The Summer Institute’s shedra courses are part of our core Buddhist philosophy curriculum and are taught by our renowned Western faculty. This year’s offerings are: Mind and Its World I and II (Level 1), Madhyamaka (Level 2 ) and Buddha Nature and Mind-Only and Yogacara: Same or Different? (Level 3). Read below for prerequisites.

Level 1: Mind and Its World I and Mind and Its World II


Francis Sullivan
Session 1

Alison McKee
Session 2

Stephanie Johnston
Session 3

Dr. Sandra Roscoe
Session 3

Mind & Its World I: Valid Cognition This course explores the criteria of valid cognition based on the teachings of the Pramāna tradition, or Buddhist epistemology. We will analyze our consciousness and determine to what degree it is in agreement with its observed object or not; what the difference is between non-mistaken, non-deceiving, conceptual and non-conceptual types of awareness. Practically speaking, this also provides the practitioner with the tools for delineating conceptual and nonconceptual types of mind in meditation.

Mind & Its World II: Modes of Engagement & Mental Events This course presents a detailed treatment of objects in the form of definitions, examples, equivalents and classifications drawn from Collected Topics, the introductory textbook of the Abhidharma or Buddhist phenomenology. Furthermore, we will explore the modes of engagement of mind and investigate mind in terms of the mental events that describe specific functional aspects of mind, as well as determine its virtuous or afflicted states, in order to cultivate the former and relinquish the latter.

This level encompasses three main topics: valid cognition, modes of engagement, and mental factors.

This course is open to all Summer Institute students.

Level 2: Madhyamaka Philosophical Tradition: Not Even a Middle


Jirka Hladiš

This course is an exposition of the Middle Way philosophical tradition, based on Part One of The Center of the Sunlit Sky, expressed as the ground, path and fruition of Madhyamaka. Students will explore the classification of knowable objects into the two realities and cultivate certainty in the view of emptiness of all phenomena, formulating the five great Madhyamaka reasonings. The course includes a presentation of personal identitylessness, the sevenfold analysis of the chariot.

Mind and Its World I and II are required, and it is recommended to have also taken Mind and Its World III and IV and Clear Thinking.

Required texts:

To order, click on the links below:

Level 3: Buddha Nature and Mind-Only and Yogacara: Same or Different?


Scott Wellenbach
Buddha Nature

Stephanie Johnston
Buddha Nature

Karl Brunnhölzl

Mitra Dr. Karl Brunnhölzl
Mind-Only and Yogacara

Buddha Nature: Luminous Heart of the Tathagata The teachings on Buddha Nature present an overview of the Tathāgatagarbha, 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 is necessary to teach it.

Mind-Only and Yogacara: Same or Different?: This is a new Nitartha course that will explore the view of what has been called the “Mind-Only School“ as presented in late Indian Madhyamika doxographies and the standard Tibetan doxographies, versus the view of the Indian Yogacara School. In addition to discussing their differences and commonalities, students will also learn about their relationships with what has been called the “Shentong Madhyamaka,” which originated in Tibet.

This course fulfills the BUD601 course requirement for the Intermediate Certificate of Completion.

Level 3 Prerequisites:

Mind and Its World I
and II (BUD 501 and BUD 510) plus Madhyamaka (BUD 610) are required, and it is recommended to have also taken Mind and Its World III and IV.

Required texts for Buddha Nature:

Required texts for Mind-Only and Yogacara:

Optional texts for Mind-Only and Yogacara

Completing the Shedra Curriculum

The entire Foundation and Intermediate curricula can be completed in 3 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.