Any person may enroll in the course, regardless of education or experience. One does not even have to be or become a Buddhist. However, becoming a student in the Dharma Study Course means making a commitment to the program of study, and learning how to live a more enlightened life for the benefit of all beings.
The course of study runs in a four year cycle. The course focuses on different aspects of the dharma, from Introduction to the Buddha and Buddhism, Sutra Studies and Buddhist Philosophy and Psychology. We recommend students commit for the four years, but we allow individuals to enter at any point in the process. Students are responsible for reading course material, developing and presenting dharma talks, as well as participating in the DTO practices which include, Bowing, Chanting, Sounding the Bell and the Mokugyo, Sitting and Walking Meditation and Mindful Listening and Speech. In addition, all students are asked to help with various practical responsibilities associated with the running the class.
Two Study Options:
Students may choose from two study options: Certification Path or Audit Path. Students pursuing a Certificate in Buddhist Studies or ordination as a Lay Dharma Teacher must meet certain requirements in order to become certified and ordained, while students registered to audit the class may attend all classes, days of mindfulness and the year-end, three-day retreat, but do not need to meet attendance and presentation requirements in order to remain in good standing. Auditing students can fully participate in all practice, study and discussions without commitments.
One can enter the class in any year; the course emphasis is on helping a student understand the spirit of Buddhism, and not on purely academic criteria. Experienced Dharma Teachers assist students with understanding the standard interpretation of the works involved. They also encourage students to explore new ways of expressing their understanding of any particular reading.
Each academic year ends with a Three-Day Retreat. The highlight of which is a “Dharma Festival” or “Dharma Combat.” This good-natured evocation of the traditional Buddhist oral debates asks each student to make a short oral presentation about a topic closest to the student’s heart, and then to respond to any questions that listeners may have in regards to that topic. The Retreat is both a review of the year and an opportunity to form or reinforce frienships among class members.
Students who have completed the requirements of course work are awarded a Certificate of Completion. After being awarded the certificate,studernts are eligable for The Dharma Teacher Training Program