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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 are give through out the year live on zoom, with some available as pre-recorded classes as well. They include a wide range of sutra and dharma study, as well as meditation courses and special presentations.

Registration now open for winter - For current live-zoom courses see here

Descriptions of past classes

*Most of the above courses and intermediate to advanced courses. 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.

Vajra Sutra - 8 week course

The Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra, ‘The Sutra That Cuts Like Lightning’, more commonly known as the Diamond Sutra, is one of the most influential Mahayana Buddhist sutras, and is one of the oldest known discourses on the 'perfection of wisdom'. It is generally agreed that the text was originally composed in Sanskrit sometime before the Common Era, and then translated into almost every known language over a broad geographic range. A copy of the Tang Dynasty Chinese version of the sutra found among the Dunhuang manuscripts in 1900 AD dates to May 11, 868 AD - making it the earliest dated printed book.

This course is a line-by-line reading and study of the entire Vajra Sutra, including a discussion of the texts’ possible origins, its place within the broader context of Buddhism, and its contemporary use and related practices.

Mother of Buddhas: The Perfection of Wisdom Sutra - 8 week course

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. 


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). 


 

The Universal Gateway to the Inconceivable - 6 week course
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.


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. 

 

Emptiness - 8 week course

This course is focused on the fundamental Buddhist concept Śūnyatā, translated most often as ’emptiness.’ This term has multiple meanings, depending on its particular doctrinal context. In the Pali-based traditions, for example, the term suññata is often synonymous with the concept of no-self (anatta, Skt. anatman), or it is described as a meditative state or experience devoid of sensory input. In Mahāyāna Buddhism, the Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit śūnyatā is more closely associated with the teaching of dependent co-origination (pratītyasamutpāda) and refers to the lack of inherent nature (svabhava) of any individuated phenomena, self or otherwise. This course will focus on Emptiness as it is understood and taught in the Mahāyāna Buddhist traditions.

 

The primary explicator of śūnyatā and its broader implications is no doubt Nāgārjuna. This course is a line-by-line reading of the Śūnyatāsaptatikārikā (’Seventy Verses on Emptiness’), a commentarial poem written sometime before the year 100 AD attributed to Nāgārjuna. This brief text has similarity with the seventh section of Nāgārjuna’s larger work, the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā (’Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way’), and the chapter on Examining Arising, Dwelling and Ceasing, and is therefore an good introduction to the work

TATHATĀ: The Meaning of True Suchness- 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. 

Mind-Only - 8 week course

One of the oldest philosophical questions concerns the relationship between the mental world of ideas and thought, and the physical world experienced by the senses. The question is, are mind and consciousness simply emergent results of the physical world, or is ‘the physical world’ merely an idea entertained by a conscious mind? This course is an overview of the ‘consciousness-only’ (vijñaptimātra) teachings of Yogacara Buddhism, an idealistic school of Buddhism that arose in India around the 4th-century AD. The philosophy of this school has come to represent the so-called ‘Third Turning’ (or phase) of the teachings of the Buddha, in which the concept of Emptiness (indicative of the ‘Second Turning’), is taken to a further logical conclusion that the ‘physical world’ is merely a construction of consciousness, similar to, but not the same as, a dream.

 

This course consists of several parts, each focused on reading commentaries and summaries of this sutra as well as other important Yogacara ideas by thinkers such as Asaṅga, Vasubandhu, and Xuanzang.

Ten Bhumi Stages (Ten Bodhisattva Stages) 8-week course

The Ten Stages (bhūmi) describe the process of awakening (or ‘enlightenment’), from the initial determination to do so all the way to the attainment of Buddhahood. This ten-step rubric is the

foundation of the Bodhisattva Path and it comes from an early Mahāyāna sutra simply known as the Ten Stages Sutra, in which each stage is associated with different practices, teachings, and contemplation exercises. This course is a ten-week exploration of each Stage of the Path. We will read portions of the Ten Stages Sutra, explore commentaries of The Stages, and consider its relevance to our lives today.  

Meditation Workshop: Acts of remembering - 4-week course

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.

 

Many of the above classes are available as now as pre-recorded courses. In gratitude to the LUSB community, these recordings are available on a suggested/pay-what-you-like basis. Suggested Tuition: $50 - $250

Order Pre-recorded course here

The Lotus Underground School of Buddhism Primer Series

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 two times a year in group classes open to the public (live 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.  

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