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Please Note: New Schedule for Part II Below

  • Mar 13 – No Class: Milarepa Day
  • Mar 20 – Class 7: Yogacara
  • Mar 27 – No Class: Changling Rinpoche Teaching on the Mahayana Mar 26 & 27
  • Apr 3 – Class 8: Karuna
  • Apr 10 – Class 9: Bodhichitta
  • Apr 17 – Class 10: Bodhisattva Vow
  • Apr 24 – Class 11: Paramitas
  • May 1 – Class 12: Buddha Nature as the Fruition

PART II — Mar. 20 &  Apr 3, 10, 17, 24 & May 1

7. March 20 – Yogacara: The Mahayana developed in India during the early centuries of the Common Era. Nagarjuna emphasized the empty nature of phenomena. Following in his footsteps, two half brothers, Asanga and Vasubandhu, emphasized the luminous nature of phenomena. They explained that all phenomena were merely appearance; the storehouse consciousness was the source of these appearances; and that genuine reality was free from duality.

Reading: Vasubandhu Three Natures from Jonathan C. Gold, Paving the Great Way, p244-248 and  Vasubandhu Three Natures from Karl Brunnholz, Straight from the Heart, p43-53

Regard all dharmas as dreams

8. April 3 – Karuna: Compassion becomes more profound as we progress along the path. In conventional compassion, the object of compassion, the compassionate person, and the suffering, are all taken to be truly real. When you recognize that the object of compassion, the suffering, and you, yourself, are all illusory, you practice compassion for the mere appearance of suffering beings. Ultimately, compassion is non-referential. For buddhas, there is no one cultivating anything, but there is spontaneous, effortless radiation of warmth and benefit for others.

Reading: The Ninth Karmapa, Wangchuk Dorje, The Karmapa’s Middle Way: Feast for the Fortunate, p93-98

Slogan: Three objects, three poisons, three virtuous seeds

9. April 10 – Bodhicitta: There are two types of bodhichitta. Relative bodhicitta is the intention to attain enlightenment, to be able to bring the powers and wisdom of buddhahood to the aid of suffering beings. Absolute bodhicitta is the realization of the true nature of reality.

Reading: Shantideva, The Way of the Bodhisattva, p33-38

Contrast absolute and relative bodhicitta slogans in Point Two

10. April 17 – Bodhisattva Vow: The bodhisattva vow is the formal rite of entry into the Mahayana.

Reading: Chögyam Trungpa, The Heart of the Buddha p108-119.

Slogan: Observe these two even at the risk of your life

11. April 24 – Paramitas: Mahayana training in conduct is the practice of the six, or ten paramitas. Paramita literally means “gone to the other shore.” This is a metaphor for transcendent action. These practices are transcendent because they transcend self-concern. For these actions to be truly transcendent, they need to be free from concepts of the three spheres: thoughts of an actor, an action and an object of the action.

Reading:  Chögyam Trungpa, The Heart of the Buddha p.119-127

Consider which Points of Mind Training are associated with which paramitas

12. May 1 – Buddha Nature as the Fruition: Our nature has always been perfect buddhahood. Not recognizing our nature, we wandered in samsara. Recognizing it, we are liberated. That nature has never changed. For this reason, Uttaratantra could be translated as the Sublime Continuum.

Reading:  Uttaratantra 2 Karl Brunnholzl, When the Clouds Part p374-377

Always maintain only a joyful mind

PART I: Jan 16, 23, 30 & Feb 6, 13, 20

1. Four Truths for Noble Ones: This teaching is the core of the entire buddhadharma. If we understand bondage and its causes, and liberation and its causes, we will know which causes lead to which results. In the Foundational Vehicle, the causes of bondage are said to be craving or attachment, particularly attachment to an illusory self. In the Mahayana, this analysis is taken further. By deeply examining the objects of our craving and clinging, we see that they are nothing other than our own projections. Because all phenomena are empty of these projections, liberation occurs when we recognize their true nature.

Reading: Chögyam Trungpa, The Truth of Suffering and the Path of Liberation, p33-37. (NB: while the reading mentions both Hinayana and Abhidharma, it’s definitely a Mahayana perspective.)

2. Three Trainings: We travel the path to liberation by using three complementary methods—training in conduct (aka discipline or action), training in view, and training in meditation. Because not knowing the true nature of our experience is the cause of bondage, the remedy is knowing the true nature.

Reading: Khenpo Tsültrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, Progressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness, p1-5

3. Buddha Nature As the Ground: The true nature of mind is always the true nature, whether we recognize it or not. That’s why it’s said that all beings have buddha nature. Sometimes it’s explained that all beings are “buddhas with stains.” The purpose of the path is to remove the stains, not to produce some new thing called “enlightenment.”

Reading: Uttaratantra 1 from Karl Brunnholzl, When the Clouds Part, p392-401

4. Two Truths: Conventional truth, or relative truth, accurately explains how causality functions, from the perspective of conceptual mind. In that sense it is true. However, conceptual truth also obscures the true nature of phenomena. In that sense, it is deceptive truth. Ultimate truth reveals the true nature.

Reading: “Samvirti Satyafrom Andy Karr, Buddhadharma Fall 2007, p79-80

5. Madhyamika Investigations: The Eighth Karmapa, Mikyo Dorje, wrote, “Nagarjuna’s approach is similar to having an executioner order his or her own execution.” That’s exactly what the Madhyamika reasonings do to the conceptual mind.

Reading: Great Reasonings of the Middle Way from Andy Karr, Contemplating Reality, p128-135

Slogans: 2-6

6. Sunyata: The experience of the empty luminous nature of genuine reality is sunyata. There are lots of other terms for this experience, but the experience itself is beyond speech and thought. This is indicated by the metaphor of the finger pointing at the moon.

Reading: Emptiness, from Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, p110-113 and

“We Should Not Stick to Words or Rules Too Much” from Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness p152-160

Slogan: Seeing confusion as the four kayas is supreme sunyata protection

About the Instructors

Adrienne Chang first heard the message of basic goodness on a Saturday morning in her Shambhala Level 1 class in Washington, DC, nearly ten years ago. She continues to walk the path of the Vidyadhara, and is currently a trainee within the Milinda program, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche's 10-year shedra-styled, teacher training program for Western dharma instructors. Together with fellow trainees from the Siddhartha's Intent, Rigpa, and Shambhala sanghas, Adrienne has taken a deep dive over the last years into the Prajnaparamita, Pramana, and Yogacara philosophies within the Mahayana. Adrienne lives in Luxembourg, and is currently involved in online course content development for the Milinda program. In a previous life, Adrienne was a management consultant for US and international government agencies.

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