Introduction

 

Qualities of the Dharma
The Four Noble Truths
The Noble Eightfold Path
The True Nature of Existence
  The Five Aggregates of Clinging
  Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta
  Dependent Arising
  Kamma, Nibbana and Rebirth
  Kamma
  Rebirth
 

Nibbana

Meditation
The Sangha
The Buddhist Sangha


 

 

The recent interest in Buddhism, both in the East and in the West, has been marked by a vigorous practical orientation and a drive to discover through meditation the peace and freedom to which the practice of Dhamma leads.

While opportunities for meditation instruction and practice continue to grow, the study of the Buddha's teachings is often neglected by practitioners. This course provides an opportunity for you to balance your practice with a study of the Buddhadharma.

Why study Buddhism

Not only is the study of the Dhamma neglected today, it is often a belittled. This thinking demands examination.

It is often said that study is concerned with words and concepts that can lead to learning but not to wisdom; that while study can change our ideas it fails to touch the deeper realities of our lives.

To clinch the case the testimony of the Buddha himself is enlisted, with his famous remarks that to learn much without practicing is like counting the cows of others or like carrying a raft on one's head instead of using it to cross the stream.

It is certainly true that learning without practice is fruitless, but the other side of the issue also should be considered. Should a person gather cows if he knows nothing about how to take care of them? Should he try to cross a rough and dangerous river without knowing how to operate a raft?

You will explore this question — why study Buddhism — in the first lesson.

Theravadan Buddhism

This course offers a comprehensive presentation the fundamental concepts of the teachings of the Buddha from the perspective of Theravadan Buddhism. Among the contemporary forms of Buddhism, the Theravada is thought to be the form that has most closely adhered to the teachings and practices established by the historical Buddha. Theravada Buddhism has prevailed in Southeast Asia (Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos) for over two millennia and is now gaining a foothold in the West, primarily through "Insight Meditation" and Vipassana meditation centers.

While other schools of Buddhist thought present the Dharma from their own philosophical standpoint and in many cases elaborate on the Theravadan teachings, most Buddhist traditions are founded upon the Buddha's teachings you will learn in this course.


The principle source of the teachings in this course is the Tipiteka – the Pali Canon —  which consists of  three collections of scripture preserved in the ancient Pali language. The three collections are

  • The Vinayana tipeca — the collection of disciplines, the rules and regulations for the orders of Buddhist monks and nuns.
  • The sutta viteca — the collection of suttas, the discourses of the Buddha and some of his great disciples.
  • The abidharma tipeka — the collection of philosophical treatises which present the dhamma from the standpoint of a very precise philosophical and psychological analysis

Of these three collections, this course focuses on the sutta viteca, the teachings found in the Buddha’s discourses.

Ashoka note on the audio: This course is based on a series of talks given over twenty years ago by Bhikkhu Bodhi and recorded with rather basic recording equipment. The quality of the audio varies and leaves much to be desired. We trust you will agree that the quality of the teachings more than makes up for any deficiencies in sound quality.