Buddhism / What is Buddhism?

Studying Buddhism

Foundation Course Programme 2021 - Term 1

* Cultivate a beautiful life and mind

* Receive a thorough grounding in Buddhism

* Develop breakthrough insights which will transform your life

* Practice the teachings on wisdom and compassion for greater happiness and contentment

* Benefit from the support of a weekly group

* Build your own practice at home and work

* Receive mentoring and guidance from experienced teachers

* Experience the transformation all this brings

Our one-year Foundation Programme is for people who wish to delve into Buddhism in a more thorough and ongoing way. The Buddha encouraged people to try his teaching for themselves and practice only what they found helpful. This is an invitation to learn more about Buddhist teachings, explore them well, understand them more deeply and try them out in one’s own life. The course is suitable for people who have completed one of our Buddhism courses for beginners, or with an interest in Buddhism. You only need to book one term at a time. Before booking, please email the Centre info@norwichbuddhistcentre.com to register your interest.

Course Outline:

One of the simplest descriptions of the Buddhist Path divides it into three stages: the stage of ethics; the stage of meditation; and the stage of wisdom. In Term 1 we will be looking at the first two of these stages and in Term 2 we will be looking at the stage of wisdom. In Term 3 we will explore the significance of the Buddha himself and the importance of such things as ritual and imagination. Course materials will be supplied each week and some home reading and practice will be necessary.

Term 1 - Cultivating a More Beautiful Mind and Life

1 Dharma study as a spiritual practice
The Stage of Ethics
2 Why be Ethical?
3 The first precept - kindness
4 The second precept - generosity
5 The third precept - contentment
6 The fourth precept - truthfulness
7 The fifth precept – awareness
The Stage of Meditation
8 The Triratna System of Meditation
9 The Mindfulness of Breathing
10 The Metta Bhavana

Meet The Course Leaders

Both Sinhadakini and Saroja are teachers with a wealth of experience of teaching and practising Buddhism over many years. They are both trustees of the Norwich Buddhist Centre.

Saroja on Sinhadakini

“Sinhadakini is a longstanding Dharmafarer and throughout the different phases of her life has sought to practice through meditation, study and friendship. She has always seemed to me to be a warm hearted and determined member of the order. She also finds time along with Mitra convening to write and l look forward to deepening our friendship during the Foundation Course.”

Sinhadakini on Saroja

“I’ve always felt that Saroja is someone to treasure. As well as being a sincere Dharma practitioner, he is an artist with a background in teaching. The way he teaches I find extraordinary and it often delights and thrills me.”


What is Buddhism?

Buddhism is a tradition of teaching and practice that awakens our capacity for wisdom and love. Through opening up our awareness and energy channels, we find that contentment and happiness are not an impossible dream! Buddhism is a path to Enlightenment, or Buddhahood. 'Buddha' means 'One who is awake', a title first given to a man called Siddhartha Gautama, who lived 2,500 years ago in northern India.

At the age of thirty-five, after years of striving, he gained Enlightenment, whilst absorbed in meditation. During the remaining forty-five years of his life he walked over much of northern India, spreading his teaching about the way to Enlightenment.

The Buddha taught numerous disciples, many of whom gained Enlightenment. They in turn taught others, and in this way an unbroken chain of teaching has continued, right down to the present day.

Enlightenment is a state of wisdom; a profound understanding of the true nature of things. It is also a source of unbounded compassion, which expresses itself in the spontaneous desire to help any being who is suffering.

Buddhism sees life as being in a process of constant change. Often we repeat destructive or painful habits rather than respond creatively to life. Buddhism teaches that we have a choice. An ancient Buddhist text begins, 'Our life is shaped by our mind; we become what we think.' The methods of meditation and ethical sensitivity, lead to a greater awareness of the conditions which contribute to suffering and happiness.

People are welcome to take as little or as much of Buddhism as they feel ready for. Some practise meditation to gain peace of mind and greater awareness, others may want to go all the way to Enlightenment. Being a Buddhist in the full sense means committing oneself to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha - sometimes referred to as the 'Three Jewels'. To do this one studies, reflects and meditates on the various teachings and practices of the Buddhist tradition. One also is in contact with a Sangha - other people who are trying to transform themselves in a similar way.

Buddhism is a path to freedom. The gate to that path is open to all: men and women, young and old, people of all nationalities, races, and backgrounds.

What is Buddhism?

What is going for refuge?

Going for refuge is the central act of a Buddhist in the Triratna Buddhist Community. Members of the community, whether mitras or Order members, go for refuge to the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha.

The Buddha jewel represents the ideal of enlightenment to which we aspire.
The Dharma jewel represents the path of the teaching which we follow.
The Sangha jewel represents the community of Buddhist practitioners who support each other on the path.

In everyday life we often talk about taking refuge from something, and in a way this is how we operate in our lives: trying to take escape from suffering.

In Buddhism, 'taking refuge' simply means placing the Three Jewels at the centre of our lives. They are refuges because we can rely on them, whereas we can't rely on anything else because everything conditioned is impermanent, insubstantial and ultimately unsatisfactory. This realisation doesn't happen all at once, but is a gradual evolution.

The emphasis is on a turning towards these refuges, but implicit in that is a turning away from false refuges. As the Three Jewels become more central, other things (such as television, Facebook, food, or even unhealthy relationship attachments) become less important and have less pull in our lives.