Foundation Curriculum

Mind and Its World I–IV

These four classes can be described in terms of three mutually supportive disciplines in the Tibetan tradition: Collected Topics (Tib. düdra), Classification of Mind (Tib. lorik), and the Tenet Systems. Broadly speaking, in Western terminology, these correspond to:

  • Phenomenology, which is a description of the world as we experience it, primarily refers to the objective side of experience. This aspect of the curriculum involves the study of “Collected Topics,” which is based on the Abhidharma (“Higher Teachings”) of India.
  • Epistemology, which is an analysis of how we know, is a systematic investigation of the types of mind that arise through knowing and experiencing ourselves and the world. This primarily refers to the subjective side of experience. This aspect of the curriculum primarily involves the study of the “Classifications of Mind” (Lorik in Tibetan), as well as “Classifications of Reasons” (Tarik in Tibetan). It is based on the Pramana, or “Valid Cognition,” tradition of India.
  • Ontology presents systematic assertions with regard to what is real within the subjective and objective sides of our experience, both ultimately and conventionally, as well as with regard to what is completely unreal and non-existent, such as a permanent self. This aspect of the Foundation curriculum involves the study of the Philosophical Systems (Thrumtha) literature from the Vaibhashika and Sautrantika schools. (In addition to ontology, texts on the philosophical systems generally include a range of teachings, such as virtuous conduct, the stages of realization on the path, the fruition of the path, and so on.)

As you can see from the descriptions above, these three disciplines — Collected Topics, Classifications of Mind, and the Tenet Systems — are closely related. Collected Topics describes experience, particularly of the external world. Classifications of Mind describe the types of mind that have that experience. And Tenet Systems clarifies which of our experiences are true.

BUD 502 Clear Thinking (Introduction to Debate)

This course focuses on teaching students the basic forms of Tibetan-style logic and debate, (conducted in English). The intent of this from of debate is to sharpen and deepen one’s understanding in a dialogue style for the mutual benefit of both debate partners. Learning basic debate lays a useful foundation that can be helpful throughout one’s Buddhist journey. Logical reasonings often show up in a wide range of texts, even in tantric texts, so it is extremely beneficial for students to learn the debate format.

Clear Thinking is closely related to the Mind and Its World courses, and especially draws from Collected Topics, the subject that one traditionally begins with in debate. However, we find that students develop greater understanding when they are also studying the Classifications of Mind and Philosophical Systems texts at this stage.

Two forms of debate are used at Nitartha:

  1. formal Tibetan-style debate and
  2. what we refer to as Indian-style debate, which is less formal.

We ask students to learn and use both forms of debate through the first two sessions of the curriculum. After that, students can choose to work with one or the other, or with both forms. Whatever the case may be, students will continue to use these forms to probe the course material throughout the Foundation and Advanced courses. Open-ended discussion groups are also used to help students explore the material.

BUD 502 Clear Thinking is a foundational course for progressing through the Nitartha curriculum and is a pre-requisite for higher level debate courses (BUD 540, BUD 553, …).

Foundation Curriculum
Intermediate Curriculum
Advanced Curriculum

Complete List of Foundation Courses

BUD 500 Analytical Meditation (future offering)BUD 501 Mind and Its World I: Valid CognitionBUD 510 Mind and Its World II: Modes & Mental EventsBUD 520 Mind and Its World III: VaibhashikaBUD 530 Mind and Its World IV: Sautrantika

Foundation Level Debate

BUD 502 Clear Thinking

Foundation Course Descriptions

BUD 500 Analytical Meditation I

This course is a systematic training in the meditation of special insight following the approach of the Abhidharma tradition. Students learn the skills to gain certainty in the view of selflessness through the practice of the Four Applications of Mindfulness, cultivating inferential wisdom and bringing it to personal experience.

PREREQUISITE: BUD 501

REQUIRED TEXTS: None

BUD 501 Mind and Its World I: Valid Cognition

This course is an introductory exposition of topics drawn from the Pramana tradition, based on the Classifications of Mind root text. Students explore the criteria for the validity of cognition, the fourfold classification of direct valid cognition, seeming direct cognition and non-valid cognition.

PREREQUISITE: None

REQUIRED TEXTS:

    • Root text: Classifications of Mind (Lorik), by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, Nitartha Institute Publications
    • Mind & Its World 1 Sourcebook, Nitartha Institute Publications

BUD 502 Clear Thinking

This course is an introductory exposition of knowable objects drawn from the Abhidhama tradition, based on Collected Topics root text. Students learn methods for thinking clearly by formulating definitions, examples, equivalents and classifications, and by exploring the four types of logical relationships between two phenomena.

PREREQUISITE: None

REQUIRED TEXTS:

    • Root text: Collected Topics (Düdra), by Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen, Nitartha Institute Publications
    • Clear Thinking Workbook, Nitartha Institute Publications

BUD 510 Mind and Its World II: Modes of Engagement & Mental Events

This course completes the introductory exposition of topics drawn from the Pramana and Abhidhama traditions, based on the Classifications of Mind and Collected Topics root text. It provides students with the tools for delineating conceptual and non-conceptual mind in meditation, known as the essential modes of engagement of mind. This is followed by the exposition of Buddhist psychology—classification of consciousness into primary minds and mental events.

PREREQUISITE: BUD 501

REQUIRED TEXTS:

    • Root text: Classifications of Mind (Lorik), by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, Nitartha Institute Publications
    • Root text: Collected Topics (Düdra), by Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen, Nitartha Institute Publications
    • Mind & Its World 2 Sourcebook, Nitartha Institute Publications

BUD 520 Mind and Its World III: Vaibhashika Philosophical Tradition

This course is an exposition of the Vaibhashika philosophical tradition, based on the The Gateway that Reveals the Philosophical Traditions to Fresh Minds root text. Students explore foundational classifications of knowable objects: the five bases, five aggregates, twelve sources and eighteen constituents, followed by the presentation of the Vaibhashika theory of causation from Collected Topics and the twelve links of dependent origination.

PREREQUISITE: BUD 501

REQUIRED TEXTS:

    • Root text: The Gateway that Reveals the Philosophical Traditions to Fresh Minds (Truptha), by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen and Acharya Kelsang Wangdi, Nitartha Institute Publications
    • Root text: Collected Topics (Düdra), by Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen, Nitartha Institute Publications
    • Mind & Its World 3 Sourcebook, Nitartha Institute Publications

BUD 530 Mind and Its World IV: Sautrantika Philosophical Tradition

This course is an exposition of the Sautrantika philosophical tradition, followed by the presentation of the path and result of foundational Buddhism, based on The Gateway that Reveals the Philosophical Traditions to Fresh Minds root text. Students explore classifications of knowable object into specifically and generally characterized phenomena as well as the Sautrantika’s distinct presentation of the five aggregates. The path consists of calm abiding and superior insight.

PREREQUISITE: BUD 501

REQUIRED TEXTS:

    • Root text: The Gateway that Reveals the Philosophical Traditions to Fresh Minds (Truptha), by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen and Acharya Kelsang Wangdi, Nitartha Institute Publications
    • Mind & Its World 4 Sourcebook, Nitartha Institute Publications