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Experiential Buddhist Foundation Studies

"Do rest naturally." Tilopa 

Course Details

Dates:1 September 2024 - 25 April 2025


Weekly: 3 evenings a week; 6pm to 9.15pm

Monthly: One weekend a month: Feb, Mar, Apr, Jun, Jul

Friday 6pm - 9.15pm

Saturday 8.30am - 6pm

Sunday 8.30am - 6pm

In-person intensive: May - 12 days

FormatLivestream online; In-person classes; Recorded support lessons; Independent study; Tutorials; Assignments; Access to mentors

Language: All classes and instructions are in English

Commitment: Attendance, class participation, oral presentations, and reflective practice.

Award: Abiding Heart Experiential Buddhist Foundation Studies Certificate

We are delighted to offer the fourth edition of our Transformative Experiential Buddhist Foundation Studies in online format commencing September 2024. 

Course Overview

The Foundation Studies framework is an exploration of the Buddhist worldview and practice through an experiential learning approach. Key philosophical principles are introduced and reinforced through meditation, dialogue and artistic hands-on activities. The emphasis is therefore on the integration and internalisation of the Buddhadharma so that it becomes part of the growth and flourishing of one’s whole being. 


We explore the three main Buddhist vehicles or yanas: Shravakayana or Foundational Vehicle, Mahayana and Vajrayana. Over four weeks each yana is presented from its own point of view, allowing participants to understand its beauty and integrity. Throughout this course we explore fundamental concepts such as: basic goodness; relative and ultimate truth; interdependence; Buddha nature; skilful means and wisdom; and love and compassion. As we travel from materialist Buddhist philosophy to the Middle-way perspective, we also journey through the history of Buddhism, touching on key texts, cosmology, and learning how to practice key meditations. 


In this process, the four main philosophical schools of Vaibhasika, Sautrantika, Yogacara and Madhyamaka are presented, explored and discussed. In the fourth month, we deepen our exploration of karma and we revisit, integrate and draw connections between all the topics presented. We encourage participants to digest the material in a personal and holistic way that nurtures confidence, open-mindedness, curiosity and respect for the vastness and profundity of the Buddhadharma. 

Lama Shenpen Hookman teaching about the guru principle in the Vajrayana module which is part of contemplative foundation studies, semester 1 of our teacher training courses. Teacher trainees develop deep understanding of ancient wisdom living philosophical tradition as the foundation for their training.

Contemplative Arts and Crafts

A unique quality of this course is the integration of multiple modes of learning. Lectures are balanced with significant time for meditation, interactive discussions, group processes, and creative and artistic activities. The Himalayan and transformative arts nurture an understanding of: the metamorphosis of form through sculpting with wood and clay; the hidden qualities of colour through painting and drawing; the transcendent qualities of sound through music and singing; language through speech and mantra recitation; and the understanding of space through movement and Charya dance (the dance of the mudras). Such insights go beyond the intellect and touch the realms of deep awareness and intuition. Buddhist philosophy and contemplative arts are immersed in meditation.



The meditation practices at Abiding Heart include two approaches. One is from the early Buddhist Discourses which are contained in the Pali Canon. The other one is the Mahayana approach. We learn how to meditate using the Buddha's profound teachings and practices as described in the Mahasatipatthana Sutra, (the Four Foundations of Mindfulness), the Brahmavihara Sutra (the Divine Abiding or the Four Immeasurable) and several other discourses. Our focus is on the essence of meditation, which is mindfulness and awareness. The purpose of these practices is to allow the mind to be calm, clear, open, and flexible. We also develop love and compassion through meditating on each of the Four Divine Abiding and then continuing on to the Mahayana practice of sending and taking or Tonglen. By doing these meditations, we learn how to bring love and compassion into our daily lives and how to integrate these methods with difficult situations, relationships, and our thoughts and emotions. At the end of the four months, participants will have a valuable understanding of how to apply Buddhist meditation at any moment in our life.


Using a gradual approach we learn to meditate on body and mind. This includes meditating on the five aggregates, the first five senses, and the sixth sense which is the mental consciousness, all of which become the objects of awareness. In this way, all experiences occurring in daily life are introduced as opportunities and support for developing meditative awareness, and loving kindness and compassion not only in formal meditation, but throughout the day. The ultimate aim is uniting life and meditation. 


In the Mahayana approach, the meditation practices culminate with the View, through developing wisdom and insight into the true nature of phenomena. We do this using analytical meditation in the Vipassana tradition. The meditation practices presented during this course allow us to begin to see inner joy and basic goodness within ourselves and others. 

The structure of the practice starts with refuge and Bodhicitta, continues with the main meditation that we are learning that day or week, and ends with dedication. This course engages in a path of awakening according to the stages of view, meditation and conduct. 

In summary, Abiding Heart’s Foundation Studies course provides a rich, integrative learning experience and is a unique opportunity to deepen your understanding of Buddhist philosophy, develop your meditation practice, and holistically grow with a diverse group of lecturers, artists, teacher trainers and specialists.

Contemplating and Meditating on the Truth of Suffering:
A Pilgrimage to Pashupati, Kathmandu


Monthly instalments of    US$500          (5 payments)

One payment of            US$2,500        (1payment)

Additional processing charges per transaction apply. 

If you have any queries, please write to our Admissions Coordinator at

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