Lama Marut

The CLASSICAL TEXTS AND AUTHENTIC PRACTICES OF EASTERN SPIRITUALITY curriculum offers a progressively unfolding, comprehensive course of study in the wisdom and practical application of Eastern spirituality as it pertains to modern life. Based on Lama Marut’s original translations and relevant, applicable interpretations of the Sanskrit classics of the Hindu, Buddhist, and Yogic traditions, these courses cover a wide range of teachings and practices from an inclusive, comparative, and non-sectarian point of view. They are designed to provide an in-depth, systematic, and coherent foundation and overall framework for any serious spiritual practitioner — from beginners to experienced teachers, regardless of one’s religious affiliation or the lack thereof.

Each course consists of four weekly two-hour interactive online classes, including lecture, discussion, and guided meditation portions. Each class also includes an easily applicable and effective practice designed to integrate the teachings into daily life. Two optional discussion sessions, led by senior students/teachers, will follow each course allowing for further opportunities to discuss, interact, and share your thoughts, reactions, and experiences of the material covered.

The curriculum as a whole is comprised of twelve courses to be taught over two years. When taken together, these stand-alone courses constitute an extensive course of study in the classical scriptures and principal practices of Eastern spirituality. Participants are, however, welcome to register for any one, several, or all of these interrelated yet self-contained course offerings.

Classes meet at 6pm CT on Saturdays (4pm PT/5pm MT/7pm ET).

The format for classes two and four is:

6pm CT: 30-minute meditation with senior student

6:30pm: Lama Marut lecture with a 30-minute discussion at the end

Costs

Each of the twelve courses consists of four classes, and each class includes a practice to help you directly integrate the teachings into your everyday life. Registrants for each course will have access to the archive of visual and audio recordings of the classes.

Each course consists of four classes that will meet weekly and last 2-2.5 hrs. Each class includes a lecture and time for Q&A; classes two and four kickoff with a meditation. There are two supplementary discussion sessions scheduled following the completion of the four formal classes. Participants who complete all four of the classes plus the two discussion sessions will receive a certificate of completion.

  • One course: $225.00 USD
  • Three courses: $500.00 USD
  • Complete twelve course package (save $900.00 USD): $1800.00 USD
Purchase 3 or 12 Course Package

Curriculum & Purchase

1. Get Unbusy: Finding Peace in a Hectic World

Saturdays, November 2, 9, 16, 23
6pm CT (4pm PT/5pm MT/7pm ET)
2-hours

Busyness and stress are the enemies of the calm and relaxed state of mind that both a proper spiritual practice and happiness in general require.  This course is designed to help us create more peace in our lives even while we are engaged in necessary action and the fulfillment of our responsibilities in relation to our friends, family, and community.

Topics include: “Why We Are So Busy,” “Doing What Needs to Be Done,” “Getting Organized,” “Keeping Your Priorities Straight,” “Knowing When to Act and When to Relax,” “Mindful Action and Mindful Non-Action,” “Living a Retreat Lifestyle,” “Acting Without Expectation,” and “Work as Play, Life as Art.”

Benefits of the Course:

  • Identify the areas of excessive busyness that damage your spiritual life
  • Take control of the addiction to external stimuli
  • Learn methods for how to remain active without stress
  • Train in meditations that help prioritize beneficial activity, avoid procrastination, and turn problems into opportunities
  • Acquire skills for keeping the mind undistracted, even in difficult circumstances

Based on selections from the Bhagavad Gita, Ashtavakra Gita, Shantideva’s Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, and Svatmarama’s Hatha Yoga Pradipika

Purchase Course 1

2. Mindful Living: How to Live Fully and Happily in the Present

Saturdays, January 4, 11, 18, 25
6pm CT (4pm PT/5pm MT/7pm ET)
2-hours

The success of one’s meditation sessions and the application of mindfulness throughout the day requires certain adjustments in lifestyle as well as instruction in the actual techniques for “mindful living.” In this course, we review and offer practical ways to apply the authentic teachings on mindfulness drawn from the classical spiritual texts dealing with the subject.

Topics include: “Living a Life Conducive to Mindfulness,” “The Practice of Mindfulness and the Obstacles to It,” “Taming the Mind,” and “Mindfulness in Action.”

Benefits of the Course:

  • Acquire authentic mindfulness training based on the ancient classics
  • Create a mindful lifestyle
  • Avoid activities detrimental to mindfulness
  • Learn meditations and contemplations for establishing priorities
  • Cultivate the methods for mental awareness and successful meditation

Based on selections from the Buddha’s Mahasatipatthana Sutta, Kamalashila’s Bhavana Krama, Shantideva’s Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, and Svatmarama’s Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

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3. Traversing the Spiritual Path, From Beginning to End (March, 2020)

A successful spiritual practice, like a well-built house, requires a good foundation upon which subsequent layers are built. Using the Buddhist model of the “steps on the path to Awakening” (lam rim) we’ll review all the stages of a comprehensive spiritual practice, from the beginning phases to full Enlightenment.

Topics include: “The Three Phases of a Complete Practice,” “Cultivating Proper Motivation,” “The Wish to Awaken,” “Meditative Concentration, Skillful Means, and the Development of Wisdom,” “Conceptual and Non-Conceptual Forms of Meditation,” and “Moving Into Tantra.”

Benefits of the Course:

  • Build a complete and systematic course of personal spiritual development and integrate it into daily life
  • Identify missing or deficient areas of your training and practice
  • Learn how to cultivate the “Wish for Awakening”
  • Understand the relationship between meditative concentration and wisdom
  • Train in deep conceptual and non-conceptual meditations on ultimate reality

Based on Atisha’s Lamp for the Path to Awakening (Bodhipathapradipah).

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4. The Spectrum of Yoga: How to Stop the Turbulence of the Mind (May, 2020)

The complete and systematic practice of yoga includes much, much more than just physical poses. This courses surveys the spectrum of yoga and all its practices and philosophy according to the classic texts of the Indian yogic tradition. This course is for both yoga practitioners and those interested in a thorough yogic path of spiritual training.

Topics include: “The Meaning, Purpose, and Method of Yoga,” “The Yoga of Ethical Self-Discipline and Karma,” “The Yoga of the Heart,” and “The Yoga of Wisdom.”

Benefits of the Course:

  • Discover the entire range of “off the mat” wholistic yoga according to the classical texts
  • Discern the beneficial and detrimental lifestyle choices for yoga practice
  • Manage your ethical life and receive the benefits of doing so
  • Learn the secrets of how to act selflessly and without karmic consequence
  • Appreciate the power of the yoga of devotion and learn how to use it to enhance your relationships
  • Gain clarity and wisdom about the ultimate goal of yoga and how to achieve it

Based on selections from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, Svatmarama’s Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Narada Bhakti Sutra.

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5. The Problem, Cause, Goal, and Solution (July, 2020)

The “Four Noble Truths,” which encapsulate the Buddha’s teaching, outline a universally applicable structure for any form of spiritual practice: 1) identify the problem of suffering; 2) analyze the cause of the problem; 3) recognize an alternative to suffering; and 4) provide a method for realizing freedom from suffering and achieving perfect peace.

Topics include: “What is Meant by ‘Life is Suffering,’” “Discontentment, Craving, and Attachment,” “The Goal of Contentment and Peace,” and “Methods for Attaining the Goal.”

Benefits of the Course:

  • Establish a firm foundation for a spiritual practice that leads to freedom from suffering
  • Identify areas of unhappiness and discontent in your life and learn how to transform them
  • Uncover the real cause of all forms of suffering
  • Recognize that there is an alternative to perpetual dissatisfaction
  • Learn practical methods for defeating the “mental afflictions” and obtaining true peace and happiness

Based on selections from the Buddha’s Turning of the Wheel of Dharma Sutra (Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta), Shantideva’s Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, the Bhagavad Gita, the Ashtavakra Gita, and the Bible.

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6. Bondage, Freedom, and Interconnection: The Twelve Links of Dependent Arising (September, 2020)

Among the most profound and useful teachings of Buddhism is the so-called “Twelve Links of Dependent Arising,” an analysis of the circular nature of the actions that keep us perpetually suffering. We will explore this topic through a verse by verse examination of the relevant chapter from the great Indian philosopher Nagarjuna’s master text. It will highlight the ways we repeatedly re-create the causes of our own suffering and how we can break out of this “wheel” and attain total freedom.

Topics include: “identifying with the Causes of Suffering,” “The Nature of Interdependence,” “How Craving and Grasping Arise,” and “Breaking the Chain.”

Benefits of the Course:

  • Discover how “dependent arising” works in our own lives to keep us suffering
  • Learn about how the causal process of rebirth works (over lifetimes, but also moment by moment)
  • Gain a deep understanding of what is meant by “interdependence” and how to live a more connected life
  • Identify the “weak links” in the “chain” and how to break them
  • Analyze the five principal “mental afflictions” and acquire practical strategies for combatting them

Based on Chapter 26 of Nagarjuna’s Root Verses on the Middle Way (Mulamadhyamaka Karika) and Lama Marut’s original verse-by-verse written commentary, with an addendum from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra on the five principal mental afflictions.

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7. Finding the Unity in Diversity: The Yoga of Wisdom (November, 2020)

In this, the first of three courses on the three yogas of the Bhagavad Gita we investigate the crucial concept of “wisdom” common to all forms of Eastern spirituality. What is “wisdom,” and why does it have the life-changing power to liberate us?

Topics include: “The Problem of Ignorance and the Power of Wisdom,” “Knowing the True Self,” “Unity in Diversity,” and “Royal Knowledge: The Highest Secret.”

Benefits of the Course:

  • Receive an extensive introduction to and overview of one of the greatest of the world’s spiritual classics
  • Establish what is meant in Eastern traditions by “ignorance” and identify its workings in your own life
  • Learn how wisdom has the power to negate all bad karma
  • Receive instructions on how to meditate on and identify with the immortal Higher Self found in all things and beings
  • Understand how wisdom leads naturally to true compassion for all beings and changes our relationship to them

Based on selections from the Bhagavad Gita.

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8. How to Live Well in a Messy World: The Yoga of Action (January, 2021)

The second of the three yogas of the Bhagavad Gita, karma yoga, provides the key to freedom not through renunciation of the world but rather while still actively engaged in the world. While we may now be imprisoned in the world of karma, the yoga of action is a practice for conducting ourselves in such a way that liberation is possible without giving up worldly activity and relationships.

Topics include: “The Necessity of Action,” “The Laws of Karma,” “Karma and the Mental Afflictions,” “Liberation from Karma,” “Action for Its Own Sake,” “Detached Action,” “Selfless Action,” and “Offering Up the Fruits of Action.”

Benefits of the Course:

  • Learn what the Gita says about debilitating depression and how overcome it
  • Analyze the apparent discrepancy between what you think you should do and what you feel you must do in your life
  • Recognize the “laws of karma” and how they work
  • Discover how to escape from the “laws of karma” and achieve liberation not through renunciation but by means of informed, disciplined, and selfless action without expectation
  • Implement your practice of “karma yoga” in service to others

Based on selections from the Bhagavad Gita.

Purchase Course 8

9. The Easy Path: The Yoga of Devotion (March, 2021)

The yoga of devotion (bhakti yoga) is in many ways the culmination of the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita. Devoting ourselves to someone or something other and higher than ourselves – “Krishna,” “God,” “all sentient beings,” “the cosmos,” etc. – requires the discipline of surrendering the command of the individual ego and all its many demands.

Topics include: “The Egocentric Life,” “Sacrificial Action,” “Disciplined Faith,” “Doubt and the Power of Devotion,” “Arjuna’s Revelation,” and “Reaching the Divine.”

Benefits of the Course:

  • Realize the harmful character of a purely secular, non-spiritual life
  • Oppose pure egoism with “sacrificial action” dedicated to something greater than selfish desire
  • Analyze the deep meaning of both faith and doubt and how they manifest in your life
  • Experience with Arjuna the mind-blowing epiphany in the famous Eleventh Chapter of the Gita and learn how such profound mystical experiences can be not only life-changing but also integrated into everyday life

Based on selections from the Bhagavad Gita.

Purchase Course 9

10. This is What I Heard: Finding the Heart in the Heart Sutra (May, 2021)

What is the true nature of reality and how can we live in harmony with it? The Heart Sutra is regarded as the essential core (“heart”) of the Buddha’s teachings on “emptiness” – the lack of self-nature to anything or anyone – and is admired by spiritual practitioners around the world for its deep wisdom. Buried within the text is the mapping of the five “paths” or stages that guide us into Awakening. Also included is a famous and powerful mantra that allude to these five paths.

Topics include: “What We Need to Learn to Practice the Perfection of Wisdom,” “Form is Emptiness, and Emptiness is Form,” “The Emptiness of the Self and All Its Parts,” “The Emptiness of Buddhist Teachings,” and “The Five Paths of the Spiritual Journey.”

Benefits of the Course:

  • Identify the “big questions” in life: What is the meaning of it all? Why am I here? How should I live?
  • Discover what is really meant by “emptiness” and how to live in relation to it
  • Analyze the emptiness of the self and why this matters in practical terms
  • Learn what it means to say “suffering is empty” and how this provides the key to true happiness
  • Receive transmission of the powerful Heart Sutra mantra and learn how to practice mantra recitation as part of your spiritual life

Based on the Heart Sutra (Prajnaparamita Hirdaya Sutra)

Purchase Course 10

11. Why Things Happen: The Workings of Karma and Causation (July, 2021)

Why do things happen the way they do? And even more importantly, why do things – “good” or “bad” – happen to me? This course reviews three important chapters from Nagarjuna’s philosophical powerhouse that address these fundamental and age-old questions. Teachings on cause and effect and the so-called “laws of karma” are crucial to most traditions of Eastern spirituality, and Nagarjuna here offers some deep and surprising insights concerning the necessity of detaching from grasping to doctrines and dogmas as we move toward Awakening.

Topics include: “The Different Kinds of Causes and Conditions,” “Causality and Interdependence,” “Nothing Starts and Nothing Stops,” “Which Comes First?: The Emptiness of Actors and Actions,” “An Analysis of How Karma Works,” “The Problem of Continuity Between Action and Its Result,” “Karma and Rebirth,” and “Karma Works, But Not How You Think It Does.”

Benefits of the Course:

  • Receive simple, logical keys for deciphering the philosophical arguments for emptiness and interdependence put forward by Nagarjuna, often called the “Second Buddha”
  • Gain a deep understanding of the nature of cause and effect and practical methods for using such an understanding in daily life
  • Explore the apparent difference – and then come to realize the true inseparability – of the actor and the roles he or she plays in life
  • Obtain profound insights into the nature of karma, moral responsibility, and the unfailing but incomprehensible relationship between karmic causes and the consequences of action

Based on Chapters One, Eight, and Seventeen of Nagarjuna’s Root Verses of the Middle Way (Mulamadhyamaka Karika) and Lama Marut’s original verse-by-verse written commentaries

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12. Liberation in This Very Lifetime: How to Live Freely and Happily (September, 2021)

It is rare, in the classics of Eastern spirituality, to get a detailed description of exactly what the liberated person would look like, how they would think, and what they would do. Our curriculum concludes with just such an extended depiction of the jivanmukta, a person “liberated in this very lifetime,” and how we can act like such a person as we proceed toward the fulfillment of our own spiritual path.

Topics include: “The Path to Liberation,” “The Individual vs. the True Self,” “Ignorance as Bondage,” “The Nature of Awakening and the Non-Dual State,” “The Difference Between Liberation and Bondage,” “Liberated Action,” and “Life Beyond Duality.”

Benefits of the Course:

  • Discover exactly what is blocking us from total freedom and liberation from suffering
  • Review the ways we identify with a suffering self rather than with our True Self
  • Learn how to disappear all the irritating people in your life and transform any difficult situation
  • Acquire the ultimate in “self-esteem” through wisdom about the nature of the True Self and Ultimate Reality
  • Receive a detailed portrait of the liberated person, which can then function as paragon we can model in our own lives

Based on selections from the Ashtavakra Gita.

Purchase Course 12

Lama Marut (a.k.a. Brian K. Smith) has been immersed in the Sanskrit classics of Eastern spirituality for over forty-five years. He holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Religion and taught for twenty-five years in the academic world before retiring in 2004. For the past twenty years he has offered classes, mentored students, and led spiritual retreats for practitioners around the world. In addition to his academic books, he is the author of the popular and award-winning book, A Spiritual Renegade’s Guide to the Good Life and of Be Nobody (both published by Beyond Words). The CLASSICAL TEXTS AND AUTHENTIC PRACTICES OF EASTERN SPIRITUALITY represents the culmination of a lifetime’s study and spiritual practice.

With his unique mixture of erudition and earthiness, intensity and humor, conviction and openness, Lama Marut’s message is easily accessible and potentially life changing. For further information about Lama Marut, please visit www.lamamarut.org