Introduction to Meditation and Buddhism Course

Week1 Buddhism and the Buddha

Welcome, Introductions, Clarification (5mins)

  • Welcome everybody. Lets day hello to each other.
  • Introduce self: The reason I’m wearing this kesa and have a Sanskrit name is that I am a member of Triratna Buddhist Order.

Overview of the course (5 mins)

  • On this course we will explore some of the basic practises of Buddhism; exploring the Buddhist view, ethics, mediation and insights.
  • Each evening will be split between exploration of Buddhism/practice of meditation after the tea break. So each evening in 3 parts: Buddhism – tea – Meditation.
  • You don’t need to think of oneself as Buddhist to explore Buddhism
  • This course can be seen as self-contained, but we hope you will carry on. There is also opportunity of staying in touch with people who may be more likely to share your outlook and aspirations.
  • A part2 course follows on from this part1 where we explore the teachings of Buddhism in more depth.
  • Completion of these introductory courses will put you in a position where you will be able to see your way forward in studying and practising Buddhism if that is your wish.
  • Something going on just about every night, and we run regular weekend events, retreats, etc. The Centre is the hub of a thriving, friendly community of Buddhist practitioners.

Individual goals (paper and pens needed)

Personal reflection 5 mins

  • What do you want to get out of the course; why are you here
  • Write main goals on a piece of paper
  • Keep this to refer to at end (to see whether you have got what you wanted, or perhaps got something else you didn’t know you wanted!)

Small group discussion 15 mins

  • Share/compare goals and reasons for being here

Whole group/flipchart 5 mins

  • Bring out main themes, and relate these to the two meditations and the content of the course.

Brief introduction to Buddhism and the Buddha5 mins

  • What Buddhism is not: not a religion as normally understood, because it does not presuppose a creator God; not a mere philosophy, because while it is a very logical tradition, it built on a knowledge of reality beyond words and words and concepts. Central to Buddhism is developing a warm receptive heart as well as conceptual ability;
  • Its intermediate goal is to take us to a state of a happy well-adjusted human
  • It goes beyond this saying practice like this, and you will grow into the sort of person who sees reality more clearly, experiences more deep happiness, can live a more meaningful and fulfilled life culminating in enlightenment.
  • The Buddha was a human with exceptional talents an prodigy.
  • By his own volition and effort he reached a much higher level of awareness and ‘woke up’ to direct experience of the nature of reality beyond all clinging to desires.. Buddha means one who is awake. Through his compassion he devised a path to help others to wake up in a similar way.
  • What Buddhism is: “a path”, “a vision?” “a spiritual tradition that aims to help human beings become happier, by helping us to become saner, by helping us to see things more clearly, by helping us to become emotionally warmer and more positive, and by helping us to liberate ourselves from our habitual patterns and assumptions about ourselves. By helping us to grow, to manifest more of what we could be, and ultimately to see into the nature of reality.”

Buddhism about becoming happier, but takes a radical approach to how to achieve this.

Some ‘Operational Concepts’ 5 mins

Buddhism is not a faith. But it offers us some concepts we can try out to see if they work. Invite to try these out over the period of the course – we’re not going to argue about them in an abstract way, and if you don’t want to accept them, that’s fine.

These concepts are:

  • We can change. Human beings are not fixed by their heredity or potty training or whatever. We have tremendous potential, and the only way to be really happy is to uncover and manifest more and more of this potential.
  • Happiness comes from inside, not from what we have around us or what we possess or what we consume. We know this. Go on a cruise, go to an expensive resort – you’ll see plenty of discontent. Comes from inner contentment, from positive emotion and inner warmth, a sense of ones own value and even nobility, from freedom from the sort of silly concerns we often fret about, from real warm relationships, from living a meaningful life.
  • We are interrelated. Happiness does not come from focussing on ourselves and getting what we want. . It comes from overcoming our narrow perspective and becoming the larger being we could be. If you like, comes from becoming more like our true selves. This includes being more other-orientated and more altruistic, more focussed on goals that go beyond satisfying our own wants.

So :

Final Thought for the Day

  • Buddhism is about becoming happier
  • But takes a radical approach to how we achieve this
  • Happiness comes from inside, and we can change to become happier

Offers us ways to do this, and a context that supports and helps us.

Tea Break

Intro to Mindfulness of Breathing

Body scan and meditation practice