Beginners – Buddhism

There are several parts to this section of the site. They are arranged in one long page with the most-developed and easiest-to-use material at the top. The page is in several sections, arranged like this:

– Simple Dharma handouts

– Full notes for Beginners’ Dharma Courses

– Sketch notes for Beginners’ Dharma Courses

You’ll find material on specific Dharma themes (eg Karma, Puja, etc) in the Friends>Buddhism>Specific Themes page (http://triratna-centre-support.org/lightingtheflame/ friends/buddhism-specific-themes)

It’s also worth checkingFree Buddhist Audio – they have a vast library of mp3s and transcripts of many talks on Buddhism.

Simple Dharma handouts

buddhism_tract_formatted A one-page Buddhism handout (Lokabandhu, as used for the Buddhafield Festival)

fwbo_resource_sheet A one-page handout introducing basic Triratna resources eg our main websites (Lokabandhu)

fwbo_resource_pack_for_newcomers A 17-page booklet -the same but in much more detail, including Triratna websites, recommended reading lists and basic intros to meditation, Dharma, and Triratna. Also prepared by Lokabandhu

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What makes you a Buddhist? (Vajrapriya, 6 weeks)

Module 1 of the Level 2 – Buddhism Course by Vajrapriya, Cambridge Buddhist Centre, UK (uploaded November 2007). Length of this module: 6 weeks

The resources include

  • notes for the course leader (including learning objectives, guide lines for input and exercises, background information, suggestions for home practice), and
  • handouts

Week 1: Sraddha – Faith within a Buddhist context

Topics: Grounds of faith; developing faith; faith and doubt; faith and inspiration; experiences of faith.

Week 2: Going for Refuge

Topics: Historical expressions of refuge; GfR as commitment; what are we taking refuge from?; where do we usually take refuge?; true and false refuges; Going for Refuge to the Three Jewels.

Week 3: The Buddha and Enlightenment

Topics: What is Enlightenment?; epitaphs & metaphors from the Pali Canon; qualities in terms of the 5 skandhas; the psychology of goal-setting (advantages and disadvantages).

Week 4: Dharma as Truth Teaching

Topics: Buddha Vacana; Dharma as Truth Teaching; attitude to doctrine; importance of views; Going for Refuge to the Dharma

Week 5: Dharma as Path and Method

Topics: a toolkit of practices; the ‘three trainings’; progressive nature of the path; attitude to practice

Week 6: The Sangha

Topics: What is the Sangha and why is it important?; how to Go for Refuge to the Sangha; Review of the 6-week course.

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Essentials of Buddhism and Meditation (Glasgow, 6 weeks)

A six week course provided by the Glasgow Buddhist Centre

‘Essentials of Buddhism and Meditation’is a six-week course from the Glasgow Buddhist Centre. The course offers introductions to the basic meditation practices and covers the following topics:

Buddhism: the basics and the path

the Buddha, historical and ideal

ethics, meditation, wisdom

the Sangha, the fellowship of practitioners,

the six emphases of the fwbo.

You can download the complete course materials here or simply take the notes for individual sessions below.

Outline of the course –

Introduction

Short course description including a commented reading list

Session 1

meditation: posture and body awareness

buddhism: the basics and the path

Session 2

meditation: awareness of the body and breath

buddhism: the Buddha, historical and ideal

Session 3

meditation: the mindfulness of breathing

buddhism: the dharma, part 1 – ethics

Session 4

meditation: the metta bhavana

buddhism: the dharma, part 2 – meditation

Session 5

meditation: the metta bhavana

buddhism: the dharma, part 3 – wisdom

Session 6

meditation: working creatively

buddhism: the sangha, the fellowship of practitioners,

the six emphases of the fwbo

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Basic Buddhist Teachings (Achala, six weeks)

Here you can download the handouts for a six-week course, provided by Achala from New Zealand.

Please note that according to Achala further improvement of some of these handouts is needed! Please share your improvements on this website by way of sending them to the Dharma Teaching Coordinator, here.

NOTE: This is what Achala said about his intentions when designing this course:

“I tried to construct a course such that it:

  • covers what an average human being needs to effectively practice Buddhism
  • doesn’t not have a scholastic bent (so a few Pali/Sanskrit terms seemed reasonable but not so many as to give the impression that the courses are oriented towards bookish types)
  • appeals to people’s imagination, as well as being intellectually clear
  • includes all of Bhante’s fundamental insights such as his stress on right understanding and the importance of Going for Refuge – although I accept that not all Order members will agree what those fundamental are
  • appeals especially to younger people – in their late teens and early twenties
  • does not involve a great deal of reading (typically max three pages of notes per week)
  • excludes material that has neither inspirational value nor practical use.

The notes for the course are almost complete. A few have yet to be written, and some could do with a bit of an edit to correct errors, and perhaps occasionally rephrase things. The material that has been prepared has been in use for about three years, and has worked really well.”

1. Conditionality (pratitya samutpada) [[needs polishing]]: Parable of the poisonous arrow; example of conditionality in the Buddhist scriptures; five niyamas; cyclic nidanas and spiral path

2. General introduction to ethics [[needs polishing]]: A context for ethical practice; criteria (skilful-unskilful); karma; guilt; ethical guidelines; playfulness

3. The five precepts [[needs polishing]]

4. The three laksanas (1): Introduction; the three marks and how they are interrelated

5. The three laksanas (2): Exploring impermanence and unsatisfactoriness; some poems

6. The three laksanas (3): Insubstantiality; the 6-element practice; selected poems

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Buddhist Core Practices (Achala, six weeks)

Here you can download handouts for a six-week course introducing the core practices below. The handouts were provided by Achala from New Zealand. Please note that Achala says they all need further improvement! You can help with this and send your improvements to the Dharma Teaching Coordinator, here.

NOTE: This is what Achala said about his intentions when designing this course:

“I tried to construct a course such that it:

  • covers what an average human being needs to effectively practice Buddhism
  • doesn’t not have a scholastic bent (so a few Pali/Sanskrit terms seemed reasonable but not so many as to give the impression that the courses are oriented towards bookish types)
  • appeals to people’s imagination, as well as being intellectually clear
  • includes all of Bhante’s fundamental insights such as his stress on right understanding and the importance of Going for Refuge – although I accept that not all Order members will agree what those fundamental are
  • appeals especially to younger people – in their late teens and early twenties
  • does not involve a great deal of reading (typically max three pages of notes per week)
  • excludes material that has neither inspirational value nor practical use.

The notes for the course are almost complete. A few have yet to be written, and some could do with a bit of an edit to correct errors, and perhaps occasionally rephrase things. The material that has been prepared has been in use for about three years, and has worked really well.”

1. Meditation: A concise and useful introduction to important aspects of meditation: What is meditation? / the five hindrances / the dhyanas / some aphorisms and poems on meditation.

2. Mindfulness in daily life: Introducing the general idea of mindfulness and the for domains (or, dimensions) of mindfulness: material things, / self / other beings / Reality.

3. Cultivating positive emotions: Why intellectual understanding is not enough / acknowledging our present emotional state / taking responsibility for our emotions / possible misunderstandings and mis-applications / skilful emotions and the Brahma Viharas / a poem on compassion / cultivating skilful emotions / Avalokiteshvara and Tara

4. Generosity: who to be generous to / what is given (material things, fearlessness, education and culture, life and limbs, merits, the Dharma) / How to give / Why to give

5. Patience: ‘Ksanti’ and its connotations / forbearance (towards nature, our body, other people) / tolerance / spiritual receptivity

6. Heroes and Energy: the Buddha and the Bodhisattvas as heroes / Going for Refuge implies making an effort / the four right efforts / energy in pursuit of the good / martialling our energy (blocked and wasted energy) / free-flowing energy / balanced effort.

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Recommended Reading

Windhorse have prepared a series of recommended books for people at different levels of involvement with the FWBO. They’re available from the FWBO News site here –

Thanks to Windhorse Publications for preparing these.

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Vajramati from New York has his own list –Recommended Reading

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Course sketches

Introduction to Buddhism course (Suvarnaprabha, San Francisco)

Outline for a six-week Introduction to Buddhism course by Suvarnaprabha, San Francisco Buddhist Center. The course is based on Chris Pauling (Vadanya), Introducing Buddhism. It includes aBuddhism Quiz which can be used independent of the course.

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Buddhism Quiz (Suvarnaprabha, San Francisco)

Buddhism Quiz

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German ‘Buddhism Quiz’

by Amogharatna, Buddhistisches Tor Berlin: Buddhismus Quiz

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Einführung in den Kurs “Praktischer Buddhismus”

Einführung in den Kurs “Praktischer Buddhismus”Buddhistisches Tor Berlin. Ãœberblick über einen 6-Wochen-Kurs, basierend auf den Büchern Buddhismus auf einen Blick von Kulananda und Wegweiser Buddhismus von Sangharakshita.

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