I’m sure common to many people who practice within the Gelug tradition or are familiar with it, there’s a familiarity with the term “lamrim”, the gradual stages to enlightenment teachings. For most practicing within gelug, studying, contemplating, and meditating on this is a lifetime practice.
Recently I found something interesting within the Dalai Lama’s book “The Path to Enlightenment” (1981, Pg 108), which is a commentary on Essence of Refined Gold, a classic lamrim text. He states that for many people, trying to understand karma is difficult because they have to rely heavily on scriptures to understand it. Having thorough understanding is very difficult unless someone has clairvoyance or omniscience. Essentially, someone has to rely on an element of faith to understand karma at this stage.
Preparing for Lam Rim
His recommendation for preparing for Lamrim study is to study Nagarjuna’s “The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way“, and Chandrakirt’s “Madhyamakavatar” or “Introduction to the Middle Way“. The Dalai Lama states that “this roundabout way of establishing the validity of karmic law is not perfectly sound, but it is sufficiently convincing to open our mind to the Four Truths to the degree that we are able to pursue further practice and attain deeper and more conclusive experiences.”
As part of my own practice, I read lamrim several times a year. Usually 3 in particular (Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, The Path to Enlightenment, and Practicing the Path), and rotate them, reading them over and over. I thought it might be good to put this on hold for the time being, and go back to Nagarjuna and Chandrakirti before diving back into the Lamrim. Maybe others would also be interested in looking into this? Here are some resources that might be helpful…
4 day teachings that HH Dalai Lama gave on Nagarjuna’s Fundamental Treatise to Wisdom, Atishia’s Lamp for the Path (Lam rim), Tsongkhapa’s Praise of Dependent Origination, and Tsongkhapa’s “Concise Stages for the path to Enlightenment ” (Lam rim).
Day 1 – Morning
Day 1 – Afternoon
Day 2 – Morning
Day 2 – Afternoon
Day 3 – Morning
Day 3 – Afternoon
Day 4 – Morning
Recorded teachings that Venerable Namgyal Wangchen of Jamyang Center gave over several months on Chandrakirti’s Madhyamakavatara.
Translation of Fundamental Treatise on Wisdom.
Translation of Madhyamakavatara and commentary.