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Refining the Mind

Module 8 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.

Fundamentals of Buddhism – Peter D. Santina (.pdf)

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

The Noble Eightfold Path: The Way to the End of Suffering – Bhikkhu Bodhi (.pdf) (.epub) (.mp3)

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

Being Nobody, Going Nowhere: Meditations on the Buddhist Path – Ayya Khema (.pdf)

Chapters 2 and 3 bring us back to meditation itself.

SN 42.6: Asibandhaka’s Son (.pdf)

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.

How to Love Your Problems – Robina Courtin (.ogg)

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

I Wonder Why – Ven Thubten Chodron (.pdf)

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…