Friday Pali classes with James Whelan

Click here to book for James’s Pali class.

James WhelanPali/Sanskrit class with James Whelan, Friday afternoon at  2.00pm 🇬🇧 GMT.

In these Pali/Sanskrit classes James explains and explores the meaning of Buddhist terms used in the Dhammapada.

A grounding in Buddhist teachings and terms would be an advantage.

Everyone welcome.

NEW Pali language course starting on Friday March 5th

Dear All,

As many of you know, I am currently teaching the Pali “word clinic” via Zoom, under the auspices of the Golden Buddha Centre, Totnes, through a Zoom link on the Golden Buddha Centre website.

If there is sufficient demand, I am looking to expand the Pali offering to include a formal Pali language course, where we would methodically go through a textbook from start to finish. In the absence of better suggestions, my preferred option is Gair and Karunatillake A New Course in Reading Pali. It is available very cheaply on Amazon.

One major advantage of this book is that all of the illustrative material in it is taken directly from original sources. There are no “made up” sentences. It’s all the real thing.

It is important to note the difference between the word clinics and the formal language  courses.

The material:

In the word clinics, we are looking primarily at individual words and their meanings. We  do look at some grammar and syntax in passing, but peripherally, and only if I think it will be particularly helpful in grasping the meanings. The focus is: what do these words really mean? Where do they fit into the teaching and practice of the dhamma? We are getting into the core vocabulary of Buddhism.

By contrast, in the language course we will be following a graded textbook, and there will be meticulous attention to grammar and syntax. Ideally, there will be not a single letter of the text left in doubt.

The respective functions of teacher and student:

The word clinics do not require the students to have prepared in advance. Advance preparation is, of course very useful, but not mandatory. Further, no class requires pre-existing knowledge of the ground covered in previous classes. Valuable as preparation and previous knowledge may be for the individual student, these classes are designed to function as stand-alone “drop-in” sessions.

By contrast, each session in the language course will require serious advance preparation by the student, and a commitment from the students.

The difference is akin to a university lecture, as opposed to a university tutorial.

The word clinics are more like the lecture. The onus is on me to prepare, and I do most of the talking. Of course, questions and group discussion form an important part of the session – sometimes more and sometimes less – but the underlying onus is on me to keep it going, and basically “push it out” to the students.

The classes in the language course will be more like university tutorials, where the students  have committed some serious effort to studying the lesson in advance. They will bring their questions, doubts and difficulties for discussion and elucidation. So, the core material of the class will be dealing with those questions, doubts and difficulties identified by the students during their private study of the text of the lesson. I would also be testing their understanding.

We are tentatively planning to hold these sessions weekly, starting on Friday March 5th. The plan is to hold them immediately following the usual Friday word clinic.


14:00   Start word clinic.

15:00 (but no later than 15:05) end of word clinic session.

Minimum 10-minute maximum 15-minute break.

15:15: Start formal language session.

16:15/16:20 End

Sabbe sattā sukhitā hontu

James Whelan

Golden Buddha Centre Zoom Channel.

Once you have registered, we will send you a link to the meetings via email.

We look forward to seeing you.

Event Details: All meeting times are 🇬🇧 GMT. If you are not in the UK, click here to see different time zones on the world clock.

James’s first contact with Buddhism was as an undergraduate in 1965. Following a period in ashrams in India in 1967-1968, and practice in the Tibetan and Zen traditions back in the UK in the 1970s, he now practises mainly in the Theravada tradition. As a linguist, he has had a lifelong interest in accessing the teachings of Buddhism directly through the original Pali and Sanskrit texts. He has produced an edition of the Bodhicaryāvatāra of Shāntideva, designed to assist readers with even only slight knowledge of Sanskrit to access it in the original. James currently runs Pali classes via Golden Buddha Centre. He plans to continue to produce editions of Pali and Sanskrit texts to make them accessible to English-speakers, and to increase the scope and extent of the online teaching of Pali and Sanskrit.

In the meantime:

This is a Pali/Sanskrit Zoom class from the Golden Buddha Centre, Totnes, on the exploration of the word ‘puñña’ — often translated as ‘merit’.

James Whelan, the speaker, makes it clear, however, that there is a lot more to it than meets the eye.

Buddhist Pali class on line.

Buddhism on Zoom

Golden Buddha Centre Zoom Channel from Totnes.

Categories: All Events, Friday, GBC Buddhist Zoom channel, News

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