Introduction to Buddhist Traditions

Class Series with Michael Owens

Tuesdays, June 7th, 14th, and 21st



This three-part series will present the origins and history of the variety of Buddhist traditions practiced throughout the world today.

Part One – Indian Origins

The first part of this class considers what is known, unknown and imagined about the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gotama, and presents the available resources for understanding the basic meditation practices and philosophical positions of Buddhism within the larger context of Indian Religion.

Part Two – Chinese Transformations

The second part of this class looks at the geographical spread of Buddhism into East and Southeast Asia and its strong receptions by the Chinese during the first centuries of the Common Era. We will examine the emergence of Zen and other Chinese schools of Buddhism that came about through a mixture of newly imported Indian ideas and practices with native Taoist beliefs.

Part Three – Tibetan and Japanese Innovations

The final part of this class will present an overview of  ‘esoteric’ or ‘Tantric’ Buddhism as it is practiced in both Tibet and Japan. We will look at the Gelug traditions of the 14th and current Dalai Lama and compare them to contemporary Japanese Shingon and Tendai practices, which trace their origins through similar Indian lineages and incorporate many of the same rites, rituals and observances as Tibetan Buddhism.


Cost: $20 per evening or $50 if paid in advance. There will be an opportunity to offer dana to the teacher at each class (teachers receive a portion of the reg fee and are supported by dana). Please pay at the highest level you can afford to support our programs and those who have less. Some scholarships and work-study are available. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

$100 Plus Monthly Supporters attend for no cost. To RSVP as a monthly supporter, click here.
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Michael Owens is a writer and teacher working at the convergence of art, education and philosophy. After exploring an academic career in Buddhist Studies at Princeton University, he began teaching meditation and giving lectures at Buddhist temples and monasteries domestically and abroad. In 2006 he founded the Red Lotus Society, an educational non-profit organization to promote meditation as an inter-faith practice. Michael has translated several Chinese Buddhist texts into English and teaches regularly on Buddhist history and philosophy.

This class series will be held at Against the Stream San Francisco
2701 Folsom Street 415.695.2864