Seminary Program

This is where we post the essays from many of our Universal Life Church Seminary students. When students finish a ULC course, they write a comprehensive essay about their experiences with the course, what they learned, didn't learn, were inspired by, etc. Here are their essays.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Buddhism Course

Master of Buddhism

The questions asked for this final essay are what enjoyed , disliked and learned from this program. I will hold off from doing a cut and paste of information from previous discourses and will instead share from my heart. I feel that anybody can quote facts, but this program was more than only information for me to parrot back to you.

At the time that I signed up for this class, I had already been researching Buddhism as a likely alternative, or addition to my daily spiritual life.

The basics I'd previously studies were reinforced in this course, both in readings and when I put it into.  I will begin by saying, that I did like this course very much and I did learn a fair amount from it.

I'll first say that I enjoyed the focus on compassion and loving kindness. These two practices, and their corresponding meditations, have taught me much and helped me to bring those two precepts into my daily life even more. The level of compassion is what first had my interest in Buddhism. I liked the way this course focused on precepts, ethics and ideas that can be practiced, and not just various facts of history, although those were interesting as well.
I really enjoyed the FAQ's in Week 20, since those are so commonly asked by non-buddhists to practictioners.

I found it very interesting on the detail that we went into on the beginnings of Buddhism, the decisions that were made for monks and nuns, and the vows and lives they are required to live, even to this day. The Buddha seemed to lead his followers by having them think through their choices, and the ramifications each would have.

It is unfortunate, to me in a sense, that so many branches of Buddhism, or schools, have been formed over the centuries, but on the other hand, I feel this is just what happens when humans get involved in anything that is left up to interpretation. This has happened not only in Buddhism, but Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths as well. It highlights the need in humans to take something special, and make it their own, or in some cases, to "dumb it down" or water it down.

The Four Noble Truths, and the corresponding Eight Fold Path, seem so very simple, and yet, to put them into regular practice requires much meditation and concentration and a change of heart to see, as it is said, all sentient beings to be free from suffering. I will say that at first, all the "little" rules and precepts that followed the original teachings of the Buddha seemed like alot, but they also show how thought out and detailed Buddhist practice is and can be.

In reality, Buddhism is not even a religion in the most common sense of the word. It is a practice, a philosphy, and maybe even a faith, but in the purest sense, a person does not "worship" Buddha. He looks up to the Buddha and can aspire to be like him, but he is not a diety, to most buddhists that is. I realize that some may worship him as a diety, but he never claimed to be that.

With that in mind, the spiritual aspect of Buddhism is more subtle, with the focus being more on the mind, the discipline of the mind, and the "reprogramming" of the mind for the good of one and all. Meditation practice has certainly changed my life. There are some days when I meditate on emptiness, or impermanence, or some other buddhist idea, and I find peace in these things. There are other days when I meditate on deeper personal issues and I feel and experience a more spiritual consequence or reward for lack of a better word.

I know what Buddha and many buddhists believe and taught about reincarnation. I am still unsure of how I think on this, but I will say that I know look upon death as a part of the cycle of life and by admitting that nothing is forever and all created things are impermanent, death now looks like something less of an enemy, which is what is taught in many other faiths, and more like a piece of the puzzle of my life that is expected and needed at the right time.

I will close with what I considered to be the most profound statement that I learned in this course.
When the Buddha was asked if he was a god, he said no. He stated, " I am awake."

I love the simplicity of that statement. To the point, and to be aspired to.

Thank you for this program and for your time.

Rev. Mark J. Larose

The Universal Life Church is a comprehensive online seminary where we have classes in Christianity, Wicca, Paganism, two courses in Metaphysics and much more. 
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The  ULC, run by Rev. Long, has created a chaplaincy program to help train our ministers. We also have a huge catalog of Universal Life Church materials.  I've been ordained with the Universal Life Church for many years and it's Seminary since the beginning and have loved watching the continual growth of the seminary.
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The Universal Life Church is a comprehensive online seminary where we have classes in Christianity, Wicca, Paganism, two courses in Metaphysics and much more. I have been a proud member of the ULC for many years and the Seminary since its inception.
The Universal Life Church offers handfasting ceremonies, funeral ceremonies and free minister training.
As a long time member of ULC, Rev. Long created the seminary site to help train our ministers. We also have a huge selection of Universal Life Church  minister supplies. Since being ordained with the Universal Life Church for so many years and it's Seminary since the beginning, I've watch the huge change and growth that has continued to happen.
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