January 27, 2010

iSangha ~ Experiencing Buddhism Online

Being stuck out here in Buddhist Purgatory, we look towards the internet and emerging media for ways of learning and experiencing the Dharma.  This one was brought to my attention by a frien and it is quite comprehensive.  Offered by the  Contemplative Order of Compassion , the blog post below explains most of what it is about ~

The Lam Rim Chen Mo (Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment) is considered among the rare Tibetan masterpieces of Dharma instruction, written by Je Tsongkhapa, founder of the Gelug School of Buddhism.

When Buddha Sakyamuni taught, some three thousand or so years ago, he adapted his message for the individual audience, taking into consideration that person’s background, understanding and capacity for the teachings in that moment.

In the 11th century, Atiśa Dipankara Shrijnana – who was, along with Konchog Gyalpo and Marpa, one of the three major figures responsible for making the Dharma accessible in Tibet, prior to Je Tsongkhapa. Atiśa was devoted to the Bodhisattva/Buddha Tara (Jetsun Dolma), the mother of liberation. Seeing a need for a comprehensive and more carefully organised text, bringing together the body of the Buddha’s teachings, and combining them with wisdom from the oral tradition, Atiśa wrote A Lamp for the Path.

When he was invited to Tibet by Changchup Od to give a comprehensive training on the Dharma, in order to clarify errant views and what seemed to be contradictions found in various Buddhist sutras and their commentaries, Atiśa left Vikramasila monastery for Tibet, where he gave this illuminating path that would become the foundational doctrine of the Kadampa tradition, known today as the Lam Rim.

The Lam Rim contains the essence of the sutras that the Buddha Sakyamuni taught near Ragdir, India, as they were transmitted to Maitreya and Asanga, who later expounded upon the hidden-meanings in the sutras. Atiśa took these hidden meanings, and using the Abhisamaya-alamkara (Ornament of Clear Realisation, compiled by Maitreya and Asanga) created the Lam Rim. Therefore, the Lam Rim contains the essential points of all sutra and tantra teachings, in their logical order for effective practice.

Thus, for a serious student, wishing to deepen his or her spiritual practice, and develop a richer, more complete understanding of the Dharma, there is no better way that to immerse oneself in the comprehensive study of the Lam Rim, coupled with one’s daily practice.

Many Westerners attempt to jump headlong into the practice of meditation, particularly without proper instruction and support, and find their spiritual practice to be less than fulfilling, and often frustrating. Others attempt to take from here and there, and hope to be fortunate enough to “piece together” a path that works for them. This is also not very often the most productive means of realisation.

By studying the Lam Rim Chen Mo, one will develop a foundational understanding of the Dharma, in a way that more readily supports the practice of meditation and contemplation at the appropriate time in formation.

The Contemplative Order of Compassion and its Vajra Sky Institute have previously reserved this instruction for those who had been received into monastic formation only for the past eighteen years. For the first time, this forty-six week training program is now available to practitioners everywhere.

The course will be conducted through several media, including participation in a live, weekly training session and webinar, video sessions, and a special blog, in which students and faculty are able to participate in the discussion.

We must have twenty students enrolled in the program, in order to be able to proceed. The requested donation for the course is $20/week. This will make it possible to cover the costs of media development, web resources, webinars and mentoring.

At the conclusion, students completing the course will receive a diploma in Buddhist Studies from the Vajra Sky Institute, and will be entitled to participate in on-going advanced curriculum.

If you are interested in participating, please contact us at once at: [email protected] And feel free to help us reach our goal of 20 paying students by sharing this with those you know. (The class size will be limited to 40 students maximum.)

I love Dharma instruction that takes advantage of new media venues.  Hope to see you there.   20 students will get this class off the ground and help promote online iDharma learning! 

If u are so moved to register for the class, make sure to mention that you heard about it at Elephant and that John Pappas is much sexier than the Rev. Danny Fisher!



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