Now it is time to put what you know into practice, and what better place to start than by leading short guided lam rim meditations for beginner's?! The Monday night meditations fulfil this criteria. Classes like this have proven very popular at other centres, and we hope to establish this in 2008.
The Lam.rim Chen.mo study group is an on-going class designed especially for people who have completed the Discovering Buddhism course. It meets just about every Sunday, to study the Lam Rim in depth, using Geshe Tashi Tsering's commentary given during the BSP in 2004.
We also recomend that some time during Discovering Buddhism you attend one of Geshe-la's 10-day lam rim retreats, held in January at Chenrezig Institute. You can also attend the Nyung-ne's, and even ask Geshe-la about starting prostrations or doing a Vajrasattva retreat.
This is a 3-year course of 13 units. We began our first round at the beginning of 2002, completing about 4 units a year, and finished at the end of 2004. The second round began in 2005, and the third will begin in 2008. The 14th unit of Special Integration Practices (retreats and prostrations) can be completed at other centres or privately at home. Other FPMT centres within Australia and around the world offer this course, so you can attend units at any centre, and complete the course that way. You can also do most units as a homestudy package with email support.
We start at 10 am sharp, and end around 5 pm. We have six sessions throughout the day, each with a short teaching and guided meditation on a section of the topic. We sometimes have small group research on specified areas, utilising the resources of our library. Each group then reports back to the rest of the class about their topic. In the (habitually sleepy!) session after lunch we watch the DVD made by FPMT especially for Discovering Buddhism. A vegetarian lunch is also provided for free. These retreat days, although challenging, are about as close to a social activity as we get here at LTC, and are a rare chance to get to know our fellow Dharma brothers and sisters. The day is also open to anyone with an interest in the topic.
The classes continue rain, hail or shine. In the classe between units we have either a Q&A on the topic, or focus on developing our study techniques, learning how to mind-map, how to take notes, and tricks for memorisation. In a word - how to make study enjyable and effective.
We may also use this time as 'catch-up', tackling some of the more difficult topics of the previous unit, or as an introduction and background to the coming unit. For instance, before the Developing Bodhicitta class, we had four in-depth classes on equanimity, the crucial foundation for this practice. Tapes for these classes are also available if you wish to borrow them. We also recommend you keep coming to these classes so as to not break the momentum. We all know how difficult it is to come back once we stop!
No, you do not need to be a member of LTC to do this course, but you may want to become a member so you can use our extensive library for your study and you can borrow the tapes if you need to catch up on missed classes. (Even if you are already a member of another FPMT centre, you must still become a member of LTC in order to borrow our books). Becoming a member also helps keep the centre running, as membership fees are our only source of income apart from donations. Among the many benefits, members receive regular transcripts of Geshe-la's Friday night teachings, which are often very relevant to the topics we are studying.
No. There are only 2 texts that we definitely suggest you purchase - The Wish-fulfilling Golden Sun (which you receive when you first sign up) and Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand (which is used throughout the entire 13 unit course). Although there are several books in each unit that you are recommended to buy, often the cost of books in Australia can be prohibitive. For this reason we just photocopy the salient points or chapters, and include them in your Required Reading packets, along with any other extra notes from Eddie. We also have copies of all the required and recommended books in our library.
For the first unit there is a suggested donation of $50. This covers photocopy of notes (Required Reading packet) for the particular unit, an information booklet about the entire course, and your own copy of the Lam Rim text by Lama Zopa Rinpoche The Wish-fulfilling Golden Sun. For all subsequent units, we only ask for a $30 suggested donation (to cover photocopying the Required Reading packets), so as to keep the course affordable.
On top of this we ask for the regular $5 suggested donation per evening (to keep the centre running) and the $40 suggested donation for the one day retreat at the end of the unit. If you are experiencing financial difficulty, please contact Miffi to ask about an alternative way to contribute, as we never want it be said that you couldn't attend classes for lack of money.
We suggest you come to a few of the current classes firsthand get the feel for them, before you officially sign up or buy any textbooks. We encourage a 'try before you buy' approach. If the class suits you, you can officially join by putting your name down and giving a $20 deposit. Please book at least one week before the commencement date, or you will miss out on the class Required Readings and photocopies.
No, the classes are open to all. Please feel free to come to the class whenever you can, and just make the usual $5 donation. The class has around 30 students, and about one quarter come whenever they can, attending on an 'unofficial' level, due to family commitments, tertiary study or work.
Usually people just wait until that particular unit cycles around again, and catch up that way. At the end of each unit we put all the classes and the retreat day onto CD in .mp3 format, and make it available from our library. You can borrow these CDs to study at home, and then do the exam or interview with Eddie to complete the unit. In this way you can gradually catch up with all the units we have covered so far.
You can also purchase the "Discovering Buddhism at Home" package from FPMT, which comes with tapes and video, and is a complete correspondence course. Another option is to do part of the course at Chernezig Institute, or some other FPMT centre. Each centre has a slightly different way of offering the units. At Chenrezig Institute they offer a unit on the first weekend of the month, and then the retreat on the first weekend of the following month. This may be more convenient for some of you, and easier to catch up with.
If you miss a class you can listen to the soundfile of the class on the Member's Area of our website, as we upload all our classes on a weekly basis (membership is $140 per year). We make 2 tapes per class. Borrowing the tape is free of charge. Please bring the tape back promptly the following week, as there is always a waiting list for them. You can also borrow the tape if you simply wish to listen to the class again. You can also borrow the tapes to catch up if you miss the retreat day, although this is not recommended, as it is quite important you attend the day in person, as it is an integration experience.
What is a pass? There is no such thing of course! We pass when we realise the topic, when our mind changes, when we subdue anger - when we reach enlightenment! However, just by attending you will at least know more than you did at the beginning. You can 'pass' this class simply by completing all the required activities:
Attend the classes. If you miss a class you can borrow the tape to catch up, and then bring it back the next week. People also borrow the tape if they want to hear the class again.
Do the homework, as best as you are able. There are a lot of readings, so read as best you can, but enjoy yourself, don't stress! And watch your mind throughout the week and try to apply these teachings to your everyday life.
Attend the retreat. Come to the 1-day retreat here at LTC led by Eddie Peet. If you cannot make it, then you may be able to catch up by attending the relevant weekend retreat or course at Chenrezig Institute, with Geshe Tashi Tsering or Ven. Tsapel (please phone CI for details). There may also be extra required retreats, like doing a Nyung-Ne, for certain units.
Do the exam. You can do this in the form of a private interview with Eddie, or you can do a take-home written exam, or write a board game, a song, a story or a cartoon - as long as you can clearly illustrate the topics Eddie asks us to learn.
When you complete a unit (however successfully or not) you receive a beautiful certificate of completion from LTC. If you complete all 13 units, as well as the special integration practices of unit 14, you receive a certificate from Lama Zopa Rinpoche himself, showing a completion of the entire three year program.
Each unit runs on Wednesday evenings for about 6-8 weeks, with some larger topics being a 10-week course. We offer around six units per year, not necessarily in the order in the book. Check the Buddhist Classes section of this website to see which units we have already covered.
This class is much more structured than other classes at LTC. We have homework, set material to cover, and an exam at the end. The class is also quite large, with around 30 students, while the other week-day classes only have around 15-20 students.
This is an in-depth class, so the pace is quite intense. A lot of difficult material is covered in a relatively short time. For this reason we recommend you start on a Tuesday or Thursday night, or attend both for a while. Relative to other classes in our program it is an intermediate class - but we are a beginner's centre - so relative to overall serious Buddhist study it is an introductory class.
You don't, but it helps. This course is for people interested in seriously investigating Buddhism, but are not necessarily a Buddhist already. It is also for Buddhists who want to deepen and clarify their understanding of the fundamentals of the Mahayana Buddhist path.
We recommend at a minimum that you do the Foundation Course first, so you become familiar with the terminology and structure of the teachings.
Buddhism is like a science, it is a rigorous discipline. A degree of understanding of key Buddhist concepts like karma and rebirth is essential for this class. For this reason we recommend you start on the Tuesday or Thursday evenings, or at least attend both classes for a while, until you get a grip on some basic Buddhist terminology.
However, for many students in this class, it was their first time to a Buddhist centre! If you relish hard work and challenging ideas, you will greatly enjoy this class. Whatever your level of study, the common experience is feeling thrown in the deep end. This feeling doesn't seem to go away exactly - you just get used to it and start to experience it as a pleasant feeling!
You will have a comprehensive introduction to Mahayana Buddhism and the complete path to enlightenment, a rare thing in the haphazard west! You will have a structure to hang every other piece of Dharma you hear. Every subsequent teaching on these topics will become easier to comprehend, and you will be able to recognise where it fits in to the bigger picture. This course is also an essential preparation for the Buddhist Studies Program (BSP) taught by Geshe Tashi Tsering at Chenrezig Institute. You will also have an experiential understanding of these topics, and if you apply these teachings there is no doubt you will be a happier and kinder person.