Reviewed by senior Western monastics within of the Forest Tradition, this course represents a thorough introduction to basic Theravada Buddhist Dhamma concepts. Following the sequential, Pali vocabulary-based model featured in the Thai Nak Tham examinations, this course provides traditional, pragmatic exegesis from a wide variety of monastic teachers – historical and modern, Eastern and Western – in written, audio, and video format. The student who finishes this three-month course will have a strong foundation in the fundamentals of Theravada Buddhist doctrine and practice. In this course, curated by Ajahn Kovilo, an American monk ordained at Abhayagiri Monastery in 2010, students will:

  • Explore key Dhamma concepts.
  • Read primary Discourses to see concepts in context.
  • Learn traditional interpretations from Commentarial literature.
  • Study perspectives from a range of modern teachers.
  • Orient to practice-based (patipatti) application of theory (pariyatti)
  • Test their understanding of terms through optional quizzes.
  • Have the option of joining online discussions with fellow students.

A unique feature of this course is its sympathetic, faith-based approach to these teachings. This curriculum offers not an agnostic sociological approach to the Buddha’s teachings but an insider’s view. Though many competent and sincere lay teachers exist, this platform will highlight the teachings of ordained Theravada monastics – bhikkhus and bhikkhunis – but will not limit its perspective to the interpretations from only one country or tradition. Thus, this course features readings, audio, and video from monastics of multiple nationalities: Thai, Sri Lankan, Burmese, and Western.

The course, with its many hyperlinked references, videos, audio samples, interactive testing, and flashcard elements, is designed primarily for online study over time. To thoroughly digest the wealth of information and resources provided, a period of four months time is suggested for completion. It can, of course, be completed more rapidly or savored more slowly and a skeleton outline is available in PDF format here as a useful resource for offline or communal study, such as classes in a monastery or other group.

Hoped-for Contributors

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi Ajahn Pasanno Ajahn Thanissaro
Ajahn Amaro Ajahn Kaccana

Ajahn Candasiri


We would love to have Bhikkhu Bodhi featured on this site.
– Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, Hoped-for Contributor


Duration: 4 months (recommended)
Time Commitment: 2  hours per week (recommended)
Pace: self-determined
Pre-requisites: none

Content Overview

This “Dhamma Studies: Concepts” course leads students through a stepwise enumeration of groups of Dhammas similar to that found in the Aṅguttara Nikāya. The Course is broken up into Eight Units with each unit providing enough material for a suggested two weeks of in-depth study resulting in a four-month introductory syllabus. Each Unit features numbered lists of Dhammas in progressive ordering. Thus, Unit 1 contains several Dhamma lists featuring, two, then three items. Unit 2 features further Dhamma lists of three and four items, etc. The course discussion forum hosted through Discord can be reached through the link to the right.

Unit 2

  • The Four Noble Truths (dukkha; samudaya; nirodha; magga)
  • Ways of growth (sappurisaṃseva; saddhammasavana; yonisomanasikāra; dhammānudhammapaṭipatti)
  • Four Biases (changāgati; dosāgati; mohāgati; bhayāgati)
  • Four Efforts (saṃvarappadhāna; phānappadhāna; bhāvappadhāna; anrakkhanappadhāna)
  • Four Factors for Determination (paññā; sacca; cāgā; upasama)
  • Four Bases for Success – Iddhipāda (chanda; viriya; citta; vimaṃsā)
  • Four Moral Purities ( pāṭimokkhasaṃvara; indriyasaṃvara; ājīvapārisuddhi; paccayapaccavekkhaṇa)
  • The Four Brahmavihāras (mettā; karuṇā; muditā; upekkhā)
  • The Four Satipaṭṭhānā (kāyānupassanā; vedanānupassanā; cittānupassanā; dhammānupassanā)
  • The Four Elements (paṭhavīdhātu; āpodhātu; tejodhātu; vāyodhātu)
  • The Four Requisites (cīvara; piṇḍapāta; senāsana; bhesajja)

Unit 3

  • Five Anantariyakamma (matricide; patricide; arahanticide; injuring a Buddha; causing a schism in the Saṅgha)
  • Five Frequent Recollections (jarā; byādhi; maraṇa; vipariṇāma; kamma)
  • Five Dhammas which Bring Self-Confidence (saddhā; sīla; bāhusacca; viriyārambha; paññā)
  • The Five Bala/Indriya (saddhā; vīriya; sati; samādhi; paññā)
  • Five Qualities for a New Monk (pātimokkha-sīla; indriyasaṃvara; appassadda; viveka; sammādiṭṭhi)
  • Five Qualities of One Who Speaks on Dhamma (speaking step-by-step; speaking logically; practicing metta; not being intent on gain; not self-aggrandizing)
  • Five Hindrances (kāmacchanda; byāpāda; thīnamiddha; uddhaccakukkucca; vicikicchā)
  • Five Khandha (rūpa; vedanā; saññā; saṅkhāra; viññāṇa)

Unit 4

  • Six Objects of Respect – Gārava (Buddha; Dhamma; Saṅgha; sikkhā; appamāda; paṭisanthāra)
  • Six Dhammas of Harmony – Sārāṇiyadhamma (Practicing metta by body; speech; mind; sharing gains; keeping similar sīls; non-quarreling)
  • Six Internal Āyatana (cakkhu; sota; ghāṇa; jivhā; kāya; mano)
  • Six External Āyatana (rūpā; saddā; gandhā; rasā; phoṭṭhabbā; dhammā)
  • Six Types of Consciousness (viññāṇaṃ)
  • Six Bases of Contact (samphassa)
  • Six Types of Feeling (vedanā)
  • Six Elements (phaṭhavidhatu; āpodhātu; tejodhātu; vāyodhātu; ākāsadhātu; viññāṇadhātu)

Unit 5

  • Seven Dhammas of Non-Decline – Aparihānīyadhammā
  • Seven Noble Treasures (saddhā; sīla; hiri; ottappa; bāhusacca; cāga; paññā)
  • Seven Dhammas of People of Integrity
  • Sappurisadhammā (dhammaññutā; atthaññutā; attaññutā; mattaññutā; kālaññutā; parisaññutā; puggalaparoparaññutā)
  • Seven Other Dhammas of People of Integrity – Sappurisadhammā
  • Seven Factors of Enlightenment – Bojjhaṅga (sati; dhammavicaya; viriya; pīti; passaddhi; samādhi; upekkhā

Unit 6

  • Eight Worldly Dhammas (pleasure and pain; profit and loss; praise and blame; popularity and disrepute)
  • Eight Dhamma-Vinaya Dhammas of Gotamī  (Dhammic Constitution)
  • Eight Dhamma-Vinaya Dhammas (Dhammic Constitution)
  • Eightfold Noble Path – Ariya Aṭṭhaṅgikamagga (sammādiṭṭhi; sammāsaṅkappa; sammāvācā; sammākammanta; sammā-ājīva; sammāvāyāma; sammāsati; sammāsamādhi)
  • Nine Blemishes

Unit 7

  • Ten Paths of Unwholesome Action & Ten Paths of Wholesome Action
  • Ten Basis of Meritorious Action (dānamayā; sīlamayā; bhāvanamayā; apacāyanamayā; veyyāvaccamayā; pattidānamayā; pattānumodanāmayā; dhammasavanamayā; dhammadesanāmayā; diṭṭhujukamma)
  • Ten Subjects for Frequent Recollection by One Who Has Gone Forth
  • Ten Dhammas Which Make for Refuge – Nāthakaraṇdhammā (sīla; bāhusacca; kalyāṇamittatā; sovacassatā; kiṃkaraṇīyesu dakkhatā; dhammakāmatā; viriya; santuṭṭhi; sati; paññā)

Unit 8

  • Ten Subjects Suitable for Conversation = Kathāvatthu (appicchakathā; santuṭṭhikathā; pavikekakathā; asṃsaggakathā; viriyārambhakathā; sīlakathā; samādhikathā; paññākathā; vimuttikathā; vimuttiñāṇadassanakathā)
  • Ten Recollections – Anussati (buddhānussati; dhammānussati; saṅghānussati; sīlānussati; cāgānussati; devatānussati; maraṇassati; kāyagatāsati; ānāpānasati; upasamānussati)
  • Sixteen Defilements – Upakkilesa ()
  • Thirty-seven Wings to Awakening – Bodhipakkhiyadhammā ()