Vasubandhu, detail © Himalayan Art Collection

Curriculum for Study

Compiled by the 14th Shamarpa

The Buddhist View of Reality

In order to develop our meditation practice, it is helpful to study the Buddhist view of reality. Through studying and understanding the nature of phenomena and our experiences, we can begin to unlock the vast wealth of wisdom already present within us, understand the workings of mind in our day-to-day lives, and develop a profound meditation practice that can lead to realization.

The following topics from the Abhidharma, based on the text The Gateway to Knowledge by Mipham Rinpoche, inspire us and point the way to developing a mind free from confusion:

  1. The five aggregates (Sanskrit: skandhas)
  2. Form and the various functions of consciousness which comprise the bases upon which self-clinging perpetuates itself

  3. The fifty-one mental events
  4. An in-depth look at the fourth aggregate: formations

  5. The eighteen mental seeds
  6. How the senses — our perception of and interaction with the world — and the various workings of consciousness lead to a continuity of lives in the cycle of rebirths

  7. The twelve sense sources
  8. The ways in which the senses and perception arise and develop (with the support of the Sautrantika Philosophy)

  9. The twelve links of interdependence
  10. How ignorance inevitably triggers the chain of events that perpetuates samsaric existence, seen from the perspective of the Madhyamaka (middle way) philosophy

  11. Karma & the explanation of the six causes and four conditions
  12. The four noble truths (in detail)
  13. Samsara in terms of its causes (origin) and effects (suffering), and nirvana with its causes (the path) and effect (the fruition of cessation)

  14. The twenty-two faculties
  15. The phenomenological faculties that determine our experience of life

  16. The three yanas and the five paths
  17. The three vehicles or approaches to Buddhist practice and and their definition of progressive spiritual development

  18. The conditioned and the non-conditioned
  19. That which is conditioned, in that it arises and ceases based on causes and conditions, and that which is not

  20. Time and its workings
  21. Relative and absolute truth
  22. According to the Uma Gyen (The Ornament of Madhyamaka) by Shantarakshita

Additional Subjects

  1. Perception
  2. Direct, accurate perception and inferential accurate perception (i.e. the Buddhist theory of knowledge, mind and its workings)

  3. The states of meditative concentration
  4. The ground as the progressive states of meditative absorption, according to Chapter 8 of Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakosha: The Compendium of Higher Knowledge of Phenomena

  5. Wisdom
  6. Fruition as primordial awareness: the insight of wisdom, emerging as the fruition, according to Chapter 7 of Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakosha: The Compendium of Higher Knowledge of Phenomena