Foundation Program

Buddhism teaches that to find lasting happiness and meaning in our lives we need to follow a spiritual path. To follow this path, it is important to have a close connection with a qualified Teacher who can give us personal advice and encouragement, to listen to pure Dharma teachings and to be a part of a strong spiritual community. In this way, we are able to gain a deeper understanding of the meaning of Buddha’s teachings, maintain a daily meditation practice that is both focused and powerful, and make genuine spiritual progress.

A unique Study Program

The purpose of the Foundation Program is to provide a systematic presentation of particular subjects of Mahayana Buddhism to enable practitioners to deepen their knowledge and experience of Buddhism. Through regular teachings and meditation, systematic study, and group discussion, the Foundation Program offers the same training followed by spiritual practitioners in an unbroken lineage dating back to Buddha Shakyamuni. In this way, we can gain authentic experience of the Dharma while still maintaining our contemporary lifestyle. By studying on this program, we shall gain great confidence in meditation – from basic techniques for overcoming our everyday problems to practices leading to unsurpassed happiness and permanent inner peace. Warm friendships develop as students inspire each other, sharing insights and experiences of the spiritual path.

“For the serious student of Buddhism, a better book would be hard to come across.”


What is the Structure?

The secret of the Foundation Program’s success lies in the manageable commitment made by the student and in the clear structure of study. Students sign up to study a book or part of a book, agree to attend class regularly, learn the material, and to participate in a personal evaluation of what they have learned at the conclusion of the study. Class meets every Thursday from 6:45 to 9:15 pm. If, for a suitable reason, a student is not able to attend the class in person, he or she agrees to catch up by listening to a download of the class and completing a short summary. Students also take turns setting up the shrine and the meditation room and periodically engage in Offering to the Spiritual Guide and Wishfulfilling Jewel pujas during class. In this way they learn the rituals associated with Buddhist practice.


The Heart Sutra is probably Buddha’s most well known discourse; and yet it reveals an aspect of his teaching – ultimate truth emptiness – that is one of the most difficult to realize. In this extraordinary book, Geshe Kelsang takes us line by line through the Heart Sutra and explains its hidden meaning with remarkable clarity. Sincere study of this book lays a firm foundation for meditation on ultimate truth emptiness, which leads to the complete eradication of the ignorance of self-grasping and the experience of permanent inner peace. The book also includes a special practice based on the recitation of the Sutra for overcoming obstacles and hindrances.

The Teacher - Donna Campanelli

Donna is the Resident Teacher at Vajra Light Center. She has been studying and practicing Kadampa Buddhism for over 20 years and is a close disciple of Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. As a wife and mother of three, Donna delights in applying Dharma wisdom to her own challenges as a suburban mom. She is a wonderful example of Modern Buddhism – Dharma integrated into daily life. With skill and enthusiasm, humor and kindness, Donna shows her students how to transform day-to-day difficulties into a meaningful life.


How to Join the Foundation Program

Interested in deepening your understanding of the meaning of Buddha’s teaching, creating and maintaining a focused and powerful daily meditation practice and making genuine spiritual progress? Please contact Debbie Serra, Educational Program Coordinator at 914-607-3583 in order to register for the course or email . There is a four-week trial period for all new students.

How Much Will It Cost?

The cost to join FP is $50 a month. However, if you are an FP student , becoming a monthly Vajra Light member entitles you to attend all FP classes, all General Program classes, and any special events held at Vajra Light. The monthly fee for this type of membership is $80. As a member, you will also receive any applicable discounts at nearby Dharma centers for their special events and workshops.