Unit 1: Impermanence — Beyond Clinging and the Gift of Change
This was the key insight of the Buddha: experience is fleeting. Even the most sublime state of concentration eventually subsides. When we truly understand this, we cease clinging to the pleasant, stop pushing away the unpleasant, and find true peace. Now instead of avoiding the truth of impermanence, we face it with compassion for ourselves and others. And with wisdom, we begin to perceive the gift of change. No unhelpful habit, and no difficult situation is permanent. We can bring about changes.
Unit 2: Imperfection — Dukkha, Unreliability, and Pain
Everything that depends on conditions is necessarily imperfect. Why? Because conditions change. Even the most pleasant and satisfactory situations we have experienced in the past cannot guarantee our happiness now. And life contains much that is truly difficult to bear.
However—with maturity, realism, and wisdom—we can embrace and appreciate a wider range of experiences. Compassion becomes possible when we accept and understand imperfection deeply.
Unit 3: Conditionality — Not Self and Emptiness
By this point in the course, we're really getting a feel for how experiences are fabricated by conditions. This also applies to ourselves. As the play of impermanent, imperfect, interdependent conditions, we are not separate from this changing, imperfect world. This realization opens the door to great compassion for the world and our fellow beings.
Unit 4: Compassion and the Three Characteristics
This is where it all comes together. Throughout the course so far, we have been turning toward the reality of our experiences, just as they are: impermanent, imperfect, and unsupportive of a separate self-identity. Now we dive into exactly how compassion arises as a result. We’ll cultivate compassion as not just a feeling but an impulse toward engagement, toward action that relieves suffering—our own and that of others.
Unit 5: Nowhere to Go — Family Life, Work, and Relationships
There are no special circumstances needed for wisdom and compassion to arise, only a willingness to be with experience—whatever it may be. That’s just as well because who lives in ideal circumstances for meditation and inquiry all the time? Nobody!
This unit is all about practicing right where you are, in the changing, imperfect flow of life. And perhaps there is no better place to embrace impermanence and imperfection than amidst the realities of relationships, work, parenting, and caregiving.
Unit 6: Creative Compassion and Wise Responses
As we leave behind habitual responses to impermanence and imperfection, we gain confidence in our capacity to respond creatively to change and suffering. Here we explore the wider issues of our time, such as the climate crisis. In doing so we’ll cultivate an attitude of creative compassion and responsiveness that’s grounded in Buddhist wisdom.
This course presents profound and complex insights in a way that is easy to absorb and practice. The teachers wisdom is thoughtfully and humbly presented, providing a workable model for my own practice.
This is a beautifully taught, well structured course that gives you new perspectives and practices (off and on the cushion). It breathes new life into your relationship with impermanence, imperfection and conditionality, even if you’re a long-term practitioner.
Amazing introduction to the often challenging subject of impermanence and change. Beautifully facilitated!