Posts Tagged "basic program"

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Without familiarity with the principles of Buddhist thought and practice as taught in the Tibetan tradition, you may find some of the Basic Program subjects difficult to follow and may not benefit as much as you could. There are two FPMT programs that are highly recommended as preparatory study and practice for the Basic Program, both available as homestudy: Discovering Buddhism and The Foundation of Buddhist Thought. Apart from explaining general Buddhist concepts, either of these programs will help you get used to a structured approach to learning Dharma, with regular study, reading assignments, meditation instructions, retreats and assessment questions. Having this kind of preparation will make your Basic Program study more effective and enjoyable. These programs will also help you establish a regular meditation practice and gain some retreat experience, so that when you participate in the Basic Program you can independently structure your practice and design your own retreats on the basis of the provided materials.

Requirements for Tantra

To study Death, Intermediate State and Rebirth and Grounds and Paths of Secret Mantra, there are specific requirements pertaining to tantra. In order to study these subjects it is necessary to have taken refuge, which implies making a life-long commitment to the Buddhist spiritual path, and to have received a highest yoga tantra empowerment. A highest yoga tantra empowerment must have been received from a qualified lama and entails taking the bodhisattva and tantra vows along with the commitment to do the Six Session Guru Yoga practice on a daily basis. To study the Highest Yoga Tantra commentary, these commitments are required in addition to the specific empowerment related to deity of the commentary.

Both Discovering Buddhism and The Foundation of Buddhist Thought include an introduction to tantra, explanations of the development of the bodhisattva aspiration and the meaning of refuge. In the Basic Program, the Stages of the Path teachings further explain refuge and the development of the bodhisattva aspiration and the commitments involved, and Engaging in the Bodhisattva Deeds and Mahayana Mind Training will help you develop these commitments and train in keeping them.

 

If I want to study the FPMT education programs by way of homestudy, do I have to start with Discovering Buddhism?

Do I have to register at a center to participate in Basic Program Homestudy or BP Online?

Why isn’t there just one teacher for the FPMT BP Homestudy?

How does FPMT BP Homestudy differ from BP Homestudy provided by specific centers?

Can I study by combining BP Homestudy from a particular center with FPMT BP Homestudy?

Is it necessary to do all subjects or can I just do one or two?

Do I get a certificate when I have passed the test for a subject?

How is the assessment done in case of homestudy?

What is the purpose of the ‘honor system’, and how does it work?

Where do I find a list of the texts studied in the Basic Program?

Do I need to buy the translations of the texts and other books?


Why are there tests and a final exam?

What are the requirements for the BP Homestudy Completion Certificate?

Is the BP Homestudy Completion Certificate different from the general Basic Program Completion Certificate?

What are the five lay-vows mentioned by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in the Basic Program Practice & Conduct info sheet?

Will there be an on-line forum as with Discovering Buddhism at Home?

Do you provide help for BP Homestudy by means of tutors, as The Foundation of Buddhist Thought does?

Is there more to the Basic Program than just study and tests?

I heard of something called Dharma etiquette. Does this have anything to do with studying the Basic Program?

Do I need initiation into Buddhism? At what point if at all?

Is Basic Program Homestudy only offered in English?

Are there any provisions to study Tibetan alongside Basic Program Homestudy?

What does BP Homestudy/BP Online cost?

Why are the different subjects offered in DVD and audio and not just in one format?

The Basic Program as offered in centers seems to be a five-year program. How long will it take me to do the program as homestudy? How many hours per week do I need?



If I want to study the FPMT education programs by way of homestudy, do I have to start with Discovering Buddhism ?
It depends on your familiarity with this tradition of Buddhism. If you are new to Tibetan Buddhism it would be best to do the more accessible Discovering Buddhism at Home first. The Basic Program is a more traditional, in-depth study based on Tibetan and Indian texts while Discovering Buddhism focuses on specific topics, explained by Western teachers, and gradually introduces meditation practice and retreats. You need familiarity both with the tradition and with independent study, practice and retreat to be able to experience benefit from your BP studies.

Do I have to register at a center to participate in Basic Program homestudy or BP Online?
No. You can simply order the packages (hard copy) or the access keys (for the BP Online subjects offered at the Online Learning Center) at The Foundation Store.

Why isn’t there just one teacher for FPMT BP Homestudy?
FPMT BP Homestudy is aimed at students worldwide who do not have a connection with a particular center or any one teacher. For these students we feel that it is most beneficial to provide each BP subject taught by a different FPMT teacher. In this way we give students the opportunity to get to know several of our Basic Program teachers and their different styles of teaching.

How does the FPMT BP Homestudy differ from BP Homestudy provided by specific centers?
Some centers provide BP Homestudy or BP Online based on teachings by their resident teacher. This option is aimed at students who have a connection with a particular center or teacher, but can’t attend the teachings for one reason or another. Many students worldwide who do not live near enough to a center to have an established connection with either center or teacher, have expressed an interest in Basic Program Homestudy. For them FPMT BP Homestudy and FPMT BP Online have been developed.

Can I study by combining BP Homestudy from a particular center with FPMT BP Homestudy?
You can  study by combining BP Homestudy subjects as offered by a particular center with FPMT BP Homestudy and FPMT BP Online. And you can qualify for the BP Homestudy Completion Certificate this way too, completing the entire BP by using these different options.


Is it necessary to do all subjects or can I just do one or two?
You can do as many subjects as you are interested in. If you want to qualify for the BP Homestudy Completion Certificate you will have to do at least all nine subjects of the core curriculum.

Do I get a certificate when I have passed the test for a subject?
BP Online issues a subject completion certificate for each course/BP subject that you succesfully complete. For BP Homestudy you can have your Homestudy Completion Card signed if you complete a subject with the test – the card is provided in digital format. You can participate in the BP review and final exam when you have fulfilled all the requirements. Successful completion of all the components of the program is recognized by a Basic Program Homestudy Completion Certificate.

How is the assessment done in case of homestudy?
Students can check their understanding by using the tests and answer keys included with the course materials for each subject. If you want to qualify for the BP Homestudy Completion Certificate the test is done under an honor system and you should not use or consult the answer key beforehand. For BP Online the test is done online. For BP Homestudy the completed test is sent by email to Education Services.

What is the purpose of the ‘honor system’, and how does it work?
This system makes it possible for homestudy students to participate fully in the Basic Program, including the elements of conduct and behavior, retreat, and meditation as well as the academic component of study with tests, review and final exam. Homestudy students do not have to participate fully in the program in this way, but they can if they want to.

The honor system is applied in the following ways:

  • for the tests: by signing the statement at the beginning of the test, or, for BP Online, by filling in the online form, you indicate that you have not used the answer key or your text and notes etc., while completing the test.
  • for the meditation requirement: you need to keep a weekly meditation record; this is your own responsibility – the record is not checked by anybody else.
  • for the one or three month lamrim retreat: if you do the retreat independently, you can ask Education Services to have your completion card signed off when this requirement is fulfilled; for BP Online you do the retreat as part of the BP Completion course and fill in the online form to confirm fulfillment of the requirements and receive the course certificate.
  • for the three months review period and final exam: you sign the honor statement included in the review questions and the honor statement at the beginning of the final exam which indicates that you did not make use of your course materials, notes etc.
  • for the Basic Program conduct and practice requirement: you are expected to apply yourself to this practice to the best of your ability, sincerely and honestly.


Where do I find a list of the texts studied in the Basic Program?
The standard Basic Program texts and commentaries are listed in the overview of the BP curriculum.

Do I need to buy the translations of the texts and other books?
All essential materials needed to study a subject are included in the study materials. This almost always includes a translation of the main text. On rare occasions the main text can only be purchased from a publisher. Sometimes there are some books recommended for additional reading, but generally there is sufficient recommended reading and supplementary study material included in the course materials.

Why are there tests and a final exam?
The (homework) quizzes and the tests are intended as a study tool; they will help you assess your understanding of the subject matter. You are free to make use of them or not. If you want to qualify for the Basic Program Homestudy Completion Certificate, you have to pass the test for the completion of each subject, complete the review (based on the review questions provided by Education Services), pass the final exam, and fulfill the requirements of full participation in the program.

What are the requirements for the BP Homestudy Completion Certificate?
To qualify for the FPMT Basic Program Homestudy Completion Certificate, students are required:

  • to have completed the 9 subjects of the BP core curriculum and their respective tests
  • to have completed the lamrim retreat
  • to have passed the BP Final Exam after completing a three months review period
  • to have conduct that accords with Buddhist ethics, in particular, to develop the practice of abstention from killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct (adultery), and intoxicants
    and
    to be practicing awareness of positive and negative states in one’s mind and be developing the practice of patience and concern for others in particular
  • to have engaged in at least two half-hour lamrim meditation sessions a week during their BP studies

The completion of a three month lamrim retreat, as advised by Lama Zopa Rinpoche for the Basic Program in general, is not mandatory for homestudy students. The minimum requirement for the Basic Program Homestudy Completion Certificate is a one month lamrim retreat.

Is the BP Homestudy Completion Certificate different from the general Basic Program Completion Certificate?
Yes; the certificate indicates that it was awarded on the basis of homestudy, and that students therefore did not study with a teacher in person. Also, while the BP graduates are eligible to become FPMT registered teachers at In-depth level, BP Homestudy graduates can enter the teacher registration process for Foundational level, which qualifies them to teach introductory courses and Discovering Buddhism.

What are the five lay-vows mentioned by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in the Basic Program Practice & Conduct info sheet?
The five lay-vows consist of the practice of abstention from killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct (adultery), and intoxicants.


Will there be an on-line forum as with Discovering Buddhism at Home?
The BP Online forums at the Online Learning Center are open (and recommended) for BP Homestudy students as well. They give you the opportunity to discuss the subject matter and how it relates to practice with other students. Instructions on how to access the forums are included in your course materials.

Do you provide help for BP Homestudy by means of tutors, as The Foundation of Buddhist Thought does?
Other than the elders who take part in the virtual discussion group provided by the online forums, we can not presently provide tutors for FPMT Basic Program Homestudy. However, centers can and do sometimes provide extra help with their BP Homestudy in various forms. The Online Basic Program offered by Lama Tzong Khapa Institute is in real time, following the residential schedule, with tutors offering support in the form of review classes, online discussions and more.

Is there more to the Basic Program than just study and tests?
All subjects include guided meditations or written meditation and retreat instructions, and you are strongly encouraged to make use of these. Centers implementing the Basic Program sometimes schedule practice days or short retreats that you may like to consider participating in as well. Also, as a Basic Program student you would ideally have some experience of both Lamrim study and meditation, enabling you to structure your own retreats and a daily or regular meditation practice.

I heard of something called Dharma etiquette. Does this have anything to do with studying the Basic Program?
Yes; all materials containing Dharma teachings should be handled with respect, and it is appropriate to also treat your study area respectfully. This is explained in more detail in the Guidelines for Discovering Buddhism at Home at the end of page 13.

Do I need initiation into Buddhism? At what point if at all?
Once faith and sufficient understanding develop, one may decide to ‘take refuge’ in the Buddhist teachings. This is the name given to the formal step of entrusting oneself to the Buddhist path. Discovering Buddhism and The Foundation of Buddhist Thought include modules on refuge and the development of the bodhisattva aspiration. In the Basic Program the Stages of the Path teachings further explain these, and Engaging in the Bodhisattva Deeds and Mahayana Mind Training will help you develop the commitments involved and train in keeping them. For the tantra subjects towards the end of the Basic Program a highest yoga tantra initiation is required; this entails taking the bodhisattva and tantra vows and a specific tantra daily practice commitment.

Is Basic Program Homestudy only offered in English?
FPMT Basic Program Homestudy and FPMT BP Online are offered only in English at this stage. If centers are providing their Basic Program courses as home study subjects the language depends on the center. Two of our Spanish centers, Nagarjuna Valencia and Nagarjuna Barcelona, offer their Basic Program materials as homestudy, and  Lama Tzong Khapa Institute provides its BP Online in Italian as well as in English.

Are there any provisions to study Tibetan alongside Basic Program Homestudy?

All course materials for FPMT BP Homestudy subjects include the standard Tibetan texts and their translations, giving students with some proficiency in Tibetan the opportunity to increase their knowledge. Studying Tibetan is not a requirement or part of the Basic Program though, and students can complete the entire BP without knowledge of Tibetan language.

What does BP Homestudy cost?

The price of the hard copy packages varies considerably depending on the length of the subject and the format in which the teachings are provided, from around 40-140 US dollars. The BP Online courses cost 45 USD each.

Why are the different subjects offered in DVD and audio and not just in one format?
While aiming at the highest quality and hoping in future to be able to provide all subjects in DVD format, as an international organization we depend on the goodwill of the contributing centers and on the technology they have at hand. At this stage not all centers can provide video recorded teachings, and thus subjects are presented in different formats. Also, some are so long that providing them as DVDs would make hard copy packages too expensive; for BP Online we try as much as we can to offer video, while including the extracted audio files as well.

The Basic Program offered in centers seems to be a five-year program. How long will it take me to do the BP by homestudy?
It depends on the intensity and frequency of your study sessions. Several centers offer one teaching per subject per week, while there are also much more intensive residential Basic Programs, indicating that the BP is studied at a variety of levels over the five year period set for it. At home you can work your way through the material offered at your own pace, in accordance with your circumstances. Because the subject matter is often quite involved we expect that the entire program done at home will also take at least five years, based on a disciplined and quite intensive schedule of study and practice. For BP Online a time-wise planning and other recommendations are included with each subject on the How to study… page, while the expected length of time needed per available subject is indicated on the BP Online introductory page.

 What is the FPMT Online Learning Center?

With over 50 modules available in English, Spanish and French, and more than 17,000 registered users, the FPMT Online Learning Center provides an enormous opportunity to learn. Students who want to  engage in the comprehensive programs developed by FPMT Education Services can easily join other students from all parts of the world in their studies and practice without leaving home.

Perhaps you’ve studied Buddhism for years in a town with no Buddhist center and feel you have no one to talk to about progressing on the path. Maybe you already participate in online social forums and would love to do so with a spiritual community. Or perhaps a question arises at 3:00 a.m. that needs an answer ASAP. Even if you already attend a Dharma center, the Online Learning Center may offer additional Dharma connections,  and an opportunity to study a program not offered locally.

The programs range from Buddhist basics to advanced Vajrayana commentaries, with offerings including study programs such  as Meditation 101, Discovering Buddhism, Living in the Path, the Basic Program; and additional teachings such as Shiné Retreat with Ven. Choden Rinpoche and Ven. Rene Fusi, and special commentaries such as Commentary on Lama Chopa and Commentary on Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga.  Programs are complete with video and audio teachings, reading materials, moderated discussion forums, coursework and study guides, and community service assignments.

The Online Learning Center brings ease, structure and depth to your studies. All these resources can be found through the convenience of a module’s single webpage, and with links provided to other resources, you can study without the need to search the web for related materials. Everything can be stored digitally or streamed directly from the web, and modules can be completed on your own time and pace.

OLC Pic

 
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Visit the Online Learning Center

 

 


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Learning Dharma means less ignorance and more wisdom. It means more light in your life, no darkness in your mind. It means you have more freedom in your life to achieve liberation from samsara and great enlightenment. The more you understand Dharma, the more you can benefit others.
–Lama Zopa Rinpoche
 


The
Basic Program is a five-year, twelve-subject course of studies designed by Lama Zopa Rinpoche. It provides a practice-oriented transmission of the Buddhadharma to committed students ready to progress beyond introductory-level study and practice. Its comprehensive curriculum greatly enhances students’ Dharma understanding, establishing a sound basis for ongoing study, practice, retreat and service. FPMT centers worldwide offer the program at a variety of levels; it is also available as a Homestudy and Online program.Some of Tibetan Buddhism’s most treasured texts form the heart of the Basic Program. Je Tsongkhapa’s Middling Lam-Rim, Shantideva’s Bodhisattvacharyavatara, the Heart Sutra, Jetsun Chökyi Gyältsen’s Tenets, Maitreya’s Ornament and Tathagata Essence, the Wheel of Sharp Weapons and others guide the practitioner through a comprehensive study of sutra and tantra.

 

The Basic Program in FPMT Centers

ABC BP2 June2011

The Basic Program is taught by Tibetan geshes and qualified Western teachers. Study of the standard texts and commentaries is ideally supported by discussions, tests, meditation and short retreats. Students must follow the Basic Program criteria for conduct over the course of their studies: practicing to refrain from killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct (adultery) and intoxicants, while developing their concern for others, awareness of positive and negative states of mind, and in particular developing the practice of patience and the bodhicitta motivation. A review period concluded by the final exam and three months of lam-rim retreat complete the program.

Students may enter the Basic Program at the beginning of subjects as indicated by individual centers. Students will benefit most from their BP studies if they have some familiarity with preparatory study and practice as offered by introductory level programs.

Upon fulfillment of the requirements set by the center and having passed the test for a subject, the Basic Program Completion Card is signed. When at least the nine subjects of the core curriculum are completed, students may participate in the review and final exam.

The lam-rim retreat may be done before or after the exam, but should be done after studying the Stages of the Path. Lama Zopa Rinpoche strongly encourages students to do a three-month retreat all at once, but if this is not possible, three separate months of lam-rim retreat fulfill the requirement. Several centers are now offering one- or three-month lam-rim retreats in different regions.

Upon completion of the review, final exam and retreat, students are awarded the Basic Program Completion Certificate. Graduates become eligible to serve as teachers and tutors for FPMT education programs.

BP Guidelines, support, the standard  texts and commentaries both in Tibetan and in translation (in English, Spanish, French and German) and examples of course materials are available for FPMT centers wishing to implement the Basic Program. For more information  please contact the FPMT Basic Program coordinator.

 

Basic Program Homestudy and Basic Program Online

The Basic Program Homestudy and BP Online series offer the BP subjects by way of video, audio and transcripts, complemented by study materials, discussion forums, guided meditations and retreats. By presenting BP teachings that were offered at a variety of Basic Program centers, students who cannot study at a center get to know several of our outstanding Basic Program teachers.

Basic Program Homestudy students may study any of the subjects, and in any order they wish; students are also free to choose to what extent they wish to follow the  BP homestudy recommendations regarding discussion, behavior, practice, meditation and retreat.

To make their study of the Basic Program most rewarding, homestudy students are encouraged to engage in all components of the program, including the behavior criteria, the meditation requirement of at least two half-hour lam-rim meditations per week, the subject-completion tests and subject-related short retreats, the Basic Program Homestudy retreat requirement (a one-month lam-rim retreat), and the three month review and final exam.

Upon completion of all requirements the BP Homestudy Completion Certificate is awarded; BP homestudy graduates are eligible to become FPMT teachers at Foundational Buddhism level, which qualifies to teach Discovering Buddhism and introductory courses at FPMT centers.

Basic Program Homestudy students discuss BP topics with each other via the BP Online forums that are monitored by qualified Western teachers. Homestudy students can participate in one month lamrim retreats offered by centers in several regions. 

To benefit  from Basic Program Homestudy, some experience with Dharma study, meditation practice, and skill in doing individual retreat are needed. There are also specific requirements for the tantra subjects. Please check the preparatory study and practice page to decide if Basic ProgramHomestudy is right for you!

The Basic Program Homestudy FAQ page answers further questions about the program. The Introduction to Basic Program Online course on the FPMT Online Learning Center outlines many details and is freely accessible.

Basic Program Homestudy/Online is available from The Foundation Store. BP Online and BP Homestudy are also offered by Nalanda Monastery, Lama Tzong Khapa Insitute and Chenrezig Institute.

 

I’m finding the Mahayana Mind Training a pretty earth-moving subject. This is a brilliant example of Dharma as a mirror and it is giving me plenty to work on. Venerable George’s commentary is crystal clear and his teaching style is very effective. I highly recommend this package.
–BP Homestudy student
 

 

The Basic Program Subjects

The Basic Program curriculum was designed by Lama Zopa Rinpoche to ensure that students who want to study beyond the introductory level will gain a profound knowledge of the key aspects of the entire Buddhist path. Refer to the BP subject descriptions for a more detailed description of each of the Basic Program subjects!

Basic Program students study:

  • Stages of the Path:  the stages of the path to enlightenment of beings of low, middling, and great capacity
  • Heart Sutra: emptiness and the phenomena qualified by it
  • Engaging in the Bodhisattva Deeds: the six perfections – generosity, morality, patience, joyous effort, concentration, and wisdom – and how to practice them in everyday life
  • Mahayana Mind Training (Wheel of Sharp Weapons): the law of actions and results, or karma, and the states of mind that shape our future experiences
  • Sublime Continuum:  the buddha or tathagata essence that exists within every sentient being
  • Mind and Cognition: the way the mind knows phenomena and the mental factors that constitute the basis of our daily experience
  • Tenets: the philosophical systems or tenets of the four main schools of ancient Buddhist thought
  • Ornament for Clear Realizations and Seventy Topics: the 173 aspects of the enlightened or omniscient mind
  • Grounds and Paths of Secret Mantra; Death, Intermediate State and Rebirth; and a Highest Yoga Tantra commentary;  the four classes of tantra with emphasis on the generation and completion stages of highest yoga tantra

The Basic Program subjects may be studied in any order; however, the Stages of the Path (lam-rim) provides the overall context for the other subjects and for meditation practice throughout. Understanding Tenets and Mind and Cognition will help with the ninth chapter of Engaging in the Bodhisattva Deeds, and Seventy Topics and Ornament will be difficult without studying the other subjects first. The tantra subjects should not be attempted without a good overall understanding and practice of the path.

Highlighted subjects are currently available for home study as Basic Program Online courses and as BP Homestudy hard copy packages from the Foundation Store. Subjects not yet available as homestudy are planned to be released within the next few years.

FPMT Centers Offering the Basic Program


Australia
Chenrezig Institute, Eudlo, Queensland
Liberation Prison Project, Blackheath, New South Wales
Vajrayana Institute, Ashfield, New South Wales

Canada
Gendun Drubpa Center, Williams Lake

France
Institut Vajra Yogini, Southern France
Kalachakra Centre, Paris
Nalanda Monastery, Southern France

Germany
Aryatara Institute, Munich

Italy
Centro Tara Cittamani, Padova
Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa, Pomaia, Tuscany
Kushi Ling Retreat Centre, Italian Alps

Malaysia
Losang Dragpa Centre

Mexico
Rinchen Zangpo Center, Torreon

Nepal
Kopan Monastery, Kathmandu

New Zealand
Dorje Chang Institute, Auckland

The Netherlands
Maitreya Instituut Amsterdam
Maitreya Instituut Loenen

Russia
Ganden Tendar Ling , Moscow

Singapore
Amitabha Buddhist Center

Spain
Nagarjuna C.E.T. Barcelona, Barcelona
Nagarjuna C.E.T. Granada, Granada
Nagarjuna C.E.T. Valencia, Valencia
Oselling Centro de Retiros, Orgiva (Granada)

Taiwan
Shakyamuni Center, Taichung

United Kingdom
Jamyang Buddhist Centre, London

United States
Gyalwa Gyatso Buddhist Center, Silicon Valley, California
Kadampa Center, North Carolina
Ksitigarbha Tibetan Buddhist Center, Taos, New Mexico
Land of Medicine Buddha, Soquel, California
Thubten Norbu Ling, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Tse Chen Ling, San Francisco, California