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Discovering Buddhism (DB)

Awakening the limitless potential of your mind, achieving all peace and happiness 

The Discovering Buddhism program is the result of the combined efforts of a number of FPMT teachers and spiritual program coordinators, under the guidance and advice of Lama Zopa Rinpoche. It is an estimated two-year course for which students may receive a certificate of completion upon fulfillment of all requirements.

The aim of the Discovering Buddhism program is to give participants a solid footing in the practice of Mahayana Buddhism. By engaging in this program, you will gain an experiential taste of the Buddha's teachings, meditation retreat experience, and the skills you need to make your life more meaningful.

Within Buddhism, the determining factor of whether a teaching lineage is intact or not is the existence of a direct oral transmission from teacher to disciple, from the historical Buddha to today's living teachers. It is the FPMT's mission to preserve this unbroken lineage and assure that the blessings of the Buddha's words survive for future generations. 

This program is not designed as an academic study of Buddhism but is intended to change your life.

This course is offered in English by Annelies van der Heijden at our centre in Amsterdam and online: DB Amsterdam.

The course consists of 14 core topics in Tibetan buddhism, which will be covered in modules. All modules can be followed separately.

Subject Areas

  1. Mind and Its Potential
  2. How to Meditate
  3. Presenting the Path
  4. The Spiritual Teacher
  5. Death and Rebirth
  6. All About Karma
  7. Refuge in the Three Jewels
  8. Establishing a Daily Practice
  9. Samsara and Nirvana
  10. How to Develop Bodhichitta
  11. Transforming Problems
  12. Wisdom of Emptiness
  13. Introduction to Tantra
  14. Special Integration Experiences

1. Mind and Its Potential

DESCRIPTION

Examine what is “mind,” its nature and function, and how it affects our experience of happiness and suffering. Come explore the differentiation between mind and brain, mind as the creator of our experiences, and the implications of possessing a mind that has no beginning and no end. In addition, learn methods to transform destructive thoughts and attitudes and create a positive and joyous mind.

2. How to Meditate

Basic meditation techniques. Learn the definition and purpose of meditation, how to sit properly, how to set up a meditation session, the different types of meditation techniques one may employ, and how to recognize and deal with obstacles to meditation.

3. Presenting the Path

Get an overview of the entire Tibetan Buddhist path to awakening. Hear about the life story of the Buddha and study the basic teachings of Buddhism. Discover the unique system for putting Buddhist philosophy into practice contained in the lam-rim, or “graduated path to enlightenment.”

4. The Spiritual Teacher

Take the time to investigate the role of the teacher on the spiritual path: the need for a teacher, the qualities of a teacher, the qualities of a student, and how to relate to a teacher for greatest benefit in one’s spiritual life. Consider the challenges we face when thinking of entering into a “guru-disciple” relationship and learn how to overcome these skillfully.

5. Death and Rebirth

Explore the process of death and rebirth and its impact on how we live our lives. Be guided in skillful reflection on the meaning of death and what to expect at the death-time. In this way, fulfill your purpose in life, resolve conflicts, and develop the skills to help both yourself and others at the time of death. Eventually, through Buddhist practice, one can overcome death altogether.

6. All About Karma

Learn the essential facts about the law of cause and effect and generate a clear understanding about how karma works. Discover effective tools to accumulate merit - the cause of happiness and success - and purify mistaken actions done in the past. In addition, explore ways to become adept at dealing with life most effectively and thereby take control of your future.

7. Refuge in the Three Jewels

Get informed about what it means to take refuge in the Three Jewels (Buddha, Dharma and Sangha), and the essential practices of refuge. Find out more about the advantage of taking lay vows and their role in enhancing our spiritual growth.

8. Establishing a Daily Practice

Assemble the tools you need to develop a successful daily practice. Using Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s A DAILY MEDITATION PRACTICE as a guide, become familiar with the elements necessary to generate realizations in the mind. Also, receive some tips for making every action of the day meaningful.

9. Samsara and Nirvana

Investigate what “samsara” is and how we are stuck in it. Find out what “nirvana” is and how to achieve it. Develop the determination to be free from suffering and empower yourself with practical tools to deal with and eliminate disturbing emotions forever.

10. How to Develop Bodhichitta

Come discover the clear meditation instruction available in Tibetan Buddhism that enables us to develop our innate qualities of loving kindness and compassion. Become skilled at applying these techniques to generate the mind of bodhichitta, the wish to attain enlightenment for the benefit of others, known to be the heart of Buddha’s teachings.

11. Transforming Problems

Consider well the disadvantages of self-cherishing and the advantages of cherishing others more than ourselves. Get inspired to “exchange yourself with others,” and then be guided in how to employ the special techniques of mind training or “lo-jong” as a means to transform problems into happiness and learn to like problems as much as ice cream!

12. Wisdom of Emptiness

The realization of emptiness is crucial for the attainment of liberation and enlightenment. Take this opportunity to enhance your ability to bring about this realization. Learn how to develop calm abiding and different methods to use in meditation on emptiness. Practice accumulation of merit and purification of obstacles - indispensable for generating realizations within the mind.

13. Introduction to Tantra

Learn the definition of tantra, how tantra works and why it is a powerful form of practice. Get a broad overview of the four classes of tantra and learn how to practice simple Kriya tantric methods. In addition, find out how to integrate the practices of tantra with lam-rim meditation for optimal results.

14. Special Integration Experiences

By undertaking intensive practices of purification and a minimum two-week lam-rim residential retreat, prepare your mind in the best possible way to gain realizations on the path to enlightenment. Purification practices include: 100,000 prostrations, 3-month Vajrasattva retreat, and Nyung Ne. This is a great way to seal the blessings of this program.