Buddhist Science of Mind (BSM) is a course designed to introduce students to the history, theory, and basics of Buddhist psychology, philosophy of mind, and contemplative practice. Traditional topics covered include: the nature of consciousness & perception; epistemology; mental states, emotions, and their qualitative effects; and the Buddhist perspective on mental health (dealing with detrimental states of mind, and the role of meditation in transforming & overcoming those states).
The files and documents of the distance modules are available online. If there is sufficient interest, each distance module also offers a live webinar for questions and answers.
Module 1: Meditation & Practice · 3 – 4 July 2020
First, we introduce the basic meditative practice common to many Buddhist traditions—often translated as “calm abiding” in English (Skt. śamatha). Instructions and details cover the “one-pointed” focus of the practice, “mindfulness,” stability & clarity, and all the other aspects and succeeding stages of meditation. One of the main goals of this introductory module is devoting time to actually practicing meditation, along with its methods and benefits.
Module 2: History of Buddhist Thought · Distance Module
How did Buddhism develop in India? When and how was it transmitted to Tibet? In this module, we explore the basics of Buddhism through the lens of history, along with the essential aspects that define Buddhist thought. We also cover the basics of consciousness and perception: How does reality “work” from the Buddhist perspective?
Module 3: Consciousness & Cognition · 5 – 6 September 2020
An overview of how consciousness works according to the traditional Tibetan Buddhist understanding of mind. Within, we cover the different states of consciousness, and how it functions and interacts with objects of awareness. Using these theories as a basis, we delve into Buddhist epistemology (theory of knowledge)—what makes knowledge valid or invalid from the Buddhist perspective? Finally, we also cover cognitive tendencies of perception, and how they influence our everyday experience of the world around us. Requirement: Attendance of at least 50% of course participants, otherwise distance study.
Module 4: The Buddhist Schematic of Mind · Distance Module
This module is devoted to a general discussion of how the Buddhist system views mind, mental states, and emotions, and how we encounter and experience their complex interactions in our day-to-day lives. In particular, we discuss the “technical manuals” of consciousness from the Buddhist perspective (Skt. abhidharma), and introduce how these schematics work.
Module 5: Alleviating Detrimental Emotions · Distance Module
In this module, we especially focus on detrimental emotions, and how the Buddhist system talks about the detrimental states of mind that occur in everyday contexts—how destructive emotions arise, what we can do to alleviate them, and practical applications of meditation. What are the ‘antibodies’ we can use to boost our psychological immunity to detrimental emotions; how can we prolong positive mind-states; and how can we reset our own standards of mental fitness?
Module 6: Cultivating Positive Mental States · 7 – 8 May 2021
Here, we follow Buddhist Psychology to its ultimate goal: the genuine, lasting transformation that is said to be achievable through contemplative practice. According to Buddhism, what happens when we become experts at avoiding detrimental states of mind and cultivating calm states of mind that are unswayed by outer circumstances? When we cultivate our innate potential to be kind, loving, and compassionate to become more and more unbiased and open?
Exam and Presentation of Diplomas · 4 July 2021
A Note on Secular Education
TCA follows H.H. the Dalai Lama’s lead in defining “secular” education as ethics and education based on the range of humanist philosophy and spiritual traditions found worldwide. As much as possible, courses at TCA are taught independent of Buddhist faith and religion, and are open to anyone and everyone, no matter their background or religious affiliation. The intention of the course is to give students new perspectives on our common human experience by presenting authentic Buddhist knowledge.
The study program of BPR, Buddhist Philosophy & Religion, is inspired by the vision of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, whose ardent wish is to modernize & secularize the cultural knowledge & heritage of the Indo-Tibetan Nalanda tradition. The curriculum, developed in collaboration with CUTS in Varanasi by Ven. Geshe TenDhar, is based on this tradition, which is held by many Buddhists to be a living, un-broken lineage stretching back to the historical Buddha himself.