Foundation Program (Thursday nights)

Every Thursday from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm

With Resident Teacher Ethan Lechner

We began our current FP book on Thursday, October 7th, 2021 – –  The New Eight Steps to Happiness.   This book is a commentary on Geshe Langri Tangpa’s Eight Verses of Training the Mind.

Cost:  Students pay a $65 per month fee (including during Summer months when FP is not in session).

However, for FP students all weekly classes are free, and you get half off the fee for workshops, retreats, and empowerments! This is known as a Contributor Membership

If you are interested in joining the Foundation Program, please email us at .

What is the Foundation Program?

The Foundation Program (FP) provides students with an opportunity to advance their understanding and practice of Buddha’s teachings through systematic study and meditation on the essential teachings of Mahayana Buddhism.  Foundation Program students study the following five subjects based on Buddha’s Sutra teachings and their corresponding commentaries by our teacher, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso:

  • The Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, or Kadam Lamrim, based on the commentary Joyful Path of Good Fortune
  • Training the Mind, or Kadam Lojong, based on two commentaries, New Eight Steps to Happiness and Universal Compassion
  • The Heart Sutra, based on the commentary New Heart of Wisdom
  • Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, based on the commentary Meaningful to Behold
  • Types of Mind, based on the commentary How to Understand the Mind*

The Benefits of the Foundation Program

Students in the FP have an opportunity to follow the same training followed by spiritual practitioners for generations, but without having to abandon their modern lifestyle.  Over time, students in FP find that their minds change for the better in significant ways:  through taking Buddha’s teachings as personal advice and striving to put them into practice in daily life, they gain authentic spiritual experience, solve their daily problems, improve their relationships at work and at home, and develop a good heart.

* Read the benefits of the Foundation Program as presented by Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso in England in 1990.

The Commitments of the Foundation Program

Our General Program classes are offered on a drop-in basis and there are no requirements for attending.  As a more structured program of study, the FP does require students to make some basic commitments:

  • Students keep the intention to attend every class during the FP term (terms are August through late December and late January through June), and try not to miss more than two classes per term
  • Students read ahead and memorize the essential points of the text
  • Students memorize the root text and/or the condensed meaning of the text
  • Students take one exam per year to check their understanding of what they have studied
  • Students pay a $65 per month fee (including during months when FP is not in session) – however, for FP students, all weekly classes are free, and you get half off the fee for workshops!
  • If for a suitable reason a student is not able to attend the class in person, he or she agrees to catch up by listening to a podcast of the class.
  • There is also a commitment to participate in at least one chanted prayer session at the Center per month.

Studying via Correspondence

Students who live outside the Chapel Hill/ Carrboro area or who have a good reason for not being able to attend Foundation Program can request to study via correspondence.  Students can download a podcast of the teachings and keep all the commitments of Foundation Program except for attendance of classes and chanted prayer sessions.  If you are interested in studying via correspondence, please email us or call 919.537.9546

Is the Foundation Program Right for Me?

Generally speaking, students are encouraged to first attend General Program classes for a little while before making the decision to join Foundation Program.  However, there are no “prerequisites” for joining other than agreeing to the commitments mentioned above.   It is a good idea to attend a few Foundation Program classes (at no cost) before deciding to join.

If you are interested in joining the Foundation Program, please email us at .