About Ashoka

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 A glimpse

Bewildered and dissatisfied, trapped in the prism of our own inner obsessions, many of us view the world and our fellow beings as something foreign, alien, and often threatening.

And yet! In our lives many of us do catch — however briefly — glimpses of a different, more meaningful connection, a freedom from our normal confinement, something deeper and purer.

This glimpse leaves us with a longing to develop and strengthen what the Dalai Lama calls "the good heart."

But how?

 A way – Dharma, a 2500-year-old transformational education system

The Dharma — the teaching (and inspiration) of Shakyamuni, who awakened to the basic goodness that we all share and became a Buddha (“awakened one”), as well as to the many wonderful teachers who have followed in his footsteps — is a 2500-year-old curriculum for re-educating our hearts and minds.

Unlike our education systems, which develop the brain while neglecting the heart, the Dharma is an education system with which we can learn how to identify the habitual negative behaviors and attitudes that cause confusion and suffering — ours and others — and to experience a deeper level of wisdom and, consequently, to live our lives with vigor, dignity and joy.

Shakyamuni Buddha awakened to who he already was—to the truth that we are inherently awake! Ashoka offers the practices and teachings of Buddhist traditions—as vital today as in the Buddha’s time—not for us to become something else—either a Buddha or a Buddhist—but rather to assist us in awakening to who we already are!!

 Ashoka — guidance on the path

For most of us, access to the teaching and guidance that we need in order to learn to cultivate mindfulness and wisdom is difficult at best. While we live in a time of great opportunity—with many wonderful teachers devoting their lives to helping us awaken—access to a teacher or teachings is still beyond the reach of most people in the West. Ashoka will make these teachings available to all.

Courses
We're fortunate to live in a time where the availability of Buddhist texts—on the Web and in books—continues to grow, Ashoka’s courses take up where texts leave off. We're designing learning experiences in which the learning goals have been thoughtfully mapped, materials are organized to guide students on the path to these goals, learning experiences are presented which encourage students to reflect on and practice what they have learned, and feedback mechanisms are designed to help students assess their progress and keep on the path.

In the near future Ashoka will be offering scheduled classes that will allow you to study directly with a teachers/mentor, with teacher-student communication and student-student interaction.

But because a teacher-led class can only reach 15 – 20 people and the thirst for guided learning is so enormous, Ashoka’s courses will be primarily self-paced.

If you think the lessons of our teachers can not be adequately experienced through "self-study", remember: this is what we're teaching — self-study.

A single gate to a rich mandala of teachings and traditions
With the unprecedented confluence of Buddhist traditions in the West, those wishing to learn and practice can take advantage of Ashoka's breadth of teachers and lineages to learn for themselves which path appeals to and works for them.


 
 Meditation and beyond

While there are burgeoning opportunities in the west for meditation instruction, similar opportunities for study and guided reflection are much rarer. It is through reflecting on what we hear and read that the wisdom of such a tradition becomes our own and can be applied in our lives and in the world. Ashoka offers guidance on the paths of listening and learning, discussion and reflection, and insight.

Asking the right questions
Our goal is to simulate as closely as possible the experience of studying with a teacher.

Great teachers understand the impact of the questions we are asked, as well as the questions we ask ourselves. In his teachings the Buddha unfailingly asks us skillful questions - questions that turn us toward freeing our minds. Our teachers follow in this tradition, challenging our students to ask skillful questions as well as teaching them to avoid the unskillful questioning that only cause us confusion and doubt.

 The path of action

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the Dalai Lama and Aung San Suu Kyi has helped us in the West realize how contemporary Buddhism—beyond being a meditative vehicle for spiritual liberation— can be a vehicle for social and political change.

We at Ashoka believe strongly that individual and social transformation go hand-in-hand. Ashoka will teach and encourage meditation in action—engaging the world with wisdom and ethical action

  Right view   Right resolve   Right speech   Right action   Right livelihood   Right effort  Right mindfulness   Right concentration

In addition to such wisdom teachings as the Four Noble Truths, the Paramitas and the Brahma-Viharas, we will offering training and teaching in areas of applied engagement such as:

Social justice

Peacemaking

Environmentalism

Working with the sick and dying

Working with the incarcerated

 

 

 A web site to promote spiritual values?

 

Yes. Ashoka is a demonstration of the enormous potential of today’s internet technology as a force for personal transformation and spiritual growth.