SHEDRA COURSES

Sessions 1, 2 and 3

One full shedra level (Sessions 1, 2 and 3) is included in your Summer Institute tuition, regardless of whether you register for one, two or all three Summer Institute sessions. All shedra classes will be recorded for viewing asynchronously through our Online Campus (Moodle).

Shedra Level 1: Mind and Its World I & II and Clear Thinking

Shedra Level 2: Madhyamaka Philosophical Tradition

Shedra Level 3: Mind Only and Buddha Nature

Level 1

Mind & Its World I and Mind & Its World II

(Two courses taught consecutively.)

This level encompasses three main topics: valid cognition, modes of engagement, and Clear Thinking.

Mind & Its World I: Valid Cognition (BUD 501)
This course explores the criteria of valid cognition (pramana) based on the teachings of the pramana tradition, or Buddhist epistemology. We will analyze our consciousness and determine to what degree, if at all, it is in agreement with its observed object. We will also look at the difference between non-mistaken, non-deceiving, conceptual and non-conceptual types of awareness. On a practical level, this course will also provide you with the tools for distinguishing between conceptual and nonconceptual types of mind in your meditation practice.

Mind & Its World II: Modes of Engagement (BUD 510)
Mind and Its World I and II train us in the pramana view, known as valid cognition. This view takes us on a journey of mind from non-valid cognition to inferential valid cognition and then through the four direct valid cognitions. It leads us to identify the mistaken concepts that we hold and then to understand increasingly more subtle degrees of valid concepts, and then to the idea of non-conceptuality, or direct perception.

Clear Thinking (BUD 502)

Clear Thinking helps us to clarify and deepen our understanding of knowable objects through learning methods for thinking clearly. This is developed by formulating definitions, examples, equivalents and classifications, and by exploring the four types of logical relationships between two phenomen.

Mahamudra Shamatha and Valid Cognition

Generally speaking, Mahamudra shamatha can be correlated with the pramana view of the classifications of mind, and especially with the essential modes of engagement of mind. Shedra level 1 and Mahamudra shamatha faculty help students to see these correlations. It is, therefore, highly beneficial to take these Mahamudra and shedra courses together.

Level 2

Madhyamaka Philosophical Tradition: Not Even a Middle

This course is an exposition of the Middle Way philosophical tradition. We will explore the ground, path and fruition of Madhyamaka, the classification of knowable objects into the two realities, and cultivate certainty in twofold identitylessness, namely: 1) the emptiness of all phenomena through engaging in the five great Madhyamaka reasonings and (2) the emptiness of a self of persons using the sevenfold analysis of the chariot.

This course is based on the Middle Way section of Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye’s The Treasury of Knowledge and the transcript of the oral commentary on this section by Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen. We will also use sections of Mitra Karl Brunnhölzl’s text The Center of the Sunlit Sky.

Prerequisites: Mind & Its World I and II (BUD 501 and 510) are required. Mind & Its World III and IV and Clear Thinking (BUD 520 and 530) are recommended.

Mahamudra Vipashyana-I and Madhyamaka

Mahamudra Vipashyana-I is correlated with the Madhyamaka view, and is expressed well in a song by the yogi Milarepa:

“Throughout the day and night look at your mind.
When you look at your mind you don’t see anything.
When you don’t see anything let go and relax.”

Shedra level 2 and Mahamudra Vipashyana-I faculty help students to see the correlations between these levels of study and practice. It is, therefore, highly beneficial to take these Mahamudra and shedra courses together.

Level 3

Mind Only and Buddha Nature

(Two courses taught consecutively.)

Cittamatra Philosophical Tradition: Appearances are Mere Mind (BUD 601)
In this course we will discuss the Cittamatra philosophical tradition based on The Mind Only Tenet System root text. Students engage in the philosophical reformulation of experience arising from meditation practice, declaring reasonings that establish objects as not separate from mind. We will then explore the true and false aspectarians and the classification of knowable objects into the three natures, as well as the theory of the eight-fold collection of consciousness.

Buddha Nature: Luminous Heart of the Tathagata (BUD 630)
The teachings on Buddha Nature present an overview of the Tathagatagarbha, or Buddha Nature tradition, which is the view of the luminous essence of awakening, the heart of goodness shared by all beings. Our exploration will rely on the key section of the Uttaratantra of Maitreya (ca. 4th century), which establishes Buddha Nature through the three reasonings, its ten facets, nine analogies and five reasons why it needs to be taught.

Prerequisites: Mind & Its World I and II (BUD 501 and 510) and Madhyamaka (BUD 610) are required. Mind & Its World III and IV (BUD 520 and 530) are recommended.

Mahamudra Vipashyana II and Cittamatra & Buddha Nature

The Cittamatra and Buddha Nature traditions primarily teach about the luminosity of mind, which is correlated with continued training in Mahamudra vipashyana meditation. Therefore, it is highly recommended to take Shedra Level 3 and Mahamudra Vipashyana-II together.

Completing the Shedra Curriculum

The entire Foundation and Intermediate curricula can be completed in three years by combining
Summer Institute courses with semester and/or self-paced online courses.
Some of our advanced courses are also open for self-guided study
for those who have completed the Foundation and Intermediate curricula.