Gyumed Khesur Rinpoche Lobsang Jampa. Edited by Dr. Lorne Ladner. The Easy Path: Illuminating the First Panchen Lama’s Secret Instructions. Wisdom Publications: 2013.
This excellent book is based on a teaching given by Gyumed Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Jampa at the Guhyasamaja Center in Virginia over the course of several weeks. Khensur Rinpoche served as the Center’s resident teacher for a period of five years and taught a wide range of subjects including the Middle Length lam rim, Shantideva’s A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, emptiness, and tantra.
Rinpoche’s student, Dr. Lorne Ladner, has done a terrific job of presenting Rinpoche’s talks on the First Panchen Lama’s condensed explanation of the path to enlightenment. His writing style is scholarly and yet engaging. The book is much more than a simple transcript of the teachings (recordings are available on the Guhyasamaja Center website). Instead, during the process of editing the book, Dr. Ladner asked Rinpoche many detailed follow-up questions that added a new dimension to the original commentary.
What seems unique about this discussion of the Lam Rim – the path to Enlightenment – is how Rinpoche relates the sutra presentation of the path to the tantric path’s corollary – in particular, Highest Yoga Tantra. In addition, there are many interesting details that I haven’t come across in other lam rim commentaries. The First Panchen Lama’s text is like a meditation manual – it is series of meditations on specific lam rim topics that describe the visualizations as well as the accompanying thoughts. As such, the book can easily be used as part of your daily practice.
I don’t know if I would suggest this book for newcomers to Buddhism who are unfamiliar with tantra, and there are other books that describe the lam rim in greater detail. But I could be wrong. It is perfect, however, for students who are practicing tantra and have studied the lam rim before. We all need to deepen our understanding of the lam rim — this purifies our motivation, strengthens our determination and gives us courage to pursue a glorious path that in many ways is anything but easy.