affiliated with the
Foundation for the
Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition


Over 2500 years ago, Shakyamuni Buddha gained direct insight into the nature of reality, perfected the qualities of wisdom, compassion, and power, and revealed the path to his disciples. In the 11th Century, Atisha brought these teachings to Tibet in the form of the lam-rim – the stages on the path to enlightenment. The lam-rim tradition found its pinnacle in the teachings of the great Tibetan saint Lama Tsongkhapa in the 14th Century, and these teachings continued to pass from teacher to student up to this present day.

Discovering Buddhism is a two-year, fourteen-module series that gives the student a solid foundation in the teachings and practice of Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism. This program is offered by the Guhyasamaja center and many FPMT centers worldwide, and it is also available as a homestudy program for those who do not live near a center.

Each Discovering Buddhism module consists of teachings, meditations and practices, readings, assessment questions, and a short retreat. Students may do some or all of these components of each course, as they wish and are interested. Those who complete all the components receive a completion card for that course. When all fourteen modules have been completed, students receive a certificate of completion! This certificate awards the satisfaction of having completed a very comprehensive engagement with the path to enlightenment. The completion certificate is symbolic of your commitment to spiritual awakening. Rejoice deeply when you receive it!

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Introduction to Tantra
(Discovering Buddhism, Module 13)

The Guhyasamaja Center, 10875 Main Street, Unit 108, Fairfax, VA, 22030

During this class we will learn the meaning of tantra, how tantra works, and why it is a powerful form of practice if done with the right foundation of understanding and practice. Students will get a broad overview of the distinction between sutra and tantra, the four classes of tantra and the meaning of deity yoga. In addition, we will find out how to integrate the practices of tantra with lam-rim meditation for optimal results.

This is an advanced class!

This "Introduction to Tantra" module of Discovering Buddhism is the most advanced in a series of modules of classes that have been given at the center over the past 2 1/2 years. So, these classes are aimed at students who have a fairly good familiarity with basic Buddhist teachings. These classes should be accessible to those who've taken many of the previous modules of Discovering Buddhism or who have engaged in some significant in-person study of Buddhism elsewhere. Because these classes on more advanced subjects may prove confusing for newer students, we recommend that students new to Buddhism attend our more introductory classes such as those on "Mindfulness" or "Introduction to Meditation."

In particular, this module on Introduction to Tantra is only for those with a strong interest in Mahayana Buddhism who have previously attended teachings on both emptiness and bodhichitta. Many Buddhist methods such as those for cultivating mindfulness, loving-kindness, gratitude, and compassion are suitable to be used by those practicing other faiths. However, to effectively meditate using tantric methods requires that one already be familiar with topics of refuge, bodhichitta and the view of emptiness.

Class Dates:

15 Mar- 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM

22 Mar- 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM

12 Apr- 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM

Retreat Days:

To be determined

Completion Certificate
In order to earn a completion certificate for the Discovering Buddhism, you will have to participate in all the modules taught at the center. If you have to miss individual classes, these can be made up by listening to recordings or doing extra reading. You’ll also be expected to actively participate by doing related Dharma reading assignments, participating in classes, and taking quizzes as part of the classes. Earning a completion certificate will also involve engaging in a number of group retreats which the center will organize. And, it’ll also involve meditating regularly meditations at home as well as doing a number of the traditional preliminary practices (Ngon-dro) either at home or in a retreat setting according to your preference.

The completion certificate for Discovering Buddhism is acknowledged by Guhyasamaja Center, by the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), and by other FPMT centers. Those actively engaged in earning the completion certificate will be eligible to apply to become meditation facilitators at Guhyasamaja Center. Those who’ve earned a completion certificate are eligible to apply to become a registered teacher with FPMT International.

Anyone is welcome to attend any of these Discovering Buddhism classes. You can drop in as you wish. However, if you wish to take Discovering Buddhism for a completion certificate, then you are expected to attend at least 75% of each module in person. Missed classes should be made up using the on-line recordings. If you are taking the full, two-year program for a completion certificate and you miss more than 75% of one module, you should talk with Lorne. Also, those taking the program for a completion certificate must complete each module’s “completion card” indicating that you’ve done the readings, done the meditations, and attended the final retreat. If someone wishes to take some modules fully but misses one or more modules, those modules can be made up the next time that the center presents the full two-year program.

Suggested Donations
Many people have asked about the cost of the Discovering Buddhism program. It is the policy of Guhyasamaja Center that we do not charge for Dharma classes. The center does totally rely on donations to continue existing. So, for those who can do so, we suggest that participants sign up for center membership at whatever level you can. Suggested donations for classes are as follows: Members $8 - Non-members $10
The Day-long Retreat—Center Members: $20; Non-Members: $30
(Note: for the day-long intensive, food is not included in this suggested donation; those who wish to do so can join together in contributing to order in lunch for that day and others are welcome to bring along a lunch from home.)

--If you're experiencing unemployment or a financial hardship of any kind please do not worry about providing a donation for teachings, there are many other ways you can contribute to our community and no one will ever be turned away due to lack of funds--

More About becoming a Center Facilitator... HERE

We recognize that not everyone will be able to attend all modules over the course of two years. So, one option available will be to take some modules and not others. You can then receive credit for the modules you have completed. You can then plan to complete the other modules in the future at Guhyasamaja Center or even at other FPMT centers.

Also, some people may wish to learn but not have the time to do the readings or the ability to attend classes as regularly as they’d like. So, we want to be clear that these Discovering Buddhism classes will be open to anyone. You don’t have to be participating fully to participate or to benefit. The classes will be particularly aimed at the more students who are fully engaging in the module being taught, but the meditations and most of the material presented should be accessible to a wide range of students. Those fully engaging in the program will naturally receive the maximum benefit. But, Discovering Buddhism is designed to be accessible to a wide range of students.

The primary teacher for this two-year program will be Lorne Ladner, Ph.D. He is the director of the Guhyasamaja Center and is a registered teacher of Discovering Buddhism with FPMT. The center also plans to invite other senior teachers to visit to teach all or part of specific modules in order to give students the opportunity to experience a variety of teaching styles.

How to Find out More
You can learn more about Discovering Buddhism by reviewing the information about this program on FPMT’s website. Then we will schedule an informational meeting at Guhyasamaja Center in the late summer or early fall about this program. If you’d like to receive updates and more information about that meeting, then email director at (using the @ symbol)

An Overview of the Discovering Buddhism Modules:

(Note that they will not be taught in this precise order at the center)…….

The 14 Discovering Buddhism Modules (and status)

1. Mind and Its Potential (completed)
Examine the mind and how it creates happiness and suffering. Learn to transform destructive thoughts and attitudes to create a positive and joyous mind!

2. How to Meditate (completed)
Learn the definition and purpose of meditation, how to sit, how to set up a meditation session, different meditation techniques, and how to deal with obstacles to meditation.

3. Presenting the Path (completed)
Get an overview of the entire Tibetan Buddhist path to awakening. Study the life story of the Buddha and discover a unique system for puttingBuddhist philosophy into practice – the lam-rim, or "graduated path to enlightenment."

4. The Spiritual Teacher (completed)
Investigate the role of the teacher on the spiritual path: the need for a teacher, the qualities of teacher and student, and how to relate to a teacher for greatest benefit.

5. Death and Rebirth (completed)
Explore the process of death and rebirth and its impact on how we live our lives. Learn to fulfill your purpose in life, resolve conflicts, and develop the skills to help yourself and others at death.

6. All About Karma (completed)
Learn the essential facts about the law of cause and effect. Explore ways to deal with life most effectively and take control of your future!

7. Refuge in the Three Jewels (completed)
Find out what it means to take refuge in the Three Jewels and the essential practices of refuge. Learn about the advantage of taking lay vows and their role in enhancing our spiritual growth.

8. Establishing a Daily Practice (completed)
Assemble the tools you need to develop a successful daily practice and find out the elements necessary to generate realizations. Get some tips for making every action meaningful.

9. Samsara and Nirvana (completed)
Investigate what "samsara" is and how we are stuck in it. Find out what "nirvana" is and how to achieve it. Learn how to be free from suffering and empower yourself with practical tools to deal with and eliminate disturbing emotions forever.

10. How to Develop Bodhichitta (completed)
Discover practices that develop our innate qualities of compassion. Learn to apply these techniques to generate the mind of bodhichitta, known as the very heart of Buddha's teachings.

11. Transforming Problems (completed)
Learn the disadvantages of self-cherishing and the advantages of cherishing others. Learn to employ the special techniques of mind training (lojong) to transform problems into happiness.

12. Wisdom of Emptiness (completed)
The realization of emptiness is crucial for the attainment of liberation and enlightenment. Learn to develop calm abiding and different methods of meditation on emptiness.

13. Introduction to Tantra (current)
Learn what tantra is, how it works, and why it is a powerful form of practice. Get a broad overview of the four classes of tantra and learn to practice simple Kriya tantric methods. Learn to integrate tantra with lam-rim meditation for optimal results.

14. Special Integration Experiences (completed)
By undertaking intensive practices of purification and a two-week lam-rim retreat, you prepare your mind in the best way to realize the path to enlightenment. Purification practices include: 100,000 prostrations, 3-month Vajrasattva retreat, and Nyung Nä. This is a great way to seal the blessings of this program!










Last updated: Mar 8, 2014