Entering the Path 

The Hinayana Teachings of Chögyam Trungpa

Taught by Judith L. Lief

The hinayana path is the foundation of the Buddhist teachings. To enter the path of Buddhist practice, one must start here. Based on training in mindfulness and awareness and in cultivating a deeper understanding of one’s own mind, the hinayana is what allows us to take delight in our everyday life just as it is. Through study and practice of these teachings, we develop the discipline to live with greater clarity and compassion.

Join Judy Lief, Buddhist teacher and editor of The Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma, for an online course that explores the first volume of this monumental work: The Path of Individual Liberation. Through video recorded during a nine-day retreat she led on the subject, Lief will guide us through the traditional hinayana teachings as taught by Chögyam Trungpa, the Tibetan Buddhist master who was largely responsible for making these teachings accessible and relevant for a Western audience.

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In this course, you will:

  • Learn shamatha (peaceful abiding) and vipashyana (insight) meditation techniques
  • Explore what it means to be a dharmic person
  • Study the three yanas (bodies of teachings) that comprise the Tibetan Buddhist path
  • Explore essential Buddhist concepts such as the four noble truths
  • Identify common obstacles to taming the mind as well as their antidotes
  • Discover what it means to take refuge in the three jewels
  • Learn about the four foundations of mindfulness
  • Explore the meaning of “sacred world” from the Buddhist point of view
  • Discover how settling the mind and sharpening awareness can lead toward an open heart

What You Will Receive 

This course was designed with your needs in mind and contains all of the following: 


  • Nine video talks by Judith Lief—ranging from an hour to an hour and a half in length—including Q&A, with transcripts and audio-only versions available
  • Two archival video talks by Chögyam Trungpa, with transcripts
  • Basic meditation instruction in both mindfulness and awareness practices
  • Contemplations to help you integrate the material into your daily life
  • A 50% discount on The Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma by Chögyam Trungpa
  • A list of recommended readings from the book, The Path of Individual Liberation: The Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma, Volume 1
  • Self-assessment quizzes at the end of each lesson to test your own understanding of the material
  • Unlimited access on your computer, mobile device, or tablet—learn at your own pace wherever and whenever works best for you

Course Curriculum

  Orientation and Support
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  Lesson One: Beginning at the Beginning
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  Lesson Two: Cultivating Peace
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  Lesson Three: Discovering the Four Noble Truths
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  Lesson Four: Working with Obstacles
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  Lesson Five: Making a Commitment
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  Lesson Six: Deepening Your Practice
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  Lesson Seven: Cultivating Clarity
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  Lesson Eight: Cutting through with Prajna
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  Lesson Nine: A Hint of Mahayana
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  Further Resources
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What You Will Learn in Each Lesson

Lesson 1

Beginning at the Beginning

In this first lesson, Judy Lief presents basic meditation instruction and offers advice for relating to meditation practice through the duration of the course. She also offers context for the teachings of Chögyam Trungpa and introduces the qualities of hinayana discipline necessary to undertake meditation practice in earnest. In this lesson, we’ll also receive an overview of the three yanas, or vehicles, that make up the entire Buddhist path as outlined in The Profound Treasury.

Lesson 2

Cultivating Peace

This lesson provides an exploration of why we practice meditation and its implications on our life off the cushion. What makes it valuable? As part of this investigation, we’ll study the traits of a “dharmic person” as taught by Trungpa Rinpoche.

Lesson 3

Discovering the Four Noble Truths

In this lesson, we’ll learn about the four noble truths, which are the foundation of the Buddhist teachings. We’ll investigate the causes of suffering and the many ways that suffering manifests in ourselves and the world around us. How does an understanding of suffering relate to the possibility of freedom from suffering? Finally, we’ll receive an overview of the five paths to liberation.

Lesson 4

Working with Obstacles

What habitual patterns arise to interfere with our quest of becoming a more dharmic person? As it turns out, there are Buddhist teachings to address nearly all of them, which help turn our obstacles into fodder for the path. In this lesson, we’ll identify the most common obstacles to taming the mind, as well as their antidotes. You’ll have a chance to get in touch with the difficulties of your own practice and explore ways of working with them.

Lesson 5

Making a Commitment

This week we’ll explore the notion of taking refuge in the three jewels of the Buddha, the Dharma, and the sangha—the formal entry point of becoming a Buddhist. We’ll also discuss the difference between theism and nontheism as they pertain to being a Buddhist.

Lesson 6

Deepening Your Practice

In this lesson, we’ll become more subtle and refined in our meditation practice by contemplating the four foundations of mindfulness and connecting with the concept of “touch and go.” We will look at the different ways we watch ourselves in meditation and will discuss how we can apply effort in our practice without getting caught in a battle mentality.

Lesson 7

Cultivating Clarity

What happens when the mind is settled in shamatha practice? In this lesson, we’ll experiment with extending our awareness into the practice of vipashyana, or clear seeing. We’ll go through the three stages of vipashyana and explore the notion of “sacred world.”

Lesson 8

Cutting Through with Prajna

Prajna—what we define as “best insight” or “superior knowing”—comes into play as we sharpen our intelligence along the path. In this lesson we’ll discuss ego, egolessness, and how to distinguish between the two.

Lesson 9

A Hint of Mahayana

In this final module of the course, we’ll get a glimpse of how the hinayana transitions into a broader path—the mahayana, or the path of the bodhisattva.

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If for any reason you are not completely satisfied, please e-mail us within 30 days, and we will promptly refund your purchase price.

What Participants Are Saying

“I am loving every minute of this course and would sign up for more online studies in a heartbeat!”

“I see this course as a stepping stone to deepening my practice.”

“I liked how all the components worked together to support my understanding. Sometimes things clicked with the readings, and other times with the video. The contemplations gave me an opportunity to put things in my own words and helped me to realize things that I don't think I would have realized without them—like what I take refuge in instead of the three jewels, for instance.”

“Accessible. Interesting. Well presented. Informative.”

“I like the teacher. The readings are very accessible and the talks help to illuminate them—and vice versa. It's great that they include the discussions in the recordings. I like the little quizzes at the end that help me to know if I've understood the material. And I love that there is no time limit to any of this.”

Praise for Judith Lief

“Lief conveys the profound core of the teachings of Buddhism so that anyone can hear and understand. She shows us that in the end, it is kindness, compassion, and mindful attention that matter, and teaches us the simple skill of just being—in all its rawness, love, and pain—with those who are dying.”—Marilyn Webb, author of The Good Death: The New American Search to Reshape the End of Life.

About Judith Lief

Judith L. Lief is a Buddhist teacher, writer, and editor. She was a close student of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who empowered her as a teacher, and she has edited many of his books including The Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma volumes and Milarepa. She has been a teacher and practitioner for over 35 years and continues to teach and lead retreats throughout the world. Lief is also active in the field of death and dying and is the author of Making Friends with Death.

About Chögyam Trungpa

Chögyam Trungpa (1940–1987)—meditation master, teacher, and artist—founded Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, the first Buddhist-inspired university in North America; the Shambhala Training program; and an international association of meditation centers known as Shambhala International. He is the author of numerous books including Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, and The Myth of Freedom.