Buddhist Philosophy in Depth, Part 1

Now open—scroll down to enroll!

In this groundbreaking course, immerse yourself in the treasury of Buddhist wisdom with Professor Jay Garfield, a rare opportunity with one of the world’s leading experts on Buddhist philosophy to gain a comprehensive understanding of all Buddhist traditions. 

The course progresses historically from Part 1 to Part 2 and Part 3, but all courses are open for enrollment without having to take a prior course. Take advantage of our special offer to enroll in the entire Buddhist Philosophy In-Depth series, Parts 1-3, a $599 value for $399! Click here to enroll in all three courses.

What You’ll Learn

  • The fundamentals of Buddhist philosophy across traditions 
  • Familiarity with Buddhism’s greatest thinkers and writers
  • How philosophy can be used to deepen Buddhist practice
  • What constitutes Buddhist ethics, metaphysics, and philosophy of mind
  • How the core teachings of the Buddha have evolved throughout history, and much more!

About this Course

The rich philosophical fabric of Buddhist thought has evolved over two millennia, within a variety of cultures, epochs, and geographies. Professor Jay Garfield takes us on an exciting in-depth journey throughout these Buddhist worlds, their texts, and the essential thinkers that have shaped Buddhist philosophy from the time of the historical Buddha.

In this first-installment of a three-part course series on the history of Buddhist philosophy we explore the fundamentals, including the four noble truths, the life of the Buddha, the distinctive features of Theravada and Mahayana, as well as texts such as the Vimalakīrti Sutra, the Heart Sutra, Nāgārjuna’s Precious Garland, and much more.



Lesson 1: Introducing the History of Buddhist Philosophy

In this lesson Jay Garfield provides us with a detailed picture of the history of Buddhism, and Buddhist philosophical movements, from the time of the historical Buddha to the current day. Jay also familiarizes us with fundamental Buddhist doctrines and philosophical tenets that rest at the heart of all Buddhist philosophical schools.


Lesson 2: The Life of the Buddha and the Four Noble Truths

In this lesson Jay Garfield takes us through the life of the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, and presents the Buddha’s fundamental teaching on the four noble truths; the foundation of all Buddhist thought and practice.


Lesson 3: The Heart of Buddhist Theory: Impermanence, Selflessness and Dependent Origination

In this lesson, Jay Garfield distills the essence of Buddhist theory and doctrine at the core of all Buddhist traditions, presenting the notions of impermanence, selflessness and dependent origination. Jay teaches us how these fundamental aspects of Buddhist theory speak to the heart of the noble truth of suffering. We also learn how essential metaphor and imagery, such as the wheel of life, have been used to transmit depths of insight and wisdom across Buddhist philosophical traditions.


Lesson 4: An Introduction to Abhidhamma

In this lesson, Jay Garfield illuminates the teachings of Abhidharma with particular emphasis on the Pali Abhidhamma. Jay guides us through essential ideas and texts that demonstrate the particular ways in which Buddhist philosophy and psychology were systematized after the death of the Buddha, and before the rise of the Mahayana.


Lesson 5: Ethics in the Theravada Framework

Jay Garfield explores the foundation of ethics in the Theravada tradition, looking at an understanding of śīla (Pali: sīla), or proper conduct, in the context of the Eightfold Noble Path and the four brahmavihāras. We also explore the role of taking vows in developing a moral life and look at the idea of Buddhist moral perfection in conjunction with Western notions of morality.


Lessons 6-10: Coming Soon Available on: 21-Jan-2019

Forthcoming lessons will be available on Mondays. Lesson 6 will be available on Monday, January 21. Stay tuned!

About the Teacher

Jay Garfield
Jay Garfield is Doris Silbert Professor in the Humanities, Professor of Philosophy, and Director of the Logic Program and of the Five College Tibetan Studies in India Program at Smith College; Visiting Professor of Buddhist Philosophy at Harvard Divinity School; Professor in the graduate faculty of Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts; Professor of Philosophy at Melbourne University; and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies. He teaches and pursues research in the philosophy of mind, foundations of cognitive science, logic, philosophy of language, Buddhist philosophy, cross-cultural hermeneutics, theoretical and applied ethics, and epistemology. He is the author, editor, and translator of several books on these subjects, most recently The Essential Jewel of Holy Practice, a co-translation of verses written by Patrul Rinpoche (Wisdom 2017). Photo Credit: Jim Gipe