Dharma Study Program

A Year-Long Journey of In-depth Study and Practice

In Buddhism, "Dharma" (Sanskrit) or "Dhamma" (Pali) refers to the teachings of the Buddha. It encompasses the concepts, teachings, and practices that lead to awakening and liberation from suffering. This dharma study program is a year-long journey of in-depth study and practice, designed to help you take a deep dive into Buddhist teachings, concepts, and practices. If you're ready to explore and learn more about Buddhism, this course is perfect for you.

Course Objectives

  1. Gain a deeper understanding of Buddhist teachings, core concepts, and practices.
  2. Cultivate the ability to articulate and communicate key Buddhist teachings and concepts effectively.
  3. Learn to apply Buddhist principles and practices to daily life.
  4. Engage in meaningful discussions and interactions with fellow course participants, fostering a sense of community and shared learning.
  5. Optional - Prepare for future roles as Dharma Teachers by refining teaching skills, including delivering Dharma talks and facilitating discussions.

Course Materials & Resources


  • Buddha - Karen Armstrong 
  • No-Nonsense Buddhism for Beginners - Noah Rasheta
  • Buddhism Without Beliefs - Stephen Batchelor 
  • Rebel Buddha - Dzogchen Ponlop 
  • The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching - Thich Nhat Hanh 
  • Buddha’s Brain - Rick Hanson 
  • Bring me the Rhinoceros - John Tarrant 
  • Untangling Self: A Buddhist Investigation of Who We Really Are - Andrew Olendzki 
  • No Self, No Problem - Chris Niebaur 
  • Why Buddhism is True - Robert Wright 
  • The Magic of Awareness - Anam Thubten

Additional materials may be provided in PDF format throughout the course.

Course Format

Each week, for a total of 52 weeks, course participants will be assigned specific reading assignments or topics to cover. After completing the assigned readings, participants will share their written reflections and oral reports (in video or audio format) with members of their cohort. This can be done asynchronously. Cohorts will also have the option to schedule a weekly live call if desired.

Participation Expectations

  • Reading Assignments: Each week, participants will average between 1 and 1.5 hours of reading.
  • Written Reflections: These are key to articulating your thoughts and insights clearly. Writing not only deepens your understanding but also serves as a record of your journey. Writing is also a meditative practice that helps internalize the teachings, fostering clarity and introspection. Weekly written assignments should be between 1/2 a page to 1 page long.
  • Spoken Insights: As future Dharma Teachers, effective verbal communication is essential. Sharing your insights by audio or video will build your confidence in speaking, enhance your ability to convey ideas, and strengthen your connections with your fellow cohort members. Weekly oral reports should be less than 10 minutes long.

Course Schedule

The first cohort (Class 1) will start on January 1st, 2024. A second cohort will start on July 1st, 2024. This course will be available twice per year.

Aim of the Program

The aim of this program is to encourage individuals to apply Buddhist teachings to enhance their existing journey and practice. The program embodies the message of "Don't use what you learn from Buddhism to be a Buddhist; use it to be a better version of yourself." It invites people to enrich their current paths with additional Buddhist wisdom.

This dharma study program is not affiliated with any specific school or form of Buddhism. It embraces the Buddhist wisdom of uncertainty and non-attachment. The curriculum is influenced by various traditions such as Zen, Tibetan, Secular Buddhism, and others, enabling wisdom to be drawn from different sources. As a participant, you are encouraged to embrace this openness and to learn from different traditions and teachers.

In the words of the late Koyo Kubose, "Keep Going." This course is designed for continual growth, whether you are just starting or already on your path. Always remember, there is always further to go. So, keep going!

FAQ Section

What are the costs and expenses to participate in the Dharma Study Program?

The Dharma Study Program does not have formal tuition fees. The only costs involved are purchasing the required books for the curriculum. This one-year program demands dedication, time, and active participation. Your investment in this program will primarily be in the form of personal effort and engagement with the teachings and your fellow cohort members. While there is no financial cost for tuition, participants are expected to maintain a consistent commitment to the course schedule and contribute positively to the harmony of the group. Participants not meeting these commitments may be reconsidered for continuation in the program.

How many people will be in each cohort?

The cohorts are intentionally kept small, capped at approximately six members each. This intimate setting fosters a close-knit learning environment where you can forge meaningful connections with your peers. A smaller group size encourages richer discussions, more personalized feedback, and stronger support networks. It allows for deeper exploration of the material and ensures that each participant's voice is heard and valued. This approach is designed to enhance collaborative learning and provide a more tailored and supportive educational experience.

What happens after the year-long program ends?

At the end of the program, you will receive a certificate of completion. Additionally, there will be an induction ceremony that can be attended either in-person or virtually. The details of the induction ceremony are currently being developed, and more information will be shared throughout the program.

What is a Dharma Teacher?

A Dharma Teacher is someone who possesses a deep understanding of the Buddha's teachings and is committed to sharing this wisdom to help others on their path. They are recognized for their knowledge of Buddhist philosophy, ethical living, effective teaching skills, and personal meditation practice. Dharma Teachers are dedicated to learning, practicing, and imparting the Dharma (Buddhist teachings). Although the requirements may vary across different Buddhist lineages, becoming a Dharma Teacher typically involves specific training and formal acknowledgment from the community or lineage.

To know if you're ready to be a Dharma teacher, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I feel I have a deep enough understanding of Buddhist teachings and concepts and have I integrated them into my life?
  2. Do I exhibit qualities of empathy and compassion, which are at the core of Buddhist teachings?
  3. Am I able to inspire and guide others by effectively sharing my understanding, not in a prescriptive manner, but as a facilitator of personal discovery?
  4. Am I committed to continual growth and recognize that being a teacher is also a path of ongoing learning and self-reflection?

If you can answer affirmatively to these questions, you may be ready to embark on the journey of becoming a Dharma teacher. Remember, it's not just about acquiring knowledge, but about transforming that knowledge into wisdom and living it in a way that inspires and guides others.

What lineage do I belong to after completing this course?

Upon completing the “Dharma Study Program: A Year of In-depth Study and Practice," you will have explored teachings rooted in the Mahayana tradition, particularly Zen and Jōdo Shinshū Buddhism. This lineage, emphasizing personal spiritual growth and the widespread accessibility of Buddhist teachings, informs much of our course content. My own induction as a Dharma teacher was guided by Koyo S. Kubose (1941-2022). His lineage extends back through notable figures such as Gyomay M. Kubose (1905-2000), Haya Akegarasu (1877-1954), and Manshi Kiyozawa (1863-1901), reaching Shinran Shonin (1173-1262), the founder of Jōdo Shinshū Buddhism, with roots stretching back to Nagarjuna and ultimately to the Buddha himself.

Zen Buddhism, with its deep meditation practices and emphasis on authentic self-perception, alongside Jōdo Shinshū's focus on democratizing Buddhist teachings, significantly influence my approach to these teachings.

However, this program primarily aims to empower you as an individual practitioner. It’s not about formal induction into a specific lineage or Buddhist school; rather, it’s about equipping you with the understanding and skills to engage with and express the Dharma in ways that are meaningful to your personal journey.

The ultimate authority in your practice comes from within. You are encouraged to be your own teacher, to listen deeply to your experiences, and to apply the teachings in a way that is meaningful to your unique path. This course provides the foundation, but your understanding and application of the Dharma will be uniquely yours.

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to reach out.

I'm sorry to inform you that the Dharma Study Program for the January 2024 start date is already full. The next available course will begin on July 1st, 2024. However, I am currently considering alternative start dates that would depend on my availability and schedule to lead these courses. Thank you for your patience and understanding.


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