Teachings on Tibetan Buddhism: weekend seminars


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Weekend seminars

Approaching Mahamudra: Preliminaries and Practices

(Meditation and the Meaning of Lineage)
According to the Buddha, the nature of our minds is awareness, clarity, and emptiness. If we experience our minds this way, we live in harmony with all of those around us, and internally experience great inner wisdom, clarity, and compassion. But discovering this inner essence can be difficult without a method or technique. Therefore, the Buddha taught tranquility and insight meditation to discover and uncover this nature. This weekend seminar will teach both the theory and practice of tranquility and insight meditation, based on the Mahamudra meditation teachings of the Karma Kagyu tradition. It is suitable for all levels of practice and understanding.

Aspiration and Inspiration:
Deepening Our Dharma Practice

(Based on aspiration prayers, wisdom songs, guru yoga, and compassion practice)
The study and practice of the Buddha’s teachings could be said to be a journey of ever-deepening wisdom and compassion. We may have read many books, attended many teachings, and done hours and hours of meditation practice. But it seems there is always more to learn and to cultivate. This workshop will offer advice on how to maintain and deepen our inspiration and aspiration for dharma study and practice over the long haul, and how meditation, recitation, compassion and devotion can our journey even deeper still.

Becoming the Medicine Buddha:
The Practice of Mantra and Visualization

According to the teachings of the Buddha, every being possesses the potential for awakening — the Buddha nature. One way to actualize this nature is through the practice of mantra and visualization. By identifying with a pure form that symbolizes our basic nature, we can cut through confusion and bewilderment and develop our awakened potential. Basic sitting meditation and the visualization practice of the Medicine Buddha will be reviewed in this weekend program.

Bodhicitta: Aspiration and Action

The path to spiritual awakening, according to Buddhist teachings, consists of mindfulness and conscious living, which helps us reduce and slowly eliminate obsessive selfishness, the cause of suffering in the world. Of all the methods for eliminating obsessive selfishness, the greatest, according to the Buddha, are love and compassion. In the teachings, these practices are typified by the practice of Bodhicitta—the mind of awakening—which trains us in the aspiration to be of benefit to all sentient beings, and the actions (such as generosity, ethics, patience, diligence, meditation, and wisdom) that bring our inherent goodness, compassion, and wisdom to fruition. This weekend seminar will introduce the concept of the Bodhisattva Path, and will teach methods of contemplation and meditation that place us directly on the Bodhisattva's Path.

If the Bodhisattva vow is included in the weekend, the Sunday morning session will feature the offering of the Bodhisattva Vow to benefit others and seek awakening on their behalf. The Vow ceremony will be open both to participants and observers. 

Breath After Breath: The Practice of Meditation and Awareness

Bringing the mind "home" is one of the themes of quiet sitting (shamatha) meditation. In Shamatha, we don't seek to place the mind in some sort of artificial state; instead, we allow our mind to come to rest naturally, using techniques (such as breath-awareness, sight-awareness, and sound-awareness) to keep us in the present moment of experience. In this weekend retreat, Lama Kathy will review the basics of quiet sitting meditation and help students work with the difficulties and challenges that arise in meditation, with the goal of making meditation a confident (and daily!) practice.

Chenrezik and the Path of Compassion in Action

Each of us has compassion within us, but we need a method for bringing it forward and filling our heart and our life. Chenrezig (whose name means "the one who sees the suffering of the world") is the bodhisattva who has accomplished transcendent compassion; during this program, we will study his story, mantra and practice and learn how to nurture our own compassionate heart.

 

Cultivating the Compassionate Heart: The Practice of Chenrezik

We all possess compassion, but sometimes it’s tough to bring that compassion out in this tough and difficult world. Through the practice of meditation, we can find that compassion, and through the practice of mantra, we can bring it into focus as a part of our daily life.

This weekend will focus on quiet sitting meditation, compassion meditation and the practice of Chenrezik, the bodhisattva of compassion. Through these three practices, we will find ways to actualize compassion in our daily lives.

Death and Dying in the Tibetan Tradition

This three-session course will cover lectures given by Bardor Tulku Rinpoche concerning the Tibetan teachings on the death process and how to spiritually approach death — and life.

Topics will include basic Buddhist ideas about life and death; contemplation on impermanence (and how the practice brings more enjoyment to life); the phases of death; how to train one’s mind in preparation for death; and how to attend and offer comfort to the dying.

The root text for this teaching, written in the 9th Century by Guru Rinpoche and rediscovered in 19th Century Tibet, has not been translated into English, but one very brief commentary on it by Bardor Tulku Rinpoche is included as an appendix to his book “Rest for the Fortunate,” about the Nyungnay fasting practice.

Cultivating Peace in Life and at Death: The Miracle of Meditation

In a troubled and sometimes frenzied world, peace of mind seems to be a scarce commodity. Meditation helps us cultivate perspective in the face of difficult emotions, and gives a sense of refreshment that can help us be more open and available to those we love and all of those around us. This weekend will emphasize the "miracle" of mindfulness meditation and show how cultivating peace of mind can help us both during our lives and at the time of death. Tibetan Buddhist teachings on the stages of death and how to recognize and work with them also will be taught.

Friday night talk: "Cultivating Peace: The Miracle of Meditation"

Saturday and Sunday: Cultivating Peace: Working with Life; Being at Peace with Death

Guidebook to Compassion: The 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva

The Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva is a classic treasury of Mahayana advice by the Tibetan Buddhist master Ngulchu Thogme. In these 37 four-line verses, Thogme describes how a bodhisattva — a being committed to attaining enlightenment for the benefit of suffering beings — would train in the path of sacred selflessness. His text begins with the bodhisattva's lofty aspiration to benefit others, then works through the Six Perfections (generosity, ethics, patience, diligence, meditation and wisdom), which are the actions that bring about a bodhisattva's enlightenment. Along the way, Thogme describes how a bodhisattva would respond to disappointment, loss, theft, personal injury, insult, and other painful problems of the human condition. The advice challenges our deeply-held self-centered beliefs and shows us the new possibilities opened by a life lived in the condition of love.

This seminar will cover most, if not all, the 37 verses and show a method of practicing with the verses through oral recitation and thoughtful reflection. Each session will include a question period, and meditation instruction will be given in the morning session of each day.

Making and Keeping a Buddhist Shrine

(One day.)

A description of this talk is being prepared for the website.
Meanwhile, please email for that description.

Prayer, Compassion and Devotion

A description of this talk is being prepared for the website.
Meanwhile, please email for that description.

Training in Compassion: The Seven-Point Mind Training

We all treasure the ideals of love and compassion, but may feel we lack the "how" instructions - how do we engender and nurture love and compassion, and bring them to fruition?

The Tibetan Buddhist tradition has a number of teachings on this topic - teachings called "Lojong," or "mind training." One of the more celebrated "how-to" manuals on love and compassion is "The Seven-Point Mind Training," which was written in the 12th Century. In it, author Chekawa Yeshe Dorje tells us how to develop mindfulness and compassion in a logical, easy step-by-step format that is easy to understand and practice.

This program will include a transmission of the root text of the Seven-Point Mind Training as well as instructions on quiet sitting meditation and Tong-Len, a powerful method of compassion meditation that can transform our everyday experiences into the path of awakening.

The Five Paths

A description of this talk is being prepared for the website.
Meanwhile, please email for that description.

The Four Immeasurables

(One-day form only.)

A description of this talk is being prepared for the website.
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The Heart Sutra

(Based on Bokar Rinpoche’s book.)

A description of this talk is being prepared for the website.
Meanwhile, please email for that description.

The Mahamudra Lineage Prayer

(One-talk or one-day form only.)

A description of this talk is being prepared for the website.
Meanwhile, please email for that description.

The Practice of Buddhist Prayer

Since Buddhism is described as a non-theistic faith grounded in self-knowledge and self-realization, one might wonder about the function of prayer and aspiration in such a tradition. Yet, just as a map is needed before undertaking a journey, inspiration and aspiration are needed for the journey inward toward enlightenment. With talks and short meditations, this program will describe the role of aspiration in our spiritual development, and show how self-knowledge can be enhanced by a wish of the heart.

The Six Perfections

The Six Perfections are the heart of the Bodhisattva path and the foundation of the path to complete Enlightenment. Generosity, Ethical Discipline, Patience, Joyous Effort, Concentration, and Wisdom are practiced by Bodhisattvas who have the supreme intention of attaining enlightenment for the sake of others. Lama Kathy guides us on the purpose of these Paramitas (perfections) and helps us understand how to apply each to helps us overcome obstacles, generate wisdom and create positive conditions for now and the future.

How to Live Our Love: Six Perfect Virtues

When we look at our lives, we see a common theme: that being loving and caring brings more happiness to our lives, and that we can be of more benefit to others. But how do we develop love? How do we live out lives of kindness? The teachings of the Buddha say that by developing six particular virtues well, we can actualize our love and become sources of strength for other people. This seminar will teach the foundations for lovingkindness - generosity, ethics, patience, diligence, meditation and wisdom - and show us how to develop them in ourselves and be of benefit to others. The seminar will include instruction in both quiet sitting meditation and compassion meditation.

Practices of Tibetan Buddhism (The Three Yanas)

When we hear about Tibetan Buddhism, we may think of burgundy-robed monks chanting and making sand mandalas, or uplifting speeches by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. But what *is* Tibetan Buddhism? How is it practiced, and how do students progress from quiet sitting meditation through the practices of compassion meditation and mantra meditation? This workshop will cover Tibetan Buddhist practice and offer a "syllabus" of study and practice for those interesting in getting started. Meditation instruction will be included in the program.

The Wheel of Life: Finding Freedom in the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition

(The Twelve Links of Interdependence)

How are prejudices formed? How do memories turn into grudges, and grudges turn into actions we later regret? How is happiness arrived at — and how soon can we make that journey? This weekend seminar describes the Buddhist teachings on interdependence, showing how “we are what we think,” and how our minds — and our experience of life — can be changed for the better.

Tong-len

Compassion is a quality we all wish we had more of; in today’s complex world, the word “compassion” seems to be synonymous with happiness, comfort, and well-being. It’s easy to have compassion for those close to us, but not so easy to have compassion for those we consider “outsiders” or those who trouble us. Sometimes, it’s even hard to have compassion for ourselves. This weekend seminar will review the roots of compassion through Buddhist literature, and discuss ways to use both quiet sitting meditation, and the special meditation called “tong-len” (or, “sending and taking”) to train the mind in love and compassion. Several types of compassion meditation (and their applications in daily life) will be taught and practiced during the weekend.

Tranquility Meditation

(Practice and lecture format.)

A description of this talk is being prepared for the website.
Meanwhile, please email for that description.

Transforming Anger

A description of this talk is being prepared for the website.
Meanwhile, please email for that description.

Transforming Disturbing Emotions

We are subject to them every day, and some of us are held back and even stymied by them. But what are emotions? Where do they come from? And how can we engage them in the most constructive way? This weekend seminar will offer the Buddhist perspective on emotions and ways to promote a more balanced approach to anger, jealousy, and other disturbing emotions. The weekend will include a discussion of quiet sitting meditation and show the three-fold approach to emotions presented in Tibetan Buddhism.

Women in Dharma (An Evening Dharma Chat)

This evening question-and-answer session will discuss any dharma query you might have, but will start off with some questions about the role of gender in dharma practice.

Can women become enlightened? What great women teachers have there been in the history of Buddhism? How can modern women connect to practice and make it their own – and how can men relate to a practice that asks them to develop their compassionate energies?