This Diploma is designed to explore Buddhist approaches to mental health and the alleviation of mental suffering through an in-depth examination of Buddhist psychology, theories of mental illness, psychotherapy, counselling, and pastoral care. Central to the goals of this Diploma is an understanding, theoretical and practical, of mindfulness meditation in the context of Buddhist spiritual practices and its role in Buddhist counselling. This Diploma will be of interest to those who wish to integrate the wisdom of Buddhist spirituality into their professional and personal practices.
Courses began in January 2015. This Diploma program does not have a distance education component; all courses must be taken on campus. The courses offered within the Diploma in Buddhist Mindfulness and Mental Health are full master’s level courses taught by approved instructors. Basic Degree students should inquire with their program advisor about the possibility of these courses fulfilling program electives.
The courses taken for this Diploma program are fully transferable into the new MPS: Buddhism degree program (within 8 years of taking the course). The Master of Pastoral Studies (MPS): Buddhism is a twenty-credit program with required core courses and electives aimed at specialization in Spiritual Care. Many courses in this program are specifically for Studies in Buddhism, but all courses are open to all students in all degree programs.
Students who intend to complete the Diploma are required to take FOUNDATIONAL TENETS AND PRACTICES OF BUDDHISM (EMT2631H) and 5 of the remaining 6 courses listed below:
1. BUDDHISM AND PSYCHOTHERAPY (EMP2015H)
In this comparative course the convergence between Buddhism and the major systems of psychotherapy will be surveyed. Specifically, the key features of psychoanalytic, behavioural, cognitive, existential-humanistic, emotion-focused, mindfulness-based interventions, and the emerging field of positive psychology will each first be described. Convergences and divergences with the key elements of Buddhist psychology as described in the teachings on skilful living, harmful emotional states, the psychophysical nature of the self, psychological causality, and the analysis of the human condition will be underscored. Students will critically study the key representative texts for each form of psychotherapy and the major Buddhist teachings that elaborate the Buddha's psychology with the goal of evaluating how the study of Buddhist psychology may enhance our understanding of emotional suffering and its alleviation. Check out our course timetables for scheduling.
2. BUDDHIST ETHICS (EMT2630H)
Buddhism is a response to what is fundamentally an ethical problem—what is the best kind of life for us to lead? The Buddha sought a solution to this problem and its associated ethical issues. This course explores whether an Asian religion such as Buddhism can shed light on complex and controversial western problems. The course applies Buddhist ethics to a range of issues of contemporary concern, including abortion, euthanasia, suicide, war, environmentalism, and discusses the Buddhist response to these ethical dilemmas. This course also analyses the nature and practical dynamics of Buddhist ethics in the particularities of different Buddhist traditions, in comparison to a Christian perspective. Check out our course timetables for scheduling.
3. BUDDHIST CONTEMPLATIVE CARE (EMP2011H)
Barely existed just a decade ago, Buddhist contemplative care has now become a full force that changes the contemporary practice of Buddhism all over the world, bringing the insights of the ancient wisdom into practical services not only in hospitals, hospices, and prisons, but also through counseling in education and work places. Such pioneering works have redeﬁned the meaning and relevancy of Buddhist practice in the modern world, and have enriched the scope of chaplaincy and ministry which were available only in the Judeo-Christian context. This course introduces students to the theory and professional practice of Buddhist contemplative care, through scholarly literature, on the roots of this form of Buddhist engaged practice in various Buddhist traditions, as well as the educational foundations of Buddhist pastoral and spiritual care, the understanding of the Buddhist approach to death and dying, and the art of end-of-life care. The knowledge will also be practical to professional medical caregivers, to allow them to understand the anxiety and fear of their patients with a Buddhist worldview, so as to provide more suitable and meaningful palliative care. Check out our course timetables for scheduling.
4. FOUNDATIONAL TENETS AND PRACTICES OF BUDDHISM (EMT2631H)
This survey course provides students with an overview of the basic tenets, major figures, important developments, and the meditative principles of Buddhism. It will serve as an important foundation for the understanding of the various forms of applied Buddhism discussed in other courses of the Diploma program. Students will learn to appreciate the traditional Buddhist critique of our human condition and its aspiration to attain a transcendental spiritual goal. On that basis, students will also come to an understanding of the meanings behind the Buddhist practices and cultures. Check out our course timetables for scheduling.
5. BUDDHIST MINDFULNESS MEDITATION (EMP2019H)
Despite serious methodological limitations that characterize the empirical literature, controversy about the definition and assessment of mindfulness, and less than stellar clinical outcomes, secular mindfulness meditation continues to expand its scope throughout western counselling and psychotherapy. However, there are a number of significant differences between secular mindfulness and the meditative practices described in the Buddhist teachings. These will be described within the context of the Buddha’s model of psychological transformation and transcendence. Specifically, the definition and components of mindfulness meditation, links with other spiritual practices, and benefits of meditation as delineated within Buddhism will be discussed as outlined in two key teachings: the Satipatthana (Foundations of Mindfulness) and the Anapanasati (Mindfulness of Breathing) sutras. In addition, a theoretical understanding of the manner in which meditation produces its benefits will be described emphasizing affinities with cognitive science and theories of attentional regulation. Check out our course timetables for scheduling.
6. BUDDHIST PERSPECTIVES ON MENTAL ILLNESS (EMP2010H)
The Buddha described his basic understanding of mental illness and suffering and their treatment in the foundational teaching of the Four Noble Truths. These principles, and their subsequent detailed expansion and elaboration in the Buddha’s analysis of the ego/self, the core components of mental health, the nature of sensation-perception, and the role of cognitive processes in the generation of harmful emotional states and behaviours, provide a comprehensive model of mental illness. The Buddhist analysis of emotional suffering centers strongly on a conditioned tendency to misunderstand the nature of the self, leading to its reification and narcissistic idealization. Authentic, enduring mental and psychological functioning requires a fundamental transformation of the narcissistic self into a self that is believed to be conducive to emotional well-being. A Buddhist model of psychopathology has significant affinities with a number of western models of psychopathology as described in cognitive-behavioural psychology and psychodynamic psychology which have described similar analyses of the self. Check out our course timetables for scheduling.
7. MINDFULNESS AND COUNSELLING IN THE COMMUNITY (EMP2010H)
Based on the two Buddhist texts, Anapanasati Sutta (Discourse on the Full Awareness of Breathing) and Satipatthana Sutta (Discourse on the Four Establishments of Mindfulness), this course will give students direct experience learning mindfulness, integrating practice into their daily life. They are also encouraged to cultivate non-judgmental moment-to-moment awareness and an unconditional presence to oneself and others. The course will offer periods of silence, daily practice and class discussion, featuring the core mindfulness practices: mindful breathing, mindful eating, body scan, sitting meditation, mindful walking, and mindful movement. Students will also learn how to apply mindfulness in counselling and to cultivate the balancing factors of equanimity (upekkha), joy (mudita), compassion (karuna), and love (metta). Students will develop the capacity for self-awareness and learn to observe their reactive and judging mind and to look deeply into their mind’s conditioning and habitual responses. Students will reflect on how dominant beliefs and ideas are transmitted through various forms of communication in counselling. Check out our course timetables for scheduling.