Basic Buddhism and Methods

This course on Basic Buddhism and Methods comes in two Parts.

Part 1

Part 1 is about applying ethical and meditative methods designed to changing the mind for the better. It is concerned with the practical development of our mind .

People come to meditation courses like this form a wide variety of dispositions and experience. One regular occurrence is that of the lone practitioner with several years of study and meditation by themselves before making their first venture into the Buddhist community. Another may feel trapped in the constraints of life; by anxiety or addiction. Hearing about this course and possibly encouraged by friends they test Buddhism to see if it might offer a path towards contentment. Then, another might just find themselves deeply attracted to the images and sentiments they see connected to Buddhism.

The course then takes as its starting point a wide range of views and motivations. To these, it adds direct experience of the effects of ethics and meditation for training the mind. Many on the course see their minds open up feeling more attentive, caring and engaged and the possibility of becoming more grounded, integrated and in harmony. Self confidence improves as one direct experience yields wisdom from within.

The course is about showing the real possibility of gradual transformation of the mind from where we are now towards a clear calm mind that acts in the world aware and ‘for’ self and other.

Course Plan Part1

Week 1 – From human to Buddha – The inside story of the Buddha and experiencing how it might be to grow like that.

Week 2 – The Gap -Exploring the space between ‘sensations/feelings’, and ’emotions/actions’.

Week 3 – Developing ethics fit for happier humans

Week 4 – Buddhist ethics: principles and precepts

Week 5 – Good conditions for practical meditation – Setting up a ‘meditation space’ , the positive effect of ethics and working with difficulties-hindrances in our practice.,

Week 6 – Our topsy-turvy views from wishful thinking. Wanting things to be as we wish and not as they are. Desiring -and trying to make- things to be permanent, substantial and satisfactory. The Three Lakshanas

Part 2

Part 2 looks to what may help us develop and maintain interest and commitment so we can consolidating and maintain development and have an eye and enthusiasm for our ‘next steps’.

This part the course places the practical development of the mind we explored in Part 1 in the context of Buddhism . Through considering practice in the world and practice in the imaginal realms the course explores our development to a calm and receptive mind able to take on the challenge of steering to the depths or true meaning.

Its at this stage we start to use Pali and Sanskrit language terms. We will try hard to clarify the meaning of terms as we proceed.

Three aspects of Buddhism; the Buddha, the teaching (Dharma) and the community (Sangha) are explored, but they are explored in the dimensions of mind in the world and mind in the imaginal , as in ‘ as above’ – ‘so below’. this seems to fit how the mind experiences.

Buddhist practices is much about taking these aspect to heart and giving them space at the centre of our attention. If we think about it, we all go for refuge to something(s). In Buddhist practice we shift the emphasis more and more from refuge in pleasures of the world towards the wisdom and happiness of the mind arising from the practice of ethic, meditation. It really helps here to bear in mind, the possibility of an enlightened mind, the teachings and the supportive community. As we develop and our minds change in harmony with our practice we can become more aware of our inner life and more direct connecting directly in the imaginal.

In the first dimension, ‘So below’,the mind in the realm of the body is mostly tied to feelings from the senses and reactive responses. In the second, ‘As Above’, the mind in the realm of the imagination, more aware of beauty and connecting with empathy and well wishing with others. These realms correspond to the first two levels of the Trikaya mentions above.

The Buddha
Truth and Teaching:
The Dharma
Supportive Community:
The Sangha
In the realm of the WorldIn the footsteps of the Buddha’s life. Points we can learn from the Buddha’s lifeThe Buddha’s Teaching
4 Noble Truths, 8 Fold Path and Meditation
The value of connecting and developing with others.
In the realm of the ImaginationArchetypes and inner meaning:
Shakyamuni Buddha
Wisdom beyond words:
The Heart Sutra
The White Lotus Sutra
Collective Manifestations of Enlightenment:
The Mandela of the Five Buddha and more

Course Plan Part2

Week 7 Siddhārtha Gautama and other prodigys – People driven by creativity and the emergence of the Dharma

Week 8 The Buddha’s Legacy. From imagination to the archetype, Shakyamuni

Week 9 The Dharma: Teachings from the life of the Buddha. Vision and Transformation

Week 10 Towards Deepest Meaning in the Dharma: The Heart Sutra

Week 11 The Sangha: The spiritual community and ‘mutual support’

Week 12 True meaning and truth in the realm of the imagination: The Arya Sangha and the Bodhisattvas