itb-2015 Week Two


Week Two:

  1. Presentation: (How it all began)
    1. The background story. (Indian Society and Philosophy in 5th Century BCE)
      1. Without spending too much time on this topic, I want to take just a few minutes to talk about the societal, religious and philosophical state of the Indian subcontinent prior to the 4th century BCE.
        1. India at the time of the Buddha was not a single country but was divided across many smaller city-states ruled by Kings and warlords. Priests were highly regarded, and were considered at the top of the social order. Although the ruling class held martial and financial power.
        2. Indian society has been divided along occupational lines for many hundreds of years. The four main classes are Brahmins (Priests), Kshatriyas (Rulers and Warriors), Vaishyas (Farmers-Merchants) and Shudras (Laborers)
  2. The Overview of the Indian thought at the time of the Buddha (Vedas and the Upanishads.)
    1. The Rig Veda is part of a very long oral tradition which is thought to have been first written down around 1500 BCE, but has claimed to have been orally transmitted by the Brahmins Priests since before 5000 BCE. According to the Rigveda, the division of Indian society was based on Brahma's divine manifestation of four groups. Priests and teachers were cast from his mouth, rulers and warriors from his arms, merchants and traders from his thighs, and workers and peasants from his feet. The Buddha opposed the caste system and there are many Suttas (Pali) or Sutras (Sanskrit) which refer to his dislike of this system.
    2. Oral transmission of religious text was a very rigorous scholastic part of the Brahminical life. To be able to recite all three Vedas (During the Buddha’s time) and later the forth Veda was a requirement. For example the Rigveda contains more than 10,000 lines of text.
    3. The Upanishads are a unique class of Hindu religious text and are a collection of some 200 plus texts. These texts are thought to have had an influence on many of the religious and philosophical sects of the Buddha’s time. (Jainism for example) It is not clear if the Buddha was aware of these texts, but it seems apparent he was aware of some of the concepts. Especially the concept of the Atman most commonly translated as the Soul. We will address this in a later class.
  1. Contemporaries of the Buddha.
    1. The Buddha was one of many emerging religious and philosophical leaders of this time. We will not spend much time on who these leaders were or what they taught per se, but we will mention them because the Buddha addresses their views in his teachings.
      1. Mahavira (A title meaning Great Hero.) is commonly reported to be the founder. This is a simplification of the story of Jainism. He was a contemporary or at least this teachings were contemporary to the Buddha’s. In Buddhist text Jains are referred to by the name Niganthas.
      2. The Buddha also mentions a few obscure teachers some of whom he was a temporary disciple of. We will briefly discuss these when we cover the story of the Buddha.
  2. The classical story of the Buddha and his discoveries.
    1. We will discuss the Story of the Buddha.
    2. Handouts will be provided which present an anthology of Buddhist text which tell the classical version of his birth, early life, his desire to become enlightened, his ministry and finally his death.
    3. Also refer to the handout: The Story of the Buddha an excerpt from an essay by Bhikkhu Bodhi.
  1. Group Discussion
    1. Question and answer session.
      1. Questions: (students are encouraged to ask any questions especially related to the class topic at this time. Some topics for discussion are also listed below.
        1. Indian Texts (in the context of Buddhism)
        2. Jainism (in the context of Buddhism, similarities and differences)
        3. Where was the Buddha’s family kingdom located?
        4. Is the story of the Buddha factual or accurate?
        5. Is there any archeological evidence for the historical Buddha and his life?
        6. What challenges does the Indian subcontinent present to archeology?

Weekly Schedule


8.00 am - 9.00 am: Public Services in English: Such as chanting, Meditation,  Dharma discussing

10:30 am – 12.30 pm: Public Services in Vietnamese: Such as chanting, Dharma discussing (with English translator), offering to the deceased ones 


English Dharma Class, open discussion.
@ Dharma Hall, Virginia Beach
1st, 2nd and 3rd  and 5thTuesdays, 7pm-8.30pm.

English Dharma Class, open discussion.
@ Pitts Center, Southern Shores, NC
4th Tuesday, 6.30pm - 8.30pm 


5:45 - 6:45 pm: One Hour Meditation. Public is welcome. English language introduction. Silent, seated meditation in the Dharma Hall.

7:00 pm – 8:30 pm: Public service in English: Chanting, meditating, Dharma discussing in English


8:00 pm – 9:00 pm: Chanting 21 time Great Compassion Mantra (Vietnamese)


423 Davis Street

Virginia Beach, VA 23462

Phone: (757) 689 - 3408

Direct: 757 - 406 - 1726 (Mr. Mark P.)

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