- The first part of the program, Living With Integrity consists of 16 units with two texts in each unit (for a total of 32 texts) that were originally designed to be studied and practiced over a 16-week period, one per week. The program can now be taken at any pace, as all 16 units are accessible at all times. It is still recommended that students investigate the material slowly, one unit each seek, to allow the teachings to sink in and to slowly transform your perspective. But you are free to work through the units in any order and at any pace.
- The second course in the program, Developing the Mind, and the third course, Deepening Wisdom, also consist of 16 units each (and 32 texts each), which, though designed to be taken slowly, are now fully accessible immediately upon registration.
- The entire program is thus composed of 48 units (96 texts total) which can be investigated slowly over a year on a lunar schedule, or can be accessed at any pace and in any order. Each course involves a separate registration, or the entire program (all three courses) can be purchased together at a discount.
When you register for the program from the Integrated Dharma Institute webpage, you create a login, consisting of a user name and a password. You can then enter and exit the course(s) at will, going to the webpage and using the log in. If you lose track of your password at any point, a new one can be arranged. There is no expiration date—you can retain access to the course materials indefinitely. You may also download and print all the material as .pdf files, and you can download and retain the .mp3 audio files.
- The first course is called Living with Integrity and covers the topics that fall under the traditional Buddhist label of sīla or moral integrity.
- The second course is called Developing the Mind and is a detailed exploration of samādhi or meditation.
- The third course is Deepening Wisdom and covers the area of paññā or wisdom.
Each unit consists of two textual passages from the Pali Canon and related explanatory material. These are brief, have been carefully selected, are newly translated in gender-universal language, and are presented in a way that makes them relevant, accessible, and interesting. In addition each unit contains two .pdf files in black and white, one for each text, which can be downloaded and printed, as well as two .mp3 audio files, one with the reading of the Text, Comment, Investigation, and Practice sections, the other with the reading of the Pali and Language sections. These may be either streamed or downloaded. Each passage contains six components:
- the Text itself in English (modified slightly for clarity and accessibility);
- the corresponding text in its original Pali (these two are presented side by side);
- a brief Comment on the text, its main themes, and why it is important;
- an explanation of key points of Language regarding the Pali and how it is translated;
- guidelines for investigating the meaning of the text in one’s own experience;
- guidelines for integrating the teaching of the text into one’s own meditation and daily life practice.
- For those with some meditation experience but little formal study of the tradition, the course offers a useful overview and solid foundation upon which to build a reliable understanding of the key elements of the Buddha’s teachings.
- For those with considerable experience in Buddhist study and practice, the course is an invaluable resource for advanced study and deeper investigation. The Pali and Language sections alone offer information not easily obtained elsewhere, and the passages selected for investigation are often not the most common.
- For someone with little or no exposure to Buddhism, the course can be an excellent introduction to its core ideas in a way that is directly and immediately relevant. Beginners can ignore the Pali and Language sections, and focus on understanding and Investigating the core ideas for themselves, and on putting the teachings into Practice.
Participants are strongly encouraged to sign up for this course in pairs, small groups, or as larger sitting-group communities. The support of others in a systematic exploration of this kind is invaluable, not only to sustain enthusiasm and engagement over time but also to learn together, to learn from one another, and to develop some deeply meaningful relationships. Do it with your partner, or a good friend, or a colleague at work; do it with your dharma brothers and sisters from previous programs, from practice center affiliates, or with like-minded people in your local geographical area with whom you can get together in person from time to time. Those for whom this is not practical and who sign up individually, opportunities may be available to connect with others electronically. The program has proven to be expecially valuable for those who face health limitations or do not otherwise have access to teachers or dharma centers.
The course itself is designed as a resource for individual study and for peer-to-peer learning, and is not intended as a teacher-student offering. The teacher behind the program is a kalyana-mitta, a ‘good friend’ sharing the path of exploration with participants, and is not a spiritual guide, meditation teacher, or formal Buddhist teacher in any particular lineage. Participants are encouraged to invite teachers from their own communities to share the investigation of this material with them. The program is well suited to act as a curriculum that can be followed by existing sitting groups under the guidance of an established teacher, for experienced students to form their own groups to lead through the process and get some teaching experience, or for participants to share leadership functions for one another on a rotating basis.
- Registration begins in August 2017 and is open to anyone. There is no application process and no limit on the number of participants. International students are welcome, though all communications will occur in English.
No. While there is good reason to organize the course along the traditional lines of sīla, samādhi, and paññā, and there is some sense of these constituting a gradual teaching, each building upon one another, the courses can be taken in any order. In practice, the three matters of living with integrity, developing the mind, and deepening wisdom are interdependent and all reinforce one another.
The program has been heavily discounted from its original cost (of $240 per course). Each course, purchased seperately, costs only $96, which works out to only $6 per unit or $3 per text. For those who sign up for all three courses at the same time, the discounted rate is $249 for the entire program.
Yes. Scholarships are offered on a “helping one another” model:
- Those who are able to give more than the full course fee, and are willing as an act of generosity to help others participate, are invited to offer dāna (a voluntary donation) over and above the base rate of the course.
- Those who are unable to afford the full fee, and would like to participate in the generosity of others, may offer only what they can and ask for help with the balance.
- All dāna offered in this context will be put aside and matched to requests for help. Whatever funds are available will be shared, and will be used for no other purpose.
More information is available on the Scholarships page.