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Emptiness: A Practical Course for Meditators

A Wisdom Academy Online Course with Guy Armstrong

This eight-lesson course with renowned insight meditation teacher Guy Armstrong explores the teachings on emptiness that point to a series of understandings and practices leading to deep insight and a radical experience of liberation.

Praise from Students in This Course

“Marvelous…the book and teaching were brilliant.”—Tory S.

“The course was absolutely terrific in terms of teaching, content, organization, everything. It has been so helpful to my practice, I can’t tell you how much. I live in an area from which I have to travel to access dharma teaching at a high level of excellence—it’s worth it to me to do so, but what a gift to be able to do it where I live.”—Ann F.

This is a course produced in partnership with the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies.

What You’ll Learn

  • Why the Buddha considered the belief in self to be a primary cause of our suffering
  • How the sense of a self is created over and over through our own mental activities
  • How meditation on emptiness can slow or stop this activity of “selfing”
  • How volition, action, personality, and karma can all be seen to lack a self
  • How our experiences of the world can all be seen to be insubstantial and ungraspable
  • Why awareness and emptiness are closely related, and how to use this in meditation
  • Why it is said that compassion comes out of emptiness

About this Course

“Guy’s approach is pragmatic: How do these teachings help to liberate the mind? He invites us toward the deepening and freeing realization of the nature of awareness and its intrinsic emptiness—and to the manifestation of compassion in our lives.”—Joseph Goldstein

The teachings on emptiness—a theme central to all Buddhist schools—point to a series of understandings and practices that lead to deep insight and a radical experience of liberation.  This eight-week course with renowned Insight meditation teacher Guy Armstrong explores the teachings on emptiness and their application in our lives in a way that makes them practical and accessible.

In this course you’ll look at emptiness as it affects your understanding of self, phenomena, awareness, and meditation.  The content of the course is based on Guy Armstrong’s book Emptiness: A Practical Guide for Meditators.



Lesson 1: The World is Empty of Self

The assumptions in the ways we habitually use the words “I” and “my” don’t stand up to critical inquiry.


Lesson 2: What Is Real?

When we examine what is real in our actual human experience, we cannot find anything that can be described as a self.


Lesson 3: How We Create a Sense of Self

The sense of “I” and “my” is created over and over in the moment by the mental activities of thinking and clinging.


Lesson 4: Beyond Self

We may see through the self by being around death or in certain meditative states. Sometimes these insights may be hard to bear.


Lesson 5: Karma: Who Acts?

No self is to be found in volition or in personality, which are closely related to karma. Nor is there a “self” that is reborn.


Lesson 6: The End of Karma

When the mind becomes still, one enters a phase of practice characterized by nondoing. One who is liberated comes to the end of karma.


Lesson 7: All Phenomena Are Empty

The phenomena of the world which appear to our senses are all seen to be insubstantial. When we see this, we stop grasping at them.


Lesson 8: The Empty Nature of Awareness

Consciousness itself is also characterized by emptiness. When this is seen clearly, the door is open for the emergence of compassion, an empathetic caring for ourselves and others.

About the Teacher

Guy Armstrong has been leading insight meditation retreats since 1984 in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. His training included living as a monk for a year in the Thai forest lineage. Guy is a member of the Spirit Rock Teachers Council and a guiding teacher of the Insight Meditation Society. He lives in Woodacre, CA. Guy is the author of Emptiness: A Practical Guide for Meditators and the corresponding Wisdom Academy course, Emptiness: A Practical Course for Meditators.