The Foundation Program gives you the opportunity to engage in a structured study and meditation program on the essential teachings of the Buddhist spiritual path right here in Lambertville or Doylestown.
Buddhism teaches that to find lasting happiness and meaning in our lives we need to follow a spiritual path. To follow this path it is important to have a close connection with a qualified teacher who can give us personal advice and encouragement, to listen to pure Dharma teachings and to be a part of a strong spiritual community. In this way we are able to gain a deeper understanding of the meaning of Buddha’s teachings, maintain a daily meditation practice that is both focused and powerful, and make genuine spiritual progress.
A Unique Study Program
Through regular teachings and meditation, systematic study, and group discussion, the Foundation Program (FP) offers the same training followed by spiritual practitioners in an unbroken lineage dating back to Buddha Shakyamuni. In this way we can gain authentic experience of the Dharma while still maintaining our contemporary lifestyle. By studying on this program we shall gain great confidence in meditation – from basic techniques for overcoming our everyday problems to practices leading to unsurpassed happiness and permanent inner peace. Warm friendships develop as students inspire each other, sharing insights and experiences of the spiritual path.
What is the structure?
The secret of the Foundation Program’s success lies in the manageable commitment made by the student and in the clear structure of study. Students sign up to study a book or part of a book, agree to attend every class, learn the material, and to take a test at the conclusion of the study. Class meets once a week for two and a half hours. There are two separate programs; one runs on Monday nights and the other on Wednesday nights. If for a suitable reason a student is not able to attend the class in person, he or she agrees to catch up by listening to a podcast of the class. There is also a commitment to participate in at least one chanted prayer session at the Center per month. The students take turns putting up the shrine offerings and setting up the meditation room on the day of their class. In this way they learn about the rituals associated with Buddhist practice.
What happens at a class?
Prior to class, students study an assigned portion of the text, usually a few pages long, and memorize the essential points. The class begins with chanted prayers and guided meditation. The teacher then reads the assigned selection from the book while giving commentary to the text. The students then divide into pairs to discuss the material. The teacher and students conclude by deciding what to meditate on in the next class and how to practice during the coming week.
What books are studied?
The purpose of the Foundation Program is to provide a systematic presentation of particular subjects of Mahayana Buddhism to enable practitioners to deepen their knowledge and experience of Buddhism.
The program comprises the following five subjects, based on Buddha’s Sutra teachings and the corresponding commentaries by Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso:
- The Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, based on the commentary Joyful Path of Good Fortune
- Training the Mind, based on the commentaries Universal Compassion and The New Eight Steps to Happiness
- The Heart Sutra, based on the commentary The New Heart of Wisdom
- Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, based on the commentary Meaningful to Behold
- Types of Mind, based on the commentary How to Understand the Mind
Benefits of the Foundation Program
The benefits of studying and practicing these texts are as follows:
Joyful Path of Good Fortune – we gain the ability to put all Buddha’s teachings of both Sutra and Tantra into practice. We can easily make progress on and complete the stages of the path to the supreme happiness of enlightenment. From a practical point of view, the Stages of the Path is the main body of Buddha’s teachings, and the other teachings are like its limbs.
The New Heart of Wisdom – we gain a realization of the ultimate nature of reality. By gaining this realization we can eliminate the ignorance of self-grasping, which is the root of all our suffering.
Meaningful to Behold – we transform our daily activities into the Bodhisattva’s way of life, thereby making every moment of our human life meaningful.
How to Understand the Mind – we understand the relationship between our mind and its external objects. If we understand that objects depend upon the subjective mind, we can change the way objects appear to us by changing our own mind. Gradually we shall gain the ability to control our mind and in this way solve all our problems.
Read Wishfulfilling Jewels for Dharma practitioners by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso for more about this special program.
- Monday 7:00-9:00 pm, studying How to Understand the Mind.
- Wednesday 9:30-11:30 am, studying Joyful Path of Good Fortune.
You are welcome to drop in on one or two FP classes free of charge to see if they are right for you.
How much will it cost?
The cost is $60 a month to become a monthly member which also includes free admission to General Program Classes at the Center and branches, and discounts at other events. For further questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (609) 397-4828. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.