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ACI Buddhist Study Courses

In this 18-course series you will learn the same material taught in the great monasteries of India and Tibet. You will learn the essence of the Six Great Books of Buddhism as taught in the traditional “Geshe” program—presented in modern English with lots of great stories, examples and practical advice. Each course contains 10 audio classes, readings translated from the Buddhist classics, and homeworks and quizzes to help you learn and integrate the material.

ACI Course 05: How Karma Works (1999, Katmandu)

Topics include: an Abhidharma overview; the definition and nature of karma; good, bad and neutral karma; karma of body, speech, and mind; the definition of virtue and non-virtue; black and white deeds; projecting and finishing karma; karmic consequences; how karma is carried; how emptiness allows karma to function; karmic paths; the five immediate misdeeds; how to make a karmic result powerful; and the purification of karma. ... Read More...

ACI Course 06: The Diamond Cutter Sutra (2000, Bodhgaya)

This Course is based upon the Diamond Cutter Sutra (Vajrachedika) by Shakyamuni Buddha, along with the only known native Tibetan commentary, by Chone Lama Drakpa Shedrup (1675-1748). Topics include: How the direct perception of emptiness is accomplished, what happens after the direct perception of emptiness, how understanding emptiness leads to the destruction of mental afflictions, how the direct perception of emptiness leads to full enlightenment and paradise, emptiness and the two extremes, how empty things function, emptiness and purification, the relationship between emptiness and karma, emptiness and the bodies of a Buddha, what is non-duality, how a bodhisattva should live, the future of Buddha’s teachings, and the perfection of wisdom.... Read More...

ACI Course 16: The Great Ideas of Buddhism, Part 1 (1999, New York)

The fifteen Formal Study Courses cover the main ideas of the entire course of study followed by a Tibetan monk-scholar (or geshe) at one of the great monasteries of Tibet. The three-part Great Ideas series summarizes all fifteen ACI Courses, along with the teachings of the traditional training of a Tibetan Buddhist Master. In part one, we cover the first five ACI Courses: The Principal Teachings of Buddhism, Buddhist Refuge, Applied Meditation, Proof of Future Lives, and How Karma Works. ... Read More...

ACI Course 17: The Great Ideas of Buddhism, Part 2 (1999, New York)

The fifteen Formal Study Courses cover the main ideas of the entire course of study followed by a Tibetan monk-scholar (or geshe) at one of the great monasteries of Tibet. This course summarizes the great ideas of the ACI Course Six through Ten. The first half of each class in this course was taught by Geshe Michael and is available below.... Read More...

ACI Course 18: The Great Ideas of Buddhism, Part 3 (1999, New York)

The fifteen Formal Study Courses cover the main ideas of the entire course of study followed by a Tibetan monk-scholar (or geshe) at one of the great monasteries of Tibet. This course summarizes the great ideas of the ACI Course Eleven through Fifteen. The first half of each class in this course was taught by Geshe Michael and is available below. ... Read More...

ACI Course 13: The Art of Reasoning (1998, New York)

Topics include: the correct motivation for debate; debating tactics and the flow of a debate; the subject, quality, and reason of the debate; why logic is more valuable than faith; how studying logic leads to perceiving emptiness; what makes a reason correct; contradictions and relationships; relationships of identity, and relationships of cause and effect; proving the absence of something; material causes and contributing factors; valid perception; changing and unchanging things; an outline of all existing things; the concept of time according to each of the four schools of thought; and the reason why suffering has an end. ... Read More...

ACI Course 14: Lojong, Developing the Good Heart (1998, New York)

Topics include: How to develop a good heart, how to practice throughout the day, how to develop the wish for enlightenment, the eight verses of mind training, 18 pledges for developing a good heart, the six keys to successful practice, the five powers, the five mental poisons, seven steps to developing a good heart, the three virtues, how to respond to the eight worldly thoughts, the real meaning of freedom from attachment, how to behave in difficult situations, the difference between how things happen and why things happen, how to send your mind into death (powa), and seeing angels.... Read More...

ACI Course 15: What the Buddha Really Meant (1998, New York)

Topics include: The importance of evaluating spiritual teachings, how to interpret when spiritual teachings are literal or figurative, how to evaluate apparently conflicting teachings, a summary of the teachings Lord Buddha gave in each of the three Turnings of the Wheel of the Dharma, the goal of each of the three Turnings of the Wheel, an explanation of the ideas held by each of the main schools of Buddhism, ultimate reality (emptiness) according to each of the schools, the three progressively higher understandings of emptiness, the three attributes of reality, a comparison of the Mind- Only School and the Middle- Way School explanations of emptiness and dependent origination, how to use an understanding of emptiness to stop all your suffering, and how to stop your aging and death by stopping your ignorance.... Read More...

ACI Course 10: Bodhisattva's Way of Life, Part 1 (1997, New York)

This Course is the first in a three part series based upon A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life (Bodhisattvacharya Avatara) by Master Shantideva (700 AD), and the commentary Entry Point for Children of the Victorious Buddhas (Gyalse Juk-ngok) by Gyaltsab Je (1364-1432). Master Shantideva’s work is considered the best book ever written to learn how to live as a bodhisattva, and this is one of the most famous commentaries ever written; it has been translated into English for the first time for this course.... Read More...

ACI Course 11: Bodhisattva's Way of Life, Part 2 (1997, New York)

Topics include: an explanation of the perfection of patience, the perfection of joyful effort, and the perfection of meditative concentration; the results of anger; how to make a habit of not getting angry; how joyous effort supports the other five perfections; obstacles to joyous effort; obstacles to meditation; how selfishness produces pain; reasons to treat others as well as yourself; the source of all the world's pain; compassion as a prerequisite for successful meditative concentration; meditation as a prerequisite for wisdom; where you, your world, and all of your experiences come from; and Buddha nature. It is recommended that you study Part I prior to studying Part II.... Read More...

ACI Course 12: Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, Part 3 (1997, New York)

Topics include: An explanation of the perfection of wisdom; the purpose and benefit of realizing emptiness; how to perceive emptiness directly; proofs of emptiness; the two types of emptiness; the emptiness of the body; the emptiness of the mind; the emptiness of feelings; the emptiness of functioning things; the emptiness of the three elements; wrong ideas about emptiness; the meaning of illusion; dependent origination; the two truths; the nature of ultimate reality; wrong ideas we have about existence; kinds of mental afflictions; the six steps which produce all the pain in the world; the five heaps; the three types of compassion; the importance of requesting blessings; the importance of dedicating good deeds; and how to reach nirvana and enlightenment. It is recommended that you study Parts I & II prior to studying Part III.... Read More...

ACI Course 12: Bodhisattva's Way of Life, Part 3 (1997, New York)

Topics include: An explanation of the perfection of wisdom; the purpose and benefit of realizing emptiness; how to perceive emptiness directly; proofs of emptiness; the two types of emptiness; the emptiness of the body; the emptiness of the mind; the emptiness of feelings; the emptiness of functioning things; the emptiness of the three elements; wrong ideas about emptiness; the meaning of illusion; dependent origination; the two truths; the nature of ultimate reality; wrong ideas we have about existence; kinds of mental afflictions; the six steps which produce all the pain in the world; the five heaps; the three types of compassion; the importance of requesting blessings; the importance of dedicating good deeds; and how to reach nirvana and enlightenment. It is recommended that you study Parts I & II prior to studying Part III.... Read More...

ACI Course 08: Death and the Realms of Existence (1996, New York)

Topics include: The three main realms of existence; the 17 levels of the form realm; the six types of beings of the desire realm; the four levels of the formless realm; ways of taking birth; all of the different realms of existence and the beings inhabiting them  an explanation of: the intermediate state (bardo), the hells, craving spirits, animals, humans, pleasure beings, and formless beings; the causes to be reborn in each realm; how you move from realm to realm; ways of taking rebirth; how and why rebirth occurs; the conditions needed for human birth; the nature of intermediate state (bardo) beings; how world systems form, evolve and are destroyed; a description of the different types of eons; the four principles of karma; the six sufferings always present; the five degenerations of our age; the problems which result from not being aware of death; the advantages of cultivating an awareness of death; how to meditate on death correctly; and how to see the purity.... Read More...

ACI Course 09: The Ethical Life (1996, New York)

This course covers the Buddhist code of ethics and the relationship between an ethical way of life, meditating deeply, and experiencing ultimate reality. This Course is based upon the Sutra on Vowed Morality (Vinaya Sutra) by Master Gunaprabha (500 AD), with commentaries from The Essence of the Ocean of Vinaya (Dulwa Gyatsoy Nyingpo) by Je Tsongkapa (1357-1419), The Wish-Fulfilling Jewel (Yishin Norbu) by Choney Drakpa Shedrup (1675-1748), and Day Maker (Nyin Je) by Master Ngulchu Dharma Bhadra (1772-1851).... Read More...

ACI Course 06: The Diamond Cutter Sutra (1996, California)

This Course is based upon the Diamond Cutter Sutra (Vajrachedika) by Shakyamuni Buddha, along with the only known native Tibetan commentary, by Chone Lama Drakpa Shedrup (1675-1748). Topics include: how the direct perception of emptiness is accomplished, what happens after the direct perception of emptiness, how understanding emptiness leads to the destruction of mental afflictions, how the direct perception of emptiness leads to full enlightenment and paradise, emptiness and the two extremes, how empty things function, emptiness and purification, the relationship between emptiness and karma, emptiness and the bodies of a Buddha, what is non-duality, how a bodhisattva should live, the future of Buddha’s teachings, and the perfection of wisdom. ... Read More...

ACI Course 06: The Diamond-Cutter Sutra (1995, New York)

Topics include: how the direct perception of emptiness is accomplished, what happens after the direct perception of emptiness, how understanding emptiness leads to the destruction of mental afflictions, how the direct perception of emptiness leads to full enlightenment and paradise, emptiness and the two extremes, how empty things function, emptiness and purification, the relationship between emptiness and karma, emptiness and the bodies of a Buddha, what is non-duality, how a bodhisattva should live, the future of Buddha's teachings, and the perfection of wisdom.... Read More...

ACI Course 07: The Bodhisattva Vows (1995, New York)

Topics include: the definition and types of bodhichitta, types of morality, types of vows, how bodhisattva vows are taken, an explanation of the eighteen root bodhisattva vows and forty-six secondary bodhisattva vows, the four factors needed to break bodhisattva root vows, how bodhisattva vows are broken, how bodhisattva vows are lost, how to keep your bodhisattva vows, how to restore your bodhisattva vows, and the benefits of keeping bodhisattva vows.... Read More...

ACI Course 04: Proof of Future Lives (1994, New York)

Topics include: the definition of valid perception, the three levels of perception, who has valid perceptions and how, evaluating things beyond our direct perception, how great compassion is developed, the nature of omniscience, the material cause of the mind, proofs of the mind's source, proofs for the existence of past and future lives, and how desire leads to rebirth - an explanation of crucial links in the chain of dependent origination. ... Read More...