The Sangha was originally established by Gautama Buddha in the fifth century BCE in order to provide a means for those who wish to practice full-time in a direct and highly disciplined way, free from the restrictions and responsibilities of the household life. (Source)  Today, the word Sangha has evolved to include any group of people who practice the teachings of The Buddha.  The Sangha is one of The Three Refuges--The Buddha, The Dharma, & The Sangha.  Or, the historical teacher, Siddhartha Gautama (The Buddha), the teachings of The Buddha, and the community of people practicing together.  

This nine week course involves visiting by Zoom various different Sanghas.  (A Sangha may or may not be associated with a physical temple.)  We will then explore our reaction to each of those temple's traditions, as they will all be different, and they all will have the same heart--the alleviation of suffering, or dissatisfactoriness. 

BST511 – The Life of the Buddha (3 Units)
Textbook: The Life of the Buddha by Karen Armstrong
9 week course 

With such bestsellers as A History of God and Islam, Karen Armstrong has consistently delivered "penetrating, readable, and prescient" (The New York Times) works that have lucidly engaged a wide range of religions and religious issues. In Buddha she turns to a figure whose thought is still reverberating throughout the world 2,500 years after his death.

Many know the Buddha only from seeing countless serene, iconic images. But what of the man himself and the world he lived in? What did he actually do in his roughly eighty years on earth that spawned one of the greatest religions in world history? Armstrong tackles these questions and more by examining the life and times of the Buddha in this engrossing philosophical biography. Against the tumultuous cultural background of his world, she blends history, philosophy, mythology, and biography to create a compelling and illuminating portrait of a man whose awakening continues to inspire millions.

BST512 – Buddhism Beyond Religion (3 Units)
9 week course

Those with an interest in Buddhism will welcome this new book by Stephen Batchelor, former monk and author of Alone With Others and The Awakening of the West. But those who are just discovering this increasingly popular practice will have much to gain as well-for Buddhism Without Beliefs serves as a solid, straightforward introduction that demystifies Buddhism and explains simply and plainly how its practice can enrich our lives. Avoiding jargon and theory, Batchelor concentrates on the concrete, making Buddhism accessible and compelling and showing how anyone can embark on this path-regardless of their religious background.

Does Buddhism require faith? Can an atheist or agnostic follow the Buddha’s teachings without believing in reincarnation or organized religion? This is one man’s confession.

In his classic Buddhism Without Beliefs, Stephen Batchelor offered a profound, secular approach to the teachings of the Buddha that struck an emotional chord with Western readers. Now, with the same brilliance and boldness of thought, he paints a groundbreaking portrait of the historical Buddha—told from the author’s unique perspective as a former Buddhist monk and modern seeker. Drawing from the original Pali Canon, the seminal collection of Buddhist discourses compiled after the Buddha’s death by his followers, Batchelor shows us the Buddha as a flesh-and-blood man who looked at life in a radically new way. Batchelor also reveals the everyday challenges and doubts of his own devotional journey—from meeting the Dalai Lama in India, to training as a Zen monk in Korea, to finding his path as a lay teacher of Buddhism living in France. Both controversial and deeply personal, Stephen Batchelor’s refreshingly doctrine-free, life-informed account is essential reading for anyone interested in Buddhism.
BST513 - Spiritual Materialism (3 Units)
Prerequisites Textbook:
Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
9 week course

In this modern spiritual classic, the Tibetan meditation master Chgyam Trungpa highlights a common pitfall to which every aspirant on the spiritual path falls prey: what he calls spiritual materialism. The universal human tendency, he shows, is to see spirituality as a process of self-improvementthe impulse to develop and refine the ego when the ego is, by nature, essentially empty. The problem, Trungpa says, is that ego can convert anything to its own use, even spirituality. His incisive, compassionate teachings serve to wake us up from this trick we all play on ourselves, and to offer us a far brighter reality: the true and joyous liberation that inevitably involves letting go of the self rather than working to improve it. It is a message that has resonated with students for over thirty years and remains fresh as ever today. This edition includes a foreward by Chgyam Trungpas son and lineage holder Sakyong Mipham.

This course, designed for introductory, general interest study and is specifically designed for Community Colleges.

BST515 - Intro to Zen Buddhism (3 Units)
Textbook: Zen Philosophy, Zen Practice by Thich Thien-An
9 week course

This text explores the way of Zen and its inner truth. Each chapter includes a meditation practice. A little known gem in a sea of literature referring to Zen Buddhism. A book I find myself referring back to more often than any other I own. The first time I read it I gained more insight into the history of zen, where it was coming from, and the people it arrived through. Most importantly at the end of every chapter is a method of practicing zen. This, along with the stress on practicing Zen principles in daily life is why I would highly recommend this book to the beginning Zen practitioner.

BST516 - The Mirror of Zen (3 Units)
No Prerequisites
Textbook: The Mirror of Zen by Beop Joeng
9 week course 

From the preface: "If you were to comb the mountains and valleys of Korea, polling every meditating monk and nun and hermit and ascetic as to the most necessary, essential, inseparable compendium of teachings apart from the Buddha's sutras themselves, chances are that most of them would choose The Mirror of Zen. It is by far the most quoted, most cited, most referred-to text in the tea rooms and teaching halls of the Zen temples in Korea."

Its author was Zen Master So Sahn who was born in 1520 in what is now North Korea. He became a monk at 21 and during his lifetime he assumed leadership positions at both the Zen and Sutra schools of Korean Buddhism. For this book, he chose 86 teachings from the Buddhist canon as the essence of of Zen. He also added commentaries, gathas, and capping words for our benefit.

In this course we will study this great book. The class will consist of reading assignments, video lectures, forum activities and quizzes. The professor will be also be available. The goals for this class are to introduce us to this great book and ultimately to learn from a great Zen Master in the Korean tradition.

BST517 - Dropping Ashes on the Buddha (3 Units) 
No Prerequisites
Textbook: Dropping Ashes on the Buddha 
9 week course 

“Somebody comes into the Zen center with a lighted cigarette, walks up to the Buddha statue, blows smoke in its face, and drops ashes on its lap. You are standing there. What can you do?” This is a problem that Zen Master Seung Sahn is fond of posing to his American students who attend his Zen centers. Dropping Ashes on the Buddha is a delightful, irreverent, and often hilariously funny living record of the dialogue between Korean Zen Master Seung Sahn and his American students. Consisting of dialogues, stories, formal Zen interviews, Dharma speeches, and letters using the Zen Master’s actual words in spontaneous, living interaction with his students, this book is a fresh presentation of the Zen teaching method of “instant dialogue” between Master and student which, through the use of astonishment and paradox, leads to an understanding of ultimate reality.

Zen Master Seung Sahn taught Zen in the United States for over 30 years after receiving Dharma transmission in Korea. This collection of Dharma talks, letters, and interchanges with his students is from his early years in the US, the mid-1970s. It is a wonderful record of how a true master worked with his students to help them wake up.

In this course, we will study Zen Master Seung Sahn's teachings/teaching style as presented in this great book. The class will consist of reading assignments, lectures, forum discussions, quizzes and a final paper. The goals of this class are to study the words of Zen Master Seung Sahn, to see how he taught his students, and to apply these teachings in our own lives.

BST519 - Foundational Buddhism (3 Units)
No Prerequisites
Textbook: The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching - Thich Nhat Hanh
9 week course 

In The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching, Thich Nhat Hanh introduces us to the core teachings of Buddhism and shows us that the Buddha's teachings are accessible and applicable to our daily lives. With poetry and clarity, Nhat Hanh imparts comforting wisdom about the nature of suffering and its role in creating compassion, love, and joy--all qualities of enlightenment. Covering such significant teachings as the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path, the Three Doors of Liberation, the Three Dharma Seals, and the Seven Factors of Awakening, The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching is a radiant beacon on Buddhist thought for the initiated and uninitiated alike.

BST518 - Compass of Zen (3 Units)
No Prerequisites
TextbookThe Compass of Zen Teaching by Zen Master Seung Sahn
9 week course 

This Course Contains original Video of the last time Zen Master Seung Sahn taught the Compass to the public in 2004. There are 9 plus hours of video lectures delivered by the Great Master himself. This course begins examinations of the specific style of Ancestral Zen promulgated within the Five Mountain Zen Order. Through the words of Zen Master Seung Sahn (78th Ancestor of the FMZO lineage) as presented in his seminal text "The Compass of Zen", this course further expands upon the material presented in BPH 101, 102, and 103.

The Compass of Zen is a simple, exhaustive—and often hilarious—presentation of the essence of Zen by a modern Zen Master of considerable renown. In his many years of teaching throughout the world, the Korean-born Zen Master Seung Sahn has become known for his ability to cut to the heart of Buddhist teaching in a way that is strikingly clear, yet free of esoteric and academic language. In this book, based largely on his talks, he presents the basic teachings of Buddhism and Zen in a way that is wonderfully accessible for beginners—yet so rich with stories, insights, and personal experiences that long-time meditation students will also find it a source of inspiration and a resource for study.