A great place to start is one of our drop-in meditation/discussion sessions. We offer these sessions on the Zoom platform and in small group sessions in a member’s home.
For Introductory students we suggest:
- The Four Noble Truths, Geshe Tashi Tsering (Wisdom Publications)
- What Makes You Not a Buddhist, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche (Shambala Publications)
- The Misleading Mind, Karuna Cayton (New World Library)
For those interested in an introduction to meditation, check out:
- Guided Meditations on the Stages of the Path, Thubten Chodron (Snow Lion Publications)
- How to Meditate, Kathleen McDonald (Wisdom Publications)
- Spiritual Friends: Meditations by Monks and Nuns of the International Mahayana Institute, edited by Ven. Thubten Dondrub (Wisdom Publications)
- Why Meditate?, Working with Thoughts and Emotions, Matthieu Richard (Hay House)
- 10% Happier, How I tamed the Voice In MY Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works – A True Story, Dan Harris, (Dey St.)
Also of interest:
- Tibetan Buddhism from the Ground Up, Alan Wallace (Snow Lion Publications)
- The Awakened One: A Life of the Buddha, Sherab Chödzin Kohn (Shambala Publications)
- Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, Pabongka Rinpoche (Wisdom Publications)
- The Path to Enlightenment [previously entitled Essence of Refined Gold], His Holiness the Dalai Lama (Snow Lion Publications)
- The Principle Teachings of Buddhism, Je Tsong Khapa (Mahayana Sutra and Tantra Press)
- The Way to Freedom: The Core Teachings of Buddhism, His Holiness the Dalai Lama (Harper Collins, Snow Lion Publications)
- Awakening the Mind, by Geshe Wangchen (Wisdom Publications)
Our first question in reply would be “Why not take an introductory course?”
Our sister centres within the FPMT offer many excellent online courses that range from introductory to advanced student level teachings.
Buddhist understanding should not be measured in breadth but depth, and every good student knows that there’s always something new to learn! Although some courses are listed as introductory courses, many experienced students also take part and find them of immense value. Students sometimes repeat the course; when teachings and guided meditations are heard from different teachers, their varied perspectives and styles – combined with your own personal experiences acquired since your last course – can stimulate fresh insights for even the most experienced students. We particularly recommend that you take an introductory course if you have only learned about Buddhism from books; nothing compares to being taught by an actual teacher.
We must stress that FPMT courses focus on Buddhist Philosophy rather than only the deepening of meditation practice and therefore meditation experience alone is not sufficient to qualify a student for Intermediate Level courses
If you have studied a lot within another Buddhist tradition, you will also find a great deal of new information on our courses. At Gendun Drubpa Study Group, we follow a traditional presentation of Tibetan Buddhist teaching known as the Lam-Rim (The Graduated Path to Enlightenment). This is a systemized overview of Buddhist Philosophy and students of other traditions may not be familiar with some aspects of it. Buddhist Philosophy investigates many subtle conceptual points: different traditions often use different terminology or translations. Consequently, long-term students of other traditions who have not studied Tibetan Buddhist philosophy before can find that FPMT introductory level courses introduce many new concepts.
Therefore, we qualify students as being “Intermediate Level” once they have taken one of their introductory courses, such as “Buddhism in a Nutshell,” because the Intermediate level courses assume a solid understanding of basic Buddhist philosophy as it is taught in our tradition. It’s our way of making sure that everyone is “on the same page,” of course they try to be flexible, so if having read the above you still feel strongly that an Intermediate Level course would be more suitable for you, then contact them.
This is a very difficult and subjective question to answer. The nature of mind and emotions are extremely important topics in Buddhist philosophy and will be covered in some detail on the introductory course. In the teaching sessions, you will learn about Buddhist perspectives on mind and the problems we all deal with, which can be summarized as delusions based on desire, hatred and ignorance. In the meditation sessions, you will have time to investigate the relevance of these Buddhist perspectives to your own experience and learn techniques to deal with negativity and increase peace, happiness and compassion in your daily life.
But students are cautioned from thinking of this course as being a “cure” for all the troubles of our everyday lives. Be realistic; this is a great start but by no means the end of all our worries. Please be aware that this is a course of instruction, it is not intended to be a therapy retreat and the teachers are not trained psychotherapists.
There will be opportunities to ask questions to clarify any difficulties you may be having in understanding the philosophical points raised, but in these courses teachers cannot extensively counsel students on personal difficulties they might be experiencing.
Also, if you have been experiencing severe emotional problems, this may not be the right time to take part in a course that introduces such new and challenging ideas.
Meditation can also access new awareness of physical and mental experiences that can be unsettling, particularly if you have a history of emotional instability. In which case, for the safety and comfort of yourself and all the students and teachers on the course, we ask that you honestly question whether this course would be appropriate for you at this time. If you feel that it would be a healthy decision to join the course, we ask that you inform the teacher of any concerns or psychological history when registering, so that they can offer appropriate support should it be needed.
To learn about Buddhism is to learn about yourself; how your mind works and how this affects your life. It’s up to you to apply this wisdom!
Our teachings, meditations and practices are based on the tradition of Lama Tsong Khapa of Tibet, who lived from 1357 to 1419, founder of the Gelugpa School of Tibetan Buddhism, as taught to us by our founder Lama Thubten Yeshe and our spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche, both of whom are students of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Practitioners of all Buddhist schools as well as non-Buddhists of any nationality and any religion are welcome study and meditate with us. You can find more information about our teachers by looking at the “Our Teachers” tab above.
Yes. Gendun Drubpa Study Group is part of the FPMT (Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition) a network of over 160 meditation centres and social service projects dedicated to benefiting others in over 35 countries around the world. For more information about FPMT, Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, please see www.fpmt.org.
Yes. We ask our visitors to observe the following guidelines in order to maintain an atmosphere conducive to inner reflection and meditation:
- Respect all life: do not intentionally kill any living being, even small insects
- Respect others’ property: do not steal or take anything not freely given
- Be honest and straightforward: do not lie or intentionally deceive others
- Refrain from any sexual activity
- Be alert and mindful: avoid intoxicants such as cigarettes, alcohol and drugs (if necessary, one can smoke outside)
- Be considerate of the monastics: dress respectfully (no revealing clothing) and refrain from intimate displays between couples
When coming in contact with the Buddha-Dharma, it is useful to know the basic ways that you can show your respect for the teachings, which are considered precious. Conforming to these modes of behavior does not mean you are Buddhist or agree completely with the values or the validity of the Dharma, but merely expresses respect for it. Thus it is an intelligent way to make your encounter with the Dharma enjoyable and beneficial.
Buddhist books, notebooks and other reading material should be kept in a clean place. They should not be sat upon, stepped over or on, or placed directly on the floor. A cloth covering can be wrapped around these books when carrying or storing them and can be spread on the ground when these books are placed down. It will be helpful to place your books as compactly as possible near your seat to allow others to walk by easily. In addition, paper with Dharma notes on it should not be taken into the bathroom or discarded in unclean places. For disposal, they can be burnt or put in special containers available for that purpose.
Listening to Dharma teachings:
It is fine to shift your sitting position during the teachings etc. but be mindful not to point the soles of your feet, – symbolically the lowest and often least clean part of your body, directly towards the teacher, altar or over your Dharma books. To do this is considered careless and disrespectful. While listening to Dharma teachings, one tries to show respect for the teacher and teachings by not wearing hats or shoes and not sitting higher than the teacher. One should also avoid lying down or leaning lazily against the wall. (This will also help prevent you from falling asleep!)
Out of respect for the teacher and the other students, always try to arrive on time, (yes, even on Zoom!) – even a little bit early, to get settled in your seat before the teaching begins.
During most of the introductory courses, we may not do prostrations before we sit down. Although many of the advanced students perform three prostrations before sitting down, this is not strictly necessary. Prostrations work effectively to decrease false pride and make the mind more receptive, but it is not necessary that you adopt this practice. One can also make prostrations by putting the hands together in at the heart on prostration mudra or mentally, by visualizing one is prostrating.
Please feel free to ask any questions whatsoever about what we do at the study group. At first it may seem like there is a lot of complicated ritual, but it doesn’t take long to start to become familiar with the basics.
“Ven.” stands for “Venerable”, and is a title that we offer as a sign of respect to those who are ordained.
Logistics and practicalities
Teachings are free. You are encouraged to make a donation if you can.
More information about supporting our center can be found on the “Membership” page.
There is no need to preregister for our meditation and discussion gatherings, but it’s nice to know you are joining us so please email us and we will send along information as to how to make that happen.
Gendun Drubpa is in a small town called Williams Lake in the interior of British Columbia. We are about seven hours’ drive north from Vancouver.