Discovering Buddhism Presenting the Path Class 1


In the first class of the Presenting the Path module, we stated that the objective is to provide an overview of the structure of the lam rim teachings. There are many different lam rim texts and each is essentially a collection of analytical meditations for subduing the mind. By meditating intensely on these topics, the meditator turns away from the eight worldly dharmas and steps onto the path to Enlightenment.

The meditations are divided into three groups. The first is for people of the small scope, or small attitude, who are primarily concerned with ensuring that they don’t fall into the lower realms in their next life. Their main goal is a good rebirth. The second is for people of the middle scope. Their motivation is to free themselves from the suffering of being reborn over and over again in cyclic existence. Finally, the great scope or great attitude refers to those whose primary goal is to free both themselves and all sentient beings from cyclic existence and to bring them to Enlightenment. In truth, we all start with the small attitude and gradually expand it into the great attitude. Those who solely pursue self-centered happiness in this life cannot be considered Buddhist because they are not practicing Dharma.

We took a quick look at the foundational topics: the greatness of the authors, the greatness of the dharma, how to listen to the dharma, the sequence in which to learn the dharma, the benefits of relying on a teacher, and the precious human rebirth. We then started the explanation of the small scope. The three main topics are death, refuge, and karma. We briefly discussed death.

In our next class, we will finish the discussion of the small scope and move on to the middle scope.

Questions to consider:

How can the lam rim meditations motivate us to establish a daily practice?

How does the meditation on the precious human rebirth help us put greater value on our lives as well as the lives of others? How might this cause us to change our consumption habits?

How does meditating on death help alleviate our innate fear of the end of life as we know it?

Resources:

LamRim_Outline1PabongkaRinpLib_Illustrated_PieroSirianni (pdf) — an elegant, user-friendly outline based on Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand.

Thupten Jinpa. A Fearless Heart: how the courage to be compassionate can transform our lives. Avery. 2016  — contains a chapter on how to nurture self-compassion.

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