Mission Statement

Our mission

Ashoka is a new forum for teaching, learning and practicing Dharma — a Web-based interactive learning environment designed around authentic Buddhist practices. Ashoka will use the reach and instructional efficacy of internet-based distance learning to skillfully empower people around the world to incorporate the teachings of the Buddha—the Buddhadharma—into their lives.

Ashoka will deliver an extensive curriculum in Buddhist teachings and practices — courses designed and taught by our most respected Dharma teachers from a broad spectrum of traditions — to those who do not have direct access to a teacher or dharma center. By removing the obstacles of time, distance, and cost, we will make the high quality of learning now accessible only in traditional spiritual community settings available to anyone, anywhere, with a computer and internet connection.

By offering courses designed and taught by adepts from a wide range of traditions, those new to the Dharma will be able to experience the teachings and methods of various traditions and teachers before choosing where and with whom to study.

Ashoka will be...

  • An online study center ~ Offering a broad curriculum taught by inspirational teachers from many traditions. Self-paced courses of varying lengths, as well as 8 - 10 week enrolled classes with student-student and student-teacher interaction. Extensive learning resources such as a library, bookstore and online discussions.
  • A single gate to the many doors of Dharma teaching and practice ~ Ashoka will provide a single, nonsectarian entry gate to a rich mandala of Buddhadharma classes. Informed by their experience in this open teaching environment, students can make educated choices when seeking a teacher and sangha.
  • A consortium ~ A supported group of teachers, Dharma centers, and publishers seeking to use the Web to reach and teach those interested in the Dharma. By partnering with Ashoka, our consortium teachers can avail themselves of Ashoka's expertise in developing and delivering online classes and reach a wide and growing audience of interest in the Dharma.
  • A bridge between Western and Asian practitioners and sanghas ~ By introducing the converts who make up the majority of Buddhism’s early audience in the West to the traditions and teachings of Buddhist groups and teachers they would otherwise be unlikely to encounter, Ashoka will help to bridge the current gap between Asian and Western Buddhists.
  • A path of study ~ 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 the Buddha’s teachings 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.
  • A path of action ~ 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 In addition to the teachings on interdependence and such wisdom teachings as the Four Noble Truths, the Paramitas and the Brahma-Viharas, Ashoka will offer training and teaching in such areas of applied engagement such as social justice, peacemaking, environmentalism, caring for the sick and dying, and working with the incarcerated.
  • A learning community ~ A supportive virtual community of learners communicating via discussions, chat and email. While not a substitute for a real sangha, Ashoka will offer guidance for those seeking a sangha.

Ashoka is not yet another Buddhism Web portal. Portals are wonderful services that index and organize links to existing materials on the Web. Ashoka is creating a new curriculum of interactive and engaging courses designed expressly for Web delivery, developed in partnership with teachers from the Ashoka consortium of Dharma centers and monasteries. Our web site is our vehicle, one that can skillfully guide participants on the path - a web site as upaya.