Sunday, August 21, 2011

Background for Fall 2011 Term

SUGGESTED READING LIST that can provide further background support for students HERE.

The Perfection of Wisdom Course studies Maitreya's Ornament for Clear Realizations (Abhisamayalamkara).  The Ornament is the first of five great Indian canonical texts that make up the core curriculum of Geshe studies at Tibetan monastic colleges such as Drepung Loseling Monastery and the Institute for Buddhist Dialectical Studies.  The Ornament expounds the hidden meaning (detailing the Method of the Path to Enlightenment) of the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras (whose explicit meaning is the Wisdom of Emptiness).

Before studying the
Ornament, students take courses that introduce them to: 
  • Fundamentals of Buddhist philosophy (the Collected Topics, Due-dra); 
  • Logical argument (Ta-rig); 
  • Awareness and Knowledge (Lo-rig); and 
  • Philosophical systems of Tenets (Drub-tha). 
Geshe Kelsang Wangmo concluded teaching these subjects for English language students in 2006.  She began teaching this Perfection of Wisdom Course in 2007 (with a hiatus in 2009).  The Perfection of Wisdom course usually takes six years in Tibetan residential institutions.  Since the English course is not part of a matriculating, residential program, the course will take as long as necessary to provide understanding for most of the students who attend.  

While a few students have been attending IBD's Advanced Buddhist Philosophy program in English since before the program officially began in 2004, most students are unable to be in India for the entire Ornament course, nor have they attended the preliminary courses. Many students attend the course for less than an entire term.  

Although Geshe Kelsang Wangmo is skilled in presenting challenging material to those who do not have the usual background for tackling these subjects, most people are going to need a good foundation in Buddhist teachings to enjoy the material.

You can DOWNLOAD Audio MP3s of classes along with course handouts and some partial class transcripts from this BLOG's POSTED entries.

Prior terms of the Course have covered:
  • First Year subjects are raised by the Ornament's Introduction.
  • Second Year subject (of the Ornament's Introduction): Differentiating Interpretable from Definitive Sutras while studying the Wisdom tenets of the Mind Only (Cittamatrin) system [text:  Jeffrey Hopkins' translation of relevant section of Je Tsong-Khapa's Essence of Eloquence in Emptiness in the Mind Only School of Buddhism).
  • Third Year subjects are raised in Chapter 1 of the Ornament.
Of the Ten Topics raised in Chapter 1, so far classes have addressed:
  • Topic 1 - Bodhicitta
  • Begun Topic 2 - Ten Mahayana Practice Instructions, i.e.
    • The Two Truths - the 1st Mayahana Practice Instruction (Spring 2011).
    • Fall 2011 - will continue Topic 2 with:
      • the Four Noble Truths - the 2nd Mahayana Practice Instruction; and 
      • Refuge - the 3rd Mahayana Practice Instruction.

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