Foundation Program


The Foundation Program (FP) is designed for students who have gained a basic understanding of Kadampa Buddhist practice and are interested in pursuing a formalized and committed study program. Through regular teachings and meditation, systematic study, and group discussion, the Foundation Program offers the same training followed by spiritual practitioners in an unbroken lineage dating back to Buddha Shakyamuni. In this way we can gain authentic experience of the Dharma while still maintaining our contemporary lifestyle. By studying on this program we shall gain great confidence in meditation – from basic techniques for overcoming our everyday problems to practices leading to unsurpassed happiness and permanent inner peace.

If you have been attending the General Program classes for a while and feel you want to deepen your meditation practice you may be interested in joining FP. Please email us if you would like more information.

Five Subjects

The program comprises the following five subjects, based on Buddha's Sutra teachings and their corresponding commentaries by Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso:

  • The Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, based on the commentary Joyful Path of Good Fortune
  • Training the Mind, based on the commentaries Universal Compassion and Eight Steps to Happiness
  • The Heart Sutra, based on the commentary The New Heart of Wisdom
  • Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, based on the commentary Meaningful to Behold
  • Types of Mind, based on the commentary How to Understand the Mind

Class Structure

The secret of the Foundation Program’s success lies in the manageable commitment made by the student and in the clear structure of study. Students agree to attend every class, learn the material, and to take a test at the conclusion of each book.

Prior to class, students study an assigned portion of the text, usually a few pages, and memorize the essential points. The class begins with chanted prayers and guided meditation. The teacher then reads the assigned selection from the book while giving commentary to the text. The students then divide into pairs to discuss the material. The teacher and students conclude by deciding what to meditate on in the next class and how to practice during the coming week, followed by dedication prayers.

A Special Teaching on the Foundation Program by Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

In 1990, Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso gave a talk about the Foundation Program and its purpose. Read the transcript of this talk.


Enrolled students commit to a monthly membership at the Contributor Level  ($60/month) or higher.

Correspondence Program

Students who live outside the area or who have a good reason for not being able to attend Foundation Program in person can request to study via correspondence—either via audio recording or live stream. Please email requests to

Safety Harbor: How to Understand the Mind

with Greg Goodman

2024 Classes resume on August 20 | Tuesdays 6:30pm - 8:30pm

This book offers us deep insight into our mind, and shows how an understanding of its nature and functions can be used practically in every day experience to improve our lives.

Part 1 is a practical guide to developing and maintaining a light, positive mind - showing how to recognize and abandon states of mind that harm us, and to replace them with peaceful and beneficial ones.

Part 2 describes different types of mind in detail, revealing the depth and profundity of the Buddhist understanding of the mind. It concludes with a detailed explanation of meditation, showing how by controlling and transforming our mind we can attain a lasting state of joy, independent of external conditions.

St Petersburg: Meaningful to Behold / Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life

with Kadam Michelle Gauthier

2024 Classes resume on August 12 | Mondays 6:15pm - 8:15pm

This term we will study Meaningful to Behold by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche. Many people have the compassionate wish to benefit others, but few understand how to accomplish this successfully in daily life. Bodhisattvas are friends of the world who have such strong compassion that they are able to transform all their daily activities into ways of benefiting others. The path of the Bodhisattva was exquisitely explained in the universally loved poem Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life by the 8th century master Shantideva. With this commentary, the full effectiveness and profundity of this wonderful poem are revealed in full and made applicable for our time. This practical handbook is essential for those wishing to follow a way of life characterized by greater empathy and compassion for others.

Quaker House, 130 19th Ave SE, St. Petersburg, FL 33705
*Please note that our class meets in the building behind the Main Building. Please walk around to the left and you will see it across the courtyard.