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What does it mean to live simply and genuinely? How can we incorporate Buddhist wisdom into our everyday lives? This course examines how to harness the practice of sitting meditation to cultivate genuineness and honesty, befriend oneself, and develop stable and natural discipline that can be brought into the world to reduce the harm mindlessly caused to others.

As the contemporary wellness marketplace swells with products and programs offering self-care and self-improvement, we might ask how we can create a nourishing and genuine lifestyle without relying on the usual shortcuts of consumption, distraction, and indulgence. The Buddhist tradition suggests that the way to improve our situation is by working with the mind to cultivate attention and honesty, and in doing so gradually come in contact with a sense of fundamental contentment. This course is based on talks Judy Lief gave in the context of a nine-day Profound Treasury Retreat, held in Crestone, Colorado in 2017. The focus is on foundational or Hinayana teachings found in the first volume of The Profound Treasury Trilogy, The Path of Individual Liberation.

Classes

1) The Basic Minimum as the Ground of Discipline

Tuesday, March 8th
Reading: Chapter 24, Profound Treasury Vol. 1: The Basic Minimum
Teachers: Judy Lief and Chris Willcox

This class provides a general introduction to the course, including its context within the Profound Treasury Retreats as well as the Vajradhatu Seminaries that inspired them and provided the source material for the Profound Treasury volumes.

We will provide an overview of the three-yana system of Tibetan Buddhism, and focus on the Hinayana, which serves as the basis for the course. Central to the Hinayana is the practice of sitting meditation. We will review the basic meditation instruction provided by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and his particular emphasis on ordinariness, genuineness, and honesty.

Key Topics: 3 yanas, the hinayana, nontheism, spiritual materialism, importance of sitting practice, shamatha meditation, total involvementS

2) Straightforward Discipline

Tuesday, March 15th
Reading: Chapter 16, Profound Treasury Vol. 1: Loneliness and the Joy of Discipline
Teachers: Tavita Martinez and Chris Willcox

In this class we examine loneliness and aloneness as fundamental aspects of the human experience. This inescapable sense of being “on our own” frames the working basis of the Buddhist path: our minds. Discipline, in this context, is understood as the way in which we work with our minds. Through the application of discipline, the neurotic heat of mind is gradually cooled, and a sense of richness and appreciation of our lives emerges.

Key Topics: Taming the mind – dülwa – and conscientiousness – pagyö; decorum; aloneness and loneliness; Nontheism; two aspects of shila: taming neurosis and cultivating virtue

3) Obstacles to a Disciplined Life

Tuesday, March 22nd
Reading: Chapter 17, Profound Treasury Vol. 1: Taming the Neurotic Mind
Teachers: Damita Brown and Chris Willcox

In this class we examine the four mental obstacles we encounter on the path: stupidity, mindlessness, emotional upheavals, and lack of faith. Through the practice of meditation, we befriend, rather than eliminate these obstacles, and in doing so tame the neurotic mind.

Key Topics: encountering obstacles, laziness, awareness, kleshas, confidence, shila, samadhi, and prajna

4) Natural Discipline 

Tuesday, March 29th
Reading Chapter 18, Profound Treasury Vol. 1: Cutting the Root of Samsara, 19. Continually Gnawing Rock
Teachers: Zoe Morris and Chris Willcox

This class will examine natural discipline and its three gates: body, speech, and mind. In particular, we will discuss how subtle unconscious tendencies and fixations – karmic seeds in the alayavijnana – can snowball into the dramatic pains and pleasures of samsara, and how this process can be interrupted through mindfulness practice.

Key topics: natural discipline, taming and subjugating, the three gates of discipline: body, speech, and mind, cutting karma through mindfulness practice, alaya consciousness, the gap, renunciation, two-fold egolessness

5) Marks of a Dharmic Person

Tuesday, April 5th
Reading: Chapter 20, Profound Treasury Vol. 1: Becoming a Dharmic Person
Teachers: Harry Einhorn and Chris Willcox

Through regular meditation practice, the sharp edges of our personalities are gradually and naturally softened. This class will explore the seven characteristics of a dharmic person and how these naturally arise through regular meditation practice.

Key topics: taming, genuineness, cool boredom, the seven characteristics of a dharmic person: passionless, contentment, fewer activities, good conduct, awareness of the teacher, propagating prajna, attitude of goodness

6) Daily Recommitment to the Practice of Not Harming

Tuesday, April 12th
Reading: Chapter 21, Profound Treasury Vol. 1: Refraining from Harm
Teachers: Judy Lief and Chris Willcox

One of Buddhism’s many skillful means is the use of vows. This class will discuss in particular the pratimoksha vows, taken in the form of five precepts, and the refuge vow with which it is often associated. These five precepts form the “nitty gritty” of post-meditation practice and focus on reducing harm and paying heed to one’s actions. They can serve as useful reference points for our conduct regardless of whether we have taken vows.

Key topics: pratimoksha and refuge vows, five precepts, failing and starting over, remorse vs. guilt, fresh start and recommitment

About the Instructors

Judy Lief is a Buddhist teacher who trained under the Tibetan meditation master, Ven. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. She has been a teacher and practitioner for over 35 years, and she continues to teach throughout the world. Judy is known for offering insights and practices stemming from the Buddhist tradition as a support for ordinary people facing the difficulties and challenges of modern life. Judy leads retreats and workshops as well as presenting online teachings. In her teaching, Judy prefers questions to answers, humor to earnestness, delight to solemnity. Judy teaches with clarity and empathy, with deep respect for the wisdom of the Buddhist teachings and the power of Buddhist practice. She especially enjoys sharing insights drawn from her Buddhist training with people simply looking for a way to develop more mindfulness and kindness in their lives. Judy’s teaching is marked by gentleness, humility, and an occasional poke of insight.
Chris Willcox is an artist, father, and dharma practitioner based in the high desert of Santa Fe, New Mexico. He trained in fine art and philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis and the Glasgow School of Art, and was first introduced to Buddhist practice and study in 2009 at Kagyu Samye Ling in Scotland. Since 2013 he has led study groups on critical theory, art, and Buddhism and in 2018, at the request of his teachers, began teaching dharma.
Damita Brown is a painter, poet, and a writer, currently serving as the Co-Executive Director of the Flywheel Skill Share (a social justice organization) where she leads abolitionist restorative justice and racial justice workshops using a contemplative approach. Brown has been practicing meditation in the Shambhala tradition for over 20 years. She has studied and taught social movement history, critical race theory, and Black liberation consciousness. Brown holds a doctorate in History of Consciousness from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has been involved on and off in social justice work since she participated in the boycott of her junior high school in 1977.
Harry Einhorn is a multidisciplinary artist, educator, and lifelong student of Buddhism based in Taipei, Taiwan. He is a lecturer at Hua Fan University teaching Buddhist music, Tibetan iconography, and Buddhist English. He has produced, directed, and composed works exploring the teachings of Buddhism through music, dance, and installation. He has coordinated and taught meditation and Buddhist study retreats in India, France, Brazil, Taiwan, and the US, and is currently a member of the Milinda Program, a multi-year Buddhist teacher training sponsored by the Khyentse Foundation.
Mudwymn is Toni Tavita Martinez, a Licensed Professional Counselor, Ancestral Ritualist, and Death Walker located in Milwaukee, WI. I serve youth and families of color -- primarily American Enslaved Descendants of Slavery (ADOS) and Latinx families experiencing grief, loss, and intergenerational trauma as a result of psycho-social economic oppression. I provide community and individual instruction in mindfulness/meditation, work-life stabilization, ancestral repair work, somatic experiencing (body-based techniques), ecotherapy (nature-based therapy) and trauma-centered therapies to bring individuals to a sense of Self. I aid in their personal repair journey.
Zoe Morris worked, studied and practiced for eight years at KTC monastery in Wappingers Falls, NY; during which time she completed a three-year meditation retreat in the Tibetan Karma Kagyu tradition. Zoe currently lives in Los Angeles, California with her husband Jeremy and two children Theo and Uma, where she continues her path as a mother, performance artist, dancer, poet and student of life.

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