The Bodhisattva Path of Wisdom and Compassion (Birmingham)

with Judy Lief

March 21st—June 20th

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  • $100 Standard Price
  • $120 Patron Price
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We recently finished a year-long study of the first turning of the Buddha’s teachings in the Shambhala Online course, Foundations for Freedom: The Hinayana.  Now, once the essential foundation of the hinayana teachings has been laid, the next step begins with opening the focus of practice to include the world beyond oneself. This personal paradigm shift is the gate to the mahayana teachings, which will be presented systematically in this course based on Volume Two of the Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma. The mahayana begins with the perception of shunyata, the essential emptiness of all phenomena, and with the compassion that naturally arises from that understanding. Judith L. Lief compiled and edited the teachings in the Profound Treasury and is our guide through the teachings and practices of the Great Vehicle as they were taught by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

The course will be presented through Zoom on fourteen Sunday nights from 6:00 – 8:00 pm, extending from March 21 to June 20.  There are seven recorded talks, which will be presented every other Sunday.  The reading assignments include most of Volume 2 of the Profound Treasury, and we will use the weeks between the talks as time to do the readings on our own and to meet on the intervening Sundays for our own discussion and contemplation of the material. 

The course schedule is:

Sunday, March 21:  Talk 1: Beginning Genuinely – In the first lesson we'll review the basics of hinayana path—including the four noble truths and the notion of taking refuge. We'll also learn how the concepts of shila (discipline), samadhi (practice), and prajna (view/insight) apply to this path.

Sunday, March 28: Our own discussion and contemplation

Sunday, April 4:  Talk 2: Lightning Flashing in the Sky – In this lesson, we'll define bodhichitta—both relative and absolute, or ultimate. What inspires bodhichitta in our daily lives? How do we experience glimpses of openness? We'll start to grapple with the concept of basic goodness. We'll also contemplate how joy plays a part in the path of the bodhisattva, even though we are relating directly with suffering all the time.

Sunday, April 11:  Our own discussion and contemplation

Sunday, April 18:  Talk 3: Opening the Heart – In this lesson, we'll describe the four limitless ones and contemplate offering them to the six realms. We'll aspire to offer the four limitless ones in everyday life and gently notice our limitations in doing so. We'll also explore the difference between the four brahmaviharas and the four limitless ones.

Sunday, April 25:  Our own discussion and contemplation

Sunday, May 2:  Talk 4: Prajnaparamita – What is emptiness, and what keeps us from experiencing it in our everyday lives? What is Madhyamika, or the Middle Way? In this lesson we'll explore these questions as we also learn about twofold egolessness, the differences between relative and ultimate truth, and how we trap ourselves in relative reality.

Sunday, May 9:  Our own discussion and contemplation

Sunday, May 16:  Talk 5: Engaging with the World – In this lesson we'll define the paramitas—or "techniques of nongrasping"—and learn to practice deliberate compassion by working with aspiration and intention. You'll learn the difference between idiot compassion and genuine compassion. Together, we'll explore the ideal of the bodhisattva as one who dives directly into challenging situations.

Sunday, May 23:  Our own discussion and contemplation

Sunday, May 30:  Talk 6:  Fifty-nine Reminders to Wake Up – In this lesson, we'll practice tonglen—or sending and taking. We'll use the lojong slogans of Atisha as reminders of how to train the mind. We'll also consider some benchmarks for whether or not our practice is working.

Sunday, June 6:  Our own discussion and contemplation

Sunday, June 13:  Talk 7: A Map of the Journey – In this final lesson, we'll reflect on the direction the mahayana path is taking us. We'll also define the five paths of accumulation, unification, seeing, meditation, and no more learning.

Sunday June 20:  Our own concluding discussion and contemplation

Participants will need the book, The Bodhisattva Path of Wisdom and Compassion: The Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma, Volume Two, which is available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback versions.