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Khensur Rinpoche (Lobsang Tenzin) is one of the most respected scholar-adepts in the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. He is a retired Abbot of Gyume Tantric Monastery in South India, thus conferring upon him the title of “Khensur.” Rinpoche currently serves as one of the primary teachers at Sera Monastery, where he has thousands of disciples, and has taught in the United States and Europe. The following excerpt is from a talk he gave at Portland, Oregon’s Maitripa Institute in late 2006.
To have taken on the interest of undertaking a study of Buddhist philosophy, to allocate time in your life to undertake this special study, this is a very fortunate thing to have decided from your own side.
To study Buddhism, you don’t have to become a Buddhist. What is unique about Buddhism is that it isn’t only about having blind faith or trust or belief. The many rituals of Buddhism that you may have been exposed to, or the many recitations or offerings, all these kinds of formal things that you see in an expression of faith, this is just one branch of Buddhism. When we take the heart essence of the teachings of the Buddha, then the goal is to subdue or pacify one’s own disturbed, un-centered, negative mind: that is the heart essence.
The Buddha himself at one time in his life was an ordinary person like us, so how did he come to the state of being known as someone who is completely free of all mistakes, fully-completed in all positive qualities and knowledge? That state didn’t happen without causes, nor did that state come about from discordant causes; it all came from causes which accord with their method. …
A TEACHER TELLS US WHY
Long-time student Ven. George Churinoff (Gelong Thubten Tsultrim) has taught and studied in FPMT centers around the world. Since attending his first November Course in Kopan in 1974 and ordaining in 1975, he has studied extensively, including at the former FPMT Geshe Studies Program at Manjushri Institute, England, and at the University of Delhi, India, where he eventually received a Masters in Buddhist Studies degree. His extensive teaching and retreat experience make him a valuable resource for beginner and advanced students alike.
Mandala spoke with Ven. George in early February 2013 between his classes as a visiting instructor at Maitripa College in Portland, Oregon, U.S.
Mandala: What is the benefit of in-depth Buddhist study?
Ven. George Churinoff: All of our lamas, almost without exception, have great educations. So if you look from the outside, there must be something there, some importance.
There are three kinds of wisdom that you have to build up sequentially. The first is the wisdom of hearing – hearing the teachings, reading and studying. Next is the wisdom that arises after having heard and understood the words and contemplating their meaning, fine tuning your understanding through debate, questions and answers, and thinking deeply about these things again and again. Finally, there’s the wisdom that comes when you’ve got a clear understanding and you meditate on that and you place the mind on that single-pointedly. When we talk about the three kinds of wisdom, we would like to have the wisdom that arises from meditation. There’s this famous adage that you’ve probably heard that to try to meditate without having heard or studied is like someone trying to climb up a craggy cliff with no arms.
Sometimes when people get excited about Buddhism and meditation, they think, “I’m just going to meditate. All that study is for scholars.” But in order to meditate, you have to have something to meditate about. And hopefully what we’re going to meditate on is a correct understanding, not a blurry, or, even worse, a wrong understanding.
I was inspired many years ago at Kopan. One of the very first courses I took was with Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Kopan in 1974-1975. Rinpoche was saying that in order to understand emptiness, you have to study the great texts. There was no other way. To really understand emptiness in the Theravada tradition, in the traditions that lead to nirvana, it’s sufficient to have a general understanding. You have to have a correct understanding of emptiness – selflessness and eventually emptiness – but it doesn’t have to be as comprehensive as the bodhisattva’s need in the Mahayana tradition.
In the bodhisattva path working for sentient beings, you need infinite forms of logic to understand emptiness quickly and the many different “coming and going” processes – not just emptiness of the self, but of others and the aggregates; processes like production and birth and coming and going, etc. To understand that is very, very important for the bodhisattva practice. In order to understand that, you need to study about that. And in order to do that study, you need to have studied those subjects that these great masters took as the lower tenets and ideas about cause and effect that were the general teachings of Buddha, perhaps in even more depth than we find in the general lam-rim teachings (they just assumed you knew these things already). So that’s why we study tenets and lo-rig and all of these other subjects. And of course there is other side of it: the behavior of the bodhisattva, how we think of bodhichitta, and what bodhichitta is.
I remember once when I was in Taiwan, Lama Yeshe had asked me to go to some conference there. (This was a long, long time ago, before we had FPMT centers in Taiwan.) There were a lot of monks and nuns at this monastery who were Chinese and who spoke English. At lunch, I was asking them questions: “What are the four noble truths?” No, problem, they knew this very well. “What are the 16 aspects of the four noble truths?” That’s something maybe not everyone knows. And they got that pretty well. And then I’d say something like “What is bodhichitta?” Now this is not talking about emptiness, this is talking about the relative bodhichitta – the method side of practice. And the answers were all over the place. “Oh, it’s something like…” and they’d put their hands in the air like they were thinking of something mystical. “Oh, it’s a wonderful mind. … It’s this or that.” And I thought, “This is very interesting.”
We are so fortunate in the Tibetan tradition to have access not only to the study of the wisdom side of things but also the great meaning of the bodhisattva path, what the definition of bodhichitta is. The texts in an in-depth study program might say something like, “Bodhichitta is a special Mahayana main mind, preceded by compassion for sentient beings, motivated to achieve enlightenment for the sake of sentient beings, and that serves as a doorway to the Mahayana path.” It’s very, very precise. If you wanted to try to develop bodhichitta but you just had a vague idea of what it was, like the Chinese monastics saying, “Oh, it’s a wonderful mind” with their hands in the air, sort of wiggling around like it’s something they see up in the sky, it would be very difficult. How can you achieve bodhichitta? “May I achieve bodhichitta” – that’s all you could say.
As aspiring practitioners, if we’d like to do a long retreat, say a three-year tantric retreat, without method and wisdom, there’s no essence. To develop those, especially bodhichitta, you need renunciation. For that, you need to know what the faults of samsara are. You need to think about it and be helped by your fellow students and teachers. In short, you need to study.
I remember in 1978-79 Lama Yeshe had asked me to go to Manjushri Institute in England to be the spiritual coordinator there. (At that time in England we had the Geshe Studies Program, but the Gelugpa Society eventually said they wouldn’t grant us a geshe degree. Now it’s called the Masters Program.) I was going off to study there and I was kind of excited. I went to Lama in his room at Kopan and made three prostrations, put my robe over my shoulder and asked with my hands at my heart, “Lama, do you have any advice for when I go to the West, when I go to Manjushri?” And Lama thought for a minute, tilted his head back and said, “Intellectual Mount Meru isn’t worth kaka.” He used the Tibetan word that children say for excrement; it was very succinct.
We have so many people in the West who become scholars of Buddhism, but just the intellectual knowledge of Buddhism isn’t even as useful as kaka, which you can at least use as fertilizer for the fields. Okay, it leaves some imprints. But the study done by the scholars who have a motivation to rise up in the hierarchy of the university, be praised by others, and write books that are well known is limited. The real purpose of studying is not for fame or fortune or the eight worldly dharmas, it’s to make realizations. It’s to use as grist for your meditation, to have that correct wisdom of hearing, wisdom of contemplation and the wisdom arising from meditation. With those, you can have realizations and help yourself and also help other sentient beings.
UPDATE: Ven. George shares the rest of his story with Lama Yeshe in “The Purpose of Study (continued): Ven. George Churinoff Finishes His Story with Lama Yeshe and Tenzin Ösel Hita” in the online edition of Mandala July-September 2013.
Ven. George Churinoff is the homestudy teacher for two modules of FPMT’s Basic Program: “Mind and Cognition” and “Mahayana Mind Training.” You can find more information about this in-depth Buddhist course on the Education Services pages on fpmt.org.
Announcements regarding the next LRZTP program:
LRZTP 5 will begin November 3rd, 2008 in Dharamsala, India.
Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo Translator Programme is a 4-year Tibetan language training program aimed at providing native speaker interpreters in FPMT centers worldwide.The
The program consists of two years of classroom study in Dharamsala, India followed by two years of training at an FPMT center as an interpreter for a geshe.
There have been six completed LRZTP programs so far.
LRZTP6 commenced in October 2012 and the two year classroom part of the program was successfully completed on October 16 2014. LRZTP 7 is being planned now.
First year: colloquial Tibetan, Literary Tibetan, Dharma terminology, experienced conversation partners.
Second year: comprehension of Dharma teachings, methodology and techniques of interpretation (simultaneous and consecutive), interpretation workshops by language groups (into one’s own native language, as much as possible).
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In our busy modern lives, we may not give much thought to death. We fear that thinking about death will take the joy out of living. But in reality, when we actively think about death and prepare for it, we find peace, fulfillment, and happiness in our current lives and our fear of death disappears.
The Tibetan Buddhist master Lama Zopa Rinpoche has given profound and accessible teachings on death and dying for many years. Recently, he asked that these teachings be made available so that all students – beginner to advanced – have access to this most essential advice for this crucial time of transition from one life to the next. Heart Advice for Death and Dying contains Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s essential advice for the time of death and for finding the deepest fulfillment in life. The MP3 disc that accompanies this book contains an audio course consisting of eleven hours of exquisite teachings and meditations on death and dying led by Venerable Sangye Khadro – a senior American teacher of Tibetan Buddhism well known for her gentle yet profound teaching style.
Here is a technique for making your life always happy, but not the usual kind of hallucinated happiness which is excited with desire, pride, and so on. As soon as you investigate the nature of this kind of hallucinated happiness, you discover that it is only suffering. Here we are talking about real inner peace and happiness, which bring satisfaction and fulfillment, and make your life meaningful.
A compendium volume of Practices for Death and Dying is highly recommended for anyone following this program or anyone interested in knowing the practices to do when someone has passed away.
This book contains advice from Tibetan Buddhist master Lama Zopa Rinpoche on preparing for death and assisting others through this time, and provides a plethora of heart practices to do at the time of death, including the Medicine Buddha puja and the traditional eight prayers done in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries.
This book also contains the most powerful mantras to say for those who are dying or who have died, teachings on their precise benefits, as well as a sheet of mantras to place upon the body of one who has died. It contains precious sutra texts to benefit the minds of those who are dying, to relieve pain, and to purify negative karma.
The essence, therefore, is to have accumulated merit and done purification in everyday life in your relationship with sentient beings; with a sincere heart, loving kindness, and compassion to have served others; and to have done the hard work to benefit them. Practicing the good heart, bodhichitta, during your life purifies so much negative karma, and it stops one from creating more. It is negative karma that makes the mind experience fear of death. And it is bodhichitta especially that stops suffering rebirths.
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FPMT’s Essential Lam-Rim Program
Light of the Path, 2016
The next retreat is tentatively planned for September 11-25, 2016
at Kadampa Center in North Carolina, USA.
About This Program
The primary intention of the Living in the Path program is to preserve the teaching and practice lineage of Lama Thubten Yeshe, the founder of FPMT (the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition) and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, FPMT’s Spiritual Director. As such, the program will draw almost exclusively on the teachings of these two lamas.
Living in the Path will be a continually evolving program, with materials from both lamas being added each year. The initial curriculum and course material is drawn from Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s “Light of the Path” teachings, an annual teaching event hosted by Kadampa Center in North Carolina, USA.
Living in the Path on the FPMT Online Learning Center
A number of Living in the Path courses are now available on the FPMT Online Center. These initial courses, or modules, are organized around edited transcripts and short video clips of Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s teachings. With some exceptions, each module will include the following components:
- An introduction to each module, including an overview of the material to be covered.
- Edited transcripts of Rinpoche’s teachings on the topic.
- Video excerpts that capture key relevant points from Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s teachings at Light of the Path.
- Practices and/or guided meditations.
- Mindfulness exercises for daily life on the topic.
- A suggested service component or karma yoga.
- Questions for discussion and contemplation for student/facilitator review.
- Helpful resources such as a suggested reading list and other references.
- An online forum for sharing comments with other students and asking questions of an elder.
Support FPMT Online Learning
Your support of FPMT Online Learning is greatly appreciated. All Light of the Path teachings will be made freely available as high quality video-on-demand and downloadable MP3 audio files. Your donation will also provide the support needed to develop the Light of the Path online program.
It is intended that, over time, a large and dynamic virtual community of students engaging with Living in the Path resources will form worldwide, creating a network of support and inspiration for individual study and practice. In this way, it is hoped that Living in the Path becomes a cause for an awakened transformation in this world.
FPMT Centers and Study Groups
All materials developed for the Living in the Path online program can also be utilized by FPMT centers and study groups to facilitate similar courses in person. Course facilitators will be selected from FPMT registered teachers who have attended the Light of the Path teaching retreat with Lama Zopa Rinpoche and are registered to facilitate Living in the Path courses in FPMT centers.
For any further questions please contact Director of FPMT Education Services, Tom Truty, at: Tom@fpmt.org.
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Please read a report on FPMT’s
1st Masters Program
Lama Yeshe’s aim, his wish in setting up this program, was to enable people to study and come to a deeper understanding of the Buddhist teachings, both the vast and profound, as well as sutra and tantra, so that they could then teach other people. His purpose was also to enable each person to develop his or her inner qualities, such as perfect love and compassion, to complete the six perfections, and to achieve final enlightenment. In this way they would be able to help other sentient beings by leading them from cyclic existence to the great city of enlightenment. It was for this purpose that Lama Yeshe asked me to teach this program.
The Masters Program is the FPMT’s most advanced study program. Based on Lama Yeshe’s unique vision for a comprehensive education, inspired by the traditional geshe studies at the great Gelugpa monastic universities, it was developed with the help of Geshe Jampa Gyatso. Integrating behavior, training and service components, the program offers in-depth study of five great texts and extensive retreat experience, providing a thorough grounding in sutra and tantra.
The Masters Program is a full-time residential program, consisting of six years of study and a total of one year of retreat. The program is designed to provide serious students of Lama Tsongkhapa’s tradition greater depth of study and, in particular, to train qualified non-Tibetan teachers of Buddhist theory and practice. Adapted from the traditional monastic curriculum for a contemporary setting, the program complements Living in the Path, Discovering Buddhism, Foundation of Buddhist Thought, the Basic Program and Maitripa College as the FPMT’s most advanced and rigorous Dharma training.
Taught by a fully-qualified Tibetan teacher assisted by experienced Western staff, the Masters Program was developed at Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa (ILTK), Italy, where the first MP reached its successful completion in 2004, the second MP students are currently completing their retreat requirement and graduating, and the third MP began mid March 2015. In the meantime, Lama Zopa Rinpoche has advised several other centers to consider offering the Masters Program and has encouraged translation of the main texts into languages other than English with a view to implementing the program worldwide. Nalanda Monastery in France started its first MP in September 2013, and Chenrezig Institute in Australia has been offering the MP subject Middle Way at Masters Program level from June 2012 to mid 2014.
At ILTK the Masters Program is preceded by an optional three-month Tibetan Studies intensive. Several of the current MP students have completed the residential Basic Program offered at ILTK, Nalanda Monastery or Chenrezig Institute. Although BP graduation is not a requirement for entering the program, the Masters Program admission requirements indicate Basic Program completion as an ideal basis for successful Masters Program study, while three of the BP subjects are mandatory prerequisites.
I really enjoy the experience of living together with such an international group of students and practitioners who give much support to each other.
The Residential Masters Program
The full-time residential Masters Program consists of six years of study, completed by three months of review and final exams, and a total of one year of retreat.
The daily teachings are supported by tutorials including a review of essential points, fortnightly quizzes, discussions and student presentations; written exams every three months; and daily, student-guided meditations. Three one-month lam-rim retreats are scheduled at the end of the first three subjects; students arrange their own nine months or year of final lam-rim retreat.
Criteria for completion include academic, meditation, behavior, service and training components as well as a minimum attendance in the various aspects of the program. Subject completion and participation cards are provided at the conclusion of each subject, while an MP Completion Card records which parts of the program were successfully fulfilled in case of leaving the program before completion.
The FPMT Masters Program Certificate, the highest educational achievement within the FPMT, is issued by FPMT Education Services upon completion of all components of the program. Masters Program graduates are eligible to become FPMT registered teachers at In-Depth level.
Many graduates of the first Masters Program have already become teachers, interpreters and tutors for Masters and Basic Programs and other FPMT programs in centers around the world, while several of them are translating Masters Program and Basic Program texts into various languages and contribute to preparing Masters Program materials for publication.
An Abridged Masters Program has been designed for centers interested in offering the Masters Program subjects on a non-residential basis, making use of the materials developed by the full-time residential Masters Programs.
The Masters Program Guidelines for Implementation, clarifying requirements and consolidating experience and developments, were completed by FPMT Education Services in 2011; Education Services offers centers wishing to implement the Masters Program support and the latest edition translations, Tibetan texts, transcripts and study materials. Please contact the FPMT MP coordinator for more info.
My experience of the Masters Program has been extremely positive. My mind has been changing so much. Being in the Masters Program is a never-ending work on oneself.
Masters Program Online
ILTK offers the Masters Program Online in both English and Italian, supported by qualified tutors. In addition to written course materials and texts, audio recordings of the teachings, videos of review classes, forums supervised by the tutors, and online quizzes and exams are included. The Online course runs parallel to the residential Masters Program; a minimum of 20-25 hours a week are needed to reach a good level of understanding of the material.
Nalanda Monastery’s Masters Program Online is offered alongside their residential MP from September 2013 onward, and Chenrezig Institute also has made their MP Middle Way course available for homestudy.
Admission requirements for MP Homestudy are similar to the residential program: while a sincere interest in Buddhist philosophy for the development of personal spiritual practice counts as a minimum requirement, basic familiarity with the study and practice of the lam-rim, the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, is recommended. Prior study of the FPMT Basic Program subjects Mind and Cognition and Tenets is very helpful. Students may enter Masters Program Online at the beginning of each subject. Specific requirements for tantra are applicable to the study of the last two Masters Program subjects.
Subject completion cards are provided at the conclusion of each subject, while an MP Homestudy Completion Card records which parts of the program were successfully fulfilled in case of leaving the program before completion. Students who successfully complete all five subjects qualify for the three-months review and final exam; upon completion of an additional final one-month lam-rim retreat they will be awarded the FPMT Masters Program Homestudy Certificate.
Masters Program Homestudy graduates are eligible to register as FPMT teachers at Foundational Level; once registered they can teach Discovering Buddhism and introductory courses in FPMT centers, upon request.
The Masters Program curriculum consists of five subjects representing the essential teachings of sutra and tantra. As the foundation of the program, they are taught on the basis of standard texts and commentaries.
Main text: Ornament for Clear Realization by Maitreya
The Ornament for Clear Realization (Abhisamayalamkara) by Maitreya is a commentary on the Perfection of Wisdom (Prajnaparamita) texts that serves as a support for understanding the profound teachings on emptiness. It includes a detailed explanation of the spiritual paths of hearers, solitary realizers, and bodhisattvas, together with their clear realizations and abandonments on the various paths. It discusses the precepts and methods for obtaining the meditative stabilizations, clairvoyances, signs of irreversibility, and qualities of buddhahood, including the thirty-two signs and eighty exemplifications, the four buddha bodies, and omniscience.
This subject is explained on the basis of The Commentary: Clear Meaning by Haribhadra, and The Explanation: Ornament of the Essence by Gyaltsab Je.
Main text: Supplement to the ‘Middle Way’ by Chandrakirti
Supplement to the ‘Middle Way’ (Madhyamakavatara) by Chandrakirti explains emptiness as presented by the Madhyamaka-Prasangika system of tenets. The main body of the text consists of ten chapters, each one associated with one of the ten perfections and one of the ten grounds of a bodhisattva. Study of this text leads to an understanding of great compassion and how it serves as a cause for generating the mind of enlightenment (bodhichitta). This text also sets out the various levels through which one proceeds to the attainment of the completion of all ten perfections and enlightenment.
This subject is explained on the basis of Chandrakirti’s auto-commentary, Explanation of the ‘Supplement to the “Middle Way”’, and Lama Tsongkhapa’s Illumination of the Thought.
Main text: Treasury of Manifest Knowledge by Vasubandhu
Treasury of Manifest Knowledge(Abhidharmakosha) by Vasubandhu sets out a detailed presentation of the constituents, faculties, Buddhist cosmology, the six realms, karma, the afflictions and their antidotes, the various types of spiritual practitioners and their paths, and the knowledges, concentrations, and absorptions.
This subject is explained on the basis of the First Dalai Lama’s Clarifying the Path to Liberation: An Explanation of the ‘Treasury of Manifest Knowledge’.
Grounds and Paths of Secret Mantra
Main text: The Condensed Path of the Vajra Vehicle: The Essence of the Nectar of the Great Secret by Kirti Losang Trinley, or Illumination of the Tantric Tradition: The Principles of the Grounds and Paths of the Four Great Secret Classes of Tantra by Ngawang Palden.
This subject is studied on the basis of either Kirti Losang Trinley’s or Ngawang Palden’s condensed explanations of Lama Tsongkhapa’s Great Exposition of the Stages of the Path of Mantra, presenting the most important features of the four classes of tantra as well as the initiation procedures and particularities of the deity yoga related to each class, with emphasis on the spiritual grounds and paths of highest yoga tantra.
To study Grounds and Paths of Secret Mantra, it is necessary to have received a highest yoga tantra empowerment, including the bodhisattva and tantra vows and the daily commitment of the Six Session Guru Yoga, from a qualified teacher.
Highest Yoga Tantra
Main Texts: Sacred Words of Akshobhya and Nectar From the Mouth of Akshobhya by Aku Sherab Gyatso, and A Lamp to Illuminate the Five Stages: Core Teachings on the Glorious Guhyasamaja, King of Tantras by Lama Tsongkhapa
This subject offers a thorough explanation of the generation and completion stages related to Guhyasamaja. The presentation of the generation stage includes an explanation of the visualization and generation of the mandala and deities and how to carry death, the intermediate state, and rebirth into the path. The presentation of the completion stage discusses the six branches: the isolation of body, isolation of speech, isolation of mind, illusory body, actual clear light, and the union of clear light and the illusory body. Lama Tsongkhapa’s text offers a detailed commentary on the completion stage.
In order to study this subject, one needs to have received the highest yoga tantra empowerment of Guhyasamaja from a qualified lama.
The Basic Program subjects Mind and Cognition and Tenets are a mandatory prerequisite for admission to the program. While it is best to have studied at a center, these subjects can also be studied by means of Basic Program homestudy or BP Online.
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An FPMT Correspondence Course in Buddhist Studies
For the first time, students who do not live near a Dharma center are being offered the opportunity to gain a thorough and practical grounding in Tibetan Buddhism under the supervision of an FPMT Geshe. Foundation of Buddhist Thought is a new FPMT correspondence course developed by Geshe Tashi of Jamyang Buddhist Centre in London and approved by Lama Zopa Rinpoche. The course fits into the FPMT educational structure between Discovering Buddhism and the Basic Program.
Geshe Tashi Tsering is a Tibetan Lama who holds the Lharampa Geshe degree (the equivalent of a PhD) from Seramay Monastic University in South India, gaining the highest marks possible at every level of the sixteen year course. In 1991 the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama asked him to take up a three-year appointment at Nalanda Monastery in France to teach advanced level Tibetan Buddhist philosophy to Western students.
Since 1994 Geshe Tashi has been based at Jamyang Buddhist Centre in London, where he is renowned for his warmth, humour and ability to make the most profound Tibetan Buddhist philosophical teachings accessible to students.
The course is taught in English and consists of six modules studied over two years. Each module involves twelve hours of teachings, fifty pages of accompanying text written by Geshe Tashi, daily practice, reading and written assignments, a 1,500 word essay and a two hour exam. Students study from home, listening to teachings on CD or cassette. E-mail discussion groups, led by course graduates and supervised by Geshe Tashi, foster exchange and understanding amongst students.
The six modules studied on the course are as follows:
- The Four Noble Truths
- The Two Truths (Relative and Ultimate Truth)
- Buddhist Psychology and Epistemology
- The Mind of Enlightenment (Bodhicitta)
- Emptiness According to the Prasangika Madhyamika School
- An Overview of Tantric Paths and Grounds
It is recommended that applicants have some knowledge of Buddhist studies. Students are required to commit to completing the entire course, including coursework and exams. Students may start the course in January, May or September. Course fees are £420 per year.
For more information contact: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Home Page: www.buddhistthought.org
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Meditation 101 is presented in five sessions and covers these basic Buddhist meditation techniques:
- what is meditation?
- meditation posture and arranging the body
- purposes and benefits of meditation
- different skills that are used in meditation and useful in daily life
- the difference between meditation and relaxation
- two main types of meditation – analytical and stabilizing
- obstacles to meditation and their antidotes
- setting up a meditation session
- advice for establishing a long-term meditation practice
- using the benefits of meditation in everyday living
- meditation practice
- breathing meditations such as counting the breath and nine-round breathing
- mindfulness meditations such as scanning the body, bare attention, mind like the sky, and mind like the ocean
- visualization meditations such as body of light, purification with light
- analytical meditations such as meditation on equanimity, and transforming negative experiences into positive
Buddhism in a Nutshell
Buddhism in a Nutshell is presented in five sessions and covers these basic principles of Buddhism:
- Life of Shakyamuni Buddha; the similarities of Shakyamuni Buddha’s life to ours; how the Buddha answered the big “meaning of life” questions that we all have
- The Four Noble Truths
- The structure of the Four Noble Truths based on the medical model
- Truth of Suffering — the diagnosis of our existential situation
- Truth of the Cause of Suffering — karma, delusions, ignorance
- Truth of the Cessation of Suffering — nirvana
- Truth of the Path to the Cessation of Suffering — practices of the wisdom and methods taught by the Buddha
- Buddha’s teachings in a gradual form for the practice of one individual … where to start, what next, etc.
- What does it mean to be a Buddhist, an “inner being”
- Specifics of the path: three principles of the path using Foundation of All Good Qualities
- Different kinds of Buddhism: Theravadan, Mahayana, Vajrayana, Zen, Ch’an, Pure Land, etc.
- Different schools of Tibetan Buddhism: Gelug, Kagyu, Sakya, Nyingma
- A little history of Buddhism
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When we study Buddhism, we are studying ourselves, the nature of our own minds. Instead of focusing on some supreme being, Buddhism emphasizes more practical matters such as how to lead our lives, how to integrate our minds, and how to keep our everyday lives peaceful and healthy. In other words, Buddhism always accentuates experiential knowledge-wisdom rather than some dogmatic view.
The places on this earth where you can receive education in Lama Tsongkhapa’s pure teaching are very few. Therefore, this is considered extremely precious.
We offer a vast range of study programs, fulfilling the needs of beginners to advanced practitioners. From introductory meditation programs to beginning courses, from lam-rim to the five great philosophical texts, FPMT centers, Homestudy Programs and the FPMT Online Learning Center provide everything needed to learn, practice, and fully realize the Buddha’s teachings. All FPMT study programs embody FPMT Wisdom Culture.
If you are wondering about the next step to take on your spiritual journey, please refer to the Treasure Map to your Enlightenment Through FPMT. This map has been prepared to give you a complete overview of FPMT education curriculum and all that is available to you in FPMT standard programs.
New to Buddhism?
Meditation 101 is an introductory course on basic Buddhist meditation techniques for complete beginners. It teaches basic Buddhist meditations that can be used by anyone to create more peace and happiness in daily life. Meditation 101 is offered online through the FPMT Online Center in many FPMT centers worldwide.
Buddhism in a Nutshell is an introductory course on Buddhism for complete beginners. It presents basic Buddhist philosophy and principles within the Tibetan Mahayana context, and provides simple meditation instruction. Buddhism in a Nutshell is offered through the FPMT Online Learning Center in many FPMT centers worldwide and as a homestudy program.
Preparing Oneself and Others for the Time of Death
Heart Advice for Death and Dying is a 5 session program that provides a clear understanding of how to help oneself and others at the time of death. This program is offered online through the FPMT Online Center in many FPMT centers worldwide.
Setting the Foundation
Awakening all limitless potential of your mind, achieving all peace and happiness
Discovering Buddhism gives students a solid footing in the practice of Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism. This two-year course offers students an experiential taste of the Buddha’s teachings, retreat and practice experience, and the skills needed to make life most meaningful. Discovering Buddhism is offered online through the FPMT Online Center in many FPMT centers worldwide and as a Homestudy Program.
|Foundation of Buddhist Thought is a two-year course taught by FPMT Geshe Tashi Tsering from Jamyang Buddhist Centre in London. An in-depth course applying Buddhist thought to our daily lives, it is offered at Jamyang Buddhist Centre and is available as a correspondence course.|
|Living in the Path, FPMT’s newest program featuring the teachings of Lama Zopa Rinpoche is the quintessential lam-rim immersion for FPMT students. New materials will regularly be made available on the FPMT Online Center and individual modules are made available through the Foundation Store.|
Buddhism In Depth
The Basic Program is designed by Lama Zopa Rinpoche as an integrated program of Buddhist studies suitable for a contemporary setting. It is a comprehensive, practice-oriented transmission of the Buddhadharma for committed students who wish to progress beyond introductory level study and practice. The Basic Program is offered in a variety of formats, residential and non-residential, in FPMT centers worldwide and is also available as Basic Program Online.
I feel very blessed that I had the privilege to experience the month-long Lam-rim retreat. It really deepened my faith, my resolve, and joy and I am very much rejoicing in having finished the Basic Program. Now I am very determined to practice, practice, and practice. I wanted to thank FPMT Education Services for all your wonderful support. You are doing such important work and I am very grateful for it.
|The Masters Program, an intensive, full-time, residential program of Buddhist studies of sutra and tantra, is based on the unique vision of Lama Thubten Yeshe, developed with the help of Geshe Jampa Gyatso. Inspired by the geshe studies in traditional Gelug monastic universities, it provides serious students of Lama Tsongkhapa’s tradition greater depth of study and the opportunity to become qualified FPMT teachers. The program consists of six years of study of five great texts, with integrated training and service components, and one year of retreat. The Masters Program is currently offered at Lama Tzong Khapa Institute and Nalanda Monastery.|
Looking to the Future: Buddhist Universities
|Maitripa College’s Advanced Buddhist Studies Program is a four-year masters level program covering the major texts and commentaries taught in the monastic curriculum, as well as Tibetan language, meditation practice, and social service. The curriculum was designed by Yangsi Rinpoche with the support of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, and serves as the foundation for establishing a fully accredited Buddhist university. This program is offered at Maitripa College .|
Interpreting the Dharma
The Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo Translator Program is a 4-year Tibetan language training program aimed at providing native speaker interpreters in FPMT centers worldwide. The program consists of two years of intensive classroom study in Dharamsala, India, followed by two years training in a Dharma center as an interpreter for a Tibetan Geshe.
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