Dharma Fundamentals

A Middle Way graduate will be able to speak articulately about the fundamentals of Buddhism and have facility in the basic practices. They will have an appreciation of the teachings of the Buddha and understand how to apply them to daily life. Our aim is to present the various traditions as fully as possible, not blending them but celebrating the differences and commonalities, and becoming knowledgeable in all the ways that the Buddha’s teachings have been incorporated into human experience.

Based on instructions from and conversations with a number of Buddhist masters and scholars, we have a course of study that will cover the fundamentals of dharma. The next step will be establishing the developmental sequence of each of the following, as well as mapping how they can be woven through the domains of learning according to grade level.

Artwork by Andra Samelson, who also donated a beautiful painting to the school. Prints available.



• The Four Noble Truths (unsatisfactoriness, the cause of unsatisfactoriness, the cessation of unsatisfactoriness, the path)

• The Noble Eightfold Path (harmonious view, harmonious intention, harmonious speech, harmonious action, harmonious livelihood, harmonious effort, harmonious mindfulness, and harmonious concentration)

• The Four Seals (sometimes the Three Seals), the fundamental view of the dharma as understood by the three main schools of Buddhism, including impermanence, shunyata, unsatisfactoriness of emotions, and the non-duality of liberation

• The Four Immeasurables/Brahmaviharas (loving kindness, compassion, empathetic joy, equanimity)

• Cause and Effect/Karma/Dependent Origination

• The Six Paramitas (generosity, good conduct, patience, diligence, contemplation, wisdom).

• Buddhist logic

• Buddhist history including biographies of great masters

• Buddhist philosophy

• Language study that supports understanding of spiritual texts (possible Tibetan, Chinese, and Sanskrit).

• Buddhist psychology/Abhidharma

• Students will also be guided in the practice of being aware, or, as Khyentse Rinpoche has said, “the ritual exercise of grabbing the present moment.”