Summer 2016 Science of Mind: Buddhist Studies Program


Join us for the Summer 2016 Buddhist Studies Program! July 15-Aug 13, 2016 in Vancouver, BC. Explore how everyday thought and speech serve as tools for discovering definitive meaning, the unconditioned wisdom and spontaneous compassion of the buddhadharma. Combining an in-depth course of study with training in meditation and analysis, Nitartha Institute introduces 21st century students to the complete Tibetan Buddhist science of mind. Click here to REGISTER NOW!

The Summer 2016 Science of Mind: Buddhist Studies Program is part of our Nitartha Summer Institute—an intensive residential program which occurs annually, over the span of four weeks. Typically, the summer schedule is arranged into two modules of two weeks each. Students may attend one or both modules, but for new students, the first module is a usually a prerequisite to the second.

Local residents may also opt to enrol in individual (“pro rata”) Buddhist Studies courses. More about the Vancouver Local Program here.

The Institute’s Science of Mind: Buddhist Studies Program systematically presents the curriculum of the shedra or monastic university tradition of the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages of Tibetan buddhism. Course are taught in English by specially trained faculty and arranged into three levels—Foundation, Intermediate, and Advanced—with certificates granted at the completion of each level of curriculum. For more information click here.

Who is this for? In general, anyone, but especially for those who are looking to deepen their philosophical understanding of dharma, and merge that with meditation practice. It is especially helpful training for leaders and facilitators in Buddhist communities.

  • Foundation Curriculum begins with the study of mind and its relation to objects. In essence, how do we know what we know, and how do we know if this knowledge is correct? These courses provide an understanding of the terms and methods used to support inquiry into how mind engages with its world and build a common verbal and experiential ground for the Intermediate and Advanced curricula.
  • Intermediate Curriculum builds on the Foundation and provides a systematic study of the ground, path, and fruition of the Mahayana in these courses; Mind-Only, Middle Way, Paths and Bhumis, and Buddha Nature.
  • Advanced Curriculum is taught by senior Nitartha Faculty, using various texts and commentaries helping students dive deeper into their study and practice.

Program Dates:

Session I: Friday, July 15 to Thursday, July 28
Travel day: Friday July 29
Session II: Saturday, July 30 to Friday, Aug 12
Travel day: Saturday August 13


University of British Columbia (UBC)
2329 West Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia
V6T 1Z4 Canada

Registration Deadline:

UPDATE NOTICE (as of May 8, 2016): Revised Registration Deadlines
May 29, 2016 (Sunday) — Residential Participation: If you require UBC accommodations and meals.
June 17, 2016 (Friday)
 — Non-residential Participation: No UBC accommodations nor meals available.

Accommodations, Meals, Travel, Logistics, etc.

For information about the 2016 Summer Institute in general, including this Summer’s venue/setting, practicalities, recommendations, logistics, etc, please visit the Summer Institute Program page.

Schedule & Course Offerings for the Department of Buddhist Studies (BUD) — Two 2-week sessions:

Click on the green tabs below to display various course information/descriptions, arranged by Session.

Session I

Session I

Arrive: Friday, July 15 
Classes:  Friday, July 15 evening to Thursday, July 28 evening
Travel day: Friday, July 29

Period 0: 7:00-7:30 am

Lüjong (yogic exercises)

Period 1: 7:30-8:30 am

BUD 500 — Analytical Meditation
Lead by Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen
Attendance: In-person 

Period 2: 9:40-10:50 am

BUD 501 Mind and Its World I: Valid Cognition 
Instructors: Scott Wellenbach & Stephanie Johnston
Attendance: In-person
Course Description: This course explores the criteria of a valid cognition and its various classifications, based on the teachings of the Pramana tradition, or Buddhist epistemology. We will analyze our consciousness and determine to what degree it is in agreement with its observed object or not; when our mind is direct or not; what the difference is between non-mistaken, non-deceiving, conceptual and non-conceptual types of awareness.
Required Texts: 1) Root text: Classifications of Mind (Lorik), by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, Nitartha Institute Publications, 2) Mind & Its World 1 Sourcebook, Nitartha Institute Publications

BUD 520 Mind and Its World III: Vaibhāshika Philosophical Tradition
Instructors:  Phil Stanley & Jirka Hladis
Attendance: In-person
Course Description: This course is an extensive exposition of the ground of Vaibhashika philosophical tradition, based on the  expanded version of The Gateway that Reveals the Philosophical Traditions to Fresh Minds root  text. This school is valued for their presentation of a contemplative world-view of radical impermanence, without needing to postulate either a personal identity or any principle of  divine creation. (The path and result of the Vaibhashika tradition is generally shared with the Sautrāntika tradition and is presented in BUD 530 Mind and Its World IV: Sautrāntika Philosophical Tradition.)
Required Texts: 1) Root text: The Gateway that Reveals the Philosophical Traditions to Fresh Minds, by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche and Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen (Truptha), Nitartha Institute Publications, 2) Root text: Collected Topics (Düdra), by Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen, Nitartha Institute Publications, 3) Mind & Its World 2 Sourcebook, Nitartha Institute Publications, 4) Mind & Its World 3 Sourcebook, Nitartha Institute Publications, 5) Mind & Its World 4 Sourcebook, Nitartha Institute Publications

BUD 601 Chittamātra Philosophical Tradition: Appearances Are Mere Mind
Instructor: Stuart Horn
Attendance: In-person
Course Description: This course is a systematic presentation of Chittamatra, or Mind Only meditative view of Mahayana Buddhism. We will engage in the philosophical reformulation of experiences arising from meditation practice—declaring reasonings establishing objects as not separate from mind, as well as the three natures theory and the eight-fold collection of consciousness.
Required Texts: 1) Root text: The Mind Only Tenet System (Semtsam), by Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen, Nitartha Institute Publications, 2) Mind Only Tenet System Sourcebook, by Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen, Nitartha Institute Publications

BUD 630 Buddha Nature: Luminous Heart of the Tathāgata
Instructor: Israel Lifshitz
Attendance: In-person
Course Description: This course is an overview of the Tathagatagarbha, or Buddha Nature tradition, the view of the luminous essence of awakening, the heart of goodness shared by all beings. Our exploration will rely on the key section of Uttaratantra of Maitreya (ca. 4th century) which establishes Buddha nature through three reasonings, its ten facets, nine analogies and five reasons why it is necessary to teach it.
Required Texts: 1) Buddha Nature: The Mahayana Uttaratantra Shastra with Commentary, by Jamgön Kongtrül Lodrö Thaye, tr. by Rosemarie Fuchs, Snow Lion Publications, 2000, 2) Commentary on the Fourth Vajra Point in the Mahayana Uttaratantra Shastra by Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen, Nitartha Institute Publications

Period 3: 11:10-12:30 pm

Main Talk: Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche will continue his teachings on the topic of Mahamudra Vipashyana from the Ninth Karmapa’s text Ocean of Definitive Meaning

Please Note: Rinpoche’s Mahamudra talks will not be open to the public and only students who meet the Mahamudra study and practice requirements will be permitted to attend Rinpoche’s talks. This is an open period for those who don’t meet the prerequisites. If needed, please contact the Mahamudra Practice Intensives Registrar, Siu Yin Lee, to verify your eligibility:

It is anticipated that Rinpoche will offer one public talk at some point during the Summer program, likely during Session I. So, students who are not eligible for Mahamudra Vipashyana will still have an opportunity to receive teachings from Rinpoche. Date and time to be determined.

Period 4:  2:00-3:10 pm

BUD 714 Mahāyānasūtrālamkāra: Ornament of the Great Vehicle Sutras (continuous course through both Sessions I & II)
Instructor: Mitra Karl Brunnhölzl
Attendance: In-person and Online
Course Description: This course will be an in-depth exploration of the Mahayanasutralamkara, the last of the five works of Maitreya to be taught at  Nitartha Institute. The text presents materials on the view and path of  Bodhisattvas from a yogacara point of view. It thus gives a  synopsis of all the mahayana sutras that are not contained among the prajnaparamita sutras or the sutras on buddha nature.
Required Text: 1) Ornament of the Great Vehicle Sutras: Maitreya’s Mahayanasutralamkara with Commentaries by Khenpo Shenga and Ju Mipham; Translated by Dharmachakra Translation Committee; Snow Lion; 2014

Period 5: 3:20-4:30 pm

BUD 502: Clear Thinking
Instructor: TBA
Attendance: In-person
Course Description: This course has two-fold purpose: It presents a detailed treatment of knowable objects in the form of definitions, examples, equivalents and classifications drawn from Collected Topics, the introductory textbook of Buddhist phenomenology or Abhidharma; secondly this material is used to teach methods for thinking clearly about the teachings using the debate typology of the four types of relationships there can be between any two phenomena. We will train in elementary debate skills in a relaxed environment, such as asking for definitions, equivalents and classifications.
Required Texts: 1) Root text: Collected Topics (Düdra), by Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen, Nitartha Institute Publications, 2) Clear Thinking Workbook, Nitartha Institute Publications

BUD 553: Foundational Debate I
Instructor:  TBA
Attendance: In-person
Course Description: This course offers a methodical training in elementary debate skills on the basis of the Clear Thinking class. We will formulate reasonings with correct and seeming reasons and utilize those in a debate by learning how to challenge the first mode of a reasoning. Regarding the content, we will debate classification of objects in terms of entity from Collected Topics that was taught in Clear Thinking course.

BUD 653: Intermediate Debate
Instructor:  TBA
Attendance: In-person
Course Description: The intermediate debate course trains in formally debating the systems of the two Buddhist foundational philosophical schools: Vaibhāshika and Sautrāntika; first within their respective doctrinal limits, followed by reinstating historical debates between these two traditions. Debate topics of this class include the proof of subtle impermanence as well as the refutation of the creator God.

Period 6: 5:00-6:00 pm

Discussion Groups

Period 7: 7:30-9:00 pm

BUD 503 Classifications of Mind Class:  Lorik for MMVP/Gomdra
Instructor: Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen
Attendance: In-person
Course Description: 
This course is based on the shedra material of BUD 501 Mind and Its World I: Valid Cognition (see above) and BUD 510 Mind and Its World II: Modes of Engagement & Mental Events (see on the Session II tab), but is presented in the evening for the Mahamudra Practice Intensive (MMVP/Gomdra) students, though Buddhist Studies (shedra) students are welcome to attend the talks. This course is offered during the first and second nine-day MMVP programs (Modules 1 & 2).