I don’t recommend people jump right off the deep end into Ñanananda and Nagarjuna though. I first have a course on The Function of Buddhism based on Bhikkhu @cintita’s “Buddhist Life, Buddhist Path” to give people a broader perspective on the gradual path first and only then taking the Intro to Buddhist Philosophy course based on Bhikkhu Bodhi’s “As It Is” Lectures There will likely even be a class or two after that on Nibbāna (based on The Island) and Dependent Origination (The Shape of Suffering?) before I nudge people towards “the deep stuff”
Likewise, “Manual of Insight” isn’t really a book for beginners. I would just point people towards “How To Meditate” and then tell them to practice and stop reading so much
And, while I do love Bhikkhu Ñanananda, I think this curriculum is a bit too heavily leaning on one teacher for my liking. I find it far more fruitful personally to hear the teachings from different perspectives — though, I also inevitably lean on the teachers I trust (e.g. Bhikkhu Bodhi) quite heavily too, so I understand the trade-offs here.
Lastly, I think this curriculum is a bit light on the sila and sangha side, focusing too much on the buddha-dhamma and samādhi-paññā edges of the triangle. In addition to the aforementioned Function course which covers virtue and livelihood, I personally added a Form(s) of Buddhism (and upcoming Buddhist Ethics) track to my curriculum to try to keep things more balanced.
But overall it’s not bad. I especially appreciate the ordering of Ñanananda’s books… I’ll definitely be referring back to that as I figure out how to incorporate his work into my own flowchart.
Very cool to see other people working in the same space. Thanks for sharing!
I’m smiling at your different modes of presentation: Poster vs a spiff on the tradition Course Outline. Were I signing up for either my first question would be about how to divide my time between study and meditation.
So far I only have the “syllabus” docs for the four courses mentioned above (plus an Intro to Buddhism course). I’m doing most of my lesson planning “in the open”. All of my reading recommendations (which will form the backbone for the future courses) can be found in this google drive folder.
Yeah, I’ve heard things too, but I haven’t read it so I can’t really comment on it. My own focus is on non-commercial works, since I strongly believe that the dhamma should be free.
Sounds great to me too! Please feel free to message me if you have any trouble or feedback
He takes from the Indo-Tibetan tradition, from Theravada, from EBTs, and from Neuroscience and creates his own “language” or system. If you invest to learn that, then be aware that you cannot take the knowledge elsewhere. It’s mostly incomprehensible in the original traditions where he took it from.
And why invest in someone who doesn’t live what he teaches:
I knew about his misconduct, but I was told his book was still good. I didn’t know he’d created his own system… In fact, his book seemed mostly good at pointing the way to the jhanas. Now that I have the book, I might as well read it.
I think a 2:1 ratio in favour of meditation is about right. But to maintain mental equilibrium this might need varying. There can be a problem with study in that the acquisition of knowledge can become an end in itself and an originally wholesome desire can become less wholesome. … Saying which, I really should go and meditate …
Read it. But why would you recommend a known adulterer, who consistently breaks the Buddha’s foundation, to others? Why even recommend books you haven’t read?
Nagarjuna, according to tradition, calls sravaka, i.e., people mostly following the Ebts, bad friends. Not kalyanamitta, not associating with them but keeping away from them. Following the sravakayana is as bad as having your head chopped off.
That is quite a contrast after reading the suttas. Why label that indirectly as the deep stuff?
Just my 2 cents worth… qualifier - only based on personal experience and not from having seen hundreds of students go through the process…
Perhaps during the course of training (weeks or months) this 2:1 ratio might be fine, but time spent meditating, developing awareness, applying mindfulness, etc etc etc etc takes way more time. Even one day of full time mindfulness would blow this ratio out of the water.
In my experience, I’d have to say it is at least 50:1 ratio, and in reality probably much higher I mean it takes a huge continuous effort to actually permanently change perception/consciousness.
I have always focused on the mind training aspects, so maybe this is a very idiosyncratic approach, but I feel that understanding on an intellectual level is just like the table of contents… one has to experience and live it.
I’m only bringing this up because I don’t really hear this being talked about anywhere and I think it can give people the wrong impression.
As I said just my personal opinion
Great work in putting together such great study guides/courses
Yeah, I think that’s probably right. Long retreats are important and would skew the ratio.
But it’s so individual. Some people get enlightened hearing just one dhamma talk, some monks study for years fulltime before doing many more years of meditation, some laypeople do a little of both as they can fit into their busy schedule, others aren’t even Buddhists at all (including a couple friends of mine who I’ve forwarded this to) and just wanted to learn a bit more about an interesting philosophy.
Everybody’s situation is so different. That’s why I say I’m just a librarian! If you want books, here are some books. No pressure. No judgement. Just books.
In my experience too, as @Viveka pointed out, though one starts small (perhaps dabbling in 15-20 min of formal Meditation a day?) once the Dhamma gets to you, it becomes a full-time lifestyle choice of a sort. Just can’t get enough…
But the Time has to be right, the Mind has to be ready, the Dhamma has to make an appearance through the right Teacher, the right books… and then …
The study:mediation ratio was, I guess (seeing as it wasn’t defined) being thought of as “time spent reading/listening : time spent sitting on cushion/similar with eyes closed”. Two formal activities during normal daily life.
Thanks to @Viveka for pointing out that full-time retreat conditions are different, and that in normal daily life there is the development of continuous mindful monitoring. Some lay people do make this their main practice, and find it very beneficial. Those who are very busy and do manage a strong sitting practice still have major chunks of the day where ‘mindfulness of daily activities’ is the go.
So we need a three way ratio, study : formal sitting : continuing mindfulness.
… but I’m veering off the topic of Reading Lists for study. Sadhu to those who make these useful guides.