JKhedrup wrote:I am by no means an official spokesperson for FPMT. I am merely a translator for a geshe at one of their centres so I don't have any official capacity or administrative position. I will do my best to explain things from what I have seen, although certainly others may have different experiences/opinions. FPMT is a large and diverse organization.
In terms of the actual study programs the Lam Rim used in the Basic Program is Lam Rim Tinpo, the Mid-Length Lam Rim, by Lama Tzongkhapa. The Masters program covers the 5 texts studied at the monasteries so Lam Rim is not included in the study texts, but Lama Zopa Rinpoche considers Lam Rim to be extremely important so it should some how be integrated into the Masters Program, and during the one year retreat that is required for Masters Program Completion, Rinpoche encourages an emphasis on the Lam Rim.
In terms of the text Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand I am not sure what you mean by the question. This text does not deal specifically with the Spirit Worship. And it has nothing to do with the status of the current Phabongkha tulku, as it was an oral teaching of the previous Phabongkha Rinpoche that was transcribed by Trijiang Rinpoche.
The problem with the current Phabongkha tulku is that he does not follow the wishes of HH Dalai Lama, and in fact has links with organizations opposing His Holiness. Because of thiss, he cannot according to the internal regulations of the FPMT, teach at any of their centres. You can find that policy here:http://www.fpmt.org/fpmt/announcements/511-shugden.html#policy it is also included in the ToS of this website.
This is the same reason the current Phabongkha tulku is not permitted to teach or participate in activities at Sera Mey. When I became a monk there I received an ID card where it states very clearly that the patron of Sera Mey is HHDL, that being the case all those affiliated with the monastery are bound to follow his advice. To remain in the monastery, (as I was not present) I had to sign an oath before Thaog in writing that I sent to the administration. This was required of all those who wanted to remain somehow connected to the college, even those residing overseas.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche certainly likes Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, and although it is not an official part of any of the structured FPMT study programs, certainly Geshes at the centres will teach on it from time to time-there is definitely no restriction on using this text. HHDL will give a lung for Liberation during the transmission of the 18 Great Lam Rim texts in India. I have received teachings on this texts from several of my teachers including Sermey Khensur Rinpoche and Geshe Lobsang Dragpa from Ganden who teaches at Namgyal Monastery in Dharamsala. So although the current tulku has many problems connected with him, I don't think his status means that we can't or shouldn't read his books. Indeed HHDL says the PK's Lam Rim contains many good passages- read the notes from the Gelug conferences.
My personal opinion, though, is that since we are Gelugpas the Lam Rim we should rely on first and foremost is the Lam Rim Chenmo or Mid-Length Lam Rim of Lama Tzongkhapa. After all, he is the founder of our tradition. I also feel the Lam Rim Chenmo is far better suited to Westerners than Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, as LRCM reads more like a textbook, and is less culturally specific. The translation from Snow Lion is an excellent, high quality work that involved many of the top Tibetan translators with both academic and dharma qualifications. It also has more quotes from the classic scriptures which gives a taste of the vast wealth of the Buddhist canon. Liberation is more of an oral treatise, and I think that the fire and brimstone stuff is not so well suited to Westerners though of course that is my opinion.
This part of the discussion is a little off topic and perhaps warrants a new thread, but as a lay FPMT practitioner, I wanted to add my perspective. Discovering Buddhism is a two year Lam Rim focused course of study that prepares a foundation for students.
The texts used are transcripts of various teachings, Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, and various teachings/books from HHDL, LZR, and Lama Yeshe.
In addition to this, Discovering Buddhism carries a number of retreat and preliminary practice requirements for completion. One of these is a 2-4 week Kopan style
Lam Rim retreat. Most students are encouraged to complete Discovering Buddhism first and then often pursue the Basic Program and can follow this with study in the Masters Program.
There is a big jump in the depth covered and prerequisites between Discovering Buddhism and the Basic and Masters program. So, our center (and perhaps others) in particular facilitate a more detailed study of
the Lam Rim Chen Mo as an intermediate step to Basic program study. Sometimes, Geshe Tashi Tsering's Foundations of Buddhist Thought are also recommended and/or
an experiential approach through study of LZR's teachings from the Light of the Path retreat.
With that said, although PK's text is used the LRCM and Atisha's Lamp for the Path are primary. So, from the beginning and throughout Lam Rim is essential.