To supplement “Teaching a Good Heart: FPMT Registered Teachers,” the July-September 2012 cover story, we’re sharing another robust article about FPMT registered teachers, “Like Nectar on Flowers: The Selfless Service of FPMT-Registered Teachers,” from the July-September 2010 issue.
We’ve made our archive story “Like Nectar on Flowers” available in two parts. Both can be read online or downloaded as PDFs. We hope you enjoy this issue’s gems taken “From the Vault!”
Part 1 – History
We take a look at the history of how qualified teachers were developed within the FPMT during its early days, hearing from Lama Yeshe and early students. Here’s how the article opens:
“By 1974, many students of Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche had been studying solidly for at least two years at the biannual lam-rim courses held at Kopan Monastery in Nepal. As a result, Lama Yeshe began holding public examinations of his students in December of 1974 to help ensure their thorough Dharma education was being retained.
“Prior to the first examinations, Lama Yeshe gave a talk to the Sangha of FPMT, known by then as IMI (International Mahayana Institute), in order to prepare them for the first public examinations: ‘I think it is necessary that you know why we are going to hold examinations of IMI Sangha. Since you took ordination, your life, your body and speech, do not belong to you, nor do they belong to Lama. They belong to all universal living beings…’”
Part 2 – FPMT Geshes
In this section, we collected short biographies of many of FPMT’s most treasured geshes. Here’s a brief excerpt from the section’s introduction:
“It can be easy, particularly if one is new to Tibetan Buddhism, to miss just how rare and valuable teachers with Geshe degrees are. The degree is incredibly intensive (the curriculum can last up to 20 years), and graduates must have remarkable memorization and debating skills, making geshes fully qualified to help students master the most basic and advanced Buddhist concepts.
“Of the four levels of Geshe degree, most FPMT geshes have been awarded the highest-level (lharampa). Many have sacrificed promising careers within their own monastic universities as the teachers of young monks in order to teach in various centers outside of India. However, because of their dedication to Lama Zopa Rinpoche and FPMT’s vision, and because of their confidence that Dharma can be successfully established outside of Asia, these teachers have allowed themselves to be thrust into foreign cultures, often far from other Sangha.
“An FPMT geshe is a qualified geshe requested by Lama Zopa Rinpoche to serve in one of his centers when that center has a stable, committed community that can support a residence and salary for the geshe, and the students of that center are ready to go deeper into Buddhist philosophy and practice. The geshe’s responsibilities at the center are far-ranging. As resident teacher, he is there to teach, to provide spiritual guidance, to inspire each student on their path to enlightenment, and serve as a significant object of merit, particularly if he is ordained. He may be faced with a student who walks through the door unaware of even the basics of Buddhism, as well as the veteran student who has been practicing for 30 years and seeks in-depth study and initiation….”