Transformative Experiential Buddhist Foundation Studies

Course Details

Dates: 5 Feb - 26 May 2023 (schedule below)

Duration: 14 weeks, full-time course

Format: Live streaming

Language: All classes and instructions are in English

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

Award: Abiding Heart Transformative Experiential Buddhist Foundation Studies Certificate

Fee: US$1,500 + processing charges* 

* Limited financial aid is available for those in need.

We are delighted to offer the third edition of our Transformative Experiential Buddhist Foundation Studies in online format commencing February 2023. 

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. 

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 transformational arts are immersed in meditation. We learn how to meditate using Mingyur Rinpoche’s profound, creative, and easily applicable practices. At the end of the four months, participants will have a valuable understanding of how to apply Buddhist meditation anytime, anywhere. 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. 


Our focus is on the essence of meditation, which is awareness. The purpose of these practices is to allow the mind to be calm, clear, open, and pliable. Two different types of shamata are introduced, using a gradual approach: objectless shamata or open awareness and shamata with an object, in which each of the five senses, as well as the mental consciousness (thoughts and emotions) become the objects of awareness. In this way, all experiences occurring in daily life are introduced as opportunities and support for developing meditative awareness, not only in formal meditation, but throughout the day. The ultimate aim is uniting life and meditation. 


Next, we develop love and compassion through meditating on each of the Four Immeasurables and then continuing on to the 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. Finally, 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. 

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 trainees and specialists. 

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