FPMT Basic Programme

FPMT Basic Programme

Extensive studies of Buddhist philosophy

Root Institute is offering this residential programme for in-depth study of Buddhist philosophy and psychology.

Participants are welcome to study one module, one season (mid-September to mid-April), or the entire programme and students wishing to engage in extensive studies are now eligible for the grant of student visas (S-5) (see details below).

In our first year, 2016–17, a small, enthusiastic and harmonious group of students gathered from all over the world; the programme continued in 2017–18, and we are now inviting applications for our third year.

Studying in Bodhgaya, where the Buddha manifested enlightenment, is extremely auspicious and brings great blessings. His Holiness the Dalai Lama plans to teach in Bodhgaya each January from now on. Also, typically during our winter season, Root Institute has the great good fortune to host Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, and to have teaching-visits from other high lamas and renowned teachers.

Basic Programme (BP) students are also able to participate in the short-courses of our spiritual programme which bring inspiration from a range of teachers to complement their understanding of Buddhism, and enables them to meet many like-minded people and create meaningful and rewarding friendships.

To study the subjects of BP 3rd year at Root Institute it is not compulsory to have studied the subjects of 1st or 2nd year. Students can join the programme at any stage. Having said that, to get maximum benefit from these 3rd year subjects, one needs a foundational understanding of Buddhist philosophy, so having done at least an introductory course is advisable.

An updated motivation letter is asked from returning students who completed 1st or 2nd year of BP at Root Institute.

3rd Year – September 2018 to April 2019 – Engaging in the Bodhisattva Way of Life

The Basic Programme has been specifically designed by Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, the Spiritual Director of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), to provide a balanced approach to the combined academic education and practice of meditation that characterizes the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. This makes the study and understanding of the philosophical subjects of immediate and practical benefit. The Basic Programme has been structured around a schedule of teachings, meditations and discussion groups alternated with meditation retreats, so as to encourage the integration of the teachings into one's practice with a view to gaining a personal experience of them.

Basic Programme team

  • Resident Geshe – Lharampa Geshe Ngawang Rabga, from Lhowa Khamsten, Sera Je Monastery

  • Translator – Melanie Eikema

  • Tutor – Sally Ong, 2011 graduate of Master Programme subjects: Ornament of Clear Realisation & Supplement to the Middle Way & 2007 graduate of Basic Programme at Instituto Lama Tzong Khapa (Italy).

Our Basic Programme team
Our Basic Programme team – Melanie Eikema (translator), Geshe Ngawang Rabga (resident geshe) and Sally Ong (tutor)

Subjects of study

  • 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

  • Heart Sutra: Emptiness and the phenomena qualified by it

  • Stages of the Path: The stages of the path to enlightenment of beings of low, middling and great capacity

  • Mahayana Mind Training (The Wheel of Sharp Weapons): The law of actions and results, or karma, and the states of mind that shape our future experiences

  • Engaging in the Bodhisattva Way of Life: The six perfections – generosity, morality, patience, joyous effort, concentration and wisdom – and how to practice them in everyday life.

  • Sublime Continuum: The buddha- or tathagata-essence that exists within every sentient being

  • Ornament for Clear Realization, Fourth Chapter: Outlining the bodhisattva's meditation on the aspects of the three exalted knowers by way of a union of calm abiding and special insight for the purpose of attaining enlightenment

  • Grounds and Paths of Secret Mantra: The four classes of tantra with emphasis on the generation and completion stages of the highest yoga tantra.

 Please refer to a detailed description of the texts – PDF and detail on the subjects to be studied – PDF.

Time period

  • Classes will be conducted from mid-September to mid-April – seven months per year.

  • The complete program will be offered over a period of five years, including review and final exam, and three months of lam-rim retreat.


The following is required of all students who wish to have their Basic Programme completion card signed off for subject completion:

  • a minimum of 80% attendance at teachings by Geshe-la, four times a week: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 5:15–6:45 pm

  • a minimum of 80% attendance at discussion groups – led by the Basic Programme tutor, four times a week: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

  • a minimum of 80% attendance at meditations / retreats offered as part of the programme

  • karma yoga: five hours per week in any project at Root Institute and / or at Root institute General

  • completion of all assessments and tests set by the tutor as part of the programme

  • fulfilling the Basic Programme behaviour requirement.

Qualification for completion certificate

Students who wish to qualify for the Basic Programme completion certificate need to:

  • have successfully completed the nine core curriculum Basic Programme subjects with the 80% attendance rate for each element – teachings, discussion groups, meditations and retreats

  • participated in the three-month review period at the completion of the programme

  • successfully completed the Basic Programme final exam

  • fulfiled the three-month lam-rim retreat requirement by participating in three one-month lam-rim retreats offered as part of the programme.

General information

  • Students keep their own attendance records, which will be turned in on a weekly basis. Use of the self-evaluation card is optional.

  • Target student population: We are hoping for a combination of Indian national and international students, lay and Sangha.

  • Casual visitors are welcome to the teachings and meditations on the basis of quiet attendance, leaving active participation to the actual BP students.

  • Suggested donation: Please contact our director, Ven. Tenzin Paldron, for more information.

  • More information about the FPMT Basic Programme is available on the FPMT website.

Student visa

Root Institute for Wisdom Culture is now approved as an institution eligible for the grant of student visa (S-5) to foreign nationals coming for Buddhist Studies for a period of up to 5 years, or for the duration of their course of study, whichever is less. Application must be made from the student's home country. (For further information about student visas, contact our director.)

Application process

If you are interested in enrolling in the Basic Programme at Root Institute:

In conclusion

We hope that offering a complete, residential Basic Programme, over a five-year period, six-and-a-half months each year, will make Root Institute for Wisdom Culture an attractive place for beginning and more advanced students and practitioners alike.

FPMT Basic Programme modules 2018–19

Guidelines of behaviour in a Dharma environment

Root Institute is a delightful, semi-monastic meditation centre.

To maintain a conducive, spiritually harmonious atmosphere for inner reflection and meditation, we kindly ask all our students, guests and visitors to observe the following guidelines:

  • Respect all life: do not intentionally kill any living being, even small insects.

  • Respect others' property: do not steal or take anything not freely given.

  • Be honest and straightforward: do not lie or intentionally deceive others.

  • Be celibate: no sexual activity; this also includes no romantic holding hands, hugging, massages and other physical displays of affection.

  • Be alert and mindful*: avoid intoxicants such as alcohol, drugs and cigarettes; we encourage you to stop smoking while here, but if this is impossible, you can smoke outside the gates.

  • Be considerate of others' silence: keep silence in the appropriate areas and at all times during residential courses, especially in the meditation hall (gompa) and dormitories; no singing or playing music and, in general, maintain a quiet demeanour while on the property.

  • Be considerate of the monks and nuns: dress respectfully; please no shorts above the knee, tank-top shirts, or tight and revealing clothing.

  • Couples: can stay in the same room for two weeks or less under the celibacy policy.

Please be aware:

  • * The Bihar state government has passed laws totally prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol in the state, with very severe penalties! Please ensure that you do not carry any alcohol with you in Bihar.

  • Also, please note that those in service or teaching in FPMT centers and projects do not engage in the practice of Shugden.