Tibetan Buddhist Meditation and the Modern World: Lesser Vehicle

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About this course: Tibetan Buddhist Meditation and the Modern World explores the immense variety of meditation practices past and present. We present their histories, their philosophical underpinnings, their transformations in the modern global world, and we give you a chance to reflect upon meditation practices through secular contemplations designed just for this course. We use a traditional, if overly simplistic, way of grouping Buddhist philosophical systems and ritual-contemplative practices into “three vehicles”, three programs of theory and practice supporting the personal journey from suffering to enlightenment. This scheme became normative in India and Tibet: (i) the Lesser Veh…

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Didn't find what you were looking for? See also: Meditation, Stress Management, Yoga, Mental Health, and Philosophy.

When you enroll for courses through Coursera you get to choose for a paid plan or for a free plan

  • Free plan: No certicification and/or audit only. You will have access to all course materials except graded items.
  • Paid plan: Commit to earning a Certificate—it's a trusted, shareable way to showcase your new skills.

About this course: Tibetan Buddhist Meditation and the Modern World explores the immense variety of meditation practices past and present. We present their histories, their philosophical underpinnings, their transformations in the modern global world, and we give you a chance to reflect upon meditation practices through secular contemplations designed just for this course. We use a traditional, if overly simplistic, way of grouping Buddhist philosophical systems and ritual-contemplative practices into “three vehicles”, three programs of theory and practice supporting the personal journey from suffering to enlightenment. This scheme became normative in India and Tibet: (i) the Lesser Vehicle (Hīnayāna), (ii) the Great Vehicle (Mahāyāna), and (iii) the Adamantine Vehicle (Vajrayāna), also referred to as “esoteric Buddhism” or “Buddhist tantra”. To this, we will add a fourth Vehicle which is explicit in many Tibetan materials, though no standard term ever emerged that was accepted by all sectarian traditions - we will thus term it as the “Natural Vehicle” or “Post Tantra”. We follow an indigenous Tibetan tradition in terms of characterizing each with a specific orientational paradigm - repression, refinement, transformation, and natural freedom. These twelve meditative traditions constitute the framework for the course’s discussion of the main streams of Tibetan Buddhist meditation. The five modules of the present course, dedicated to "Lesser Vehicle" practices and perspectives, treat the first five of these twelve types. Each module in turn has four components: (i) the specific Buddhist meditation in its traditional presentation and practice; (ii) modern scientific research into its efficacy and dynamics, or on practices, principles, and processes related to this type of meditation in our analysis; (iii) the fact, problems, and opportunities of modern secular adaptations in a variety of educational, professional, and personal settings; and (iv) secular practices for experimentation, which are either direct adaptations or new practices designed to give an experiential sense of some of the principles underlying the Buddhist meditative practice.

Created by:  University of Virginia
  • Taught by:  Prof. David Francis Germano, Professor

    Religious Studies
  • Taught by:  Kurtis R. Schaeffer, Frances Myers Ball Professor of Religious Studies

    Religious Studies
Commitment 4-9 hours/week Language English How To Pass Pass all graded assignments to complete the course. User Ratings 4.0 stars Average User Rating 4.0See what learners said Coursework

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Syllabus


WEEK 1


Course Introduction
The Content, Structure, and Instructors of the Course. This class is the first in a four part series on Buddhism. The other classes will focus on the Greater Vehicle, Adamantine Vehicle, and Natural Vehicle.


2 videos, 4 readings expand


  1. Reading: "Buddhist Meditation and the Modern World: Introductory Essay," David Germano
  2. Video: "Course Structure and Instructors," Kurtis Schaeffer
  3. Video: "Contemplation and Contexts in Tibetan Buddhist Meditation"-David Germano at Mind and Life 2014
  4. Reading: Reading for Buddhist Meditation
  5. Reading: Overview of the Lesser Vehicle
  6. Reading: Readings for the Lesser Vehicle


WEEK 2


Ordinary Preliminary Practices



Tibetan perspectives on the foundations of contemplative practice; early Buddhist meditations; the beginnings of Western Buddhist meditation; and an introduction to the science of meditation. Includes lectures by Dr. Clifford Saron, Khenpo Tsultrim Lodro, and Tsoknyi Rinpoche, as well as an interview with David McMahan. Contemplative labs with Anne Klein and Anam Thubten


28 videos, 8 readings expand


  1. Reading: Ordinary Preliminaries Meditation Overview
  2. Reading: Readings for Ordinary Preliminaries Meditation
  3. Video: "Ordinary Preliminary Practices Meditation - Background and Transitions," David Germano
  4. Video: "Ordinary Preliminary Practices Meditation - Buddhist Background: The Four Noble Truths," David Germano
  5. Video: "Ordinary Preliminary Practices Meditation - Goals, Values, and Methods," David Germano
  6. Video: "Ordinary Preliminary Practices Meditation - Practices, Part 1," David Germano
  7. Video: "Ordinary Preliminary Practices Meditation - Practices, Part 2," David Germano
  8. Video: "Ordinary Preliminary Practices Meditation - Practices, Part 3," David Germano
  9. Video: "Ordinary Preliminary Practices Meditation - The Inner Conflicts of Ordinary Preliminaries Meditation," David Germano
  10. Video: "Ordinary Preliminary Practices Meditation - Historical Transformation, Stages on the Path," David Germano
  11. Video: "A Traditional Perspective on Ordinary Preliminaries Meditation," Khenpo Tsultrim Lodro
  12. Reading: Overview for the Science of Meditation
  13. Reading: Readings for the Science of Meditation
  14. Video: "Be Holding The Space of the Brain: An Introduction to Neuroscience, Part I - How the Brain Constructs our Experience of the World," Clifford Saron
  15. Video: "Be Holding The Space of the Brain, Part II - Neurons," Clifford Saron
  16. Video: "Be Holding The Space of the Brain, Part III - The Brain as an Interconnected System," Clifford Saron
  17. Video: "Be Holding The Space of the Brain, Part IV - The Brain as a Representational System," Clifford Saron
  18. Video: "Be Holding The Space of the Brain, Part V - Neuroplasticity," Clifford Saron
  19. Reading: Overview of Secular Adaptations, Analogs, and Cultural Histories
  20. Reading: Readings for Secular Adaptations, Analogs, and Cultural Histories
  21. Video: "Buddhist Meditation in the Modern World: A Story of Secularization," Kurtis Schaeffer
  22. Video: “A Brief History of Meditation in America,” Kurtis Schaeffer
  23. Video: "How Does Buddhism Change in a New Culture?" Tsoknyi Rinpoche
  24. Video: "Suffering and Sitting - Introduction," Anam Thubten
  25. Video: "Suffering and Sitting - Guided Meditation," Anam Thubten
  26. Video: "Suffering and Sitting - Concluding Remarks," Anam Thubten
  27. Video: "Cultivating an Understanding of Impermanence - Introduction," Anne C. Klein
  28. Video: "Cultivating an Understanding of Impermanence - Guided Meditation," Anne C. Klein
  29. Video: "Cultivating an Understanding of Impermanence - Concluding Thoughts," Anne C. Klein
  30. Reading: Biography of Anne C. Klein and her Work
  31. Reading: Suggested Readings for Contemplation
  32. Video: "An Introduction to Buddhist Modernism," David McMahan
  33. Video: "Buddhist Modernity and Secularism," David McMahan
  34. Video: "Buddhist Meditation in the Modern World," David McMahan
  35. Video: "Traits and Contours of Buddhist Modernity," David McMahan
  36. Video: "Religion and Buddhist Modernism," David McMahan

Graded: Ordinary Preliminary Practices

WEEK 3


Mindfulness Meditation (smṛti)



An introduction to Mindfulness meditation practice and the contemporary Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Includes lectures by Dr. Clifford Saron, Khenpo Tsultrim Lodro, and Tsoknyi Rinpoche, as well as an interview with Jim Coan. Contemplative labs with Anne Klein, Anam Thubten, and Susan Bauer-Wu.


31 videos, 6 readings expand


  1. Reading: Mindfulness Meditation Overview
  2. Reading: Readings for Mindfulness Meditation
  3. Video: "Buddhist Mindfulness Meditation - Background and Transitions," David Germano
  4. Video: "Buddhist Mindfulness Meditation - Goals and Values, Methods, and Practices" David Germano
  5. Video: "Buddhist Mindfulness Meditation - Practices, Part 1" David Germano
  6. Video: "Buddhist Mindfulness Meditation - Practices, Part 2" David Germano
  7. Video: "Buddhist Mindfulness Meditation - Practices, Part 3" David Germano
  8. Video: "Buddhist Mindfulness Meditation - Inner Conflicts" David Germano
  9. Video: "Buddhist Mindfulness Meditation - Historical Transformations and Stages on the Path" David Germano
  10. Video: "A Traditional Perspective on Mindfulness Meditation," Khenpo Tsultrim Lodro
  11. Reading: Science of Mindfulness Overview
  12. Reading: Readings for the Science of Mindfulness
  13. Video: “Introduction to MBIs Research," Susan Bauer-Wu
  14. Video: "The Contemporary Context of the Science of Meditation," Clifford Saron
  15. Video: "What do People do When they Meditate?: A Scientific Problem," Clifford Saron
  16. Video: "Mapping the Dimensions of Meditation," Clifford Saron
  17. Video: "Touring an fMRI Lab," Jamie Morris
  18. Reading: MBSR Overview
  19. Reading: Readings for the History of MBSR
  20. Video: “Introduction to the History of MBSR," Kurtis Schaeffer
  21. Video: "Benefits and Dangers of Secularizing Buddhism," Tsoknyi Rinpoche
  22. Video: "The Practice of Mindfulness Meditation - Introduction," Anam Thubten
  23. Video: "The Practice of Mindfulness Meditation - Guided Meditation," Anam Thubten
  24. Video: "The Practice of Mindfulness Meditation - Concluding Remarks," Anam Thubten
  25. Video: "Cultivation of Mindfulness Meditation - Introduction," Anne C. Klein
  26. Video: "Cultivation of Mindfulness Meditation - Guided Meditation," Anne C. Klein
  27. Video: "Cultivation of Mindfulness Meditation - Concluding Remarks," Anne C. Klein
  28. Video: "Stabilizing the Mind - Introduction," Susan Bauer-Wu
  29. Video: "Stabilizing the Mind - Guided Meditation," Susan Bauer-Wu
  30. Video: "Stabilizing the Mind - Concluding Remarks," Susan Bauer-Wu
  31. Video: "Body Scan Practice - Introduction," Susan Bauer-Wu
  32. Video: "Body Scan Practice - Guided Meditation," Susan Bauer-Wu
  33. Video: "Body Scan Practice - Concluding Remarks," Susan Bauer-Wu
  34. Video: "An Introduction to Neuroscience and Neurological Research," Jim Coan
  35. Video: "Tools of Neurological Research," Jim Coan
  36. Video: "Interpreting Neurological Data," Jim Coan
  37. Video: "Contemplation and Neuroscientists," Jim Coan

Graded: Mindfulness Meditation

WEEK 4


Calm Meditation



An introduction to Calm meditation and its use in contemporary research environments. Includes lectures by Dr. Clifford Saron and Khenpo Tsultrim Lodro, as well as an interview with Tish Jennings. Contemplative labs with Anne Klein, Anam Thubten, and Susan Bauer-Wu


27 videos, 6 readings expand


  1. Reading: Calm Meditation Overview
  2. Reading: Readings for Calm Meditation
  3. Video: "Buddhist Calm Meditation - Background and Transitions," David Germano
  4. Video: "Buddhist Calm Meditation - Goals and Values," David Germano
  5. Video: "Buddhist Calm Meditation - Methods," David Germano
  6. Video: "Buddhist Calm Meditation - Practices," David Germano
  7. Video: "Buddhist Calm Meditation - Inner Conflicts," David Germano
  8. Video: "Buddhist Calm Meditation - Historical Transformations and Stages on the Path" David Germano
  9. Video: "A Traditional Perspective on Calm Meditation," Khenpo Tsultrim Lodro
  10. Reading: The Science of Concentration Overview
  11. Reading: Readings for the Science of Concentration
  12. Video: "The Science of Meditation: A Personal Account," Clifford Saron
  13. Video: "The Shamata Project," Clifford Saron
  14. Reading: Meditation: Lost in Translation Overview
  15. Reading: Readings for Meditation: Lost in Translation?
  16. Video: "Meditation: Lost in Translation, Part I," Kurtis Schaeffer
  17. Video: "Meditation: Lost in Translation, Part II," Kurtis Schaeffer
  18. Video: "Meditation: Lost in Translation, Part III," Kurtis Schaeffer
  19. Video: "Developing Serenity - Introduction" Anam Thubten
  20. Video: "Developing Serenity - Guided Meditation," Anam Thubten
  21. Video: "Developing Serenity - Concluding Remarks," Anam Thubten
  22. Video: "Cultivating Calm - Introduction," Anne C. Klein
  23. Video: "Cultivating Calm - Guided Meditation," Anne C. Klein
  24. Video: "Cultivating Calm - Concluding Remarks," Anne C. Klein
  25. Video: “Grounding Yourself – Introduction,” Susan Bauer-Wu
  26. Video: “Grounding Yourself – Guided Meditation,” Susan Bauer-Wu
  27. Video: “Grounding Yourself – Concluding Remarks,” Susan Bauer-Wu
  28. Video: "The Power of a Contemplative Adult in the Classroom," Tish Jennings
  29. Video: "The Importance of Social and Emotional Learning in Schools," Tish Jennings
  30. Video: "How to Bring Contemplative Practices into Schools," Tish Jennings
  31. Video: "Training Teachers in Contemplative Pedagogies," Tish Jennings
  32. Video: "Researching the Effectiveness of Contemplative Pedagogies," Tish Jennings
  33. Video: "Concerns for the Future of Contemplation in the K-12 Classroom," Tish Jennings

Graded: Quiz Calm Meditation

WEEK 5


Insight Meditation



An introduction to Insight meditation and its use in the contemporary development of contemplative pedagogy. Includes lectures by Dr. Clifford Saron, Khenpo Tsultrim Lodro, and Tsoknyi Rinpoche, as well as interviews with Rhonda Magee, Erik Braun, and David Mick. Contemplative labs with Anne Klein, Anam Thubten, and Susan Bauer-Wu


46 videos, 4 readings expand


  1. Reading: Insight Meditation Overview
  2. Reading: Readings for Insight Meditation
  3. Video: "Buddhist Insight Meditation - Background and Transitions," David Germano
  4. Video: "Buddhist Insight Meditation - Transitions, Part 2," David Germano
  5. Video: "Buddhist Insight Meditation - Buddhist Background," David Germano
  6. Video: "Buddhist Insight Meditation - Goals and Values, Methods," David Germano
  7. Video: "Buddhist Insight Meditation - Methods, Part 2," David Germano
  8. Video: "Buddhist Insight Meditation - Practices" David Germano
  9. Video: "Buddhist Insight Meditation - Inner Conflicts" David Germano
  10. Video: "Buddhist Insight Meditation - Historical Transformations, Stages on the Path" David Germano
  11. Video: "A Traditional Perspective on Insight Meditation," Khenpo Tsultrim Lodro
  12. Video: "Buddhism in Education and Family," Tsoknyi Rinpoche
  13. Reading: Measuring Meditation Overview
  14. Reading: Readings for Measuring Meditation
  15. Video: "Measuring Compassion and Meditation, Part I" Clifford Saron
  16. Video: "Measuring Compassion and Meditation, Part II - How to Measure Data when Dealing with Meditation," Clifford Saron
  17. Video: "Measuring Compassion and Meditation, Part III - Meditation and EEG," Clifford Saron
  18. Video: “Contemplation in Curricular Context,” Kurtis Schaeffer
  19. Video: "Developing Insight into our Anxieties - Introduction," Anam Thubten
  20. Video: "Developing Insight into our Anxieties - Guided Meditation," Anam Thubten
  21. Video: "Developing Insight into our Anxieties - Concluding Remarks," Anam Thubten
  22. Video: "A Line to our own Insight - Introduction," Anne C. Klein
  23. Video: "A Line to our own Insight - Guided Meditation," Anne C. Klein
  24. Video: "A Line to our own Insight - Concluding Remarks," Anne C. Klein
  25. Video: “Stepping out of our Thinking Minds – Introduction,” Susan Bauer-Wu
  26. Video: “Stepping out of our Thinking Minds – Guided Meditation,” Susan Bauer-Wu
  27. Video: “Stepping out of our Thinking Minds – Concluding Remarks,” Susan Bauer-Wu
  28. Video: "Introducing Ledi Sayadaw, the Monastic Reformer of Burma," Erik Braun
  29. Video: "Weza, the Buddhist Wizards of Burma," Erik Braun
  30. Video: "Ledi Sayadaw and other Leaders in Meditation," Erik Braun
  31. Video: "Ledi Sayadaw: The Promotion of Meditation in Burma," Erik Braun
  32. Video: "Ledi Sayadaw: Resistance and the Relationship between Doctrine and Practice," Erik Braun
  33. Video: "Ledi Sayadaw: Engagement with the West," Erik Braun
  34. Video: "Ledi Sayadaw: Meditation Practices," Erik Braun
  35. Video: "Ledi Sayadaw: Effects on Contemporary Meditative Practice," Erik Braun
  36. Video: “A Burgeoning Interest in Well-Being and Wisdom in Business Culture,” David Mick
  37. Video: “Applying Wisdom to Real-World Business Decisions,” David Mick
  38. Video: “Elaborating on a Five-fold Conception of Wisdom,” David Mick
  39. Video: “Fostering Wisdom in Others,” David Mick
  40. Video: “The Role of Contemplation in Business Education,” David Mick
  41. Video: “Integrating and Valuing Differing Types of Knowledge,” David Mick
  42. Video: “Transformative Consumer Research,” David Mick
  43. Video: “Buddhist Influence on Wisdom,” David Mick
  44. Video: “Religion and Secularity in Contemplative Practice,” David Mick
  45. Video: “Buddhism, Marketing, and Desire,” David Mick
  46. Video: "A Lawyer’s Introduction to Contemplation," Rhonda Magee
  47. Video: "Law, Contemplation, and Ethical Values," Rhonda Magee
  48. Video: "Transforming Law Education Curriculum," Rhonda Magee
  49. Video: "Making Better Lawyers Through Contemplation," Rhonda Magee
  50. Video: "Encouraging Empathy and Compassion in Today’s Lawyers," Rhonda Magee

Graded: Insight Meditation

WEEK 6


The Diverse Objects of Early Buddhist Meditation
An introduction to the diverse objects of early Buddhist meditation. Includes lectures by Dr. Clifford Saron and Khenpo Tsultrim Lodro, as well as an interview with Sharon Salzberg. Contemplative labs with Anne Klein, Anam Thubten, and Susan Bauer-Wu


17 videos, 2 readings expand


  1. Reading: The Diverse Objects of Early Buddhist Meditation Overview
  2. Reading: Readings for the Diverse Objects of Buddhist Meditation
  3. Video: "A Traditional Perspective on the Objects of Buddhist Meditation," Khenpo Tsultrim Lodro
  4. Video: "The Science of Emotion," Clifford Saron
  5. Video: "Methodology and the Science of Meditation," Clifford Saron
  6. Video: "Meditating with the Body - Introduction," Anam Thubten
  7. Video: "Meditating with the Body - Guided Meditation," Anam Thubten
  8. Video: "Meditating with the Body - Concluding Remarks," Anam Thubten
  9. Video: "The Impact of the Object of our Attention - Introduction," Anne C. Klein
  10. Video: "The Impact of the Object of our Attention - Guided Meditation," Anne C. Klein
  11. Video: "The Impact of the Object of our Attention - Concluding Remarks," Anne C. Klein
  12. Video: “Opening the Heart – Introduction,” Susan Bauer-Wu
  13. Video: “Opening the Heart – Guided Meditation,” Susan Bauer-Wu
  14. Video: “Opening the Heart – Concluding Remarks,” Susan Bauer-Wu
  15. Video: "Exploring Buddhist Meditation in India," Sharon Salzberg
  16. Video: "Building a Buddhist Retreat Center in Massachusetts," Sharon Salzberg
  17. Video: "American Buddhist Reactions to Loving Kindness," Sharon Salzberg
  18. Video: "Teaching Buddhist Meditation in Secular Environments," Sharon Salzberg
  19. Video: "The Relationship of Science to Meditation," Sharon Salzberg

Graded: The Diverse Objects of Early Buddhist Meditation
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