Sunday, July 29, 2012

Buddhist lay course in Houston (Dharma training)

The purpose of this blog post is to provide a brief overview of an upcoming Dharma training opportunity on the south side of greater Houston, at Chua Phap Nguyen / Dharma Spring Temple in Pearland. 
Lotus blooming in the Chua Phap Nguyen pond,
July 26, 2012.
Ordinarily on a blog post of this type, I would default heavily to the source website for the content in question.  However, in this case, the website providing course information is currently down and is not expected to be re-established until next month.  In the meantime, information about this upcoming course is not being effectively broadcast, and therefore I'm attempting to help fill that intervening gap.  Check with for future refinements to the course's sourcepage.  Information on that page, when re-established, may supersede information presented in this post.
Additionally, course information will likely be accessible via this route as well.
Chua Phap Nguyen is associated with Chuang Yen Monastery in New York, which features this Buddhist Association of the United States (BAUS) website briefly announcing their programmatic counterpart to this training.  This older PDF flyer also describes one previous year of the New York training program, and this local news piece describes the program and the experiences of participants with levels of thoroughness and depth not commonly seen in current-day commercial journalism. 

The Great Buddha statue at Chuang Yen Monastery.
Photo screengrabbed from this Return to the Center blog post.
The tentative format for the 2012-2013 Houston training class is described in the following sections.

GENERAL SCOPE. (this summary excerpted from internally-distributed course materials)

The Dharma Training Program is a three-year curriculum of Buddhist studies  that is designed to give students an in-depth understanding of Buddhism and Buddhist practice in the three major traditions--Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana.  The 2012-2013 Houston  course will be led by the Chua Phap Nguyen Abbot, Venerable Thich Tri Hoang

The first year of the program provides a broad overview of Buddhism. The second year focuses on Buddhist Sutras. The third year focuses on Buddhist philosophy and applications such as science, psychology, and psychotherapy.

New students may enter the program in any of the three years and, having completed all three years in any order, are awarded a certificate.

An optional fourth year (by invitation of the teacher) prepares students to become lay Dharma teachers. Those who complete the fourth year satisfactorily may be ordained in the Dharma Teacher Order.


The following books will be studied by the group in the first year of the Houston course:
  1. Old Path White Clouds
  2. Heart of the Buddha's Teaching
  3. Tree of Enlightenment
  4. A Concise History of Buddhism
  5. Vision and Transformation
  6. Zen Women:  Beyond Tea Ladies, Iron Maidens and Macho Masters
  7. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
  8. Zen Keys
  9. Buddhism in America

Regular Classes.  The class will meet every other Saturday (with adjustments for teacher schedule, holidays, etc.) from 9:00 a.m. until noon on the following dates (with reference to the books being studied during each class). 
  • September 15, 2012 (Old Path White Clouds)
  • September 22, 2012 (Old Path White Clouds)
  • October 6, 2012 (Heart of the Buddha's Teachings)
  • October 20, 2012 - Day of Mindfulness*
  • November 3, 2012 (Heart of the Buddha's Teachings)
  • November 17, 2012 (Tree of Enlightenment)
  • December 1, 2012 (Tree of Enlightenment)
  • December 15, 2012 (A Concise History of Buddhism)
  • January 1, 2013 (Tuesday) - Day of Mindfulness*
  • January 5, 2013 (A Concise History of Buddhism)
  • January 19, 2013 (Vision and Transformation)
  • February 2, 2013 (Zen Women)
  • February 16, 2013 (The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying)
  • March 2, 2013 - Day of Mindfulness*
  • March 16, 2013 (The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying)
  • April 6, 2013 (Zen Keys)
  • April 13, 2013 (Buddhism in America)
* On these dates, the class will meditate without reading presentations or discussions. These "mini-retreats" will run from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. and may be open to non-class participants as well (space permitting - verify this with Chua Phap Nguyen directly, if you are interested in participating).  The Abbot will lead a meditation in the morning and the afternoon of each day. Participants can also have an opportunity for private consultation with the Abbot on these days. Lunch will be made available by the Temple, and each day will end with a tea ceremony. A $20 dana (donation) is requested for each Day of Mindfulness attended. 

The format for each Saturday class is anticipated to be as follows:
  • 15-minute sitting meditation
  • 1-hour summary presentation by the class participant assigned for that date
  • 45-minute breakout group discussions
  • 20-minute walking meditation
  • 25-minute group discussion
  • 15-minute sitting meditation
End-of-Year Retreat
April 26, 27, and 28, 2013 - Retreat at Chuang Yen Monastery in New York.  The cost for the retreat is anticipated to be a $150-250 donation to the monastery (to help cover food and lodging), plus airfare and ground transportation for each participant.  Details on this retreat will be published separately. 


The requested dana for this training program itself is $125,  Payment is required within the first few weeks of the initial start date (September 15) but early payment is appreciated.

Note that the suggested donations for Days of Mindfulness retreats plus end-of-year 3-day New York retreat costs cited above are in addition to the course costs.  Therefore, the total for engaging in all scheduled activities associated with this first-year course is anticipated to be approximately $800. 

The description above is tentative and subject to future updates and refinements.  This blog post may be re-edited to reflect such changes.  And again, check with for course information as well. 
Flowers blooming on the Chua Phap Nguyen grounds,
July 26, 2012.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for your time and effort in putting together this wonderful site! It has been a very beneficial resource!

    I believe the new link to the Dharma training program is now

    Hopefully this will help others hoping to find more information about the program.

    With metta,