One of the greatest gifts that the Tibetan Buddhist tradition has given to this world is the Infinitely beautiful set of teachings known as Lam Rim. (Literally "Path Steps"). This fabulous teaching is an A-Z recipe for getting enlightened.
If you've ever felt lost or confused or stuck, then getting a good understanding of Lam Rim can be a road map for you, to get you out of suffering. It is one of the truest characteristics of Lam Rim that it is not dogmatic. It is actually more of a carefully cataloged description of how the path to freedom universally works.
The better you learn Lam Rim the more you realize that it was always around you. In mythology and indeed in almost every story or movie you've ever experienced, in sports, in politics, in your family life, your work life. Lam Rim is there. Though we may not often see it, there is a path out of suffering. This teaching shows you how to finally recognize it, and use it to finally get somewhere.
We'll be adding to this page over time, but it will never be finished. Lam Rim unpacks almost infinitely. It is such a huge teaching. So we'll use this page as a place to collect some of our touchstones on this journey. Hopefully it may be of some help to those of you also wishing to take the trip.
We offer this to all of you in immense gratitude to the precious teachers who have devoted their lives to faithfully bringing this to we, the fortunate ones.
There are several "Lam Rim" texts. Two of the most famous are "Lamp on the Path to Enlightenment" by Lord Atisha (980-1054) and "The Source of All my Good" by Je Tsongkapa (1357-1419). We've had the good fortune to have teachings on both of these, but most of the material on this page will be based on Je Tsongkapa's glorious teachings.
Below is the text of Je Tsongkapa's magical poem "The Source of All My Good" 14 short lines which encompass the whole path to full Buddhahood. It seems to me that only a divine being could put it so succinctly.
However, poems like this are actually written in a kind of spiritual code. Most of us need the help of a master codebreaker to understand them. So we've also included a link to a compact book which relays a commentary by the precious Khen Rinpoche (1921 - 2004) on "Begging for a Mountain of Blessings", a commentary on Je Tsongkapa's poem by the amazing Pabongka Rinpoche (1878-1941), who in his time taught with the same kind of power and colloquial authenticity that our dear dear teacher displays today.
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"Preparing for Tantra" Book
Out of her generosity, Lama Cindy Lee recently taught a lovely and comprehensive six part teaching on Lam Rim. Her insight on the material is so fresh and honest, it really illuminates the path beautifully. Added Bonus: Lama Sumati Marut makes a cameo in each class. Definitely worth checking out.
You can find more on her site: Siddha-Songs.com
You can watch it all on Ustream here.
Or you can download the mp3's below.
MP3 Audio Files:
Some years ago Lama Marut brought his characteristic wit and power and real world practicality to bear on a teaching of Je Tsongkapa's Lam Rim, to a fortunate group of beings at Diamond Mountain University. Fortunately for us, someone recorded it.
Printouts:Lam Rim Class Guide PDF
(Last summer Lama Marut taught from Lord Atisha's Lam Rim. An unprecedented blessing. If allowed we may post some material from that one day.)
The kindness and devotion of this astounding being has brought a mountain of authentic and blessed Buddhist teachings into a modern western context. He is currently teaching Lam Rim over the course of the next decade, which is a little more than we have storage to hold on our servers.
Fortunately, we do have a recording of a Lam Rim teaching he gave, which according to one interesting traditional method, he taught backwards. If you've gone through the Lam Rim forwards this is an excellent way to freshen up your view of the path. And besides that, the wisdom this being has access to seems almost limitless. A good use of your amazing life.
MP3 Audio Files:
Lam Rim is so full. We've found it effective to have some go-to "cheat sheets" to help us in our efforts to internalize the path. It must be stated though that these are NOT comprehensive in that they only attempt to touch on some of the waypoints of the path. Also, they are not authoritative. Though our teachers have seen and approved most of this material, it should not be considered an official text. These are just study aides from a fellow student of this beautiful teaching.
I'm posting this material on this page only as a instance of doing what my teacher asked of me, which is to learn the teachings, and then share them as best as possible. With great humility and deference to our kind and wise teachers I've been attempting over the past three months or so to share with our wonderful local Dharma community at least some of the incomparable jewels I've received from the precious Lam Rim teachings I've been fortunate to encounter. Below are recordings of a couple of these instances of sharing the Dharma.
A discussion and meditation on Guru Yoga
As the Lam Rim itself says, learning how to think and act toward a teacher is "The Very Root of the path". This is sometimes called "Guru Yoga" and it is a deep and powerful practice. Our precious teachers convey this so admirably in so many ways, including the superior DVD "A Match Made in Heaven", which we highly recommend. But as we attempt to understand and embody these teachings we inevitably discuss them with our spiritual brothers and sisters. This is simply a recording of one of those discussions.
Or listen Here:
A full Lam Rim meditation.
There is SO much material in the Lam Rim Meditation. This is an attempt to hit some of the highlights of the trip. This particular morning I wanted to focus most heavily on the first two steps of the path, up to achieving Nirvana. But it does go on through to the end of the open teachings.
Or listen Here:
Here are a few visualizations you may find helpful, inspired by certain stages of Lam Rim. There will be more added over time.Please do remember two important points though.
1. Your meditation images should be YOURS. These are only snapshots of how one might consider these visualizations.
2. Most importantly, the object of the Lam Rim mediation is NOT the image itself. The images are simply mnemonics, or memory aids to trigger our minds to recall specific teachings we've had or preferably specific states of mind. Lam rim is not about pictures, it is about literally CHANGING our mind. in your meditation you should focus on the emotions and ideas that your images represent.Lam Rim Image Gallery (so far)
Once you have a decent Lam Rim, or even as you are developing one, it is a great practice, and at certain stages it's even vital, to take your Lam Rim into meditation and really work over it. There are Many wonderful resources available on how to set up and do these sorts of retreats. Here are some links to material which may be of assistance.
Retreat Help Files:
The material below is borrowed from Lama Cindy Lee's page on "How to do Retreat".
Click here to get all above as one PDF
Articles on Retreat
Here are some first hand accounts, with advice you might find interesting