Discovering Buddhism

Discovering Buddhism is an experiential taste of teachings and practices in the Tibetan Mahayana Buddhist tradition based on the lamrim, the stages of the path to enlightenment. It includes guided meditations and intensive practice days to integrate the teachings and make life most meaningful.

The program comprises 14 modules of study and retreat covering the Buddhist path in a systematic way. Each module is completed over two months with both a teaching weekend and a retreat weekend giving students time to study, practice and integrate each new subject slowly, building a comprehensive base of knowledge and skills.

A new round of Discovering Buddhism will begin on the long weekend at the beginning of May 2024  (4th – 6th May) – a special three day workshop focussing on Mind and its Potential, followed by the retreat weekend on this subject 8th & 9th June. We have also scheduled two special  weekends with Ven Tony Beaumont (in March and April) intended as revision for past students and introduction for new ones. 

The 14 modules of Discovering Buddhism do not need to be completed in a set order or within any specific time frame, although the list below shows the recommended order. For those students who can’t make it to the centre regularly, the course can be completed online. We have included options for both in-person or home study courses at the end of this page.

Students who complete all the modules and integration practices are eligible to apply to become an approved FPMT teacher at the Foundational Level. 

Over the years, various wonderful teachers have presented Discovering Buddhism at Chenrezig Institute. We are very happy that Venerable Pema, one of our best-educated FPMT nuns, has agreed to continue to offer Discovering Buddhism for our students through 2024. Ven Pema has very successfully completed both the FPMT Basic Program and the FPMT Masters Program at Chenrezig Institute and at Istituto Lama Tsongkhapa in Italy. We look forward to her dedication and enthusiasm continuing to benefit the centre and it’s students.

Join us at Chenrezig Institute for this incredible journey – Discovering Buddhism.

The Fourteen Modules:

1. Mind and Its Potential

Examine the mind and how it creates happiness and suffering. Learn to transform destructive thoughts and attitudes to develop a positive and joyous mind.

2. How to Meditate

Explore the definition and purpose of meditation, how to sit, how to set up a meditation session, different meditation techniques, and how to deal with obstacles to meditation.

3. Presenting the Path

Get an overview of the entire Tibetan Buddhist path to awakening. Study the life story of the Buddha and discover a unique system for putting Buddhist philosophy into practice: the lamrim, or graduated path to enlightenment.

4 .The Spiritual TeacheR

Investigate the role of the teacher on the spiritual path: the need for a teacher, the qualities of teacher and student, and how to relate to a teacher.

5. Death and Rebirth

Explore the process of death and rebirth and its impact on how we live our lives. Learn to fulfill your purpose in life, resolve conflicts, and develop the skills to help yourself and others at death.

6. All About Karma

Learn the essential facts about the law of actions and their results. Explore ways to deal with life more effectively and take control of your future.

7. Refuge in the Three Jewels

Find out what it means to take refuge in the Three Jewels – the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha – and the essential practices of refuge. Learn about the advantage of taking lay vows and their role in enhancing our spiritual growth.

8. Establishing a Daily Practice

Assemble the tools you need to develop a successful daily practice and find out the elements necessary to generate realisations. Get some tips for making every action you do meaningful.

9. Samsara and Nirvana

Investigate what samsara is and how we are stuck in it. Find out what nirvana is and how to achieve it. Learn how to be free from suffering and gain practical tools to deal with and eliminate disturbing emotions forever.

10. How to Develop Bodhichitta

Discover practices that develop our innate qualities of compassion. Learn to apply these techniques to generate bodhichitta, the mind of enlightenment, known as the very heart of Buddha’s teachings.

11. Transforming Problems

Learn the disadvantages of selfishness and the advantages of cherishing others. Learn to employ the special techniques of mind training (lojong) to transform problems into happiness.

12. Wisdom of Emptiness

Learn how to develop calm abiding (shamatha), the ability to remain focused in meditation for periods as long as you want, without distraction. Try different ways of meditating on emptiness, the lack of true existence of the self and all phenomena, the realisation of which is crucial for the attainment of liberation and enlightenment.

13. Introduction to Tantra

Learn what tantra is, how it works, and why it is a powerful form of practice. Get a broad overview of the four classes of tantra and learn to practice simple kriya tantric methods. Learn how to integrate tantra with lamrim meditation to obtain the best results.

14. Special Integration Experiences

Undertaking intensive practices of purification, a ten-day lamrim course/retreat, and three nyung nä retreats creates the inner conditions needed to gain the realisations of the path to enlightenment. The purification practices entail 100,000 prostrations to the Thirty-Five Buddhas and 100,000 long Vajrasattva mantras (two of the nine traditional preliminary practices). The ten-day lamrim course/retreat can be done on your own or at certain FPMT centres, including Kopan Monastery in Nepal. A nyung nä is a two-day fasting practice related to the Buddha of Compassion. It takes place at many FPMT centers, especially during the month of Saka Dawa, which falls in May-June. This module can be started at any time in the program but is best started early on, such as after the module All About Karma, as it takes some time to complete. For more information see: Module 14: Special Integration Experiences.

This program will be made available in person at Chenrezig Institute and online via Zoom

For those unable to fit around the times at the centre, Zoom sessions will also be uploaded to YouTube.  

Discovering Buddhism is also available as an online course through the FPMT Online Learning Centre. Individual modules of the online course can be purchased from The Foundation Store. Alternatively, enjoy all FPMT online programs available through the FPMT Online Learning Center free of charge by becoming a Friend of FPMT at the Dharma Supporter level or higher.

For more information visit FPMT Discovering Buddhism