Education is the very heart of FPMT. Through comprehensive study programs, practice materials, training programs, and scholarships, FPMT Education nourishes the development of compassion, wisdom, kindness, and true happiness in individuals of all ages.

Whether you are a beginner or an advanced practitioner, if you are wondering about the next step to take on your spiritual journey, please refer to the FPMT Education Programs page.


FPMT offers a vast range of Buddhist study programs available in FPMT centers and as homestudy or online through the FPMT Online Learning Center. From introductory courses to the highest philosophical texts, FPMT provides everything needed to learn, practice, and fully realize the Buddha’s teachings.


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.

–Lama Thubten Yeshe

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.

–Lama Zopa Rinpoche


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 in many FPMT centers worldwide and online through the FPMT Online Center.

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 in many FPMT centers worldwide, online through the FPMT Online Learning Center, and as a homestudy program.



Preparing Oneself and Others for the Time of Death


Heart Advice for Death and Dying is a five-session program that provides a clear understanding of how to help oneself and others at the time of death. This program is offered in many FPMT centers worldwide and online through the FPMT Online Center.


Setting the Foundation

Discovering Buddhism
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 in many FPMT centers worldwide, online through the FPMT Online Center, 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 also 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 are 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.

—Basic Program graduate

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 InstituteMaitripa 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 four-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.

Annual Tibetan Language Intensive


FPMT Education Services has made available a variety of prayers and practice materials available for purchase as hard copy materials and/or eBooks and downloads.

Prayers & Practice Materials

booksFPMT Education Services has made available a variety of Essential Buddhist Prayer Books, Buddhist practices, and Tibetan texts available for purchase as hard copy materials and/or eBooks and downloads. Below, please find a selection of useful links to help you find what you need to fulfill your commitments and enrich your meditation practice.

If you are looking for more structure to your studies, consider one of FPMT’s study programs that range from beginning to advanced levels.

Mantras, meaning “mind protection” are Sanskrit syllables, usually recited in conjunction with the practice of a particular meditational deity, and embody the qualities of the deity with which they are associated.

Sutras are records of teachings given by the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni.

Various Mantras & Resources

SA-HUNG         Hum Card by Lama Zopa RinpocheMantras, meaning “mind protection” are Sanskrit syllables, usually recited in conjunction with the practice of a particular meditational deity, and embody the qualities of the deity with which they are associated. They bring benefit to all who see, touch, hear or speak them.

Further, when you recite mantras with the correct motivation (the wish to benefit others), your speech becomes holy speech capable of offering blessings to others. Some mantras are so powerful that they are said to be able to benefit others even when no virtuous motivation is present.

For extensive advice from Lama Zopa Rinpoche about the benefits of reading, writing or reciting particular mantras, or how to engage with mantras to eliminate or reduce potential or ongoing obstacles, please visit the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive for Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Online Advice Book and for Advice from Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

 Various Mantras and Resources

A Collection of Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Advice about Mantra Recitations

Amitabha Mantra

Amitayus Mantras

Chenrezig Mantras and Practice

Flower Offering Mantra

Four Dharmakaya Relic Mantras, formatting for rolling

Heart Sutra Mantra

His Holiness the Dalai Lama Name Mantras

Holy Objects: Mantras, Blessing and Filling Instructions

Just by Seeing Mantras

Kshitigarbha Mantra, Middle-Length

Kshitigarbha Mantra and Practice

Lama Tsongkhapa Name Mantra

Lama Zopa Rinpoche Name Mantra

Lotus Pinnacle Mantra/Wish-Granting Jewel Mantra

Mantra Destroying All the Negative Karmas and Defilements

The Mantra Encompassing the Essence of the Kangyur

Mantra to Fulfill Wishes

Mantra Taught by Buddha Droden Gyälwa Chhö

Mantras for Microfilm

Mantras to Place on a Dead Body

Mantra to Stop the Pollution of Eating Offerings Made to the Three Sublime Ones

Manjushri Mantras

Maitreya Buddha Mantras

Medicine Buddha

Mitrugpa Buddha Mantra

Namgyälma Mantras

Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) Mantra

Precious Mantra Hat

Powerful Mantras for the Time of Death:

  • Chenrezig Long & Short mantra
  • Namgyälma Long & Short mantra
  • Milarepa’s Mantra
  • Mantra of Kunrig
  • Medicine Buddha Mantra (short)
  • Zung of the Exalted Completely Pure Stainless Light
  • Stainless Pinnacle Mantra
  • Lotus Pinnacle of Amoghapasha
  • Mantra of Buddha Mitrugpa

Rinchen Tsugtor mantra for time of death

Shakyamuni Buddha Mantra

Tara Mantras

Vairochana Mantra – Protection from Fire and Other Harm

Vajrasattva Mantras

Various Mantras including Mantra for Washing, Mantra for Urinating, Mantra for Blessing Meat, and others. Extracted from “Everyday Dharma

The Wisdom Mantra Called The Arya Six Syllables

Zung of the Exalted Completely Pure Stainless Light

If there is a particular mantra you are interested in and don’t see it here, please contact us at 

Various Sutras & Resources

Lama Zopa Rinpoche works on writing out the ‘Prajnaparamita Sutra’ with Ven. Tsering at his side, Aptos, California, United States, June 2017. Photo by Ven. Lobsang Sherab.

Sutras are records of teachings given by the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni. The Buddha’s discourses were memorized by his disciples and later written down in various languages, the most complete collections of teachings being in Pali and Sanskrit.

Because sutras contain the actual words spoken by the Buddha, by reproducing that speech ourselves during recitations our voice becomes a conduit for the spread of Buddha’s teachings in the world. A special set of sutras called dharmaparyayas or “transformative teachings,” including the Sanghata Sutra, function to transform those who hear, recite or write out them in particular ways, in the same way as meeting a buddha in the flesh.

Dharanis contain the essence of a teaching but are often compared to mantras due to their intended ritual vocalization. Generally, however, dharanis are longer than mantras and are more likely to have intelligible phrases, like sutras. The word dharani is from a Sanskrit root word that means “to hold or maintain.” Dharanis are said to have the power to heal and protect from harm.


  • Amitayus Long Life Sutra
    According to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, “This text is very precious and there is so much benefit in printing or writing it. This is one of the texts that, if written in gold, mountains of negative karma get purified … It’s very good to print for people who have cancer, and for the success of activities and projects. If a business has difficulties, or is difficult to start, if you have difficulty finding a job, or the job is not going well, you can print many copies to make merit, not particularly for mundane success but generally to collect merit for realizations, conditions for Dharma practice. Then you can dedicate the merits of printing for all sentient beings. This is one solution for success and long life. Also, when you die you will get born in Amitabha’s pure land.”

  • Entering the Great City of Vaishali Sutra 
    Entering the Great City of Vaishali is an incredibly powerful sutra that one can listen to, read when one is in intense pain or very sick, suffering from spirit harm or other ailments.
  • Heart Sutra
    The Heart Sutra is the most widely known sutra of the Mahayana tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. It is part of the Prajnaparamita Sutras, which is a collection of about 40 sutras composed between 100 BCE and 500 CE. The Heart Sutra is a presentation of profound wisdom on the nature of emptiness.

  • Noble Stack of Auspiciousness Sutra
    This sutra is said to be good for dispelling inauspicious energies.

  • The Sutra of the Exalted Great Glorified Female Being
    According to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, “This practice is for overcoming financial difficulties, especially if someone is causing you financial problems, but also to empower financial endeavors that are dependent on others to bring success.”

  • Sutra of Golden Light
    This “King of Glorious Sutras,” contains everything needed, from daily happiness to complete enlightenment. It contains a profound practice of confession and rejoicing, profound teachings on dependent arising, reliable assurances of protection, guidelines for ideal government, and awe-inspiring stories of the Buddha’s previous lives.

  • The Sutra Remembering the Three Jewels
    Lama Zopa Rinpoche recommends reciting this sutra on merit multiplying days
  • The Sutra on What is Most Precious to a Monk
    This sutra from the vinaya discusses the meaning of and motivations for monastic engagement, exploring what kind of mind constitutes one of monastic practice. It explains why that which a monk holds most dear is his mind of renunciation and commitment to his vows.

  • Sanghata Sutra
    The Sanghata Sutra promises to transform all those who read it. Like other sutras, the Sanghata Sutra records an oral teaching given by the Buddha, but unlike other sutras, Buddha explains that he himself had heard this sutra from a previous buddha. The Sanghata Sutra is a text that talks about itself by name and talks in great detail about what it will do to anyone who encounters it. It is also an extraordinary literary adventure, full of stories of death, discovery and transformations.

  • Vajra Cutter Sutra
    Along with the Heart Sutra, the Vajra Cutter Sutra (also known as the Diamond Cutter Sutra or Diamond Sutra) is one of most well-known sutras of Mahayana Buddhism. The Vajra Cutter Sutra is a discourse on the Buddhist concept of emptiness or “Wisdom Gone Beyond.”


Other Resources





Lama Zopa Rinpoche has given extensive advice and instruction for caring for others (and ourselves) at the time of death, or during the process of dying.

Death & Dying

Lama Zopa Rinpoche with a copy of ‘How to Enjoy Death,’ Osel Labrang, Sera Monastery, India, December 2015

Heart Practices |  Additional Advice

Heart Practices for Dying and Death

Lama Zopa Rinpoche recommends various heart practices to perform when someone is dying or has died. The Medicine Buddha Puja, the Wish-Fulfilling Jewel and Eight Prayers to Benefit the Dead are the most essential practices to do.

*Most essential practices

Additional Advice

In addition to the above, Lama Zopa Rinpoche has given extensive advice on preparing for death and caring for others at the time of death.

List of FPMT Hospice Services

FPMT Hospice Services and Other FPMT Centers, Projects, and Services

Additional practical information and advice is available in the “Death and Dying Resources” section of the FPMT Affiliates Area.

FPMT provides a wealth of opportunities enabling one access to Buddhist teachings and advice. You are welcome to take advantage of these resources.

Teachings & Advice

Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe, Lake Arrowhead, 1975. This photo is from a three week retreat the lamas taught at Camp Arrowpines on Lake Arrowhead, east of Los Angeles, USA, 1975. Photo by Carol Royce-Wilder.

FPMT provides a wealth of opportunities enabling one access to Buddhist teachings and advice. Below are a few resources.





Archived Teachings from Various Lamas


HH Ling Rinpoche

Geshe Lhundup Sopa

Denma Locho Rinpoche



Under Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s advice and care, FPMT has made the creation of holy objects a central mission of the international organization. We have collected extensive information and resources for the creation, sponsorship, or veneration of holy objects.

Holy Objects

12906 sl-EditLama Zopa Rinpoche “opens the eyes” of FPMT’s first holy object, Tara statue, Kopan Monastery, 1976Objects become “holy” when they contain the presence of a buddha’s holy body, holy speech or holy mind. There are several ways in which to engage with holy objects. You can make offerings, prostrations and circumambulate the holy objects that already exist, you can create holy objects that become future sources of blessings and pilgrimage to others, and you can also help sponsor a holy object initiative with volunteer time, money or prayers.

Holy objects can even be used to benefit animals. Although animals may have a difficult time with making offerings, you can always help them to circumambulate; give them a nice gentle bonk on the head with your stupas, statues and tsa-tsas; or recite mantras for them.

 All of these activities, when in relation to a holy object, become incredibly powerful acts of virtue.

FPMT’s History with Holy Objects

C6 Animal blessing

Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche firmly established FPMT’s relationship with holy objects in 1976 when the first statue of FPMT, a substantive three-foot (one-meter) tall Tara statue (see photo above), was obtained and brought to life at Kopan Monastery.

From this first auspicious project countless initiatives have blossomed, bringing symbols of Buddha’s holy body, speech and mind into the world. Every saint or spiritual leader becomes well-known for specific benevolent deeds in which they have engaged for the benefit of the world. Under Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s advice and care, FPMT has made the creation of holy objects a central mission of the international organization. Lama Zopa Rinpoche has personally inspired or commissioned the creation of hundreds of thousands of holy objects from the casting commitments of tsa-tsas he’s given students or suggestions for larger projects like statues, stupas, prayer wheels and large thangkas to be created on FPMT grounds.

Holy Object Resources

Information and Articles

Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s advice regarding holy objects can be found on his Advice Page as well as on the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive’s Online Advice Book.

“Essential Mantras for Holy Objects,” by Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Benefits of Having Many Holy Objects,” by Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Holy Object Articles from Mandala magazine

Extensive auspicious offerings are made to holy objects by many FPMT centers, projects and services around the world. Please rejoice in some of this amazing activity.

FPMT Service Seminars provide support and training to students offering service within FPMT centers and projects.

FPMT Service Seminars
During the Foundation Service Seminar, London, 2013.

During the Foundation Service Seminar, London, 2013.

Foundation Service Seminar
Inner Job Description Service Seminar

Rituals Service Seminar
Spiritual Program Coordinator Service Seminar
Teacher Development Service Seminar
Hosting and Attending an FPMT Service Seminar



FPMT service seminars provide support and training to those offering service, and those wishing to offer service, within FPMT centers, services, and projects. The seminars help develop a shared understanding of the FPMT mission set out by Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, and a firm basis to serve effectively and joyfully within the organization.

We offer a variety of service seminars for center directors, study group coordinators, spiritual program coordinators, center staff, volunteers, teachers, and anyone interested in offering service to Lama Zopa Rinpoche and FPMT.


Foundation Service Seminar

The Foundation Service Seminar Retreat explores how to best offer our skills and qualities in service. We investigate the purpose and mission of FPMT, what it means to be an FPMT center, and how that vision translates into action for centers, projects, and individuals.

We explore our relationship to resources – both material and human; effective communication; team building; ways to maintain and develop our personal practice in the midst of service; skilful people development and management; and methods to prevent and cure burnout. We discuss service in terms of Guru devotion, karma, compassion, and emptiness, and how to draw strength, inspiration, wisdom, and guidance from these practices.

We use the Inner Job Description, a tool for developing what Lama Zopa Rinpoche calls the “inner professional” (read a teaching on the inner professional), and integrate the Dharma into our daily lives. The training includes group discussion and sharing of experiences, and includes daily meditations as well as group practice as advised by Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

Please enjoy this audio recording of Maitripa College’s Yangsi Rinpoche and Institut Vajra Yogini’s Geshe Loden discussing the purpose and mission of the Foundation Service Seminar during a morning session of this seminar hosted at IVY, August 2014:

Family Feeling

While fulfilling our larger purpose to benefit sentient beings, FPMT is also a family of Dharma practitioners. Lama Thubten Yeshe used to refer to the importance of cultivating a “family feeling” within FPMT. The Seminar Series, and particularly the Foundation Service Seminar, emphasizes our connections to each other, and how to keep those connections harmoniously.

I attended this seminar starving for guidance and have not been disappointed. I have been fully fed and watered and leave happy, satisfied and totally inspired!

–Foundation Service Seminar participant

Foundation Service Seminar, London 2013

Foundation Service Seminar, London 2013


Announcements regarding
upcoming IJD Trainings


Rich, multilayered teachings were delivered with wit, compassion and wisdom.

This training changed my life!

–Inner Job Description Training participants

Inner Job Description Service Seminar

Lama Zopa Rinpoche advises us to develop the “inner professional” for greatest happiness and success. This two day seminar uses the Inner Job Description to develop our own inner professional and the essential mind of service to others.

The seminar examines FPMT’s unique methods for approaching “problems” and numerous ways of using Dharma at work and in our personal lives. In addition, through group interaction and exercises, we apply the Inner Job Description to experiences brought by participants. Through presentation and group work, participants experience the benefits of integrating Dharma practice with real life situations.


Rituals Service Seminar

The week long Rituals Service Seminar provides in-depth instruction on Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s method of leading the pujas and practices that he most often recommends for FPMT centers and students. Encompassing Essential Buddhist Prayers, Vol. 2 and Lama Chopa, students learn how to set up the altar, lead motivations and meditations according to Rinpoche’s style, and the specific tunes used by Rinpoche for these pujas.

At the first Rituals Service Seminar held at Kopan Monastery, Khenrinpoche Lama Lhundrup said: “Every major tradition has its own unique way of doing the mudra, the chant, and so forth, and that is always established by the master. Similarly, within the FPMT centers, establishing the tradition of performing rituals according to the instructions of Kyabje Zopa Rinpoche would be the most significant thing we could do. This will help the center and the whole organization to become special.”

The Rituals Service Seminar Manual and MP3 disc is available through the Foundation Store.

Rituals Training was very inspiring, making me want to practice these rituals. I understand their purpose much better now!

–Rituals Training participant

Spiritual Program Coordinator Service Seminar

Spiritual Program Coordinator Service Seminar assists SPCs in developing their skills in counseling, planning center programs, leading meditations and/or classes, and acting as a key player in the harmonious functioning of the center. Participants have both individual and group opportunities to practice the skill areas emphasized in this week-long training.


Teacher Development Service Seminar

This is a pilot of a weekend seminar for existing and potential FPMT registered teachers, course facilitators and meditation leaders.The seminar will introduce principles of contemporary Dharma pedagogy (method and practice of teaching). The workshop is experiential and participatory, and is suitable for experienced Dharma teachers and complete beginners alike, as it will stimulate reflective practice and a sense of professional development, which are essential processes for everyone helping others learn Dharma in FPMT education programs. The seminar is designed to help participants improve their skills in enabling others to grow and develop deeper understanding of Dharma.

Priority booking will be given to FPMT registered teachers, and those already leading groups and meditations; however aspiring facilitators and teachers are also welcome to apply for a place – find out more from your local center director or spiritual program coordinator.


Hosting and Attending an FPMT Service Seminar

To find out when an FPMT Service Seminar is scheduled near you, or if your FPMT center, project or service would like to host a Foundation Service Seminar or any other Service Seminar, please contact your regional or national coordinator

For more information on FPMT Service Seminars, write to FPMT Center Services



As the Dharma takes root in the West, clear translations of Buddhist texts, prayers, and teachings are crucial. FPMT works with translators around the world to translate Tibetan texts into English, Spanish, Chinese, French, German, and many other languages.

FPMT Translation Services

FPMTTranslationServices_logo_111110_v3As the Dharma takes root in the West, clear translations of Buddhist texts, prayers, and teachings are crucial. FPMT works with translators around the world to translate Tibetan texts into English, Spanish, Chinese, French, German, and many other languages.

Resources for Readers

English Translations 

In May 2011, FPMT hosted its first international translation conference, Taking up The Challenge of Translating Buddhism, at Lama Tzong Khapa Institute, Italy. We hope to be able to organize further translation conferences in the future. Please see the complete and summarized reports for the 2011 conference below:

Following the 2011 conference, the FPMT Translation Services team began the long-term project of compiling a Tibetan-English glossary for the organization, together with the Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo Translation Team (LRZTT), composed of FPMT-affiliated translators, and the  FPMT Translation and Editorial Board (TEB). The purpose of this long-term project is to create consistency throughout the translations released by the FPMT, thereby improving readers’ understanding of our texts. The first edition of the this glossary is nearing completion, and a copy will be made available on this site for readers to consult.

Other Language Translations

If you would like to help bring the Dharma to sentient beings around the world through the translation of texts, we welcome and appreciate donations of any amount to the FPMT Translation Fund. Thank you so much for your support!

Some of Our Translators
Our translators live in every part of the world and bring extensive Dharma and language education to their work as translators.


JRepoJoona Repo first came in contact Tibetan Buddhism and the FPMT in his mid-teens.

He has a PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and has held several postdoctoral teaching and research positions with a focus on Tibetan art and religious history.

Joona is currently the FPMT Translation Coordinator for Education Services.


Conni Krause participated in the seven-year Systematic Study of Buddhism program under Geshe Thubten Ngawang in Hamburg from 1990 to 1997. She is also a graduate of FPMT’s Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo Translator Program (LRZTP) in Dharamsala, and served as an interpreter for Geshe Thubten Soepa at Aryatara Institute in Munich.

Connie has translated Je Tsongkhapa’s Middle Length Lamrim from the original Tibetan into German, and has helped to make available Discovering Buddhism and the Basic Program texts as well as the FPMT Essential Buddhist Prayer Books in German.


Ven. Fedor Stracke has been a Buddhist monk since 1988 and spent over fifteen years studying at Sera Je Monastic University and attending public teachings given by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Since 1996, Ven. Fedor has been teaching in FPMT centers and has served as Tibetan interpreter for various geshes.

He currently teaches the Basic Program at Kopan Monastery in Nepal and at Aryatara Institute in Munich, Germany.

He has translated the Commentary to ‘Engaging in the Bodhisattva Deeds’ (Spyod ’jug tikka) by Gyaltsab Je, a  standard Basic Program text, and Losang Chokyi Gyaltsen’s Wisdom Debating Ignorance (Gshaga ‘debs), from Tibetan into English. For the Basic Program in Munich Ven. Fedor has translated various Basic Program texts into German.


John Newman was introduced to Buddhadharma by Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Kopan, Nepal in 1973.  He subsequently studied under Geshe Lhundub Sopa Rinpoche at Deer Park Buddhist Center and at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, in Wisconsin, USA. 

In 1987 he received a PhD in Buddhist Studies, and he currently teaches Asian religions at New College of Florida in Sarasota, Florida, USA.  He continued to study under Geshe Lundub Sopa Rinpoche and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, and his research focuses on Indian and Tibetan Buddhism, especially Madhyamaka and Vajrayana.


Philip Quarcoo was born in Freiburg, Germany. He studied Modern European Languages at the University of Durham in Britain. He participated in Geshe Tashi Tsering’s two -year course Foundation of Buddhist Thought, at Jamyang Buddhist Center in London and later attended classes with Geshe Thubten Soepa at FPMT’s Aryatara Institute.

Philip graduated with an M.A. in Tibetan studies from the University of Munich in 2007 and then lived in Mongolia teaching English at FPMT’s Shedrup Ling Centre in Ulaanbaatar. He has translated three short booklets on vegetarianism by Geshe Thubten Soepa, as well as texts by the 19th Century Mongolian scholar Agvaanbaldan. In cooperation with Conni Krause, he recently translated Je Tsongkhapa’s Middle Length Lamrim from Tibetan into English for FPMT’s Basic Program; the work is to be published shortly by Wisdom Publications.


Ven. Tenzin Namdak, born in 1970 in The Netherlands, met the Dharma in January 1993. After his graduation (B.Sc. in Hydrology) he lived for a year at Maitreya Institute in The Netherlands,  receiving lamrim teachings from Geshe Sonam Gyaltsen.

On the advice of Lama Zopa Rinpoche he moved to Dharamsala, India, at the end of 1994 to learn Tibetan language. Here he received the Getsul (March 1995) and Gelong ordinations (March 1996) from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In April 1997 he entered Sera Je  Monastery in South India, where he completed the final exams for the 19-year geshe studies program in November 2015, to receive his Geshe title on April 26, 2016.

Geshe Tenzin Namdak is director of Shedrup Sungdrel Ling, and former director of Sera IMI House, the house for western monks studying at Sera. He also interpretes for visiting lamas in addition to teaching at Choe Khor Sum Ling, Bangalore. 


Toh Sze Gee holds a BSc with honors in mathematics as well as a postgraduate diploma in education. After teaching in a junior college in Singapore for several years, in 1998 she joined the seven-year residential Masters Program at Lama Tzong Khapa Institute, from which she graduated with high honours. Since then she has been teaching regular Dharma courses in Singapore, as well as translating texts from Tibetan into English for the FPMT Basic Program and Masters Program.

Sze Gee was well known among the her fellow Masters Program students for her incredible energy both for study and Dharma practice. True to form, she accepted and served not only as teaching assitant for Ornament for Clear Realizations during ILTK’s second Masters Program but also as Tibetan-English interpreter. During that time she completed translating Gyaltsab Je’s commentary to Ornament, including the Haribhadra commentary and Maitreya’s root verses, from Tibetan into English.

Sze Gee has since acted as interpreter for Geshe Ngawang Drakpa at FPMT’s Tse Chen Ling Center, California, and as teacing assitsant for the first Masters Program at Nalanda Monastery in France. She recently completed the translation of Chokyi Gyaltsen’s General Meaning of the Middle Way, another important Masters Program text, and currently supports ILTK’s third Masters Program’s Middle Way students by Skype, from Singapore.


Ven. Tenzin Sangmo (Sophie McGrath), born in 1990 in Australia, has been interested in Tibetan Buddhism and ordination since the age of fourteen. At age eighteen, she became ordained at Chenrezig Institute, Australia. Wishing to become an interpreter and translator, she went to India soon thereafter, at age nineteen, to immerse herself in Tibetan language and philosophical studies.

She first entered Drolmaling Nunnery in Dharamsala, India, to follow the geshe studies program for five years, then went on to join Kopan Nunnery in Nepal to continue her geshe studies there.

Her Tibetan language training includes several interpreter and translation courses, and she gained experience with oral interpretation at Chenrezig Institute, contributing to the FPMT Basic Program, and at a UNESCO hosted Tibetan medicine conference in Mustang. She also translated a short text by His Holiness the Dalai Lama into German for Tibethaus, Frankfurt, Germany.

Having become fluent in both spoken and written Tibetan, Ven. Sangmo is now interested in offering further service as a translator; she was commissioned to translate part of the first chapter of Gyaltsab Je’s commentary on The Tathagata Essence, a Basic Program standard text.


Ven. Tenzin Tsomo (Chandra Chiara Ehm) is half German and half Italian. She was born in Trier, Germany in 1986, and her mother being a student of Lama Yeshe and Geshe Jampa Gyatso contributed to her lifelong interest in Tibetan Buddhism, testified by her taking refuge at the early age of six.

After her initial education in Germany she went to live and study in Italy, where she took novice ordination at age twenty two, and studied and completed the Masters Program subject Ornament for Clear Realization at Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa. Here her German schooling was complemented by developing fluency in Italian, and she gained experience as an interpreter during weekend courses in the Italian Dharma centers, initially interpreting from Italian into English, German and French, and eventually from Tibetan into Italian, and elsewhere also into English.

Having entered Kopan Nunnery in Nepal in 2009, she has been following the geshe studies program up to the present, with additional studies in Sera Je Monastery and Gyurme Tantric College in South India. Her translation and interpreter skills have been enhanced by intensives and trainings, and she translated some short texts into English and German. She also contributed to one of the Basic Program summer intensives at Kopan Monastery as teaching assistant.

While continuing her studies at Kopan Nunnery and Sera Monastery, she is now very much interested in doing more written translation. She has accepted to work on Basic and Masters Program translations for FPMT, and is currently working on the translation from Tibetan of the root verses of The Tathagata Essence.

FPMT Education has established three distinct funds, enabling you to offer support to our critical work.

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FPMT Education is grateful for your support to any of the following funds.

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FPMT provides Dharma practice materials, support, children’s classes and camps, and a whole secular organization just for youth and young adults!

Youth Dharma


By teaching children to have a good heart and be kind to others, they grow up to be very good human beings. With this good heart, they can benefit others so much. Their hearts become good, tolerant, and kind. There is less negative karma in their lives and also less harm to others, which means that other sentient beings receive peace and happiness from your child. Your child can become the source of peace and happiness for all sentient beings, the happiness of this life and of all future lives, as well as liberation from samsara and the highest happiness: enlightenment.
–Lama Zopa Rinpoche

FPMT provides Dharma practice materials, support, children’s classes and camps, and a whole secular organization just for youth and young adults! 




The Foundation for Developing Compassion and Wisdom is dedicated to promoting peace in the world through Universal Education for Compassion and Wisdom, a system of inner development that enables people of all ages, cultures and traditions to lead a happy and meaningful life and to be of service to others.

Frequently Asked Questions About…


Tibetan Buddhism and the Dharma


Click on a link below to jump to a specific topic*

*Most of the following questions and answers are extracted from The ABC of Buddhism and I Wonder Why, copyright Ven. Thubten Chodron, found on Amitabha Buddhist Center’s website.


Who is the Buddha?

There are many ways to describe who the Buddha is, according to different ways of understanding . These various interpretations have their sources in the Buddha’s teachings.


One way is to see the historical Buddha who lived 2,500 years ago as a human being who cleansed his mind of all defilements and developed all his potential. Any being who does likewise is also considered a Buddha, for there are many Buddhas, not just one.

Another way is to understand a particular Buddha or Buddhist deity as omniscient mind manifesting in a certain physical aspect in order to communicate with us.

Yet another way is to see the Buddha — or any of the enlightened Buddhist deities — as the appearance of the future Buddha that we will become once we properly and completely have engaged in the path to cleanse our mind of defilements and develop all our potentials.


What are the Three Jewels?

The Three Jewels are the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Buddha is one who has purified all the defilements of the mind the afflictive emotions, the imprints of the actions motivated by them, and the stains of these afflictive emotions and who has developed all good qualities, such as impartial love and compassion, wisdom knowing all existence, and skillful means of guiding others.

The Dharma embodies the preventive measures which keep us from problems and suffering. This includes the teachings of the Buddha, as well as the realizations of those teachings the cessations of problems and their causes, and the realizations or paths which lead to those cessations.

The Sangha are those beings who have direct non-conceptual perception of emptiness or ultimate truth. On a relative level, Sangha also refers to the ordained people who put the Buddha’s teachings into practice.

The Dharma is our real refuge, the medicine we take which cures our problems and their causes. The Buddha is like the doctor, who correctly diagnoses the cause of our problems and prescribes the appropriate medicine. By assisting us in the practice, the Sangha is similar to the nurse who helps us take the medicine.

Taking refuge means that we rely wholeheartedly on the Three Jewels to inspire and guide us towards a constructive and beneficial direction to take in our life. Taking refuge does not mean passively hiding under the protection of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Rather, it is an active process of taking the direction they show and improving the quality of our life.


What is the essence of the Buddha’s teachings?

Simply speaking, this is to avoid harming others and to help them as much as possible. Another way of expressing this is, Abandon negative action; create perfect virtue; subdue your own mind. This is the teaching of the Buddha. By abandoning negative actions (killing, etc.) and destructive motivations (anger, attachment, close-mindedness, etc.), we stop harming ourselves and others. By creating perfect virtue, we develop beneficial attitudes, like impartial love and compassion, and do actions motivated by these thoughts. By subduing our mind, we cut away all false projections, thus making ourselves calm and peaceful by understanding reality.

The essence of Buddha’s teachings is also contained in the three principles of the path: definite emergence, the dedicated heart and wisdom realizing emptiness. Initially, we seek definitely to emerge from the confusion of our problems and their causes. Then, we see that other people also have problems, and with love and compassion, we dedicate our heart to becoming a Buddha so that we are capable of helping others extensively. In order to do this, we develop the wisdom understanding the real nature of ourselves and other phenomena.


Why are there many Buddhist traditions?

The Buddha gave a wide variety of teachings because sentient beings (any being with mind who is not a Buddha, including those in other realms of existence) have different dispositions, inclinations and interests. The Buddha never expected us all to fit into the same mould. Thus, he gave many teachings and described various ways of practicing so each of us could find something that suits our level of mind and our personality.

With skill and compassion in guiding others, the Buddha turned the wheel of Dharma three times, each time setting forth a slightly different philosophical system in order to suit the various dispositions of sentient beings. The essence of all the teachings is the same: the wish definitely to emerge from the cycle of constantly recurring problems (samsara), compassion for others and the wisdom realizing selflessness.

Not everyone likes the same kind of food. When a huge buffet is spread before us, we choose the dishes that we like. There is no obligation to like everything. Although we may have a taste for sweets, that does not mean that the salty dishes are not good and should be thrown away!

Similarly, we may prefer a certain approach to the teachings: Theravada, Pure Land, Zen, Vajrayana, and so on. We are free to choose the approach that suits us best and with which we feel the most comfortable. Yet we still maintain an open mind and respect for other traditions. As our mind develops, we may come to understand elements in other traditions that we failed to comprehend previously.

In short, whatever is useful and helps us live a better life, we practice, and whatever we do not yet understand, we leave aside without rejecting it.

While we may find one particular tradition best suited for our personality, do not identify with it in a concrete way: “I am a Mahayanist, you are a Theravadin,” or “I am a Buddhist, you are a Christian.” It is important to remember that we are all human beings seeking happiness and wanting to realize the truth, and we each must find a method suitable for our disposition.

However, keeping an open mind to different approaches does not mean to mix everything together at random, making our practice like chop suey.

Do not mix meditation techniques from different traditions together in one meditation session. In one session, it is better to do one technique. If we take a little of this technique and a little from that, and without understanding either one very well mix them together, we may end up confused.

However, a teaching emphasized in one tradition may enrich our understanding and practice of another.

Also, it is advisable to do the same meditations daily. If we do breathing meditation one day, chanting the Buddha’s name the next, and analytical meditation the third, we will not make progress in any of them for there is no continuity in the practice.


What are the various Buddhist traditions?

Generally, there are two divisions: Theravada and Mahayana.

The Theravada lineage (Tradition of the Elders), which relies on sutras recorded in the Pali language, spread from India to Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, etc. It emphasizes meditation on the breath to develop concentration and meditation on mindfulness of the body, feelings, mind and phenomena in order to develop wisdom.

The Mahayana (Great Vehicle) tradition, based on the scriptures recorded in Sanskrit, spread to China, Tibet, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, etc. Although in the Theravadin practice love and compassion are essential and important factors, in the Mahayana they are emphasized to an even greater extent.

Within Mahayana, there are several branches: Pure Land emphasizes chanting the name of Amitabha Buddha in order to be reborn in His Pure Land; Zen emphasizes meditation to eliminate the noisy, conceptual mind; Vajrayana (Diamond Vehicle) employs meditation on a deity in order to transform our contaminated body and mind into the body and mind of a Buddha.

What does the imagery in tantric art mean?

Vajrayana deals a lot with transformation, and therefore, symbolism is widely used. There are representations of some deities, which are manifestations of the Buddha, that are expressing desire or wrath.

The sexual imagery is not to be taken literally, according to worldly appearances. In Vajrayana, deities in sexual union represent the union of method and wisdom, the two aspects of the path that need to be developed in order to attain enlightenment.

Wrathful deities are not monsters threatening us. Their wrath is directed toward ignorance and selfishness, which are our real enemies. This imagery, when properly understood, shows how desire and anger can be transformed and thereby subdued. It has deep meaning, far beyond ordinary lust and anger. We should not misinterpret it.


What is the purpose of reciting mantras?

Mantras are prescribed syllables to protect the mind. What we want to protect our mind from are attachment, anger, ignorance, and so on. When combined with the four opponent powers, mantra recitation is very powerful in purifying negative karmic imprints on our mindstream. While we recite mantras, we should also be thinking and visualizing in a beneficial way so that we are building up constructive habits in the mind.

In the Vajrayana practice, mantras are recited in Sanskrit, rather than being translated into other languages. The reason for this is that there is a special beneficial energy or vibration that is induced by the sound of the syllables. While doing recitation, we can concentrate on the sound of the mantra, on its meaning, or on the accompanying visualizations that the master has taught.


About Shakyamuni Buddha

He could no longer repress the resolve he felt to go out in search of a solution to the four sufferings of birth, old age, sickness and death.

Shakyamuni Buddha, the historical founder of Buddhism, was born in India approximately 2500 years ago. Shakyamuni Buddha was the son of Shuddhodana, the king of the Shakyas, a small tribe whose kingdom was located in the foothills of the Himalayas south of what is now central Nepal fifteen miles from Kapilavastu. Shakya of Shakyamuni is taken from the name of this tribe and muni means sage or saint. His family name was Gautama (Best Cow) and his given name was Siddhartha (Goal Achieved).

Seven days after his birth, his mother, Maya, died and he was raised by his mother’s younger sister Mahaprajapati. His mother’s death may have been a great influence upon the delicate youth who later became very perplexed by the question of mortality. His father took good care of his introspective, quiet-mannered son, and gave him special training in literature and the martial arts.

As a boy, Shakyamuni was deliberately shielded from the many realities of life, having been brought up amid the pleasures of the royal palace. It was natural for his family to expect that he would take over as the leader of his tribe and succeed his father.

Although his family had such expectations for him, Shakyamuni was extremely introspective and quiet as a youth, possessing a sharp sense of justice, seeking the answers to life’s perplexing questions. It is said that he ventured out of the palace compounds on a number of occasions as a youth and each time was confronted with the sufferings of life. On one such occasion he came upon a very old man. On another venture he met a sick man, frail and burning with fever. On yet another journey, he was impressed when he met a wandering monk (bhikshu) who had renounced the world to lead an austere life in search of spiritual enlightenment. And again on another occasion he saw a person dead in the street. These events are recounted in the Buddhist scriptures as the four meetings. He was said to have been deeply moved by these confrontations with human suffering.

Knowing his son’s tendency toward deep introspection and his desire to seek a spiritual path, his father sought to tie him down to life within the confines of the palace and their land. Marriage seemed a way to dissuade the young prince from pursuing the life of an ascetic, so at the age of sixteen, the young prince married the beautiful Yashodhara who bore him a son, Rahula.

Following the birth of his son, Shakyamuni could no longer repress the resolve he felt to abandon the secular world and go out in search of a solution to the four inescapable sufferings of birth, old age, sickness, and death.

Siddhartha renounced secular life and his princely status around the age of nineteen and began living a religious life. Having left the palace of the Shakyas at Kapilavastu he traveled to Rajagriha, the capital of the kingdom of Magadha, where he studied with various ascetics, however, after following their disciplines, he still could not find the answers to his questions. He then left Rajagriha and proceeded to the bank of the Nairanjana River near the village of Uruvilva, where he began to practice various austerities in the company of other ascetics. He subjected himself to disciplines of extreme severity, surpassing the efforts of his companions, trying to reach emancipation through self-mortification, but after six years he rejected these practices as well. To restore his strength from having fasted for such a long time he accepted milk curd offered to him by Sujata, a girl of the village. Then, near the town of Gaya, he sat under a pipal tree and entered meditation. There he attained enlightenment at the age of thirty. The pipal tree was later called the bodhi tree because Shakyamuni gained bodhi or enlightenment under this tree, and the site itself came to be called Bodhgaya.

After his awakening, Shakyamuni remained for a while beneath the Bodhi tree rejoicing in his emancipation. Shakyamuni contemplated how he should communicate his realization to others. It is said he questioned whether or not he should attempt to teach others what he had achieved. He finally resolved to strive to do so, so that the way to liberation from the sufferings of birth and death would be open to all people.

First he made his way to the Deer Park in Varanasi, where he preached the Four Noble Truths to five ascetics who had once been his companions. Over the next fifty years from the time of his awakening until his death, Shakyamuni continued to travel through many parts of India disseminating his teachings. During his lifetime his teachings spread not only to central India but also to more remote areas and people of all social classes converted to Buddhism.

At the age of eighty, Shakyamuni passed away. The year before his death he stayed at Gridhrakuta (Eagle Peak) in Rajagriha. He set out on his last journey from Gridhrakuta proceeding northward across the Ganges River to Vaishali. He spent the rainy season in Beluva, a village near Vaishali. There he became seriously ill, but recovered and continued to preach in many villages. Eventually he came to a place called Pava in Malla. There he again became ill after eating a meal. Despite his pain, he continued his journey until reaching Kushinagara. There in a grove of sal trees he calmly lay down and spoke his last words. He admonished his disciples, saying, “You must not think that your teacher’s words are no more, or that you are left without a teacher. The teachings and precepts I have expounded to you shall be your teacher” It is said that his final words were, “Decay is inherent in all composite things. Work out your salvation with diligence.”

What do the various titles of the Mahayana Traditions mean? (ie- Geshe, Rinpoche, Lama, Venerable)

Quoting Kendall Magnussen:
Dear Daniel,

“Geshe” refers to a certain level of monastic and philosophical training. It
is traditionally received after approximately 25 years of full-time intensive
study at one of the great monasteries. It is similar to someone getting a
“ph.d.” level of study and accomplishment, although it is much more than that.
There are also different levels of Geshe. For example, a “Lharampa Geshe”
graduated with great honors and was among the top of his class. It is
primarily a title referring to academic excellence and degree of training in
the Buddhist philosophical texts.

“Rinpoche” means “precious” and refers to someone who in their last life
attained such a high degree of mastery that they did not have to take any more
rebirths. However, out of their compassion for others, they took another birth
at will – or rather took a human form – in order to teach others. Hence, they
are “precious” because they returned to show us how to do it ourselves.

“Venerable” is a term for those who are ordained. Any monk or nun is
traditionally referred to as “venerable”. It is simply a term of respect for
those who have chosen the monastic life and have taken it upon themselves to
preserve the teachings in this way.

“Lama” means literally “heavy with qualities”. It is a title which implies
that the person who is the referent of this term has demonstrated spiritual
qualities and the ability to lead others in their spiritual life and path.
There are some Tibetan Buddhist traditions where you can “earn” the title
“lama” after doing a certain amount of retreat and study. In other traditions,
one must earn the title “lama” by way of demonstrating their qualities over
the years – or because they have been recognized clearly as a “Rinpoche” – and
then are a “lama” by definition!

Hope that helps!


Kendall Magnussen
FPMT Education Services



More Frequently Asked Questions About Tibetan Buddhism and Dharma (PDF)

Discovering Buddhism Program

Discovering Buddhism at Home


Discovering Buddhism at Home Program

Study Groups following DB at Home

Q&A between Discovering Buddhism at Home students and elders:

A number of FAQ are both posted and answered as part of FPMT’s Discovering Buddhism at Home listserve. For your interest a number of these Q&As dialogues are posted to the left. These are listed according to the various DB subjects. For more information on the Discovering Buddhism program please see:


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FPMT Education Services works closely with the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive,
the official archive of the teachings of Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

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