Introduction to the Basic Program
The Basic Program, designed by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, is part of our organizations “Buddhism In-Depth” curriculum. Land of Medicine Buddha started offering modules of the FPMT Basic Program in 2002. Over the years, it has been taught by Venerable George Churinoff, Khensur Rinpoche Jampa Tegchog, Venerable Steve Carlier, Tubten Pende, various visiting lamas and geshes, and other visiting advanced-level teachers. Videos of some of these courses from past years are available on our Vimeo page: https://vimeo.com/landofmedicinebuddha
We are making a renewed effort to provide the support to our students, by way of materials, review sessions, and exams, so that they can fulfill the requirements of completion.
Basic Program Homework and Materials
Basic Program materials, such as
- source texts
- and audio recordings (when available)
… are being uploaded to Google Sites. There is a different site for each Basic Program course. Students who are on the registration list will receive the link by email.
The Basic Program is a five-year, twelve-subject course of studies designed by Lama Zopa Rinpoche. It provides a practice-oriented transmission of the Buddhadharma to committed students ready to progress beyond foundational-level study and practice. Its comprehensive curriculum greatly enhances students’ Dharma understanding, establishing a sound basis for ongoing study, practice, retreat and service. FPMT centers worldwide offer the program at a variety of levels; it is also available for homestudy as an Online program. Some of Tibetan Buddhism’s most treasured texts form the heart of the Basic Program. Je Tsongkhapa’s Middle Length Lam-Rim, Shantideva’s Bodhisattvacharyavatara, the Heart Sutra, Jetsun Chökyi Gyältsen’s Tenets, Maitreya’s Ornament for Clear Realization and Tathagata Essence,the Wheel of Sharp Weapons and others guide the practitioner through a comprehensive study of sutra and tantra.
The Basic Program is taught by Tibetan geshes and qualified Western teachers. Study of the standard texts and commentaries is ideally supported by discussions, tests, meditation and short retreats. Students must follow the Basic Program criteria for conduct over the course of their studies: practicing to refrain from killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct (adultery) and intoxicants, while developing their concern for others, awareness of positive and negative states of mind, and in particular developing the practice of patience and the bodhicitta motivation. A three-month review period concluded by the final exam and three months of lam-rim retreat complete the program.
Students may enter the Basic Program at the beginning of subjects as indicated by individual centers. Students will benefit most from their BP studies if they have some familiarity with preparatory study and practice as offered by foundational level programs.
Basic Program Topics
- Stages of the Path: the stages of the path to enlightenment of beings of low, middling, and great capacity
- Heart Sutra: emptiness and the phenomena qualified by it
- Engaging in the Bodhisattva Deeds: the six perfections – generosity, morality, patience, joyous effort, concentration, and wisdom – and how to practice them in everyday life
- Mahayana Mind Training (Wheel of Sharp Weapons): the law of actions and results, or karma, and the states of mind that shape our future experiences
- Sublime Continuum: the buddha or tathagata essence that exists within every sentient being
- Mind and Cognition: the way the mind knows phenomena and the mental factors that constitute the basis of our daily experience
- Tenets: the philosophical systems or tenets of the four main schools of ancient Buddhist thought
- Ornament for Clear Realization and Seventy Topics: the 173 aspects of the omniscient mind
- Grounds and Paths of Secret Mantra; Death, Intermediate State and Rebirth; and a Highest Yoga Tantra commentary; the four classes of tantra with emphasis on the generation and completion stages of highest yoga tantra
See all details on the FPMT website, Basic Program page.