Buddhist Philosophy in Comparative Perspective

Rangjung Yeshe Institute and Rangjung Yeshe Gomde GA present | 11. Juli 2022 bis 5. August

course language: English

5 ECTS / 3 credits

accredited with the Center for Buddhist Studies at Rangjung Yeshe Institute, Kathmandu University, Nepal

as well as Katholische Privatuniversität Linz and accreditation at other Universities possible 

11 July to 5 August 2022 academic course ( part 1 and 2)

Part 1: 11th July to 22nd July can be enrolled for separately, for 3 ECTS. 

Study. Reflect. Meditate.


The combination of traditional Tibetan Buddhist doctrinal studies, guided by a Tibetan monk-scholar, in tandem with ‘Western’ academic studies, offers students an ample field of knowledge.


Through daily discussion with professors and classmates, in person as well as online, students will be able to further reflect on the material and incorporate it on a personal level. 


Daily guided meditation as well as personal time for practice and contemplation will allow students to gain personal experience of the methods of Buddhist mind training. 


In this unique program, students will engage in the traditional path of the Buddhist scholar-practitioner: using contemplative practices as a tool to integrate knowledge and inform self-development. Students will be exposed to both the traditional and western approaches to knowledge formation.


Distinguished Professor of Contemplative Humanities -Center for Healthy Minds and Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Wisconsin–Madison

 Professor of Religion at Temple University

Researcher in residence at Stanford University’s Ho Center for Buddhist Studies

Assistant professor at Stanford University’s Department of Religious Studies

  • Monastic professor of Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling monastery, Kathmandu, Nepal

  • and guest lectures to be announced

Course Content

Buddhism often figures in the popular imagination not as a religion, but as a philosophy, or a way of life. But why is such a distinction made? Does Buddhist thought and practice make sense as a philosophy? What do Buddhists actually mean when they say there is no self? Is this a philosophical claim? And what about the Buddhist arguments that everything is empty, projected by the mind, or the result of past karma? Is meditation on such theories philosophical practice?

This course explores these and other question by studying the perennial ideas that have made Buddhist traditions distinctive, and by examining these alongside themes shared with European philosophical traditions—philosophy as a lived spiritual practice, the inquiry into personal identity, and the philosophy of mind and experience, among others—according to both their Asian socio-historical contexts and their contemporary globalized spread.

We will begin with an examination of the place of “philosophy” in Buddhist traditions. We will then survey the Buddha’s central claims and trace their development in the major schools of Buddhist thought and practice, considering key debates about issues such as what is truly real (metaphysics), what and how we know (epistemology), the nature and structure of conscious experience (phenomenology), how we should ideally behave (ethics), and the nature and scope of language and reasoning (logic), among others. Through these discussions, we will attempt to critically appreciate both the universality and the particularity of Buddhist ways of thinking and acting, while assessing the promises and problems of interpreting Buddhist thought and practice as philosophy within a cross-cultural perspective.

No prior knowledge of Buddhism or philosophy is required.

The competences you will gain

After taking this course you will be able to 

• Demonstrate a robust understanding of diverse currents of Buddhist philosophical speculation in terms of their socio-historical contexts and contemporary relevance

• Become better attuned to Western philosophical issues across the domains of metaphysics, epistemology, phenomenology, ethics, and logic

• Engage more critically with the problems and necessity of cross-cultural interpretation

• Read and interpret Buddhist philosophical texts in English translation

• Critically evaluate scholarship concerning the interface between Buddhist and non Buddhist philosophical systems 

• Better apply knowledge across disciplines 

• Become more sensitive to the mutual implications between ways of thinking, perceiving, and acting in the world

 • More skillfully assess the global and environmental implications of philosophical systems of thought and practice


The course will be held at Rangjung Yeshe Gomde, an International Center for Buddhist Studies and Meditation situated in Scharnstein, Upper Austria in the Austrian pre-Alps. This large Center is situated on top of a hill surrounded by beautiful gardens, lush greenery, and vital woods, and was a former farmhouse that has been renovated into a beautiful seminar house. It offers a private natural pond for after-class refreshment. Gomde hosts an international group of people interested in spiritual development and personal growth, and attracts a lot of young people who come as volunteers from all over the world. Throughout the year, several workshops, seminars and retreats are offered at Gomde. A special highlight is the visit of Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche, the Center’s abbot and founder, in the summer (early August) which usually follows the ‘legendary’ Gomde Summer Fest in late July (25-26 July 2020).

Classes will take place in the Center’s 200 m2 Meditation Hall, an ideal setting for focused studies and inspiring discussion. The Lhakang, as it is called, is very bright and airy and offers a unique contemplative atmosphere, as it is also used for daily meditation practice. 

Students will also have access to a study room, equipped with a printer and fast internet, and a library, as well as the Center’s own Café Lounge. 

Gomde Germany-Austria is located in the heart of Europe, about 3 hours drive from Munich, Germany, 2 hours drive from Vienna, Austria, and is a great starting point to explore Europe. The nearest airport is the local airport of Linz, Vienna; Salzburg and Munich International Airports can be accessed with public transportation.

Is this course for me?

This course is for you if you are...

… interested in Buddhism and philosophy 

…want to learn and practice meditation

…want to apply philosophical thinking to your day to day experience 

… have a critical, investigative mind that wants to explore personal growth and development

Admissions Process

The following items are required:

  • Personal Details

  • Application Essay (Please describe in no more than 500 words your background and your motivation for taking this course)

  • Proof of English language proficiency (min. Level B2)


This course is accredited by the Center for Buddhist Studies at Rangjung Yeshe Institute, Kathmandu University, Nepal.

The credit is transferable to other institutions. Note that these credits cannot be used to earn a degree at KU unless you are already enrolled in a degree program there before taking the course.

It is still possible to enroll at Rangjung Yeshe Institute to join this course for credit in order to transfer it to other institutions. 

Credits at Your University

This course meets the requirements of the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS).

Therefore, you can submit it to your university for accreditation - we will provide you with all the necessary documents. 

The following university has already agreed to accreditation: 

Catholic Private University, Linz, Austria

If you are a student of this institution, this course is part of your curriculum!

Daily schedule

Monday - Friday

7:30 - 8:30 Guided Morning Meditation

9:30 - 10:30 Classic Buddhist lecture by monastic teacher

11:00 - 12:15 Contemporary academic class 

Afternoon: Time for self-study, reading and online discussion

Weekends and special events (optional)

Occasionally, classes will also be offered on weekends and students will have the opportunity to join additional instructions or meditation practices offered by the Center on a donation base. 

The daily schedule is subject to change and may be adapted.

Room and Board

There are several housing options and students can choose to either stay at the Center or arrange for their own housing off-site. Either way, students have the option to have all their meals at Gomde.


There are various, simple, low-cost guest houses and homestays in close distance to Gomde. Students who prefer more privacy and like to stay at a distance from their place of study can rent a room there. Breakfast, lunch and dinner can be served at Gomde. 


Live like a Buddhist! 

Those who would like to take this course as an opportunity to immerse themselves in the “Buddhist way of life” can choose to stay at the Center. This gives students the chance to participate in daily evening meditations and interact with the volunteers as well as take part in spontaneous group activities. This is the best way to gain first-hand experience of living in a Buddhist community. 

Through being surrounded by people who attempt to apply Buddhist teachings in their daily lives, students can become aware of their meaning in the day-to-day context, test them in their personal interactions and thereby find deeper insight into the meaning of this philosophy and ethics for themselves. 

Accommodation will be offered in simple, single rooms with or without attached bathroom, as well as comfortable 2-4 person dormitories. 

„Yogi Job“

In order to stay at Gomde, one will be kindly asked to help with household chores such as washing dishes or simple cleaning tasks, for about 30 to 45 minutes daily. This ensures the smooth running of the Center, which is fully run by volunteers. Contributing to a place of practice is considered a virtuous deed, a form of applied meditation. This engagement helps to deepen one’s understanding of and sense of being part of a like-minded community. It also makes it possible for Gomde to offer board and accommodation affordable for everyone. Should you not be able or want to contribute in this manner, there is no obligation.


Course Costs

600 Euros for 5 ECTS/ 4 weeks

360 Euros for 3 ECTS/ 2 weeks 

Board and Accommodation 

The Buddhist center Gomde invites participants to stay on-site in exchange for a donation. 
In order to give everyone  the opportunity to stay at the center for the duration of the course, we provide staggered suggested donations:

To cover fixed costs for accommodation and board : 
1200 Euros 

Suggested donation with less means: 
400- 800 Euros

Suggested donation for benefactors: 
1600 Euros 

If you should not be able to give according to the guide value, please let us know in advance. We hope to find a suitable solution for everyone. 

Should you be able to give more, you enable Gomde to offer food and accommodation to students who have fewer resources. 

Staying Off-site: 

There are various, simple, low-cost guest houses and homestays within close distance to Gomde. Students who prefer more privacy and like to stay at a distance from their place of study can rent a room there. Breakfast, lunch and dinner can be served at Gomde. 

The costs for off-site accommodation vary, between 40€ and 90+€ per day.

Please get in contact with Gomde in order to find the right place for you. 


The Buddhist center Gomde invites those participants, who do not stay at Gomde to have their meals at the center, in exchange for a donation. 

The suggested donation for board during all 4 weeks of the course and weekends in between is:
15- 20 € per day

Scholarship opportunity

Rangjung Yeshe Gomde offers  scholarships to a limited number of students who can not afford the course costs. 

If you are enrolled at a European University and 
under 27. 

Please write us for more information about this opportunity. 


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