The Lotus Underground School of Buddhism offers classes to engage both novice students, as well as those who have been studying and/or practicing Buddhism for years. Two Cycles of the LUSB Primer series are given twice a year. Other classes, including courses on the Heart Sutra, Vajra Sutra, and advanced courses on Mind-Only Buddhism, Emptyness, and other concepts, texts and sutras are offered variously throughout the year.
All classes are held live on zoom with recordings of every class
made available for participants for lifetime access.
This is an introductory course, part of the LUSB Buddhist Studies Program. Even if you are already familiar with these teachings, the intention of this course is to present them in a new way and provide a deeper clarity.
Registration currently open for FALL 2023
TURNING THE DHARMA WHEEL: Introduction to Buddhism,
Sunday mornings, 9:00 - 10:30am (Pacific)
October 1st – December 3rd, 2023
A traditional way of learning Buddhism is called Anguttara, ‘adding one’ – wherein the teachings of the Buddha are presented numerically in increasing order, such as the Three Poisons, the Four Noble Truths, and the Five Aggregations. This 10-week course uses a similar method of interlocking systems to explore fundamental Buddhist concepts and their interrelations. The ideas presented in each week’s session increase in complexity and build on previous session topics, thus 'turning the Dharma wheel.’ This course also provides an introduction to Buddhist texts, modern interpretations, and the transcendent applicability of Buddhism.
This is the first course in a three-part series that make up the LUSB Introduction to Buddhism.
Advanced Sutra Study Course: The Universal Gateway to the Inconceivable
Thursday evenings, 6:00pm - 7:30pm (Pacific)
October 5th – November 9th, 2023
The Universal Gateway is a deceptively brief sutra that is as complex as the better known Heart Sutra. This sutra is a series of short poems recited by the Buddha that describe entry into different samādhis (‘meditative absorptions’) by observing various characteristics of reality, such as sights, sounds, scents, flavors, etc., to the very characteristics of being and non-being. The poems weave together multiple elements of Mahāyana Buddhism: cosmology, samādhi, as well as the teaching of Emptiness, which is the underlying theme of the poems. The course is a deep dive into this contemplative and beautiful sutra full of big ideas, presented as a thousand-petalled lotus flower made of the seven treasures.
Meditation Workshop: Acts of remembering
Tuesday evenings, November 7th - 28th
6:00pm - 7:30pm (Pacific)
Smṛti is one of the earliest terms used in Buddhism for meditation. In the modern world it is commonly translated as ‘mindfulness’, however it is helpful to know that the word smṛti indicates something like ‘remembering’ or ‘recalling’, and is traditionally contrasted with the more receptive act of śruti, ‘hearing’. There are many ways to understand how the act of remembrance relates to Buddhist meditation and other aspects of psycho-physical practice.
This meditation workshop presents the traditional satipaṭṭhāna system of Buddhism, a four-step practice that gets progressively deeper as the object of focus, or mindful awareness, shifts from mindfulness of the body to bodily sensations, followed by mindfulness of mind-states themselves, and finally mindfulness of the very principles (dharmas) governing the construction of mind-states. Broken into four evenings, each session will include a guided meditation, periods of silent sitting, in addition to analytical discussion of these foundational ideas, and their numerous sub-categories.
Previous LUSB Courses
Way of the Vajra: Introduction to Tantric Buddhism
Sundays, 9:00am - 10:30am
April 2 - May 21, 2023
This course is an overview of the fundamental principles and practices of Vajrayāna Buddhism, the ‘thunderbolt vehicle,’ one of the many names given to the ‘occult’, esoteric form of Buddhism that developed in medieval India during the 5th century AD and spread to Tibet, Nepal, other Himalayan states, East Asia, and Mongolia.
Mother of Buddhas: The Perfection of Wisdom Sutra
Thursdays, 6:00pm - 7:30pm
April 6 - May 25, 2023
This course is a close reading of the Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra, the ‘Perfection of Wisdom in 8,000 lines.’ It is nicknamed the ‘Mother of Buddhas’ because throughout the text, Prajñāpāramitā is approached as a somewhat ‘divine feminine force,’ given the pre-eminent position of ‘mother’ of enlightened beings. This sutra also appears to be the source text for shorter Prajñāpāramitā sūtras, such as the Heart Sutra and Vajra Sutra, and this course will be identifying those precursors.
8-week intermediate course on the Awakening of Faith in the Mahāyāna
This course is an introduction to the foundational Mahayana Buddhist teaching of Tathatā (Suchness) based upon the seminal commentary attributed to Aśvaghoṣa, The Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana. While the concept of Tathatā may be found among the earliest teachings of the Buddha, True Suchness (bhūtatathatā) and "reality as-it-is" (yathābhūta) become central to the Mahayana Buddhist teachings on the innate purity of the phenomenal world. The Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana has been considered a foundational text for understanding this key concept since at least the 6th Century.
This is an intermediate course, it is recommended that you have taken classes within the foundation LUSB Buddhist Studies Program or have a general knowledge of Buddhism and Buddhist history.
REVEALING THE SECRET
An 8-week advanced study of the Saṃdhinirmocana Sūtra
This course is a line-by-line reading of the Saṃdhinirmocana Sūtra (Revealing the Secret), one of the primary texts of the Mind-Only School of Buddhism containing explanations of key Yogācāra concepts such as the storehouse consciousness (ālaya-vijñāna) and the doctrine of consciousness-only (vijñapti-mātra). The Saṃdhinirmocana is also considered the foundation of the Third Turning of the Dharma Wheel – the final phase of the Buddha’s teaching in which he revealed the Ultimate Truth (Paramārtha).
This is an advanced course, for graduates of the LUSB Buddhist Studies Program or those with a foundational knowledge of Buddhism and Buddhist history. If you have not taken the LUSB introductory courses but would still like to take this course, please let me know, as there is always room for exceptions.
The Lotus Underground School of Buddhism Primer
A three part series that provides a strong foundation in the central ideas of Buddhism. The three courses can be taken sequentially, or in any order, or even as stand-alone courses.
The full series is offered three times a year in group classes open to the public (currently on-line). This curriculum and other paths of study are also available as scheduling allows for private groups and individual study.
Part 1: Turning the Dharma Wheel
A traditional way of learning Buddhism is called Anguttara, ‘adding one’ – wherein the teachings of the Buddha are presented numerically in increasing order, such as the Three Poisons, the Four Noble Truths, and the Five Aggregations. This 10-week course uses a similar method of interlocking systems to explore fundamental Buddhist concepts and their interrelation. The ideas presented in each week’s session grow in complexity and systematically build on previous session topics, thus ‘turning the wheel of Truth,’ or Dharma.
Part 2: The Wheel of Becoming: Dependent -Origination
Pratītyasamutpāda ('Dependent Origination') is a Buddhist term for the principle that all phenomena arise and exist only in dependence upon other phenomena and, therefore, have no inherent self-nature. To understand this fundamental concept, this six-week course uses the traditional 12-Link 'Chain of Causation' structure to demonstrate the ‘self’-perpetuating, cyclical nature of existence.
Part 3: The Irreversible Wheel: The Eight Schools of Buddhism
The ‘Eight Schools’ is a traditional Buddhist classification system used throughout East Asia for understanding the relationship between various Buddhist traditions, practices, and communities that arose during the first thousand years of Buddhist history, from approximately 400 BC to 600 AD. The Eight Schools taught in this course correspond to eight modern trends in Buddhist practice found throughout the world today, beginning with the ancient traditions of renunciation and monasticism persevered by the Theravada schools of Southeast Asia, and concluding with the highly advanced, esoteric teachings of the remote, mountainous temples of Tibetan, China and Japan. This course is the third part of the LUSB Buddhist Studies Program, designed to show how the essential teachings and deeper philosophies presented in the first two courses have been put into practice throughout history.