Speaking about the three study programmes he has created, Geshe Kelsang has said:
“By participating in them we can improve our wisdom and Dharma experience and use Dharma to solve our daily problems. We can become our own protector by protecting ourselves from danger and suffering, and our own doctor by curing our mental pain with Dharma medicine.
We shall be able to set a good example for others to follow and help others by giving teachings and advice. Eventually we will be able to give extensive teachings and benefit others in many ways by organizing special programs and so forth. In this way we will make both our own and others’ human lives extremely meaningful.”
– Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
The Importance of Study to Fulfill our Highest Potential
Buddha’s 84,000 teachings of Sutra and Tantra are precious wisdom insights that can open the door to a profoundly rich and meaningful life and lead us to lasting happiness. To extract their full meaning, we need to systematically familiarize our minds with these insights until we have penetrated so deeply into their meaning that they become our own.
The study programmes at Kadampa Meditation Centres throughout the world are designed to enable us to do this.
The method for taking these teachings deep into our hearts is centered around three key activities: listening, contemplating and meditating. In Joyful Path of Good Fortune, Geshe Kelsang says:
“To increase our wisdom arisen from listening we need to listen to correct instructions from fully qualified Spiritual Guides, read authentic Dharma books and discuss what we have heard. Wisdom arisen from contemplation arises from reflecting again and again upon what we have heard and understood, and wisdom arisen from meditation arises from meditating on what we have heard and contemplated. We need to keep increasing these three wisdoms continuously until we attain enlightenment.”
Our study programmes are structured to support the development of these three wisdoms.
As we train our minds, it is important to have a close connection with qualified teachers who can give us personal advice and encouragement, to listen to pure Dharma teachings, and to belong to a strong spiritual community. These enable us to maintain a daily meditation practice that is both focused and powerful, and to make real and lasting change.
Learn More about Each of our Study Programmes
General Programme Classes (GPs) are the perfect class to try if you’re brand new
General Programme (GP) classes are drop-in by nature. These classes are suitable for beginners and experienced practitioners alike, and are designed to help those looking for Buddhist wisdom to help with stress relief and relaxation, as well as those interested in exploring the nature of the mind, and pursuing the Buddhist path.
Classes explore the basic framework of Buddhist teachings and meditation and explain how to use Buddha’s advice in our daily lives to solve our problems. All General Programme classes are based on commentaries by Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.
A typical class consists of a guided meditation, a teaching based on the meditation topic and final meditation. Although classes are given as a series around one specific topic, they can also be taken individually, as each class is also contained.
Classes last between one hour to 1.5 hours. Chair and cushions are provided by the Center. There is no physical exercise, yoga, or stretching involved.
All classes and courses are taught by qualified Kadampa teachers who have a thorough understanding of Buddhist philosophy gained through their own meditation practice and guided study of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso’s comprehensive texts.
General Programme classes take place at our main centre in Palmerston North and at various branch locations throughout the Manawatu – Whanganui.
Everyone is welcome regardless of belief; you do not need to be Buddhist to attend.
The Foundation Programme (FP) is designed for students who have gained a basic understanding of Kadampa Buddhist practice and are interested in pursuing a formalized and committed study programme. Through regular teachings and meditation, systematic study, and group discussion, the Foundation Programme offers the same training followed by spiritual practitioners in an unbroken lineage dating back to Buddha Shakyamuni. In this way we can gain authentic experience of the Dharma while still maintaining our contemporary lifestyle. By studying on this programme we shall gain great confidence in meditation – from basic techniques for overcoming our everyday problems to practices leading to unsurpassed happiness and permanent inner peace. Warm friendships develop as students inspire each other, sharing insights and experiences of the spiritual path.
The Program Structure
The secret of the Foundation Programme’s success lies in the manageable commitment made by the student and in the clear structure of study. Students agree to attend every class, learn the material, and to take a test at the conclusion of each book.
The Class Structure
Prior to class, students study an assigned portion of the text, usually a few pages, and memorize the essential points. The class begins with chanted prayers and guided meditation. The teacher then reads the assigned selection from the book while giving commentary to the text. The students then divide into pairs to discuss the material. The teacher and students conclude by deciding what to meditate on in the next class and how to practice during the coming week, followed by dedication prayers.
The Main Benefits
“By increasing our wisdom and Dharma experience we will gradually solve all our problems and eventually we will achieve the ultimate happiness of full enlightenment, the bliss of Buddhahood. This is how the Foundation Programme can fulfill our own wishes.”
– Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
The purpose of the Foundation Programme is to provide a systematic presentation of particular subjects of Mahayana Buddhism to enable practitioners to deepen their knowledge and experience of Buddhism.
1. The Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, based on the commentary, Joyful Path of Good Fortune
2. Training the Mind, based on the commentaries, Universal Compassion and The New Eight Steps to Happiness
3. The Heart Sutra, based on the commentary, The New Heart of Wisdom
4. Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, based on the commentary, Meaningful to Behold
5. Types of Mind, based on the commentary, How to Understand the Mind
Learn more details about Foundation Programme at our Centre.
Teacher Training Programme
The Teacher Training Programme exists to provide extensive training for those wishing to become qualified teachers of Modern Kadampa Buddhism.
The program is centered around the study of various Buddhist subjects as explained in the collection of books written by founder of the New Kadampa Tradition, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche.
In addition to completing the study of fourteen texts of Sutra and Tantra, including the six texts studied on the Foundation Programme, students are required to observe certain commitments, and to complete a number of meditation retreats each year.