Here is information about a class I’ve taught on The Buddha’s Path to Awakening. If you’d like to receive an email the next time the class is offered, the class, click here. Additional information about the class follows….
About 2400 years ago, a young man in Northern India named Siddhata Gotama attained a unique experience. He had been preparing for this for six years, having left his home and family and taken on the life of a wondering ascetic, traveling on foot, with no fixed abode, living on very little, eating only what was put into his begging bowl by the wealthy householders of that place and period.
He sought what many people were seeking at that time (and what many are seeking now): a way to abide in happiness, joy, and love for others in a world in which promised happiness fails to deliver, in which joy is fleeting, and in which those we love, and we ourselves, are trapped by the impermanence of our condition, experiencing difficulty, frustration, illness and injury, the loss of what we care for, and, in the end, death. “How,” Siddhata asked, “can I find the path that leads to an end to the suffering we take from this world.?”
The unique experience which provided Siddhata with the answer to that question came, according to tradition, while he was sitting in meditation at the base of a fig tree in the small village of Bodh Gaya, during the night of the first full moon of Spring. It came in the form of a realization about how things unfold in the world, how experience emerges, and how our response to experience—how we perceive events, what we feel, how we think, what we say and what we do next—how all that influences the experiences we will have in the future and the kind of person each of us will become.
Gotama’s experience was knows as his “Awakening” (bodhi in Sanskrit/Pali); as a result of it, Gotama Siddatha became know as “The Buddha”, “The Awakened One”. The knowledge to which the Buddha awakened is known as The Dhamma (Dharma in Sanskrit). In the Buddha’s own words, “This Dhamma I have attained is deep, hard to see, hard to realize, peaceful and pure, beyond any analysis, subtle; it can only be experienced, and only by those who are very wise.” After some initial hesitation, the newly awakened Buddha decided to teach the difficult knowledge he had found and to teach also the path whereby others could attain the same experience and become awake to the same knowledge—to become “Buddhas” in their own right.
The Buddha went on to teach for 45 years, in the course of which he attracted hundreds of thousands of followers, established a large community of renunciant monks and nuns, and delivered thousands of discourses, each of which elaborated on some aspect or implication of that knowledge which the Buddha had attained at his Awakening. After his death, the renunciant community preserved his teachings orally for about two centuries, and they were, eventually, written down as canonical collections by communities in various parts of Asia and in various languages. In our class, the texts we read will mostly come from what most scholars accept as the earliest and most probably authentic of the early canons, written down in the island nation of Sri Lanka around 150 BCE in an Indo-European language called Pali, a variant of Sanskrit.
|Awakening to the Buddha’s Path
A Class in the Buddha’s Teachings and Buddhist Practice
|Location:||To be Announced|
|Time:||To be Announced|
|Dates:||To be Announced|
|Moderator:||Richard Blumberg has been studying Buddhism for more than 40 years. He regularly teaches courses on Buddhism at the University of Cincinnati’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.|
Class Structure: Each class will be 1-1/2 hours long; we’ll try to break that down as follows:
- 20-30 minute Dhamma talk, focused on some particular aspect of the Dhamma. The talk will always be centered on one text or a collection of short passages from the Pali Canon, and the focus of the talk will be to examine, on one hand, how that teaching (or those teachings) illuminate the particular point of the Dhamma under discussion, and, on the other hand, how they are relevant to the particular problems we face in the course of living our lives day by day.
- 20-minute period of sitting meditation. Mostly, our meditation will be of the sort called “mindfulness meditation”, in which we train ourselves, by watching our breath, to tame what has been called “monkey mind” and to settle in the present moment, without distractions arising from memory, judgement, or analysis. In the course of the class, we will also introduce several other meditative techniques, particularly “metta meditation”, in which we train ourselves to maintain good will and compassion toward others with whom we share our human condition, and “insight meditation”, in which we use established mindfulness to deepen our understanding of some aspect of the Dhamma.
- A final period of moderated discussion; participants in the class will have an opportunity to ask questions about what they’ve heard, read, or come to understand, and they’ll also have the opportunity to test and sharpen their own ability to answer such questions.
Help Spread the word!
If you have friends who might be interested in this class, please send them a link to this page. If you know of a place where you might hang a flyer advertising the class, please click the image to the left; you’ll get a pdf document. Print that, cut along the lines separating the pull-off tabs at the bottom of the page, and hang it in your church, coffee shop, school, etc.