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 Rebirth
  Dependent Arising
  Kamma, Nibbana and Rebirth


The Sangha
The Buddhist Sangha



The recent interest in Buddhism, both East and 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.

Need to put together a "in this course you will study"

As well we do need to address "from the Theravadam perspective"- as Ashoka will have other courses that introduce Buddhism from the perspective of other traditions, e.g. Chan, Tibetan...

The presentation of the Dhamma in this course is from the standpoint of the Theravada school of Buddhism –  which is the oldest continuous Buddhist lineage that preserves the teaching of the Buddha going back to the back to the historical Buddha himself.

Other schools of Buddhist thought present the Dharma from their own philosophical standpoint; you can explore these in other courses on Ashoka.

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.