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Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditions

A Wisdom Academy Online Course with Thubten Chodron

Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditions

In this course with Ven. Thubten Chodron, strengthen your knowledge and practice of Buddhism by understanding its varied traditions—how they came to be, what makes them different from each other, and what they have in common.

What You’ll Learn

  • The common ground underlying the diverse expressions of the Buddha’s teachings.
  • The origins of the various Buddhist traditions, and how they spread across Asia.
  • How the Four Noble Truths are understood in the different traditions.
  • Ethical training for laypeople and monastics.
  • And much more.

About this Course

Buddhism is practiced by hundreds of millions of people worldwide, from Tibetan caves to Tokyo temples to redwood retreats. All these traditions trace their beginnings to the teachings of one man in India 2,500 years ago. These teachings spread worldwide in all directions and into numerous languages, making Buddhism one of the today’s most influential religions.

In this course you’ll be expertly guided by Venerable Thubten Chodron through Buddhism’s core practices and tenets, such as the Four Noble Truths and the practice of meditation, and will learn how the traditions sometimes agree and sometimes differ in their interpretations. Ven. Chodron’s approach illuminates the many ways that all forms of Buddhism, amid their rich diversity, share a common heritage and common goals.

This 10-lesson course is based on Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditions,a book that Ven. Chodron cowrote with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This book is an expression of His Holiness’s strong belief in the merit of different Buddhist traditions being more educated about one another.



Lesson 1: The Origin and Spread of the Buddha's Doctrine

In this first lesson, Ven. Thubten Chodron guides us in understanding the roots of Buddhism: the life story of the Buddha, the spread of the teachings throughout Asia, and how the Pali and Chinese traditions formed.


Lesson 2: Buddhism in Tibet and the Buddha's Qualities

In this lesson, Ven. Chodron finishes describing Buddhism in China before discussing how Buddhism developed in Tibet and what the unique qualities of the Buddha are.


Lesson 3: The Three Jewels Across Traditions

Ven. Chodron continues her discussion of the qualities of the Buddha and then takes us through how the Three Jewels are understood in both the Pāli and Sanskrit traditions.


Lesson 4: Buddha's Awakening, Refuge, and the Truth of Suffering

In this lesson, Ven. Chodron guides us through how the Pāli and Sanskrit traditions understand the Buddha’s awakening and what it means to take refuge, and begins to discuss the four truths.


Lesson 5: The Four Truths of the Aryas in the Sanskrit Tradition

Ven. Thubten Chodron explores the four noble truths as they are understood by the Sanskrit tradition, taking us through the the sixteen attributes of the four truths and how liberation can be attained.


Lesson 6: The Four Truths in the Pali Tradition

In this lesson, Ven. Chodron teaches us about how the Pāli tradition understands the sixteen attributes of the four truths and explains the noble eightfold path. We also turn toward the importance of ethical conduct on the Buddhist path.


Lesson 7: Ethical Conduct and Monasticism

Ven. Chodron guides us through what ethical conduct means in Buddhist traditions both for laypeople and monastics, and teaches us about the different vinaya schools of monastic ordination and what monastic life is like.


Lesson 8: Advice for Monastics and Training in Concentration

In this lesson, Ven. Chodron takes us through some practical advice for monks and nuns and then turns our attention to training in the meditative practice of concentration.


Lesson 9: Meditation in the Pali Tradition

Ven. Chodron guides us through the training in concentration in the Pāli tradition, touching on topics such as the jhānas, the four immaterial absorptions, and the superknowledges.


Lesson 10: Meditation in the Sanskrit Tradition

In the final lesson for this course Ven. Chodron discusses meditation as it is taught in the Sanskrit tradition, covering topics such as meditation posture and objects, the five faults that interfere with meditation and their antidotes, the nine stages of sustained attention, and more.

About the Teacher

8 fold path of buddhismVenerable Thubten Chodron is an author, teacher, and the founder and abbess of Sravasti Abbey, the only Tibetan Buddhist training monastery for Western nuns and monks in the US. She graduated from UCLA, and did graduate work in education at USC. Ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist nun in 1977, she has studied extensively with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tsenzhap Serkong Rinpoche, and Kyabje Zopa Rinpoche. Ven. Chodron teaches worldwide and is known for her practical (and humorous!) explanations of how to apply Buddhist teachings in daily life. She is also involved in prison outreach and interfaith dialogue. She has published many books on Buddhist philosophy and meditation, and has co-authored a book with His Holiness the Dalai Lama—Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditions. Visit thubtenchodron.org for a media library of her teachings, and sravasti.org to learn more about the Abbey. Thubten Chodron featured in Tricycle: “Tibetan Buddhist Nun Blazes Trail for Others to Follow.” See Thubten Chodron's teaching schedule here.