What students have to say about Discovering Buddhism
My introduction to Buddhism began in 2019 with a bird's eye view introduction of the 14 main topics of the various components of the Discovering Buddhism course, spread out over the same number of evenings. The introduction lays a kind of foundation, so to speak, so that you can see the outline of the main topics: Mind, Refuge, Mentor/Teacher, Meditation, Karma, Samsara, Tantra. The beauty of the subsequent Discovering Buddhism course is that you then set out again, as it were, having already looked at the brochure of your journey. In this way you discover the most important topics again in more depth, but now spread over 4, 5 or 6 evenings, which not only gives you more content in terms of material, in the form of handouts, YouTube videos, guided meditations, homework and other encouragement for reflection, but also gives you the opportunity to browse back from a particular topic and refresh and sharpen your insight and knowledge. Being able to attend the evenings both on-site and on-line also creates a sense of community and allows you to have conversations in discussion sessions with your fellow students as well, which is a very welcome addition to the documentation provided. From the topics you are also encouraged to integrate what you have learned, to the best of your ability, in everyday practice. As such, the evenings not only inspire and motivate you to broaden your attention and insight, but also to relate them to the people around you.
I have noticed that it is actually quite pleasant to be engaged with others while looking at Buddhist teachings. One recognizes things and they seem to also go deeper than when I study alone. In my life, with work and young children, it is a challenge not to lose myself in making arrangements and all kinds of practical matters. The weekly get-togethers are a moment of reflection and inspiration for me. Annelies knows very well how to connect the lessons with daily practice and always makes room for sharing experiences and interaction so that they really come to life. Wanda
After reading many books and watching YouTube videos, I was looking for something real and focused.
A friend of mine gave me the tip to check out Maitreya Institute and experience Mahayana Buddhism. This tip turned out to be a life changer for me. I came into a "warm bath" of like-minded people and felt connected in my search for what life really has to offer. Maitreya Institute offers a lot of guidance in both how to meditate and where to start in the explosion of teachings and books. I started Discovering Buddhism with Annelies and it brought me the focus and tranquility to really absorb things in terms of feeling and investigation instead of only absorbing as much knowledge as possible with my head. Annelies makes you feel like you are always sufficient and that we are all beginners on the path, and she brings the students together in fun conversation sessions on the topic of the module. It is a 2-year course and I enjoy blocking the Monday evenings and lighting some incense and then joining my fellow students. Discovering Buddhism and advice from Annelies gives me the space to explore the teachings in daily life at my own speed. If you are interested in what Buddhism is now and what it can mean for you and those around you, Discovering Buddhism modules are a start to beautiful moments and many new warm contacts with those who have similar questions and experiences.
PS: I missed the start of module 1 and entered at module 4, which was no problem and am planning to join the first modules in September 2022. Very much looking forward to it.
Thanks Annelies and Maitreya Institute.
My name is Karen and I am taking the Discovering Buddhism course with Annelies. I like taking a multi-year course, you build a bond with a group of people that you meet weekly. In our case it was online because of the pandemic, but it still felt like we came together as a group in the gompa.
In 2 years, we completed 14 modules, each lasting 6 weeks. The lessons have a fixed structure; we start with a short meditation and motivation, after which the material is discussed via sheets. In between, we are put together in discussion groups to exchange ideas with each other.
Within the group an environment is created in which you feel safe to share things with each other, confidentially. During the lesson there is also ample room for asking questions. After the lesson you receive an extract of the material that was discussed as well as additional material for going deeper. This can sometimes be a bit much, but there is no pressure to take it all in, you do what you feel comfortable with and that you can handle. Even if you don't understand something at first, that's no problem at all, because the subjects come up again and again.
After each module Annelies organizes a Practice Morning consisting of guided meditations on the topic of that module.
Each module also concludes with a test, but this is not mandatory, although it is a good opportunity to check whether you have kind of understood the material. I have experienced it as very valuable that you not only receive the answers, but that Annelies also takes the trouble to check and even supplement your answers.
Our course is almost over now. I have learned a lot in the past two years and am grateful that together with Annelies and my fellow students I was able to explore a piece of the Path!