Thursday Foundation Program

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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 (FP) 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.


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 podcast 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.


A detailed and practical explanation of one of Buddhism's best-loved teachings, Eight Verses of Training the Mind, by the great Tibetan Bodhisattva, Langri Tangpa. This inspiring book reveals clear methods that are simply presented for transforming all life's difficulties into valuable spiritual insights, for improving our relationships, and for bringing greater patience, empathy and compassion into our daily life. These methods have inspired generations of Buddhist practitioners for almost a thousand years, and brought lasting peace, inspiration and serenity to countless people. Now, with this book, Venerable Geshe Kelsang shares the immeasurably rich insight of this ancient wisdom to help us find greater happiness and meaning in our busy, modern lives. With this revised presentation, The New Eight Steps to Happiness, Venerable Geshe-la re-introduces us to the essential practices of Training the Mind. He not only challenges our entire understanding of the world, but also challenges us to transform ourself into the greatest being we can possibly become!

“Of all the virtuous minds, compassion is supreme.  Compassion purifies our mind, and when our mind is pure its objects also become pure.” 

Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche


The Teacher - Kadam Donna Campanelli

Kadam 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, Kadam 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, Kadam Donna shows her students how to transform day-to-day difficulties into a meaningful life.


How Much Will It Cost?

Once on the Foundation Program, you become a Full Supporting Member of Vajra Light Center which entitles you to attend all Foundation Program classes, all General Program classes, and any special events held at Vajra Light. The monthly fee for Full Supporting membership is $80. As a member, you will also receive any applicable discounts at nearby Dharma centers for their special events and workshops.

How to Join the Foundation Program

If you have a wish to deepen 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, Education 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.