Lama Shenpen’s Living the Awakened Heart Training is a wonderful, experiential home study Buddhist training course. It was created especially for Westerners, to teach them profound Buddhist teachings in an experiential and accessible way.
The course, offered on a donation basis, starts with Discovering the Heart of Buddhism and with ‘Formless Meditation’ instruction, because meditation forms the basis of all Buddhist teachings. Meditation is the tool for understanding the true nature of reality, the true nature of mind.
The course begins with a four week introduction to Formless Meditation called Heart of Meditation which combines teachings on the basics of Shamata (calm abiding similar to mindfulness) and Vipasyana (insight).
We’re then guided through different course books covering the main core topics of the course, which without jargon and only Buddhist terminology where necessary, teach us the most profound teachings of Mahamudra and Dzogchen, through listening, meditation and reflection.
The Living The Awakened Heart Training is for anyone (not just those who consider themselves Buddhists) who wishes to explore Formless meditation and what Buddhism has to offer. The emphasis is on your own experience (i.e. not learning in an academic or intellectual way) but provides in depth instruction and training that starts with your own experience.
The teachings get more profound the more you practise and study the course through reading or listening to teachings, reflecting and meditating. It’s based around spiral learning, so everyone comes back to the same core subjects and teachings, whatever stage of they’re at, going deeper and deeper.
When you join the course you become a student of Lama Shenpen and member of the Awakened Heart Sangha and are allocated a senior student as a mentor. You can ask Lama Shenpen questions if you get stuck with any part of the course, as she loves to receive questions from students, and hear how new students are getting on. It’s also sometimes possible to have face to face interviews with her when you visit The Hermitage.
Later on if you decide you want to commit to the Buddhist path, you have the option of strengthening and deepening your connection and commitment to Lama Shenpen as your teacher, and to the Sangha as your spiritual home, by taking Refuge and progressing onto the other courses including Trusting the Heart of Buddhism (THB).
With the Living the Awakened Heart training courses you set your own pace and can work entirely from your home, and you can also attend retreats and teaching events and join local groups around the UK. You can also attend events held at The Hermitage of the Awakened Heart, the home of Lama Shenpen and the base Awakened Heart Sangha – the Buddhist retreat centre near Criccieth, Gwynedd, in beautiful North Wales. The AHS has students and members based all over the world, many of whom travel long distances to spend time in retreat at The Hermitage.
I feel privileged to be a member of such a wonderful community. The training has helped my enormously and I’d recommend it to anyone interested in Buddhism and/or looking for a way to turn obstacles and struggles into the path to liberation from suffering.
To find out more about the training and to join, visit www.ahs.org.uk/training