Since sponsoring our first courses “Socially Engaged Buddhism” and “Buddhist Psychology: Theories and Applications” at New College, University of Toronto, in 2003, the Buddhist Education Foundation of Canada (BEFC) had made annual donations for these two and other courses to New College every year for ten years up to 2013. Over $600,000 were donated over this ten-year period. The other courses we sponsored were:
Buddhism and Psychotherapy; Buddhism and the Science of Mindfulness Meditation; Buddhism and Cognitive Science; Research Seminar; Yogacara Buddhism; Cultivating Consciousness.
Our donations had enabled the creation of the minor program “Buddhism, Psychology and Mental Health” (BPMH) in 2007. Our donations essentially funded the majority of the New College courses in this program.
The Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies (CHIBS) had also sponsored additional four half courses for a two-year period, 2012 and 2013. A BIG thank-you and our heart-felt gratitude to all the donors and supporters of BEFC and to CHIBS for being part of this exciting project!
The BPMH program has thrived and student enrollment increases every year. In 2014, New College has financed the program from their own funding sources. Since 2015, our Foundation has been be funding a half course titled “Cultivating Consciousness”, a practice-oriented course that would otherwise not be offered.
Graduate and Professional Studies
BEFC has started working with Emmanuel College of Victoria University in the University of Toronto in developing a Diploma Program in “Buddhist Mindfulness & Mental Health” (BMMH). To enter this program, students are required to already have an undergraduate degree. The courses will be of interest to mature students who wish to integrate Buddhist wisdom into their personal and professional practices.
In the fall of 2015, BEFC successfully fundraised to establish a Fellowship in Buddhism and Psychiatry at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. We are proceeding to fund this fellowship for the period of September 2016 to August 2017. Our objective is to support the application of the Buddhist teachings in Psychiatry. As the Buddhist teachings on mindfulness has already had a significant impact on the research and practice of western psychology and psychiatry, it is important that the understanding of mindfulness be extended to the deeper teachings in Buddhism to benefit the inquiries in these fields.
In January 2016, BEFC has begun collaboration with Emmanuel College on an Applied Buddhist Studies Initiative which has offered
- three all-day professional development workshops that are accredited by the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Toronto in Jan. and Oct. 2016;
- a Conference on Applied Buddhism: Past and Present in Oct. 2016;
- various public lectures on Buddhism.
BEFC is looking into the possibility of endowing four lectureships to facilitate the interdisciplinary study of Buddhism and western psychology for the advancement of mental health:
Abhidhamma and Yogacara Buddhist Psychology
The philosophies of the Buddha and Nagarjuna
Zen (aka Chan) and Vipassana Meditation
Socially Engaged Buddhism
The first three fields of study offer the opportunities for students to examine the workings of the human mind both intellectually and experientially so that they may understand how to free themselves from mental suffering. The fourth explores how the Buddhist teachings can be applied to contemporary society.