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The Foundation Study Programme

The Foundation Program (FP) is designed for students who have gained a basic understanding of Kadampa Buddhist practice and are interested in pursuing a formalized and committed study program.

Through regular teachings and meditation, systematic study, and group discussion, the Foundation Program 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.

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 Thursday 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 recording of the class. There is also a commitment to participate in at least one chanted-prayer session at the Center per month. The students participate in 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.

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.

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.

Five subjects

The program comprises the following five subjects, based on Buddha’s Sutra teachings and the corresponding commentaries by Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso:

1. The Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, based on the commentary, Joyful Path of Good Fortune
2. Training the Mind, based on the commentaries, Universal Compassion and Eight Steps to Happiness
3. The Heart Sutra, based on the commentary, Heart of Wisdom
4. Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, based on the commentary, Meaningful to Behold
5. Types of Mind, based on the commentary, How to Understanding the Mind

To join the Foundation Program you would have to become a Foundation Member of the Vajrapani Buddhist Centre. To become a member, the monthly fee is R490. This includes free admission to Drop-in Meditation Classes and Retreats at the Center. To find out more about the Foundation Program, contact Jonathan Morcom at epc@meditation.org.za

Books that we are studying right now

Thursday Evening FP (from 18:00 - 20:00)

How to Understand the Mind

This book offers us deep insight into our mind, and shows how an understanding of its nature and functions can be used practically in every day experience to improve our lives.

Part 1 is a practical guide to developing and maintaining a light, positive mind – showing how to recognize and abandon states of mind that arms us, and to replace them with peaceful and beneficial ones.

Part 2 describes different types of mind in detail, revealing the depth and profundity of the Buddhist understanding of the mind. It concludes with a detailed explanation of meditation, showing how by controlling and transforming our mind we can attain a lasting state of joy, independent of external conditions.

Monday Evening FP (from 18:15 - 20:15)

Joyful Path of Good Fortune

A clear and comprehensive explanation of the entire path to enlightenment. We all have the potential for self-transformation, and a limitless capacity for the growth of good qualities, but to fulfil this potential we need to know what to do along every stage of our spiritual journey. With this book, Geshe Kelsang offers us step-by-step guidance on the meditation practices that will lead us to lasting inner peace and happiness. With extraordinary clarity, he presents all Buddha’s teachings in the order in which they are to be practised, enriching his explanation with stories and illuminating analogies. This is a perfect guidebook to the Buddhist path.

For more information on the Foundation Programme contact: epc@meditation.org.za

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