Online Dharma Discussion

Cover of Introduction to Emptiness by Guy Newland, available from Amazon and other booksellers.

Every Thursday Evening 6:00-6:30 PM via Zoom

Since we can’t meet at the Dharma Center during these difficult times, the South Carolina Dharma Group is having an online video chat on Zoom weekly on Thursdays from 6:00 to 6:30 PM (email scdharma@gmail.com for a link to join us). We’ve been focusing on different themes or texts—in the past, we’ve discussed the Six Perfections, the Eight Verses of Mind Training, and the Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas. We decide as a group what theme or text we will use. See below for the current text.

SCDG does not currently have a teacher in residence, so this is a group of students, ranging from newcomers to senior students. Usually an email is sent the day before as a reminder, with the Zoom link and other information, and also some quotations from online commentaries, usually by such Gelugpa authors as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Lama Zopa, and Venerable Thubten Chodron, but also teachers from other traditions, along with links to the entire commentary so you can read more if you want.

Discussions begin by meditating on the breath for two minutes to calm and focus our minds, and close promptly at 6:30 PM. It’s fine to come late or leave early. Our comments in the discussions range from very scholarly details to personal anecdotes, and we are open to questions of all kinds, as long as they are related to the particular topic of the night. We have a moderator of sorts who opens and closes, but otherwise, this is an open discussion.

We try to be mindful of each other and to be sure that each person has a chance to participate as they want, but it’s fine to sit quietly if you want to get to know the group before speaking. It’s also fine to turn video on or off, and often we turn off audio when we’re not speaking to prevent background noise from interfering with the discussion.

We hope you’ll join us!

Our Current Topic

We are currently discussing Introduction to Emptiness by Guy Newland, a text you can find for purchase online or in libraries.

From the back cover:

"Readers are hard-pressed to find books that can help them understand the central concept in Mahayana Buddhism—the idea that ultimate reality is emptiness. In clear language, Introduction to Emptiness explains that emptiness is not a mystical sort of nothingness, but a specific truth that can and must be understood through calm and careful reflection. Newland's contemporary examples and vivid anecdotes will help readers understand this core concept as presented in one of the great classic texts of the Tibetan tradition, Tsong-kha-pa's Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment. This new edition includes quintessential points for each chapter."

We will aim to follow the schedule below, but the chapters are concise and you can drop in and out at any time. The schedule may change due to events, but in those cases we will update the dates and chapters here.

  • Mar. 4 - Chap. 1, How to Be Free

  • Mar. 11 - Chap. 2, Following the Path of Wisdom

  • Mar. 18 - Chap. 3, Our Choices Matter

  • Mar. 25 - Due to technical difficulties, Chap. 4 discussion was postponed to Apr. 1.

  • Apr. 1 - Chap. 4, Ultimate and Conventional Radio

  • Apr. 8 - Chap. 5, Reliable Sources

  • Apr. 15 - Chap. 6, Ultimate Reality Exists Conventionally

  • Apr. 22 - Chap. 7, Intrinsic Nature

  • Apr. 29 - Chap. 8, The Two Types of Madhyamaka

  • May 6 - Chap. 9, Who Am I, Really?

  • May 13- Chap. 10, From Analysis to Insight