Lamrim: the Gradual Path to Enlightenment

About this section:
The Buddha gave teachings in order to share with us the path to enlightenment that he had actualized himself. These teachings are practical, give us the tools to deal with difficulties, and show us how to live a meaningful life.

The Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eight-fold Path are one way of formulating these teachings. The Gradual Path to Enlightenment is another. These two are compatible, and knowing both enables us to look at the same thing from different perspectives. In the early eleventh century, the Indian Buddhist master, Atisha condensed essential points from the sutras and ordered them into the text, Lamp of the Path. These were then expanded upon in the fourteenth century by the Tibetan Buddhist master, Lama Tzong Khapa into the text The Great Exposition on the Gradual Path to Enlightenment (Lam Rim Chemmo). Venerable Chodron comments on this text and relates these practical teachings to our daily lives.


Lamrim Outline in:
- html format
- PDF format
- Microsoft Word format

Help with listening to audio recordings

Tapes of teachings given at DFF in Seattle can be ordered from DFF. Pls refer to:


4.B.2.C.2.b.2.b. Commitments of the Engaged Bodhisattva Vows

[Click here for list of Root and Auxiliary Bodhisattva Vows]

Note: parts of the teachings were lost due to change of tape during recording.

*These are from a series of Lamrim teachings that Ven. Chodron gave at Dharma Friendship Foundation, Seattle, fr 1991 to 1994. The audio files were previously available on this website in realplayer format. These have been converted to mp3 format. The contents remain the same. The audio files and transcripts have also been renamed to run in sequence and to match the transcripts with their corresponding audio files. Another round of light editing has been done to most transcripts (revised on 5 Jan 2006).

"In Buddhism, the idea behind a vow or a precept is that it's something that liberates us. It's not something that tells you what you can't do; it's something that tells you what you don't have to do anymore." - Ven. Chodron

*How the Bodhisattva Vows are Useful.
Dharma Friendship Foundation, Seattle. 28 Jul 93. [Transcript in PDF format]

[8 min]: Download


18 Root Vows

*Root Vows 1 to 4. DFF, Seattle. 9 Jun 93
[Transcript in PDF format]

Vows 1 to 3
What's the difference between a Root & a Secondary/Auxiliary Vow? ~ Why are the vows stated in the negative? ~ Why is it that doing the actions (in Vow 1) out of attachment results in a root transgression? ~ Looking at how we respond to requests for donations ~ Feeling guilty as a way of atoning for our miserliness - does it help? [23 min]: Download

Vow 4a
Historical background for this vow ~ The point is to not throw out virtuous practices ~ Buddha taught according to the culture at that time, so we have to interpret the teachings accordingly ~ What Kirti Tsenshap Rinpoche said about this vow ~ Beware of our rationalising mind [21 min]: Download

Vow 4b
Something to be careful about when bringing Dharma to the West, important for one doing that to maintain a strong link with one's teachers and constantly thinking and questioning one's own understanding of the Dharma. [5 min]: Download

Vow 4a
An afterthought on Vow 4a (after concluding meditation).
[2 min]: Download

Question and answer (from 28 Jul 93 teaching)
[4 min]: Download

*Root Vows 5 to 13. DFF, Seattle. 14 Jun 93
[Transcript in PDF format]

Quick review of Vows 1 to 4;
Explanation of Vows 5 to 9

[17 min]: Download

More explanation on Vow 6 (from 28 Jul 93 teaching)
[3 min]: Download

Vows 10 to 12
Very important to learn the Dharma not just from scholars, but also from practitioners. [16 min]: Download

Vow 13
What are the vows of self-liberation? ~ The 3 levels of vows and taking them progressively ~ Prevalent but very mistaken idea that practitioners of the more "advanced" Bodhisattva and Tantric paths need not keep the vows of self-liberation ~ Having taken a vow, what's the implication? [18 min]: Download

*Root Vows 14 to 18 and the Four Binding Factors.
DFF, Seattle. 16 Jun 93.
[Transcript in PDF format]

Vows 14 to 18 [15 min]: Download

More explanation on Vow 14
(from 28 Jul 93 teaching)
[2 min]: Download

4 binding factors, purifying transgression, taking/retaking of vows
[21 min]: Download

46 Auxiliary Vows

*Auxiliary Vows 1 to 5. DFF, Seattle. 2 Aug 93.
[Transcript in PDF format]

Preface: Death: The Teacher of Impermanence ~ Dropping the Guilt Trips and 'Shoulds' ~ Letting Go of Self-denial ~ The Integration of Daily Life with Spiritual Life
[14 min]: Download

Intro to the 46 Auxiliary Vows
Vows 1 to 3
[22 min]: Download

Vows 4 & 5 [20 min]: Download

*Auxiliary Vows 6 to 12. DFF, Seattle. 4 Aug 93.
[Transcript in PDF format]

Review [5 min]: Download
Auxiliary Vows 6 & 7 [16 min]: Download
Auxiliary Vows 8 to 10 [18 min]: Download
Auxiliary Vows 11 & 12 [24 min]: Download

*Auxiliary Vows 13 to 16. DFF, Seattle. 9 Aug 93.
[Transcript in PDF format]

Beware of using the bodhisattva vows to rationalize breaking of pratimoksha vows [4 min]: Download

Auxiliary Vow 13
What is having fun the Buddhist way? ~ With what kind of motivation do we go to the movies? ~ After a hard day's work, how else can we relax other than lying on the cough and watch TV? ~ Dharma and the arts. [15 min]: Download

Auxiliary Vows 14 to 16
Vow 14: What it really means when we read in the texts that bodhisattvas give up enlightenment and remain in samsara for the benefit of others ~ Vow 15: Why should we be concerned about our reputation? ~ Vow16: Learning to say/do things in a appropriate way and at an appropriate time so that the message can be communicated across; always looking back at our own behaviour.
[23 min]: Download

Auxiliary Vows 18 to 21 (No. 17 not recorded, No. 18 partially recorded). DFF, Seattle. 3 Jan 98. [Transcript in PDF format]

Vows 18 to 21 [17 min]: Download

*Auxiliary Vow 22. DFF, Seattle. 16 Aug 93. [Transcript in PDF format]

Vow 22: Not Dispelling the 3 Types of Laziness
[5 min]: Download
Click here for more teachings on the 3 types of laziness & the antidotes]

*Auxiliary Vows 23 to 30. DFF, Seattle. 18 Aug 93.
[Transcript in PDF format]

Vows 23 & 24 [10 min]: Download
Vow 25 [24 min]: Download
Vows 26 to 30 [23 min]: Download

*Auxiliary Vows 30 to 36. DFF, Seattle. 30 Aug 93.
[Transcript in PDF format] (Note: Audio recording is not available.)

*Auxiliary Vows 35 to 40. DFF, Seattle. 1 Sep 93.
[Transcript in PDF format]

Vows 35 to 38 [16 min]: Download
Vows 39 & 40 [16 min]: Download

*Auxiliary Vows 39 to 46. DFF, Seattle. 25 Oct 93.
[Transcript in PDF format] (Note: Audio recording is not available.)


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