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Thread: Buddha Dharma University

  1. #1

    Buddha Dharma University

    Just out of curiosity, has anyone ever attended or otherwise been exposed to or have an opinion on Buddha Dharma University? Their website describes little and I was just curious if anyone would reccomend it or not.

    Or does anyone have any opinions on attending a school/university to learn Buddhism better, or whether it "shouldn't" be necessary or the like. Just reading the list of classes they offer it seems like great information, they're a Zen school and have some classes focusing on Buddhism seperate from the divine/cosmological (read: they offer a class titlesd Agnostic Buddhism). Just wanted to hear some words on it.

    I feel like a curriculum would help my practice. If I have some structure in it I can gain a solid foundation to last a lifetime. I know a great point of Zen is to realize everything you 'need' is already here, and I'm sure I could keep practicing and arrive at the same spiritual state eventually, but is there some inhibition to speeding up this process, like it "should" take longer to learn and I shouldn't speed it up too much?

    My thoughts were typing faster than my brain could keep up, I hope I'm clear.

    Many Thanks!


  2. #2
    Hi Dylan,

    I would be a bit cautious and do one's homework.

    This is a rather sensitive topic for me, because (obviously) I am all for bringing Dharma to folks in creative ways, using new media resources. I am also in favor of breaking the institutional mold and creative ways of Training. So, Treeleaf is "controversial" too with some more conservative folks.

    However, there are some real questions about "Five Mountains", this university and its earlier incarnations, and Wonji Dharma (Paul Lynch), as well as other issues surrounding the school, and I would look into that. There is a difference between "breaking the mold" and making affirmatively false claims about who one's Teachers were and authorization to teach. There is also some question about the substance of what they have been trying in their "university". I would gather information.

    As to the content of the Teaching, I believe that it is more in the flavor of Korean Rinzai Zen with an emphasis on Koan Zazen Training.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - I have a question too: I notice that they do not have a street address and are fully online (obviously, not a problem here! ) but then why do they have a picture of a building on their top page?

    Last edited by Jundo; 10-02-2014 at 01:42 AM.

  3. #3

    Dharma is given freely, if you can afford it.

    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  4. #4
    Hi Dylan,

    I have done some considerable research on this, as I live in Indonesia and had no other choice but to go to university full time (not possible for me, as I am in full-time employment) or find a suitable distance-education or e-learning alternative in order to satisfy my own need (want?) for a sound academic basis on which to build a better understanding of the Dharma.

    BDU was one of the early options I looked at. Without going into too much detail, I share Jundo's concerns about both content and academic rigor. I'll leave it at that...

    I ended up enrolling in a Masters in Buddhist Studies with the International Buddhist College in Thailand. IBC is recognized by the Thai Education Department and has 2 full-time campuses. Their residential program is largely for monks, so that they can learn some 'theory' as well as their 'practice'...

    Althouth Thailand is largely a centre of Theravada practice, the IBC course is broad and deep; the curriculum is as follows:

    First Year Subjects:

    July November (First semester)
    BT6101 TheravadaBuddhism
    BT6208 Buddhism andSociety

    December April (Second semester)

    BT6102 MahayanaBuddhism
    BT6103 History ofIndian Buddhism

    Second Year Subjects:

    July November (First semester)
    BT6205 A Survey ofthe Doctrines of Abhidharma School
    CB6215 ChineseBuddhist Thoughts: A Historical Perspective.

    December April (Second semester)

    BT6217 Lamrin Chenmo:The path to Enlightenment in the Tibetan Tradition.
    ST6206 JapaneseBuddhism

    Third Year Subjects:

    Option 1: BT6322 Thesis (25,000 words)
    Option 2: Three more courses and Independent Study (ShortThesis, 3 credits).

    CAVEAT: The workload is heavy. The reading alone took up all (ALL) of my spare time and, for me anyway, was still not nearly enough. Exam and essay deadlines are strict. The time frame between exams makes it difficult to get enough reading done to have enough background info to even attempt to write an essay. Maybe its just me, of course , but it was heavy going. To the extent that I have deferred and might (or might NOT!) re-engage next year. I am, for now at least, concentrating on my practice, rather than the theory...

    In the meantime, there are some great online resources for doing your own reading - one of the best is buddhanet (as all of the resources are downloadable and free)

    Try this for a sructured, basic intro course of study:

    Or this for less 'directed' study:

    Last, but not least - and, in fact, I have left this until last so that it is freshest in your mind; I would actually suggest this as your first port of call! - Jundo has some excellent resources here on the site that provide a solid grounding, as follows:

    The fundamentals -

    More broad, self-directed reading -

    I hope that helps...


    Last edited by Anshu Bryson; 10-02-2014 at 01:54 AM.

  5. #5
    Hi, just a suggestion, if you are looking for a curriculum, you could make up your own, with all the lovely talks and teachings here at Treeleaf. There is such a vast wealth of knowledge here, I doubt I will fully understand all of it in this lifetime.


  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Joyo View Post
    Hi, just a suggestion, if you are looking for a curriculum, you could make up your own, with all the lovely talks and teachings here at Treeleaf. There is such a vast wealth of knowledge here, I doubt I will fully understand all of it in this lifetime.

    Hi Joyo,

    Well, thank you for the voice of confidence in our place, but the materials we have here are centered on the particular flavor of Soto Zen Practice offered here. Buddhism is a very diverse world, much more than just what we offer or the particular interpretations here, and there are many flavors and many fine Teachers (also, unfortunately, many charlatans and gurus-with-less-than-wholesome motives out there.).

    I would encourage anyone wishing to make a serious academic study of Buddhism to follow the example that Bryson points to, and make sure that the source is also serious and reputable.

    By the way, for our absolute beginners (although we are all always beginners), these two books offer a pretty good introduction to what all those varied flavors of Buddhism, and Zen too, are all about:


    • Buddhism For Dummies by Jonathan Landaw & Stephan Bodian (Jundo: I have been looking for a very long time for a book for people very new to Buddhism who want to know basic information and all the many flavors of Buddhist schools, their beliefs and practices. Despite the silly title, this is a very smart, well written, comprehensive and detailed yet easy (and fun) to read, humorous and serious guide, covers most of the major bases and in quite some detail, gives fair treatment to the many flavors of Buddhism, is very down to earth about the more magical aspects of Buddhism (it tries to present a more psychological than literal take on Karma and Rebirth, for example) .... and it covers everything and the kitchen sink. I learned a thing or two. I just wish they would change the title. If I have one criticism, I wish they had done a better job in contrasting the various approaches of Zen. I recommend this book primarily for people very new to Buddhism in general.)
    .................................................. .................................................. .................................................. .................................................. ...................

    • Simple Guide to Zen Buddhism by Diana St. Ruth (Jundo: For folks who are completely new, puzzled and perplexed about Zen Buddhism's history and practices of various flavors. It is detailed in its explanation, balanced and quite comprehensive in the many topics it covers. I would not recommend the book for anyone who had been practicing for even a few months, but it may still answer some questions and be good to give to your dad or sister who is completely confused by what we are doing here ... and may think that we are wearing bed sheets while dancing in drum circles with the Dalai Lama during the Soltice. As with any book, it is not perfect. It could still do even a better job in explaining the various different approaches of Soto and Rinzai, Koan Centered Zazen and Shikantaza ... but they are touched upon. But compared to most other books on the subject, it is well researched, comprehensive, very balanced and gets it right.)

  7. #7
    Dearest Jundo,


  8. #8
    Just to say I think the resources here at Tree Leaf are really excellent.

    It's easy to lose sight of - or take for granted - that we have a teacher who immediately answers any question or query.
    The peer group discussion is possibly more accessible and ongoing than in a bricks and mortar institution.

    Sometimes I think it would help if I could write the odd essay - just to consolidate things more in my mind. I guess I could do that any way. I've been keeping a journal the past three years - I can see from the early entries I was all over the place regarding any kind of formal understanding of buddhism.

    But what I was seeking ( we do have 'goals' ) has remained the same and this practice does deliver.

    It's the practice that matters and I never flinch now when Jundo writes 'just go sit' - (my mental, monkey mind did react at the beginning). I feel Tree Leaf
    abides by this basic principle and I doubt that there's anything else available online that equals to it.


  9. #9
    Hello All,

    Wow, thank you all so much for your compassionate responses! I truly feel at home speaking here.

    I think I will begin with some local resources as well as the many resources found here at Treeleaf, and thank you all for the reminder of our extensive reading list, all is Practice.

    The Sangha has picked me up, and off I go.

    Thank you all.


  10. #10
    Also, an added thank you specifically to Joyo for the idea of creating my own curriculum. The idea of studying is easy, the execution is the hard part. I will look into this in the near future. (As well as work on dropping thoughts of easy and hard.)

    Gassho again,

  11. #11
    ZMM also has a great reading list that I've been trying to make a dent into over the years ...

  12. #12

    I'm also of the idea to create our own curriculum at first. That's exactly how I began studying and practicing a long long time ago.

    However, the material, videos and talks offered by Jundo and Taigu have been an invaluable since I made Treeleaf my home.

    Bryson: Thank you for the links! The Buddhist eLibrary is awesome. I learned quite a bit from there.

    Nindo: I wasn't familiar with that reading list, but I think I'll make it mine as well! Thanks!


    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  13. #13
    Bryson, did you ever resume your studies? I was recently looking at IBC Online (glutton for punishment I guess)
    Kaishin (開心, Open Heart)
    Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Kaishin View Post
    Bryson, did you ever resume your studies? I was recently looking at IBC Online (glutton for punishment I guess)
    Hi Matt,

    Yes, I recommence in the next semester (mid-year this year). We built a hous this last year; I didn't realize how much of my time it took up! I thought I was just getting on with day-to-day things, but, now that the project is complete, I am finding myself with time to spare! Looking forward to getting back into it,,,



    sat today

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