Areas of Study and Practice at The Buddhist Center, Thubten Norbu Ling, Santa Fe
Our five areas of study and practice cover the entire spectrum of teachings and meditations required of someone who wants to achieve the final goal of enlightenment, buddhahood.
The etymology of the Sanskrit word “buddha” tells us clearly the job to be done:
Bud implies the utter eradication from our mind of all ego-based states such as attachment, anger, depression and other neuroses – the causes of suffering – that Buddha has found from his own experience are not at the core of our being and thus can be removed.
Dha implies the development to perfection of all positive states of mind such as intelligence, love, empathy and the rest – the causes of happiness – that are our true nature.
Every being, Buddha says, has this potential.
It is said that a bird needs two wings: wisdom and compassion. By removing delusions (bud) we achieve the wisdom that sees things clearly and cuts the separation between self and other. And with the compassion gained by developing all our goodness (dha) we will never give up helping others achieve the same goal.
At Thubten Norbu Ling, our classes, meditations, and ceremonies, held several times a day each day of the week, are taught and guided by a team of some fifteen FPMT teachers and facilitators, headed by our resident teacher Geshe Thubten Sherab.
These days, all events are held online via Zoom.
Our Heart Curriculum took the essence of the main points of the vast body of the Buddhist worldview and organized them experientially, includes five courses, the last four of which have several modules. The courses are:
Being Your Own Therapist
Buddhism Made Simple
Living in the Path
Basic Program: Advanced Buddhist Studies
The courses Buddhism Made Simple through Basic Program: Advanced Buddhist Studies have been created by the FPMT Education Office based on the advice of our Spiritual Director Lama Zopa Rinpoche.
All our courses are rooted in the experiential lamrim tradition of Je Tsongkhapa and the Gelug Tibetan Monastic University system, which is a continuation of the great Nalanda tradition of India.
The curriculum covers the entire range of the Buddhist worldview. Our Heart Curriculum and Supporting Curriculum are taught at increasingly advanced levels.
Starting with the entry-level Being Your Own Therapist, an open-ended series of 60-minute discussions that enable us to recognize the central role of our attitudes and feelings in day-to-day life and to know how to change them, the student can then study the two modules of Buddhism Made Simple.
They can deepen their knowledge by participating in the fourteen modules of Discovering Buddhism, Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Living in the Path, and finally the series of in-depth six-month modules of the Advanced Buddhist Studies of the Basic Program.
Our Supporting Curriculum expands on and deepens the students’ knowledge gained in the Heart Curriculum. The courses are:
Our Heart Lamas
Vows and Commitments
Lamrim: The Sutra Path
The Tantric Path
Our Heart Lamas courses, for example, are based on the various published works of FPMT founders Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche.
The modules of the Dharma Toolkit course explain practices such as offerings, prostrations, etc.
And in the Vows and Commitments modules we learn the intricacies of the three levels of vows that are crucial for the development of buddhahood: those of individual liberation, the bodhisattva, and tantra.
The Tantric Path course includes not only teachings but also empowerments given by qualified lamas.
The entire process of transforming the mind from delusions to virtue – the job of being a Buddhist – involves first listening to the teachings, reflecting on their meaning, and, finally, gaining experience of their reality in meditation. The courses are:
Concentration Meditation (shamata)
Lamrim Meditation (vipasana)
Each week we hold twelve meditation sessions, including our 30-minute Express Meditations every weekday morning and evening.
The ceremonies are:
Guru Puja and Tsog
Medicine Buddha Puja
In order to achieve realizations of the teachings we study and meditate on, we need to prime our minds by purifying our deeply ingrained deluded tendencies, which are the obstacles to the realizations, and by nourishing our virtues.
And in order to become buddhas ourselves, we need to open our hearts by developing close relationships with the enlightened beings and thus receive their blessings. We achieve this by participating in pujas, formal ceremonies of prayers, offerings and requests to the various buddhas.
From time to time we also familiarize ourselves with the words of Shakyamuni Buddha by reciting the sutras.
Foundation for the Development
of Compassion and Wisdom
Children and Teens
Science and Religion
Buddha’s teachings describe his view of reality. He is not a creator, so he’s not asking us to merely believe him but to prove it for ourselves. If what he describes is indeed reality then it can be expressed in universal terms, beyond dogma, beyond religion.
Our founder Lama Yeshe expressed his vision of Universal Education in the late 1970s. His ideas and those of Lama Zopa Rinpoche are now taught by the Foundation for the Development of Compassion and Wisdom (FDCW).
This approach is particularly conducive for young people, who might shy away from religion but who would benefit from the down-to-earth approaches to dealing with fears, depression and anxiety.
And these days, neuroscientists and psychologists are increasingly influenced by Buddhist ideas about the mind, for example, causing them to question longheld assumptions about the nature of consciousness.