Praise for Bodhi College courses
This is a fantastic course, taught by deep thinkers of the dharma. The way they explored this profound teaching is priceless. I've learned a great deal and deeply moved to put the teaching into practice.
This course on a pithy topic with teachers well reversed in the dharma and their respective fields was well worth my investment of time and money. The teachers are clear and engaging, the discussions thought-provoking and the supplemental resources allow easily for continued study.
A very clear, practical, and helpful course. It helped me deal with some unhelpful habits and get a clearer view on how to engage with situations and feelings.
Wonderful! Thank you all so much for a course that has deepened my understanding of mindfulness meditation and that has widened and moved my practice on.
An excellent course! I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the multiple perspectives offered by the different teachers. It is refreshing to see such a complex and rich topic addressed from different angles through the perspectives of experienced teachers, rather than relying on a single point of view.
Unit 1 | Confidence
In the first unit of this program, we will be contemplating the spiritual power of saddhā, translated as confidence, faith, or strength; and reflecting on the role that saddhā plays in the development of our own path and practice. It's our understanding that saddhā is the foundation for the development of all wholesome qualities. What we have confidence in, we dedicate time to. What we have confidence in, we give attention to. What we have confidence in, guides our aspirations, our sense of possibility.
Saddhā, confidence, is not always something that we begin our path with. It develops through experience, particularly personal experience. It develops through listening to teachings that make sense to us, that we begin to value. So confidence is also something that we cultivate, we apply. We look at the moments where our confidence falters and begin to develop a confidence that is steady, reliable, that guides us in our lives and in our practice.
Unit 2 | Energy
In this next section of our course, we will cover the topic of viriya, which translates as something like energy, effort, engagement, courage, persistence. Considering that our experience is a flow that is, to a large extent, habituated according to certain tendencies that we have: where our attention goes, how this attention goes where it goes, what we think, what we say, what we do. Now, if we have a conception that a good life—a fulfilled life, a life that inclines towards more happiness, more freedom—is something that depends on the quality of our hearts and minds, that depends on the quality of our actions in body, speech, and mind. It becomes obvious that we need to engage with that flow of experience, that we need to do something to make a difference. That's the quality of effort: how to skillfully engage in making a difference towards what is good and wholesome.
Unit 3 | Mindfulness
As we move on from considering the qualities of trust, confidence, and the quality of energy, we now come to the third indriya, the third power, which is usually translated as mindfulness. The Pali word for this is sati, and this is very much a quality that can hold together, that can balance, the other spiritual powers (indriyas). We're going to be exploring different dimensions of sati: how it can be a simple awareness; how it can be protective of our hearts and minds; how it can support a sense of investigation; and also make us see things with new perspectives and not be so caught in that which is threatening, negative, or difficult. We will also look at the different ways of establishing mindfulness (sati) in terms of the body, different feeling tones, moods and states of mind, and the different patterns that arise in the mind. So we're really at the heart of our course as we explore sati, as we explore mindfulness: this quality that holds the other spiritual powers (indriyas) together.
Unit 4 | Collectedness of Mind
In this unit of our course, we'll explore the spiritual power (indriya) that in Pali is called samādhi. And in English this means a gathered mind, a collected mind, a unified mind. It's a quality that you sometimes see translated as "concentration" but we'll be offering a different way of thinking about this indriya, this power, as this sense of really gathering and unifying, collecting and stilling the mind. We will explore this in many different ways. We'll explore the different levels of samādhi and discuss the different views on how much samādhi is supportive in our path. We will explore how at certain times they can become very deep and profound states of absorption called the jhānas.
We'll also think about how samādhi is a quality we can cultivate in the midst of our everyday life. We'll also be reflecting on the relationship between this quality and the other spiritual powers, and this is something that we really encourage throughout the course to see these as particular qualities that are skillful and useful to cultivate, but also to stay aware of how they all support each other, how samādhi follows from mindfulness, how samādhi prepares the ground for the arising of insight, understanding, what's called paññā in Pāli.
Unit 5 | Wisdom and Understanding
The topic of this unit will be wisdom, or understanding, in Pāli this is called paññā and refers to a kind of knowing that is informed by knowledge, by understanding, in particular by understanding how we create dukkha (suffering and stress) for ourselves and understanding how we can end that process. So paññā is wisdom, understanding, or insight in the service of freeing ourselves from unnecessary suffering.
Unit 6 | How the Spiritual Powers Work Together
Welcome to Unit six. In this unit, we will take a look at how these spiritual powers (indriyas) work together, how some of them balance out each other, and also, look at some of the shadow sides of these qualities. One of the meanings of the word indriya is a faculty, an ability, which orients us. We could say that all these faculties together, they are strengths, but also sense faculties that orient us and propel us along the path.
One of the things you find in the suttas (early Buddhist texts) is that these indriyas determine, to some degree, the quality of our practice. If these indriyas are highly developed, then our progress on the path will be quick. And these are juxtaposed with the three root defilements: greed, hatred, and delusion. And it says when the indriyas are strong and the defilements are weak, then our progress will be quick and pleasant. If the indriyas are strong, but defilements are also strong, progress will be quick but difficult. If the indriyas are weak and the defilements are weak, then the practice will be pleasant but it will take a long time. And if the indriyas are weak and the defilements are strong, the path will take a long time and it will be difficult. So, what's most important is that we keep going on the path and we have limited control over how long it will take. So developing these indriyas in a balanced way, in a focused way, is what keeps us on the path. And that's what we can do. How long it will take is not up to us.