Diploma in Buddhist Mindfulness and Mental Health


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.

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 may be transferable into the MPS: Spiritual Care - Buddhist Studies degree program (within 8 years of taking the course). The Master of Pastoral Studies (MPS): Spiritual Care - Buddhist Studies 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.


Diploma in Buddhist Mindfulness and Mental Health program requirements from EC Student Handbook

Students who intend to complete the Diploma are required to take:


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.

PLUS 5 of the 8 courses listed below:


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


Built upon the foundations established from the Fundamental Tenets and Practices of Buddhism course, this course provides students with further understanding of how the Buddhist traditions make use of various meditative techniques as the means to help practitioners realize the transcendental experiences explicated in the Buddhist doctrines. Five major Buddhist meditative traditions will be explored, namely, the fundamental meditative techniques found in the Theravada tradition, the two forms of Chan/Zen meditation in China and Japan, the Pure Land tradition in China, the unique system of meditation developed in the Tiantai school in China, and the visualization practices in the Tibetan tantric style of cultivation. Students will develop an in-depth understanding of the Buddha's teachings in association with the principles behind the meditative practices, the modern adaptations of these practices, as well as the relationship with the Buddhist teachings on well-being and spiritual happiness. Students are encouraged to adapt these meditative techniques and integrate the insights on spiritual development of self and others into their psychotherapy practices. Check out our course timetables for scheduling.


The Pali term Abhidhamma means higher, subtle or ultimate teaching (of the Buddha) or the ultimate truth. Abhidhamma is often described as the core features of Buddhist psychology, dealing mainly with mental phenomena and explaining how our mind works. The Abhidhamma is the third great division of the Palicanon, the other two consisting of the Suttas (discourses) and the Vinaya (ethics). Unlike the Suttas, in which the Buddha adapts his teaching to his audience and speaks in conventional terms and concepts, in the Abhidhamma, the Dhamma is presented from the vantage point of ultimate reality. All phenomena are analysed into their ultimate constituents (dhammas) which are defined, classified and systematically arranged and discussed. Students will develop an in-depth understanding of the Buddha's teachings of the mind and all its functions and structures within the more general knowledge of the Buddhism found in the Suttas. This course will survey the understanding of the mind (both mundane and supramundane consciousness), the qualities of mental functioning (distinguishing ethical and skilful aspects of mind from those considered non-ethical or unskillful), the causal and conditioned relations between aspects of mind, the continuity of consciousness from moment to moment, and the nature of unconscious and latent psychodynamic factors. In addition the psychological analysis of meditation, both the concentrative and wisdom aspects, will be presented. Check out our course timetables for scheduling.


Individual courses offered in this program are open to persons who possess an undergraduate degree. Enrollment in the Diploma program is not a requirement. To apply for an individual course, please use the same link below, and indicate on your application that your desire is to enroll in one course rather than the Diploma program. Further, the course may be open to current University of Toronto undergraduate students with the permission of their faculty/division, the instructor and the Emmanuel College Registrar.


Future Students