A Unique Study Program
The Foundation Program (FP) is designed for students who have gained a basic understanding of Kadampa Buddhist practice and are interested in pursuing a formalized and committed study program.
Through regular teachings and meditation, systematic study, and group discussion, the Foundation Program offers the same training followed by spiritual practitioners in an unbroken lineage dating back to Buddha Shakyamuni. In this way we can gain authentic experience of the Dharma while still maintaining our contemporary lifestyle. By studying on this program we shall gain great confidence in meditation – from basic techniques for overcoming our everyday problems to practices leading to unsurpassed happiness and permanent inner peace. Warm friendships develop as students inspire each other, sharing insights and experiences of the spiritual path.
What is the structure?
The secret of the Foundation Program’s success lies in the manageable commitment made by the student and in the clear structure of study. Students sign up to study a book or part of a book, agree to attend every class, learn the material, and to take a test at the conclusion of the study. Class meets once a week for two and a half hours. There are two separate programs; one runs on Monday nights and the other on Wednesday nights. If for a suitable reason a student is not able to attend the class in person, he or she agrees to catch up by listening to a recording of the class. There is also a commitment to participate in at least one chanted-prayer session at the Center per month. The students participate in putting up the shrine offerings and setting up the meditation room on the day of their class. In this way they learn about the rituals associated with Buddhist practice.
What happens at a class?
Prior to class, students study an assigned portion of the text, usually a few pages long, and memorize the essential points. The class begins with chanted prayers and guided meditation. The teacher then reads the assigned selection from the book while giving commentary to the text. The students then divide into pairs to discuss the material. The teacher and students conclude by deciding what to meditate on in the next class and how to practice during the coming week.
What books are studied?
The purpose of the Foundation Program is to provide a systematic presentation of particular subjects of Mahayana Buddhism to enable practitioners to deepen their knowledge and experience of Buddhism.
The program comprises the following five subjects, based on Buddha’s Sutra teachings and the corresponding commentaries by Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso:
1. The Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, based on the commentary, Joyful Path of Good Fortune
2. Training the Mind, based on the commentaries, Universal Compassion and Eight Steps to Happiness
3. The Heart Sutra, based on the commentary, Heart of Wisdom
4. Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, based on the commentary, Meaningful to Behold
5. Types of Mind, based on the commentary, Understanding the Mind
Currently on Monday nights Joyful Path of Good Fortune is studied, and on Wednesday nights Eight Steps to Happiness is studied.
The benefits of studying and practicing these texts are as follows:
Joyful Path of Good Fortune – we gain the ability to put all Buddha’s teachings of both Sutra and Tantra into practice. We can easily make progress on and complete the stages of the path to the supreme happiness of enlightenment. From a practical point of view, the Stages of the Path is the main body of Buddha’s teachings, and the other teachings are like its limbs.
Eight Steps to Happiness – we gain the ability to transform our day-to-day living – including even the most difficult conditions – into opportunities for personal and spiritual development. By pointing the way to an unchanging freedom and happiness, this immensely readable book challenges us to grow, and will have a remarkable impact on our life.
The Foundation Program is taught by Julia Strohm on Monday nights and Michelle Valladares on Wednesday nights. Both are experienced teachers who have been studying on the Teacher Training Program for many years.
When is the class?
Class is on either Monday nights from 6:35pm – 8:45pm or on Wednesday nights from 6:45pm – 9:00pm. There is an opportunity to enroll in a 4-week free trial. In order to attend this 4-week trial you must email the Study Program Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a phone interview.
How much will it cost?
The Foundation Program is open to members of KMC NYC. To become a member, the monthly fee is $85. This includes free admission to General Program Classes at the Center and branches, weekend events, and retreats at the Center and empowerments at half the regular price. To find out more about the Foundation Program, contact Simone Barker at email@example.com.