FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Who teaches the course?
The course is taught by Khen Rinpoche, Geshe Tashi Tsering. These teachings are in the form of audio and video recordings of Geshe Tashi’s classes.
What is the role of the tutors?
The primary role of our tutors is to help facilitate a learning environment in which each participant feels supported in their exploration of the material, both intellectually and practically. While they will be knowledgeable, and may have helpful bits of information to pass on, their primary role is not to ‘know the right answer,’ but to help you dig deeper to find your own answers, perhaps sometimes in unexpected ways. This dovetails with the type of learning experience we aim to promote in all our online courses.
What role will Geshe Tashi play in the course?
Geshe Tashi will be a constant presence during your two years as you watch and listen to his teachings. Throughout the two years students will have the chance to ask Geshe-la questions. Geshe Tashi records his answers to each individual group on video, which is then posted for each group privately within the learning platform. Over the two years, through learning and asking questions, it is possible to form a genuine relationship this way.
What kind of Buddhism will I be studying?
The short answer to this is that the teachings come from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, and within that a particular school, the Geluk. One of the most well-known Buddhists from the Geluk tradition is His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
However, although Geshe Tashi himself belongs to this tradition, he follows the Dalai Lama’s example and advice to incorporate other schools of Buddhism into one’s study and practice. This is reflected in Geshe Tashi’s teachings as well as in the recommended readings for the course over the two years.
Whatever tradition you follow, the tutors will always aim to help make connections between your own practice and the study and practice outlined in the FBT.
There is moreover a strong emphasis on approaching Buddhist study and practice with discernment and logic, something which is a hallmark of ‘the Nalanda Tradition,’ a tradition rooted in one of the oldest and most distinguished seats of Buddhism, Nalanda University.
Do I need to be interested in becoming a Buddhist?
Absolutely not! We hope that people from all kinds of spiritual paths, and none, will sign up to the course and join our community. All that is required is a genuine and sincere interest in learning about Buddhist teachings and practice, and how they relate to your own life and experience.
What if English isn’t my first language?
You will likely be in good company. Because the FBT is an online course, it attracts students from all over the world, from the Americas to Asia, from Poland to Portugal. We will encourage mindful speaking and listening in the discussion groups, which we hope will help each person feel confident to share their own thoughts and experiences. The classes are taught in English, though, and all materials and discussions are held in English, so you will need to have reasonable fluency in the English language in order to participate.
We aim to create translations of the FBT course into other languages in the future, and to have tutors who are proficient in other languages, but this is going to take some time.
If I complete a module, but then leave the course, can I re-join the course at a later date and continue from where I left off?
Although we understand that life circumstances sometimes mean having to leave the course, we do not allow students to re-join another course part way through.
We understand that some may be disappointed to hear this, but we feel we have good reasons for this policy.
The learning environment and culture of the course is very important to us. It takes a great deal of time and care to build rapport, especially with an online group. A nurturing and supportive environment is something which is built bit by bit, discussion by discussion, over months and years, by all members of the group. What results is a gradual opening up and deepening of the relationships and group dynamics. The group itself becomes a valuable source of shared wisdom and experience. Students sometimes say they learn as much from each other as they do from Geshe Tashi’s teachings. If too many people leave or if someone new joins, the whole group is affected.
On the other hand, if you need to leave, but are considering re-joining, then why not start the course from the beginning again? It will feel like a different course to you because of the new things you learn and the new relationship you cultivate with the material, with your practice and with others. Many people, including the two of us, have benefitted from repeating the course over and over, and we have never heard of anyone who has regretted it.
We hope you don’t ever need to leave the course, but if you have no choice, we hope you will think seriously about re-joining the course from the beginning again, once the time is right.
What about Geshe Tashi’s other courses?
We will be hosting the Lam Rim Chenmo course on our site as well. We’ll begin this process just as soon as we have the FBT course up and running smoothly. This course, also called The Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, is based on the three-book series by Lama Tsongkhapa, and is the follow-on course from the FBT. Once the Lam Rim Chenmo course is in place, we will be able to turn our attention to developing further online courses based on Geshe Tashi’s other teaching materials.
I’ve joined the FBT Course and I have a technical question.
Please visit our Frequently Asked Technical Questions page.