Austin FPMT Study Group
Beginning in May 2018, our study of the 14 modules of Discovering Buddhism will take approximately three years. We will use the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) website to access the course, its videos, teachings (audio and .PDF), meditations, and reading materials. You will need to create an account: https://onlinelearning.fpmt.org/
There is no charge for this course. One of our group has paid for the rights and received permission to share the required passwords.
Some study and viewing of videos outside of class is recommended, though all material will be discussed during our gatherings. The calendar below will show our general progress, usually one session a week.
Please join us in this adventure of mind and heart.
Examine the mind and how it creates happiness and suffering. Learn to transform destructive thoughts and attitudes to create a positive and joyous mind! In this module you will examine what is “mind,” its nature and function, and how it affects our experience of happiness and suffering. You will 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, you will learn methods to transform destructive thoughts and attitudes and create a positive and joyous mind.
Learn basic meditation techniques. You will 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.
The aim of this course is to give you a clear idea of the path to enlightenment, especially its three main components: renunciation, bodhichitta, and the right view of emptiness. You should understand the progressive, step-like structure of the lam-rim, its origin in the teachings of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, the three scopes, where you fit at your present stage of spiritual development, what you need to do next, and how you get from there to enlightenment.
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. You will consider the challenges we face when thinking of entering into a “guru-disciple” relationship and learn how to overcome these skillfully.
Understand life, death and rebirth and the nature of mind. Learn to use fear of death to overcome fear of death. Discover how to use the certainty and imminence of death to enhance your quality of life. Practice analytical and placement meditation. See how the entire path to enlightenment hangs together as a cohesive whole and where the teachings on impermanence and death, the first and last that the Buddha gave, fit in.
This module aims to introduce you to the Buddhist concept of karma, the law of cause and effect, and what it means to take personal responsibility. Using examples from everyday life we will analyze how actions determine their results and cause us to experience either happiness or suffering. We will explore purification practices and establish a daily meditation on karma.
In this module you will be informed about what it means to take refuge in the Three Jewels (Buddha, Dharma and Sangha), and the essential practices of refuge. You will find out more about the advantage of taking lay vows and their role in enhancing our spiritual growth.
Assemble the tools you need to develop a successful daily practice. Using Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s A Daily Meditation on Shakyamuni Buddha (also known as 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.
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 its cause and empower yourself with practical tools to deal with and eliminate disturbing emotions forever.
Discover the clear meditation instructions available in Tibetan Buddhism which enable us to develop our innate qualities of loving kindness and compassion. Learn the skills of 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.
Consider well the disadvantages of self-cherishing and the advantages of cherishing others more than ourselves. Learn 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.
Learn that 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.
Learn the meaning of tantra, how tantra works, and why it is a powerful form of practice if done with the right foundation of understanding and practice. Get a broad overview of the distinction between sutra and tantra, the four classes of tantra and the meaning of deity yoga. In addition, find out how to integrate the practices of tantra with lam-rim meditation for optimal results.
This module 14 ‘Special Integration Experiences’, unlike the previous 13 modules, does not include audio teachings and guided meditations. Instead, it is designed for personal practice, as practice is the tool by which all of the teachings that are heard become oneness with one’s mind and integrated into one’s daily life. The practices in this module are the direct advise of Lama Zopa Rinpoche for anyone wishing to fully experience the results of “Discovering Buddhism”.
Undertaking intensive practices of purification and a minimum two-week lam-rim residential retreat prepares your mind in the best possible way to gain realizations on the path to enlightenment. Purification practices include: 100,000 prostrations, 100,000 Vajrasattva mantras and Nyung Nä retreats. This is a great way to seal the blessings of this program.