A key difference of this course is the sequencing of the Eightfold Path. This course starts with a few universal elements of Right View, but then focus on the intermediate modules, before looping back to Right View.
The universal elements of Right View are:
– An overview of the Eightfold Path
– Cause and Effect
– Happiness, its causes, its hindrances, and how to remove its hindrances
The following other aspects of Right View will only be covered at the last stage of the course:
– 5 khandhas (aggregates, which make up the self)
– 3 aspects (of suffering, impermanence, non-self)
– Dependent origination & dependent cessation
The rationale is simple: many people trip up on the intellectual aspects of Right View, especially on self, dependent origination and dependent cessation. They end up having an analysis-paralysis, and end up doing nothing.
But in reality, the Eightfold Path isn’t a single linear trajectory from Right View to Right Stillness/Concentration, but it should be seen as a virtuous cycle. One starts with Right View, but it is most important to actually do the other parts of the Eightfold Path. Acting on the rest of the Path (I.e. Right Motivation, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Endeavour, Right Mindfulness and Right Stillness/Concentration) then actually increases one’s understanding of Right View.
In other words, it is more important to actually walk the Path, than to debate on the subtleties of the starting point.
Since the course is structured entirely along the lines of the Eightfold Path, each factor on the Eightfold Path will contain its own module(s). Each module contains the following:
1. A relevant sutta extract. I have taken these from SuttaCentral (using Ajahn Sujato’s translations or Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translations where applicable), Ajahn Brahm’s latest version of “Word of the Buddha”, Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translations of suttas, or Venerable Analayo’s translations of the Agamas.
2. An explanation of key concepts in plain English.
3. Guiding questions to spur thinking about how the concept applies to your life
4. Daily Practices for the week
5. Guided meditation practice
It is important to actually implement the practices. However, at any point, you are free to choose what you’d like to do or not do: there’s nothing mandatory here.
Also, it’s not to say that you’ll become fully enlightened after doing all the exercises: there is no money-back guarantee (also because there is no money! Heh.)