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Ashoka's Courses

Ashoka courses offer a rich mixture of reading, listening (audio), viewing (video), contemplation, and meditation. Our courses guide and encourage you to reflect on and apply what you are learning.

The Buddha's Teaching As It Is
Taught by Bhikkhu Bodhi, Bodhi Monastery
In this introduction to the Buddha's teachings, Bhikkhu Bodhi presents the basic teachings of Buddhism from the Theravadan perspective. This course includes the life of the Buddha, the four noble truths, the nature of existence, dependent origination, kamma, the eightfold path, meditation, and the sangha.
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Four Thoughts That Turn the Mind
Taught by Robert Thurman, Columbia University & Tibet House
Robert Thurman teaches the "preliminary" contemplations that help you develop a solid basis for listening to the teachings and developing a practice. Reflecting upon the precious human birth, impermanence, karma, and the sufferings of samsara frees one of the attachment to life in the realms of samsara.
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The Koan of Everyday Life: Dogen-Zenji's Genjo Koan
Taught by Dairyu Michael Wenger , San Francisco Zen Center
The Genjo Koan, Dogen-Zenji's concise, poetic expression of the practice of the Buddha’s dharma, is one of the most treasured texts in the Soto Zen tradition. Dogen's basic philosophy of our day to day lives as practice in the bodhisattva way is precisely presented in this guide to the integration of training with zazen and daily life.
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The Legacy of Chan
Taught by Dharma Drum Mountain (Master Sheng Yen)

This course provides an introduction to the nature and style of Chan Buddhism, which has been practiced in China since around the 6th century C.E. and, when exported to Japan around the 11-12th century, became the source of "Zen." In this course we look at Chan from three perspectives: the teachings, the methods, and the lineage of the patriarchs, masters, and teachers.

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Liberating the Heart: The Brahma Viharas
Taught by Sharon Salzberg, guiding teacher, Insight Meditation Society
The Buddha taught "the liberation of the heart which is love," and he taught a systematic, integrated path that moves the heart out of isolating contraction and into true connection: the brahma-viharas, meditation practices that cultivate love, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity.  These four qualities are among the most beautiful and powerful states of consciousness we can experience. Sharon Salzberg, Insight Meditation Society co-founder and guiding teacher, offers a profound exploration of the deepest meanings of brahma-viharas, bringing light to the spiritual value, practical utility and psychological insight that most Westerners are longing for.

Sharon Salzberg, Insight Meditation Society co-founder and guiding teacher, offers a profound exploration of the deepest meanings of brahma-viharas, bringing light to the spiritual value, practical utility and psychological insight that most Westerners are longing for. 

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The Metta Sutta:
Taught by Andrew Olendzki, Executive Director, Barre Center for Buddhist Studies

This is what should be done
By one who is skilled in goodness,
And who knows the path of peace...

The Metta Sutta is one of the best-loved poems of the Buddhist tradition. Its message and appeal are truly timeless. The Metta Sutta speaks of universal good will towards all creatures, giving shape to one of the most beautiful and fundamentally wholesome states of mind of which the human being is capable.

When we read the words of the Buddha, we are, of course, reading someone's translation of those words. How does translation influence the meaning and effect of the teachings? In this course you explore the Metta Sutta, the Buddha's discourse on loving-kindness, with Andrew Olendzki, executive director of the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies.

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Rest Your Weary Mind: Letting Go of the Hindrances
Taught by Joseph Goldstein, guiding teacher, Insight Meditation Society
The Buddha clearly pointed out those mental states that hinder our concentration and obscure the natural ease of mind. When these states are not understood, they obstruct our meditation practice and cause confusion and suffering in our daily lives. In this workshop, you explore in some depth how these seductive energies manifest in your day-to-day experience, and how, through investigation, wise attention, and humor, you can come to a place of greater freedom.
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The Story of Zen
Created by Ashoka
This course offers an introduction to the stories of Zen's 1500-year innovation and transformation within the ever-changing cultures of China and then Japan.

This course offers a treasury of Zen tradition: teachings, anecdotes, stories, legends, sayings, and wisdom culled from the classic texts of Chinese Chan and Japanese Zen.

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Taming the Mind: Cultivating Peaceful Abiding
Taught by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, head of Shambhala Buddhist lineage, and Acharya William McKeever
Discover the natural strength of the mind through meditation. This course offers a universal guide to "peaceful abiding"—the simple practice of sitting meditation. A step-by-step guided exploration of the practice of shamatha meditation with which to strengthen, clarify and stabilize the mind.

In this course you will learn:
• Why meditation is proactive and completely natural
• How to gather in a scattered mind and dismantle emotions
• How to overcome common obstacles to practice, from muscles aches to boredom
• How to establish a meditation practice

Bill McKeever guides you through a workshop in peaceful abiding, based on the first section of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche's book Turning the Mind Into an Ally. (A future Ashoka course will continue this exploration, teaching contemplative meditation.)

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View: The Role of Correct View
Taught by Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche , Evam Institute
In this brief lesson Traleg Rinpoche guides you in exploring some of the ways in which you can make use of basic Buddhist concepts in order to make sense of and make the most out of your meditation practice. In Mahayana Buddhist literature, conceptual understanding is always a precondition for the dawning of gnosis or jnana. Therefore, unless we have a correct view, we will never have a proper understanding of spiritual matters.
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Zen Meditation: Entering the Path
Taught by John Daishin Buksbazen , Zen Center of Los Angeles
Daishin Buksbazen of the Zen Center of Los Angeles presents a clear and insightful path into the philosophy and practice of Zen by providing a practical introduction to Zen meditation. Daishin presents the essentials that any new practitioner needs to know to enter the way of Zen meditation. Topics include:
  • Zen Meditation Is...
  • To Be Awakened to All Things
  • What Zazen Is and Is Not
  • Think Non-Thinking
  • Body and Mind
  • The Practice: Posture, Breathing, Awareness/Mindfuless
  • Zazen Is Not Only Sitting
  • Developing a Practice
  • If We're Already Awakened...
  • Faith, Inquiry and Perseverance
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