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Essential Buddhist Teachings - Part 1 Starts Oct. 1, 2013

By Mark Coleman


The diverse offerings at Spirit Rock, wonderful in their breadth, also beg the question as to which practice, class or retreat is best suited to where we are in our lives right now.

Our comprehensive three-part, year-long program at Spirit Rock called Essential Buddhist Teachings is designed for people who have had some preliminary experience with Insight Meditation and yet want a more comprehensive guide to the teaching of the Buddha. It is an excellent opportunity to connect, deepen and integrate the teachings in our daily lives.

The Buddha’s teaching is vast and speaks to every dimension of life. Beautiful and penetrating as these teachings can be, the sheer number and scope of them can often leave people feeling confused or overwhelmed about where to begin. The Essential Dharma course was developed as a response to this by offering three primary objectives:

  1. To give people a practical and experiential understanding of what is most essential in Buddhist teachings;
  2. To help people in developing and deepening their practice of mindfulness, metta (lovingkindness) and compassion;
  3. To support people in learning how to integrate the principles and practices of Buddhism into all aspects of their lives.

We are now into our seventh year of offering Essential Dharma at Spirit Rock and hundreds of people have gone through the program. I think one of the reasons it has been so successful is that the combination of teachings, practices, and regular meetings over the year gives people a sense that they have a tangible support and touchstone amid the pressures of daily life, so it gives them an ongoing reference point for relating to what is happening in their lives from the perspective of the teachings. Everybody is paired up with a ‘dharma buddy’—someone who they check in with each week to talk about their meditation practice and to discuss their understanding of the week’s teachings.

Since the emphasis on the course is very practical, there is a lot of time for questions about practice, about the home assignments we give people, and about sharing the struggles, joys and insights that arise as we practice to become more conscious in our lives, to live with more kindness and integrity.

A testament to the value of the Essential Dharma course is that many people have taken it multiple times. We cover a range of profound teachings—from the Four Noble Truths, the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, the Eightfold Path, the Bramha Vihara practices of Loving kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity, to some of the Paramis (perfections) and Factors of Awakening. Every year we cover a slightly different angle and perspective, and each teacher brings their own unique perspective on these teachings.

Whether you’re new to practice or have been meditating for a decade, we would like to extend a warm welcome to you. We look forward to seeing you as we explore the dharma in our daily lives and discover our own unique path for awakening!

Essential Buddhist Teachings Part I    
Mark Coleman
10 Tuesdays, October 1 - December 17, 7 - 9 pm
No class - Oct 22; Nov 12)
Cost $150 (fee includes teacher donation) Code YR1C13.
Click here to register.

Part 1

We will explore the Buddha's teachings on the Four Noble Truths, the Four Foundations of Mindfulness and Metta (Lovingkindness) Practice.

Part 2 

In each class, we will explore a factor of the Eightfold Noble Path (wise understanding; wise or intention; wise action; wise livelihood; wise speech; wise effort ; wise mindfulness and wise concentration) and a class on Compassion Practice

Part 3

We will explore the Life of the Buddha, the Three Characteristics of suffering, impermanence and sefllessness, the heart practices of Appreciative Joy (mudita), Equanimity (uppekha) and Generosity (dana), as well as Engaged Service


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PO Box 169 • Woodacre, CA • 94973