Basic Program

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

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

The program is now offered in many FPMT centers around the world, and is also avaialble as an online study course.


FPMT Basic Program at Kopan

Learn all about transforming your mind from self centered to other-centered motivation. Be inspired to follow the perfect example of those who have made this transformation. Hear about the qualities of the enlightened mind, and how to attain these qualities in our own mind.

Kopan Monastery offers the program in the form of one or two modules every year, over a period of several years. Venerable Fedor Stracke, the resident teacher of the program, is skillfully presenting the content of each module. Quite often he translates directly from the root text to help claryfying difficult passages. Each module is  studied intensively over one to two month, depending on the topic. The Basic program 'travels' well. Many FPMT centers worldwide now offer this program. As the module certificates are recognized everywhere it can be studied at different locations.


Kopan Basic Program scheduled topics for the next two years

Over the next two years the following modules will be offered:

2019 topics:
Chapter Four of the 'Ornament of Clear Realization'  and 'Tantric Stages'
2020 topic:

3 months Lam Rim retreat

This will complete the second round of the Basic Program at Kopan.
Students who have completed the exams of all the modules are eligible to participate in the Basic Program review and final exam.
The Teacher  

Ven. Fedor Strackehas 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 a Tibetan interpreter for various geshes. He currently is resident teacher at Aryatara Institute in Germany. He has been teaching the Basic program at Kopan now for 8 years. At the same time he is translating Gyaltsab Je's commentary toEngaging in the Bodhisattva's Deeds and Losang Chökyi Gyältsen's Wisdom Debating Ignorance.

In the past five years Ven. Fedor has taught already several modules of the Basic Program, such as the Middle Lam Rim, Lorig, Tenets, Heart sutra, Bodhisattvas Way of Life etc. Those who attended his classes were impressed by the clarity and depth of his teachings, and by his dedication to make the subjects accessible to everybody. The program is very intensive, as in a relatively short time much ground is covered.

This is a great opportunity to study philosophy with a qualified teacher in a supportive and congenial environment. Extensive study material will be made available for the students.

Details of Content

Designed by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, the Basic Program provides a comprehensive, practice oriented transmission of the Buddha’s teaching as exemplified by the tradition of the great Tibetan master,  Je Tsong Khapa.

The Basic Program is not a purely intellectual program, on the contrary: the goal is to integrate intellectual knowledge and study with in-depth meditation on the subjects. To study these texts at Kopan Monastery provides a rare opportunity to study and practice traditional Buddhist texts in a traditional Buddhist environment, which greatly supports the generation of insights and understanding. The daily teachings will be complemented by daily meditation classes to deepen ones understanding of the topics.

The Basic Program consists of nine core subjects and three supplementary topics. These 12 subjects of the program are spaced over five years and are complemented by a three month Lam-rim retreat in the sixth year. The subjects may be studied in any order; however, the Stages of the Path (lam-rim) provides the overall context for the other subjects and for meditation practice throughout. Understanding Tenets and Mind and Cognition will help with the ninth chapter of Engaging in the Bodhisattva Deeds; the  Seventy Topics and Ornament will be difficult without studying the other subjects first.

Weekly exams help to keep the students on track. These exams are compulsory.  Attending the final exam for each module is highly recommended. Only those who have passed the exams relating to the nine core subjects and the three month Lam-rim retreat will be eligible to participate in the Basic Final Exam and will be able to train further to obtain a FPMT Basic program teacher's certificate.

Download  herer more information on standard texts and commentaries


Designed by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, the Basic Program is especially suitable for students wishing to progress beyond introductory level courses, who are ready to commit themselves to more in-depth study and practice. Consisting of nine subjects plus three optional supplements, the curriculum uses standard root texts and commentaries. A support program of meditation, discussions, retreats and study tools such as exams, homework and reading assignments ensures that participants develop an accurate understanding of the Dharma as a basis for daily practice, contemplative retreat and further study.

An FPMT Basic Program Certificate will be awarded by the FPMT to students who successfully complete the final, comprehensive exam. Candidates for this exam must have completed all the subjects of the core curriculum and a three month Lam rim retreat as part of the program. They also have to satisfy the Basic Program criteria for behavior and conduct: to sincerely engage in the practice of refraining from killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct (adultery) and intoxicants, while developing their concern for others and awareness of positive and negative states of mind, and developing the practice of patience and the bodhichitta motivation over the course of their Basic Program studies.

The program offers students an opportunity to become qualified teachers certified by the FPMT, based on their academic understanding, meditation experience, and exemplary behavior. This is part of Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s vision for the Basic Program.

Conditions of Attendance:

Course participants should have sincere faith in the Dharma and the teachings of the Buddha and a genuine interest in the study of Buddhist philosophy.  Depending on the modules, special restrictions may apply. Please check with us closer to the time.

This course is a full time study program and attendance at all sessions is required.

The Teaching schedule

The days are divided into teachings, meditation sessions and discussion/debate sessions. The study week will be six days similar to the monastery schedule. Daily morning and evening meditation sessions will provide an uninterrupted continuum of practice.

Daily Schedule:

* 6.45 Morning meditation
* 7.30 am Breakfast
* 9.00 - 11 00 Teaching
* 11.30 Lunch
* Free study time after lunch
* 3.30 - 5.00 Teaching
* 6.00 - 6.45 Meditation
* 6.45 Dinner
* 7.30 Study group


Exams are held every week, to help prepare the student for the final exam at the end of the module. To pass the exam, the knowledge of the students will be taken into consideration as well as other factors such as attendance, discipline and behavior. Having completed exams on the nine core subjects is the prerequisite to attend the final exam of the Basic Program. To receive this certificate, all modules have to be attended, and the required exams have to be passed.

Find out more about the FPMT Basic Program here 




Kopan Monastery
(Nepal Buddhist Mahayana Center Gompa)

Kopan Monastery is affiliated with FPMT
(Foundation for the preservation of the Mahayana Tradition)