Sravasti Abbey Friends Education (SAFE) on-line distance learning program
Next SAFE session begins April 29, 2024
Registration for SAFE 1A opens April 8, 2024. This course fills quickly.
Students who have completed SAFE 1A and beyond will be automatically enrolled in the next course. If you have taken a break from SAFE and would like to resume your studies, write to the office.
What Is It?
Sravasti Abbey Friends Education (SAFE) is a facilitated online study program to explore Buddha’s teachings. Courses are progressive, starting with a deep introduction to meditation practice and the Buddhist worldview, followed by courses on karma, refuge, renunciation, bodhicitta, and six perfections. See detailed course descriptions below.
SAFE helps people to:
- deepen their spiritual practice through Buddhist study and meditation, and
- strengthen their connection with Venerable Thubten Chodron and Sravasti Abbey.
Each session is 12 weeks, with Fall and Spring sessions.
Each SAFE course involves:
- Weekly assigned teachings in video, audio, or written formats
- Weekly group discussions, facilitated online or locally if there is a SAFE group near you
- Daily meditation practice
- Keeping a portfolio of written reflections that facilitators give feedback on
Course participation requires about 3-5 hours of weekly study and at least 20 minutes of daily meditation.
In the breaks between courses, participants stay connected by:
Source Material & Facilitators
The course features teachings by the Abbey’s abbess, Ven. Thubten Chodron. Videos and commentaries by her teachers are also included: H.H. the Dalai Lama, Khensur Jampa Tegchok, Kyabje Zopa Rinpoche, Geshe Sonam Rinchen, and others.
Course facilitators include monastics, monastic trainees, and long-term students who have progressed through the SAFE program.
Requirements & Sign Up
The SAFE program is offered freely, to anyone who:
- sincerely wishes to learn the Buddha’s teachings and apply them in life
- wants to be part of an extended Dharma community and contribute to it
- is willing to commit time and energy to actively engage in the program.
During the course, we strongly encourage you to live within the five precepts: to abandon killing, stealing, unwise or unkind sexual expression, lying, and taking intoxicants.
Read what others have said:
We currently run twelve courses, with more to come. You enroll starting with Course 1A and complete each course before enrolling in the next one in sequence.
Course Descriptions I through XI
Courses IA & IB
Introducing the Buddha’s Teachings and the Foundation for Buddhist Practice
Courses 1A and 1B cover topics such as happiness, working with emotions, gaining an accurate view of ourselves and our lives, and how to set up a daily practice.
Three Principal Aspects of the Path
Course II explores the meaning of renunciation and the determination to be free, the reasons and methods for cultivating it, and how to ascertain when we have generated renunciation.
Three Principal Aspects of the Path
Bodhicitta is the altruistic intention to benefit all living beings, including oneself, and to become a Buddha in order to do so. This module explores the advantages of bodhicitta, its importance, and how to cultivate it.
Karma means action. This module covers virtuous and non-virtuous actions and their results, how the law of cause and effect functions, and how to purify destructive actions.
The Four Truths for Noble Ones – Part 1
The Four Truths for Noble Ones (often translated as the Four Noble Truths) are the foundation of the Buddha’s teachings. Here we examine our current situation, its causes, the possibility of attaining liberation, and the path to that liberation.
The Four Truths for Noble Ones – Part 2
In Part 2, we delve more deeply into the aspects of the Four Truths for the Noble Ones.
Once we have a basic understanding of cyclic existence and our human potential, we take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and the Sangha. This course explore what that means.
The Six Perfections – Part 1
The six perfections – generosity, ethical conduct, fortitude, joyous effort, meditative stability and wisdom – are practices that benefit us and those around us, now and in the future. This course examines the first three practices—generosity, ethical conduct, and fortitude—exploring what makes them “far-reaching,” and how to cultivate them.
The Six Perfections – Part 2
This course continues study of the six perfections and looks at the second set of three practices: joyous effort, meditative stabilization, and wisdom; the advantages gained by cultivating them; and methods for cultivating them.
Without the wisdom ascertaining the correct view of how things actually exist, we cannot cut the ignorance that is the root of our misery. In this course we will discuss what ignorance is, how it functions as the root of cyclic existence, the wisdom that counteracts it, and how to cultivate that wisdom.
Vajrasattva Purification Practice
You will spend the next 12 weeks reading, reflecting and meditating on the purification practice of Vajrasattva.
“Practices such as the Vajrasattva practice enable us to clear things up. We have regret for our negative actions, we do the purification, we let go. We don’t have to carry around those bad feelings forever and ever. We have so much human potential and so much goodness in ourselves, to waste our time feeling guilty doesn’t make much sense.
Since our mind will not be completely purified until enlightenment we’re going to be involved in these purification practices for a long time. If we’re really sincere about ending our suffering and ending the suffering of others then we joyfully do these purification practices every day. As we get more and more familiar with it, actually when we notice that we have done a negative action we can in our mind right there purify on the spot. This is a very powerful way to hold these practices.” – Venerable Thubten Chodron
Required book: Working with Anger by Venerable Thubten Chodron
“Due to my participation in the SAFE course, I have a renewed energy for daily meditation. I have a great appreciation for the idea of sangha, and I have a better understanding and greater appreciation for the Dharma!”
“I learned so much in these courses I’m ready for the next one…..have my books, motivation and commitment all set to go. I rejoice in this unique opportunity to study with Sravasti Abbey.”