Dharma Study Program
Gain a grounding in the teachings through reading, guidance, and discussion.
The 2019-2020 Dharma Study Program (also referred to as the Home Study Program) begins on Saturday, September 28, 2019, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (note change of time from last year’s program). We will study Ajahn Sucitto’s book Meditation: A Way of Awakening. Further details, including dates for the fall, are posted below.
For those who are serious about liberation—or “the heart’s sure release” (as the Buddha called it)—the importance of a solid grounding in Dharma teachings cannot be overemphasized.
Here is some feedback on previous years’ Dharma Study Programs:
- “How wonderful to investigate the Dharma… I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to participate.”
- “Being able to study…with a group of like-minded friends was extremely helpful. The light, joyful, open atmosphere was very pleasant.”
- “I really feel I got a taste of the Dharma…The balance of meditation, group discussions, questions and answers, and socializing was ideal.”
If you wish to participate in the Dharma Study Program, we ask you to:
- meditate regularly
- uphold the Five Precepts and try to integrate them into your daily life
- complete the readings and attend the study group meetings
You may find the following books to be helpful preparation, especially if you are new to the Dharma Study Program:
- Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness by Bhante Gunaratana
- The Noble Eightfold Path: The Way to the End of Suffering by Bhikkhu Bodhi
Course Structure, Fall 2019–Winter 2020
Dharma Study Program meetings are held on Saturdays, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Unless otherwise noted, meetings are at the Society of Friends (Quakers) House.
For this year’s program, we will study Ajahn Sucitto’s book Meditation: A Way of Awakening. Download the book from Forest Sangha (no charge; donations welcome), or purchase a printed copy from SIMT at Friends House for $12 (to cover printing costs).
As Ajahn himself says in this book,
the answer to ‘Why meditate?’ is as obvious as ‘Why be happy?’ It’s based on a natural interest in one’s welfare. Most of us at some time or another look to get an overview of our lives, or of our mental/emotional states, in order to find either a direction forward or a stable place within ourselves. Meditation exercises help us to do just this, through the development of steady introspective attention, otherwise known as ‘mindfulness and clear comprehension’ (sati-sampajañña). ‘Mindfulness’ is a steady attention to a particular experience, while ‘clear comprehension’ is the comprehension that can occur when this attention is steady.
Ajahn Sucitto was born in England and is a senior monastic in the Western Thai Forest tradition. He entered monastic life in 1975 in Thailand, but since 1978 has been based in Britain. He spent 14 years training under Ajahn Sumedho, the senior Western disciple of Ajahn Chah, and so is part of that lineage of direct practice.
Meetings take place roughly once a month from September to March. Readings and fall dates are posted below; 2020 dates will be added when available.
- September 28, 2019: pages 3-46 (“Preliminaries” through “Reclining Meditation”)
- November 2: pages 47-103 (“Mindfulness of Breathing: Body” through “Kindness and Compassion”)
- November 30: pages 107-142 (“Theory: Great Heart” through “Process: Working with Mind-states and Emotions”)
- 2020 date tba: pages 143-185 (“Recollections” through “Theory: Kamma, Self, and Liberation”)
- 2020 date tba: pages 189-224 (“Theory: Self-Acceptance and Equanimity” through “Contemplation of the Aggregates”)
- 2020 date tba: pages 225-260 (“Theory: A Graduated Release” through “Closing Remarks”)
Participants are divided into groups, which meet to discuss the readings. Some suggested topics for discussion are:
- What did you find most helpful in the readings?
- How did these readings impact your practice and life?
At each session, volunteers are chosen to offer a presentation of the assigned reading for the next session.
10:30–11:30 Taking of Precepts and sitting meditation
11:30–12:00 Presentation of the readings
12:00–12:30 Tea break
12:30–1:30 Group discussions
1:30–2:30 Opportunity for groups to briefly ask questions on topics that they would like to have clarified; teachers’ comments; and then close with sitting
- Regular: $90
- SIMT Supporter: $110
Payment prior to the beginning of the program ensures placement. Please note that payment is non-refundable. For more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org