Lamrim Course : the stages of the path to attaining the happiness of enlightenment
The Lamrim Teachings cover all the main subjects of Buddhist Philosophy and explain how can anyone walk the path to happiness and Enlightenment through overcoming our negative emotions and wrong perceptions. As a Prerequisite for this Course, we suggest you strongly to follow the Calm-Abiding Meditation Course.
Lamrim (Tibetan for “the stages of the path to enlightenment”) originates from the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni. In the eleventh century, the great Indian saint, Atisha, committed the teachings to writing in a very clear and well-structured text which is just as popular today as it was then. It is a precise, step-by-step explanation of the entire teaching of the Buddha. Later, the famous Tibetan pioneer, Tsongkhapa, provided a more detailed version.
Today, this text has become very popular because it allows Westerners to receive a teaching that is at once concise and complete. Due to its exceptional clarity, it is easily understood and therefore facilitates study and meditation for those wishing to attain enlightenment. Because of the hectic pace of modern life, holding down a job, and raising a family etc., unlike monks and nuns, it is almost impossible to undertake several years of Dharma studies. For this reason, the Dalai Lama as well as the great masters prefer this text to any of the others. In our course therefore, we will be using Lama Samten’s book, The Essence of the Path to Enlightenment.
A. INTRODUCTION TO THE STAGES OF THE PATH
1.1 The excellence of the author so as to establish the noble origin of the teaching.
1.2 The excellence of the Dharma so as to develop confidence in the instructions.
1.3 How to listen and teach the Dharma.
B. THE ACTUAL PRACTICE OF THE STAGES OF THE PATH
2. The six preliminary preparations for practicing meditation, and the spiritual guide.
3. Precious human life: an extraordinary opportunity.
The stages of the path practiced by practitioners of the small scope :
4. Impermanence of all compounded phenomena, and precious human life.
5. Taking refuge in the Three Jewels: the gateway to freedom from suffering.
6. Karma: the law of cause and effect that governs every physical, verbal, and mental action (body, speech, and mind).
The stages of the path practiced by practitioners of the middle scope :
7. The Four Noble Truths: suffering, its origin, its end, and the path of liberation.
8. The twelve interdependent links that turn the wheel of Samsara (the cycle of existences). By reversing this process, we can free ourselves of this cycle.
The stages of the path practiced by practitioners of the great scope :
9. The benefits of Bodhichitta (spirit of enlightenment), the altruistic intention which is the source of every worldly happiness.
10.The method of the seven causes and effects in order to develop universal love, the ‘great compassion’ and Bodhichitta.
11. Geshe Tchekawa’s seven-point mind training that allows us to free ourselves of the ego.
12. The first four perfections: generosity, discipline, patience, and joyful perseverance.
13. The fifth perfection: concentration.
14. The nine stages of calm-abiding, the result of concentration.
15. a) The sixth perfection: the wisdom of emptiness, and
b) The uncommon vehicle: the Vajrayana.
Further Lamrim Studies
Following the Lamrim course, those wishing to pursue further studies can do so by enrolling in a supplemental three-year course which is based on the longer, unabridged version of the Lamrim. It involves a more in-depth explanation of the topics previously seen in the initial course.
In Buddhist terminology, this teaching can be referred to as an empowerment because it enables the student to not only improve his or her spiritual practice, but also to better integrate the essence of the teaching in their daily life. A possible accompaniment to the course is the fundamental preparatory practice of Ngondo, which helps us free our minds for more efficient spiritual practice and meditation.