If one decides that a more "formal" path in Buddhist practice and study is a goal, CPB has designed a curriculum of Buddhist education that will provide the proper training for such an endeavor. Our Buddhist education program is designed to train qualified teachers in Pragmatic Buddhism. This program is a modern version of a monastic path; while retaining a socially engaged lifestyle, it is not the monastic setting that we value, but one's commitment to Buddhist living and the life he or she leads.
The historical record indicates that the Buddha taught that it is one's embracement of a positive and harmonious lifestyle that allows the fruits of one's practice to most directly benefit oneself and the rest of society. Given the need for dedicated practitioners of American Buddhism, the Center for Pragmatic Buddhism's formal study of Buddhism embraces an educational experience that is fully compatible with modern societal demands. As such, our training is accessible to anyone interested in applying a Buddhist lifestyle.
The accessibility of our formal Buddhist education is among the revisions CPB has made through Pragmatic Buddhism. Local training takes place at one of our chapters of CPB, and "distance learning" education is also available through online training for formal students and monks. The emphasis of our Buddhist training is on learning how to manage oneself to the best of one's ability and circumstances in light of contemporary life in the United States. Persons in the St. Louis area or those who have online access may declare their intention to study Pragmatic Buddhism as a formal student.
While we do embrace important traditional elements in our formal education, we do not retain elements that are no longer culturally relevant to us today. Three levels of formal education are used for regulative purposes by CPB: novice, cleric and master. Each stage of education is characterized by a particular emphasis on practice. A novice focuses on the fundamental skills of meditative practice and on the foundations of Buddhist thought, while a cleric spends time learning how to appropriately facilitate Pragmatic Buddhist practice, including an intensive study of the major issues pertaining to contemporary American Buddhism. Once a cleric has had substantial experience guiding others in Pragmatic Buddhism, he or she may be determined to be competent as a teacher, thus being granted the opportunity for continued training towards the master rank. This final tier of education includes additional readings in more detail and an original thesis that is presented to the entire monastic body of the Order of Pragmatic Buddhists (OPB). Each level of training is associated with daily practice (zazen), weekly communication with the other members of OPB, study of required readings and completion of associated written assessments.
Also important to the formal training process is refining our students' communication skills, so that they may communicate effectively to others. CPB certifies teachers of Pragmatic Buddhism according to strict educational standards, corresponding to one's level of Buddhist education. Proof of certification is available from the Center for Pragmatic Buddhism, as well as individual teachers of Pragmatic Buddhism. This formal route is CPB's approach to training qualified novices, clerics and masters in Pragmatic Buddhism.
If you're interested in additional information, please don't hesitate to Contact Us.