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Aro offers several courses of evening classes. These combine detailed explanations and practical exercises. Each class includes a talk by a course leader, time spent practicing the exercises, and a question and answer session.
The courses typically meet weekly and contain seven classes. There are no prerequisites.
We recommend attending an entire series if you can. The later classes in the series will be easier to follow that way. However, it is often also possible to attend individual classes, or to join the series part-way through. Please contact the class organiser if you would like to do that.
Most Aro classes are led by ordained Aro teachers. The ordained teachers are all highly qualified, having undergone at least five years (and often several decades) of intensive training in meditation and Buddhism. Biographies of the ordained teachers are available. Some classes may also be led by Aro Lamas.
We recommend wearing loose, comfortable clothing to the classes. Meditation works best when you are physically relaxed and can breathe easily. Some sessions also teach simple bodily exercises. Participation in these exercises is optional.
The content of courses may vary, depending on the interests of the teachers and students. Three courses are typical. Roaring Silence is a comprehensive exploration of silent sitting meditation. Spectrum of Being shows how to work with the dynamics of emotions in their neurotic and enlightened forms. Wearing the Body of Visions teaches meditation methods from Buddhist Tantra.
You can find Aro classes by going to our events site, choosing your region, and entering ‘class’ as the event type.
As well as thoroughly covering their subject matter, evening classes are a first place to learn about Aro beyond the web site. They involve less commitment of time and money than attending a weekend retreat.
Discovering the Nature of Mind
Roaring Silence teaches a series of methods for silent sitting meditation. Together, these methods are referred to as shi-nè (pronounced shee-neh) and lhatong (lah-tong). These are closely related to methods of which you may have heard – such as: mindfulness meditation; insight meditation; shamatha-vipashyana; and vipassana.
The primary purpose of these methods is to gain an experiential understanding of the nature of thought, awareness, and their relationship with reality. On that basis we can free ourselves from destructive personal habits and find increased clarity, creative energy, empathy, calmness, and enjoyment of life.
Our ‘frequently asked questions about meditation’ page may help you determine whether this course is for you.
Meditation can be difficult, particularly at first. A major focus of the course is presenting specific techniques for overcoming obstacles that almost all meditators encounter.
In addition to silent sitting meditation, the course teaches yogic song and some physical exercises.
The class is open to all. You need not be a Buddhist to attend or benefit.
Recommended reading for this course is the book Roaring Silence. The book covers much the same material as the course. However, the book provides more theoretical depth, whereas the course provides more hands-on practical instruction. You may get more out of the course if you read the book and come to class with questions about it. It is not required, however.
Spectrum of Being
This course shows how our fundamental condition as living, breathing, loving, laughing, crying human beings forms the basis for meditation. It explores the Dzogchen view of emotional pain and pleasure – and the liberation of emotions.
Tantric Buddhist psychology shows how we ourselves create unenlightenment through neurotic patterns of emotional reaction to our spacious natures. Meditation transmutes the five elemental neuroses (territoriality, aggression, neediness, anxiety, and depression) into the five corresponding elemental wisdoms (generosity, clarity, compassionate appreciation, accomplishment, and unboundedness).
Dzogchen trèk-chöd—a method that can be used in meditation and in everyday life—releases neurotic emotions to expand into their natural enlightened qualities. Trèk-chöd transmission is given by Aro Lamas as one evening of the course.
Recommended reading for this course is the book Spectrum of Ecstasy.
Wearing the Body of Visions
Buddhist Tantra in practice
Wearing the Body of Visions teaches two central practices of Tantric Buddhism. These are self-arising and Lama’i naljor. Self-arising is the practice of visualising oneself as a Buddha. It is accompanied by the recitation of mantra. Lama’i naljor is the method of uniting our minds with the non-dual minds of Buddhas.
These practices require transmission through an empowerment ceremony with a Lama. Empowerment will be given in an early evening in the series. You must have received an empowerment from an Aro Lama to attend any of the following classes. However, it need not have been the specific empowerment given in the course.
In preparation for the empowerment, a preliminary class will explain the rôle of the Lama and the nature of transmission and empowerment.
Although there are no other formal prerequisites to this course, it will be most useful to those who have some experience with meditation.
Recommended reading for this course is the book Wearing the Body of Visions. This book covers Buddhist Tantra, including the material taught in this course, in more depth. The book and course are complementary. Conceptual understanding, in-person transmission, and practical instruction are all necessary in learning Tantra.