The Liberation Gate of Meditation Practice
The first year novice student learns humility and how to enjoy peace of mind by focusing attention on the task at hand. The second year junior student learns to use the power of their unknowing mind for hwadu Seon practice and how to use the power of their concentration to cultivate boundless heart. The third year senior student learns how to make herself/himself available mindfully for public service and teaching. They learn to conduct public meditation and Dharma services and offer Introductory Meditation Courses and retreats.
The Liberation Gate of Doctrinal Study
The first year novice student studies the life of the Buddha, his great disciples and early canonical scriptures. They also study the visual art history of Buddhism, such as the iconography of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. The second year junior student studies Prajnaparamita wisdom literature, such as the Heart Sutra and the Diamond Sutra, and the early history of Zen Buddhism and the Platform Sutra. The third year senior student studies the history of Korean Seon (Zen Buddhism), Flower Ornament (Hua-yen) Sutra, and socially engaged Buddhism. At the end of each term, Dharma students are required to write an essay for their assignment.
The Liberation Gate of Rituals and Ceremonials
We have a rich spiritual practice which is shared with students, from observances of Buddhist holidays to celebrating births and performing weddings to hospice assistance and funeral and memorial services. Together they reflect an understanding of the need for ritual as we move through our cycles of life.
Ritual practice starts by learning by heart in a sing song voice the Great Compassion Dharani and Yebul for daily ritual practice, in addition to English chants such as the Heart Sutra and the Three Refuge formula. Dharma students also learn to do "gido" chanting to break open their voice for public service occasions, and learn about the use of ritual objects and musical instruments of daily use.
The Liberation Gate of Cultivation of Devotional Heart and Wisdom Heart
The cultivation of virtues is essential for the Dharma career of each student. In order to evaluate these two gates, Dharma students are advised to follow the triple heart practice. The first heart is a sincere heart. When Buddhists say that all sentient beings are Buddhas, the first proof is that each and every one of us is capable of manifesting a sincere heart, but often we neglect this potential. So Dharma students are urged to display their sincere heart, which is no other than their Buddha heart, through their Dharma student practice. The second heart is a good heart that is free from major defilements, such as hatred, ill feelings, and resentments. The third heart is a pure heart that can harmonize with all circumstances and respond to all situations without harmful effects.
Cultivation of these virtues occurs in harmony with one’s deepening meditation and study practice as guided by the MBS curriculum; evaluation of these liberation gates is developed through close mentorship or discipleship with one’s guiding teacher in the program as well as confirmation by the other senior teachers or priests in the BSCW.