Venerable Gyumed Khensur Rinpoche Losang Jampa is giving a commentary on the First Panchen Lama’s fascinating, short work, “The Path of Well Being for Those Travelling to Omniscience: Essential Guide to the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment”. A long title for a relatively short text! In Tibetan it is known as “De Lam”, a shorter version of the title in English is “Path to Bliss”.
Recordings of each class will be posted on the Center website in MP3 format shortly after class to make it easy for students to keep up. In addition, for your convenience, we will post a brief review of the teaching here so if you miss a class and maybe don’t have time to listen to the recording, you can read the blog and get a sense of what Rinpoche covered. Each week we’ll provide an outline of the major topic headings.
Note that an English translation of the root text has not been published. The translator, Ven. Tashi is referring to Pabongkha Rinpoche’s work. “Liberation in Our Hands”, so you might want to have a copy handy.
April 9, 2011
In this session, Khensur Rinpoche laid the foundation for his commentary on the root text. He began by listing the eight major lam rim texts. The other seven are Je Tsongkhapa’s longest, middling and shortest texts on the stages of the path (Lam rim chen mo; Lam rim ‘bring; Lam rim chung ngu nyams mgur); the Third Dalai Lama Sonam Gyatso’s Essence of Refined Gold (Lam rim gser zhun ma); the Fifth Dalai Lama Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso’s Sacred Words of Manjushri (Lam rim ‘Jam dpal zhal lung); Panchen Lobsang Yeshe’s Swift Path (Lam rim myur lam); and Dagpo Ngawang Drakpa’s Essence of Excellent Speech (Lam rim legs gsung nying khu).
The Path to Bliss text is related to tantra, it is known as the easy path because it has the quality of tantric practice and includes many secret tantric techniques.
Khensur Rinpoche mentioned the four topics traditionally taught prior to a lam rim teaching: 1) the greatness of the teacher – given to show the teaching has an immaculate source, 2) the greatness of the Dharma — given to increase one’s respect for the instruction, 3) the greatness of giving the teachings — the right way to teach and listen to the Dharma that has these two greatness, 4) the sequence in which the disciples are to be taught the actual instruction.
Rinpoche then explained the three excellent qualities of the lam rim: 1) it is complete because it encompasses all qualities of sutra and tantra, 2) it is easy to put into practice because it emphasizes the steps for subduing the mind, 3) it is superior to other traditions because it contains instructions from two gurus who were schooled in the traditions of the Two Forerunners.
Rinpoche emphasized that when you’re teaching Lam Rim, you’re teaching all of the Buddhas’ teachings. Likewise, when listening, you are listening to all of the Buddhas’ teachings.
He went on to explain the three types of practitioners — initial capacity, middle, and high scope. This was followed by a brief description of the four attributes of greatness: 1) the greatness of allowing you to realize that all teachings are free from contradiction, 2) the greatness of allowing all the teachings to be taken as personal instructions, 3) the greatness of allowing you to easily discover the true thinking of the Victorious One, 4) the greatness of putting an end to all misdeeds.
In part 2 of the class, Rinpoche described the proper way in which we should listen to the Dharma. He commented that Buddha sacrificed everything for the Dharma, thus it’s so very precious. How can we ignore his valuable teachings? Listening to the teachings is a lamp dispelling the darkness of ignorance. It is the supreme wealth, it can never be lost or stolen. It is the best counselor or friend — helping us distinguish good and bad. Listening to the Dharma prevents us from committing misdeeds and is a medicine for curing suffering.
Rinpoche then reminded us how to listen to the Dharma to be free from three defects: 1) don’t be like an upside down cup, 2) don’t be like a contaminated/dirty cup, 3) don’t be a vessel with a hole in the bottom. He then described the eight faults of listening (e.g., pride, not having faith etc.).
The six benefits of listening to the teachings were presented next. Afterwards, Rinpoche emphasized that it’s our responsibility to apply the teachings to our lives, no one else can eliminate our suffering. He then closed with an interesting explanation of how to integrate our Lam Rim practice with the Six Perfections, in brief: 1) generosity: giving up your life for the Dharma, making food and other offerings, 2) morality: abandoning the six faults of listening, 3) patience: encountering difficulties and challenges when practicing but never giving up, 4) effort: the pleasure of practicing, 5) concentration: single pointed practice, 6) wisdom: complete understanding. These topics are discussed in the practices of practitioners of the great scope later in the text.
This is merely a quick review of what Rinpoche taught. Please listen to the recordings on the Center website.
For me, every time I set out to study the Lam Rim, it’s like embarking on a new journey. I’m still amazed at the depth and vastness of the dazzling teachings, and I can only marvel at how fortunate we are to be guided by someone as skillful as Khensur Rinpoche. How many lifetimes have we studied Lam Rim? This time, I’ll get it right. LOL! And with all the problems in the world today – wars, unemployment, natural disasters, etc. – we truly need to take refuge in the Triple Gem. Given that we’ve studied the Dharma many times in the past,why are we still seduced by the attractions of samsara like ants who eat the bait in a trap? Why is there a tendency to listen to the teachings and not follow through by putting them into practice? Questions such as these are answered in the Lam Rim, but each of us has to examine our own minds and see how they apply.
Feel free to share your thoughts about this teaching. What inspires you? What challenges you?
Rinpoche did not have time to describe Atisha’s life, but it’s very interesting.
Life of Atisha
Listen to the full recording of this class on the Center website.