Course Introduction

Professor Dunne introduces Buddhism for Beginners.

Welcome to Buddhism for Beginners!

Join John Dunne, a professor of Buddhist philosophy with over 35 years of meditation experience, in this introduction to Buddhism's core teachings and development over time. He will guide you through the story of the Buddha, the spread of Buddhism to Tibet, the origins of Zen, and the emergence of Buddhism in the West. In this course, we'll also investigate the interface between science and Buddhism and take a closer look at the modern mindfulness movement.

Throughout the course, there will be dialogues with prominent Buddhist teachers and opportunities to develop your own meditation practice as we introduce different styles of meditation. This course will appeal to anyone who wants to understand Buddhism and its different schools, and receive a firm grounding in the principles of meditation.

Course Syllabus

This is a 6-unit course which you are invited to study at your own pace. You will retain access to the course ongoing. Each lesson will offer roughly one hour of material to work with, including weekly video teachings, prompts for reflection, optional quizzes, and a communal discussion board. There will also be suggested take-home practices, including guided meditations, for you to explore throughout the week.

Unit 1 | The Buddha's Search

Siddhartha Gautama leaves his father's palace to seek an end to suffering. We follow in his footsteps and begin to uncover what his quest revealed.

Unit 2 | What the Buddha Taught

The Buddha begins his career as a teacher. His task is to point the way beyond the extremes and temptations of the world so that others may awaken. We too can engage with these teachings.

Unit 3 | Buddhism After Buddha

The story of Buddhism continues after the Buddha's death. In the next few hundred years, Buddhism becomes an established religion. Brilliant new scholars and meditators begin to reveal profound insights. We test their philosophies in our own experience.

Unit 4 | Tibetan Buddhism

Buddhism spreads north to Tibet, where it flourishes into radical new forms, practices, and deep understandings. We try Tibetan meditation practices and gain a deeper understanding of the immense contributions of Tibetan Buddhism.

Unit 5 | Zen

Having arrived in Japan from China, Zen strips Buddhism back to the essence of non-dual practice. This form of practice will be influential in the development of contemporary mindfulness around 1,000 years later. We try our hand at this style of practice, including koan study.

Unit 6 | Western Buddhism

We explore the transmission of Buddhism to Western society. We'll look at the interface between science and Buddhism and get to grips with the principles behind the mindfulness movement and learn a contemporary mindfulness practice.