Grounds & Paths

June 22 – July 4, 2015

Advanced Course with Geshe Kelsang Wangmo

In the West there is a common misapprehension that Buddhist practice primarily refers to meditation and not study. This view arises from not comprehending that Buddhist study is in actuality an integral part of analytical meditation and hence of spiritual practice. In fact, it is so crucial to one’s mental development that numerous Tibetan Buddhist monastic institutions offer –as part of their practice – comprehensive and rigorous study programs that last for up to twenty years. Such programs consist of listening to teachings, examining them during debate sessions, and of making an effort to integrate them in one’s daily life.

This technique has proven so effective that it has been followed for many centuries, resulting in the immeasurable spiritual attainments of numerous past and present accomplished masters.

The topics that are traditionally studied and debated on are summarized in five principal fields of study:

1. Prajnaparamita (Engl: Perfection of Wisdom Sutras / Tib.: Pha rol du chin pa’i do)
2. Madhyamika (Engl: Middle Way Philosophy / Tib.: U ma)
3. Pramanavartika (Engl: Logic or Epistemology / Tib.: Tse ma nam drel)
4. Abhidharma (Engl: Phenomenology or Ontology / Tib.: Chos ngoen pa dzoe)
5. Vinaya (Engl: Ethical conduct / Tib.: Dul wa)

In an effort to make such a study program available to Western students of the Dharma, Tushita is offering courses that gradually introduce the various topics of the five principal fields of study, starting with some of the preparatory topics. The preparatory topics constitute the study of Awareness & Knowledge (Tib.: Lo rig), the study of Tenet Systems (Tib.: Drub tha), and the study of Grounds & Paths (Tib.: Sa lam). Since Kelsang Wangmo covered the topic of the Awareness & Knowledge in 2013 and the Tenet Systems in 2014, she will proceed in 2015 with teaching the topic of Grounds & Paths.

The study of Grounds & Paths refers to examining the ten Bodhisattva grounds (Sanskrit: Bhumi, Tib.: sa) and five Mahayana paths that lead to the enlightenment of a Buddha. The ten grounds are the Extremely Joyous Ground, the Stainless Ground, the Luminous Ground, and so forth, and the five Mahayana paths are the Mahayana Path of Accumulation, the Mahayana Path of Preparation, the Mahayana Path of Seeing, the Mahayana Path of Meditation, and the Mahayana Path of No-More-Learning.

Since the study of the first principal field of study, the Prajnaparamita, primarily deals with the various different meditative states that practitioners must cultivate in order to gradually overcome their obstructions and become enlightened, the study of the Grounds & Paths provides the central framework for such study.

Grounds & Paths

Geshe Kelsang WangmoJune 22 – July 4, 2015