the Hinayana through the lens of the Shambhala terma teachings. The emphasis is on cultivating maitri, friendliness to oneself, and on the Shambhala teachings of basic goodness, gentleness and bravery—allowing us to meet the modern human condition with warriorship and dignity.
The Four Noble Truths are used as the overall organizing principle, with the Four Foundations of Mindfulness interwoven to provide a meditative method for embracing the totality of our experience—including pain and suffering—as our practice.
Each of the five courses offers 4 or 5 pre-recorded talks, with 2 additional recorded group conversations and Q&As, making it very easy to include in your schedule.
I. The First Noble Truth: Meeting Suffering with Maitri
With Susan Chapman and Fleet Maull
This course offers an exploration of the nature of suffering from the perspective of the Four Marks of Existence–Impermanence, Suffering, Selflessness and Peace–and how we can meet suffering with maitri (unconditional friendliness). The teachers will also guide students in the exploration and practice of Mindfulness of Body, the first of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness.
The suffering of samsaric existence is the blameless first noble truth. Such suffering is changing and impermanent, and arises from infinite causes and conditions. It feels intensely personal (mine), and, in fact, is one of the bases we use to craft our identity (me and my problems), which is called “mistaking what has no self for a self”. This desynchronized state generates constant underlying fear and anxiety. When we recognize the reality of our existence as it truly is (impermanent, suffering, not mine, and without self-entity), we can experience the peace of nirvana.
II. The Second Noble Truth: The Origin of Suffering, Part I—The Five Skandhas
With Dale Asrael and John Rockwell
Having recognized the truth of suffering and the confusion that is pervasive in our life, we naturally have questions. How does this state of suffering arise? Where does confusion come from? In this in-depth exploration of the Five Skandhas, we will touch these layers or constellations of experience one by one, starting from the unconditioned, innate ground of open space, and see how we fabricate our own world of projections.
III. The Second Noble Truth: The Origin of Suffering, Part II—The Wheel of Life; Karma; and the Twelve Nidanas
With Judith Simmer-Brown and Loden Nyima
The foundational teachings of the Buddha indicate that the suffering we experience in our lives can come to cessation if we recognize, deeply and profoundly, how that suffering has arisen. This requires gentle bravery and deep contemplation, bypassing simplistic notions of how our suffering has arisen.
IV. The Third Noble Truth: Freedom From Suffering
With Suzann Duquette and Daniel Hessey
Contemplating cessation of suffering, we first see the accessibility of the third noble truth as the gap. We are basically good. Realizing this to be true is that simple, and we are glimpsing this all the time.
V. The Fourth Noble Truth: The Path of Shila, Samadhi, and Prajna
With Marianne Bots and Eric Spiegel
We have been studying the Buddha’s first teaching: The Four Noble Truths. After teaching that suffering is pervasive to all experience, that there is a cause to that suffering and that cessation is possible, he then taught a way forward, which we call ”The Path.” In fact, everything he taught and all of our experience as practitioners comprise “The Path.” In this course, we will examine Path from multiple perspectives of what has been taught and what is experienced by we individuals walking this path.