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Refining the Mind

Module 9 of An Introduction to Buddhism.

Buddhism provides a set of tools for gaining clarity in our everyday lives.

Photo by Pallav Journo, CC BY-SA 4.0

Reading Assignments

Biography of Shakyamuni Buddha – Ven Master Hsing Yun (.pdf) (.epub) (.pdf) (.epub)

We continue with Chapters 22–26 on the Buddha’s first teachings after his Awakening.

Chapter 6 introduces the Buddhist concept of “bhavana” or “Mental Development”, analyzing the Path from the perspective of the mind.

In Chapter 3 (“Right Intention”) Bhikkhu Bodhi zooms in on the attitude with which we should undertake the practice.

Chapters 2 and 3 bring us back to meditation itself.

One of the hallmarks of Buddhism as a religion is that the Buddha emphatically rejected salvation through faith and prayer alone. In this module’s sutta, the Buddha illustrates this point with a simile. See if you can appreciate its dry humor!


This lesson, I’d like to introduce you to Robina Courtin: a British activist turned Tibetan Buddhist nun.

In this talk, Venerable Courtin talks about how we shouldn’t take Buddhism as ‘cosmic’ but as a ‘practical’ method for overcoming our afflictive emotions.

Further Reading

An excellent Q and A book by Thubten Chodron (another Western, Tibetan nun) answering many frequently answered questions about Buddhism. I really recommend flipping through it to see if any of the questions jump out at you.

And you can find many more talks by Ven Robina Courtin on her website,


When you’re ready: here are the reflection questions for this lesson. Your responses are always appreciated, even if we can’t respond to every one.

And when you’re ready to move on, click below to…