Over 2500 years ago, Shakyamuni Buddha gained direct insight into the nature of reality, perfected the qualities of wisdom, compassion, and power, and revealed the path to his disciples.
In the 11th Century, Atisha brought these teachings to Tibet in the form of the lam-rim – the stages on the path to enlightenment. The lam-rim tradition found its pinnacle in the teachings of the great Tibetan saint Lama Tsongkhapa in the 14th Century, and these teachings continued to pass from teacher to student up to this present day.
When Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche transmitted these teachings to their disciples, they imparted a deeply experiential tradition of study and practice, leading thousands of seekers to discover the truth of what the Buddha taught. This tradition is the core of Discovering Buddhism.
Discovering Buddhism is a two-year, fourteen-module series that gives the student a solid foundation in the teachings and practice of Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism. This program is offered online through the FPMT Online Center and as a Homestudy Program (details below).
The 13-part Discovering Buddhism DVD set is an inspiring addition to the Discovering Buddhism program and also can be enjoyed independent of the program. It contains engaging teachings on each topic, taught by eminent Tibetan lamas and experienced Western teachers.
How it Works
Each Discovering Buddhism module consists of teachings, meditations and practices, readings, assessment questions, and a short retreat. Students may do some or all of these components of each course, as they wish and are interested. Those who complete all the components receive a completion card for that course. When all fourteen modules have been completed, students receive a certificate of completion! This certificate awards the satisfaction of having completed a very comprehensive engagement with the path to enlightenment. The completion certificate is symbolic of your commitment to spiritual awakening. Rejoice deeply when you receive it!
The courses do not need to be completed in order. Module 14 includes practice retreats available at many FPMT centers.
Discovering Buddhism at Home participants discuss DB topics with each other via an online discussion board. This feature gives students the opportunity to enhance their learning experience through virtual discussion groups. In addition, senior FPMT teachers take part in the discussions, answering questions and overseeing the conversation. FAQ pages help the student navigate the program and provide the best of the discussion board’s questions and answers.
Each module takes approximately two months to complete. Upon completion of a module, students may have their assessment questions evaluated by senior FPMT teachers and receive personal feedback.
Just as with the center program, students who complete each module receive a completion card, and those who complete all fourteen modules receive a certificate of completion.
The 14 Discovering Buddhism Modules
1. Mind and Its Potential
Examine the mind and how it creates happiness and suffering. Learn to transform destructive thoughts and attitudes to create a positive and joyous mind!
2. How to Meditate
Learn the definition and purpose of meditation, how to sit, how to set up a meditation session, different meditation techniques, and how to deal with obstacles to meditation.
3. Presenting the Path
Get an overview of the entire Tibetan Buddhist path to awakening. Study the life story of the Buddha and discover a unique system for putting Buddhist philosophy into practice – the lam-rim, or “graduated path to enlightenment.”
4. The Spiritual Teacher
Investigate the role of the teacher on the spiritual path: the need for a teacher, the qualities of teacher and student, and how to relate to a teacher for greatest benefit.
5. Death and Rebirth
Explore the process of death and rebirth and its impact on how we live our lives. Learn to fulfill your purpose in life, resolve conflicts, and develop the skills to help yourself and others at death.
6. All About Karma
Learn the essential facts about the law of cause and effect. Explore ways to deal with life most effectively and take control of your future!
7. Refuge in the Three Jewels
Find out what it means to take refuge in the Three Jewels and the essential practices of refuge. Learn about the advantage of taking lay vows and their role in enhancing our spiritual growth.
8. Establishing a Daily Practice
Assemble the tools you need to develop a successful daily practice and find out the elements necessary to generate realizations. Get some tips for making every action meaningful.
9. Samsara and Nirvana
Investigate what “samsara” is and how we are stuck in it. Find out what “nirvana” is and how to achieve it. Learn how to be free from suffering and empower yourself with practical tools to deal with and eliminate disturbing emotions forever.
10. How to Develop Bodhichitta
Discover practices that develop our innate qualities of compassion. Learn to apply these techniques to generate the mind of bodhichitta, known as the very heart of Buddha’s teachings.
11. Transforming Problems
Learn the disadvantages of self-cherishing and the advantages of cherishing others. Learn to employ the special techniques of mind training (lojong) to transform problems into happiness.
12. Wisdom of Emptiness
The realization of emptiness is crucial for the attainment of liberation and enlightenment. Learn to develop calm abiding and different methods of meditation on emptiness.
13. Introduction to Tantra
Learn what tantra is, how it works, and why it is a powerful form of practice. Get a broad overview of the four classes of tantra and learn to practice simple Kriya tantric methods. Learn to integrate tantra with lam-rim meditation for optimal results.
14. Special Integration Experiences
By undertaking intensive practices of purification and a two-week lam-rim retreat, you prepare your mind in the best way to realize the path to enlightenment. Purification practices include: 100,000 prostrations, 3-month Vajrasattva retreat, and Nyung Nä. This is a great way to seal the blessings of this program!
Discovering Buddhism at Home is available from The Foundation Store.
Discovering Buddhism is also available as an online course on the FPMT Online Learning Center. You may purchase individual modules of the online course from The Foundation Store or you may gain complete access to the Online Learning Center by becoming a Friend of FPMT at the Dharma Supporter level or higher.