What You Will Learn in Each Lesson
Discovering the Meaning of Life
As human beings, much of our suffering arises because we feel isolated, alone, and disconnected from others. It’s all too easy to forget how much we have in common with other living beings. The Buddhist teachings say that we are all carried along the four great rivers of birth, sickness, aging, and death. No matter who we are, we all face difficulties and hardships, and we all have the ability to grow as spiritual beings. In this lesson, we’ll explore how both our joyful and our painful life experiences can be the basis for deepening our connection with others and discovering the innate treasure of our own heart and mind.
Adapting to Change
The Buddhist teachings speak at length on the impermanent nature of life, and many of us think that we have understood these teachings. On an intellectual level, we know that everything around us is changing moment by moment, but integrating the understanding of impermanence into the way we live is extremely difficult. It requires not only intellectual mastery, but also a deep emotional acceptance of the changes we face throughout our lives. In this lesson, we’ll explore this challenging topic, which is described by many Buddhist masters as “the key to all spiritual practice.”
Developing the Warmth of Connection
Bodhichitta, “awakened heart/mind,” is a transformative practice that teaches us how to develop unlimited love and compassion toward ourselves and others. How does this practice unfold? It begins with a simple feeling of warmth in the heart, welcoming home those parts of our body, heart, and mind that feel disconnected. This warmth kindles the flame of compassion and connection, bringing new life and vitality to our daily lives and relationships.
Settling into the Reality of Life
We often think that if only our lives could be arranged in exactly the right way, we would find happiness. But the reality of life is that unwanted situations, circumstances, and changes will come to us one after another as the days, weeks, and years pass. How do we find happiness in a world that will never give us exactly what we want? In this lesson, we’ll explore the possibility of using the suffering of life as nourishment for spiritual practice, so we can relax into the life we have.
Laying the Foundation
To face all the moments of our lives as well as the moment of death with confidence, there is nothing more important than daily practice. Daily practice is where we develop the spiritual tools that support us as we work through the challenges of our everyday life. After all, nothing can be built on a weak or cracked foundation. If we want to develop the spiritual strength to support both ourselves and others during the trials and hardships of life, we must be able to rely upon the strength of our own minds and hearts. In this lesson, we’ll explore the method for developing, or further developing, a daily practice and relying upon spiritual guidance.
Discovering Our Unlimited Wealth
In Western culture, we are taught to do almost everything on our own. But as spiritual practitioners, there is a wealth of support surrounding us at every moment. We discover this wealth by contemplating and practicing the dharma under the guidance of a spiritual master, surrounded by a spiritual community. In this lesson, we’ll explore how we can relax into a spiritual community and work toward the goal of harmony with ourselves and others.