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:
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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.3.a.1. Six Far-Reaching Attitudes


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).

*The Six Far-Reaching Attitudes in General and How They Complement One Another. Dharma Friendship Foundation, Seattle. 27 Oct 93. [Transcript in PDF format]

Why 'far-reaching?' ~ The basis for practising these six ~ Awakening the Mahayana disposition ~ The nature of these six ~ Necessity and function of each of the six ~ How the six attitudes fulfill our own and others' purpose ~ Creating the cause for precious human rebirth with the six attitudes.

Part 1.
[23 min]: Download

Part 2. [23 min]: Download

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The Far-Reaching Attitude of Generosity

*The Far-reaching Attitude of Generosity-Part 1 of 2. DFF, Seattle. 1 Nov 93. [Transcript in PDF format]

What is it? How is it different from ordinary generosity?
[6 min]: Download

3 kinds of giving:
1) Giving material aid
[19 min]: Download
Cont'd. [25 min]: Download

2) Giving protection from fear
3) Giving theDharma
Questions and answers

[24 min]: Download

*The Far-reaching Attitude of Generosity-Part 2 of 2; How to Enhance the Practice of the Six Far-reaching Attitudes. DFF, Seattle. 10 Nov 93. [Transcript in PDF format]

The giving of body, possessions or root of virtue (positive potential) according to the four points: giving, protecting, keeping pure, enhancing. [30 min]: Download

How to enhance the practice of the six far-reaching attitudes; Questions and answers
[20 min]: Download

Note: Click here for another series of teachings on generosity, entitled "Taking Delight in Giving," given by Venerable Chodron at the spring 2009 Cloud Mountain retreat.

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The Far-Reaching Attitude of Ethics

*Part 1 of 2. DFF, Seattle. 15 Nov 93. [Transcript in PDF format]

The 3 Types of Ethics ~ Importance of Ethics: all of Lam Rim, including the other far-reaching attitudes, come under it ~ Practice of tantra and understanding of emptiness do not negate ethics, they enhance one's practice of ethics [7 min]: Download

1) Ethics of restraining from acting destructively
Practice of ethics is something we choose to do, not something imposed from outside ~ Not underestimating our contribution to society and world peace through ethical behavior.
[9 min]: Download

2) Ethics of acting positively (gathering virtues)
[16 min]: Download

3) Ethics of working for the benefit of others;
How to meditate on these points;
Ethics in the Dharma Center

[20 min]: Download

*Part 2 of 2. DFF, Seattle. 17 Nov 93. [Transcript in PDF format]

Ethical discipline is water to clean away the stains of negativity,
Moonlight to cool the heat of afflictions,
Radiance towering like a mountain in the midst of sentient beings,
The force peacefully to unite humankind.
Knowing this, spiritual practitioners guard it as they would their very eyes.... Lama Tsong Khapa

Explanation of the quote above
Practising the far-reaching attitude of ethics with the other five far-reaching attitudes
Deciding whether to engage in an action by examining the short-term and long-term benefits/harm it brings
[16 min]: Download

Questions and answers
[27 min]: Download

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The Far-Reaching Attitude of Patience

*Part 1 of 4. DFF, Seattle. 22 Nov 93. [Transcript in PDF format]

The meaning of patience according to Buddhism. Being compassionate and patient doesn't mean being wimpy.
Anger is more directly harmful than attachment.
Does anger bring any benefit?
[31 min]: Download

The three kinds of patience. 1. Patience of not retaliating to harm. ~ 2. Patience of Enduring Difficulties ~ 3. Patience of Definitely Practicing the Dharma
1) The patience of not retaliating to harm.
Difference between Buddhism and psychology in their view on anger.
[20 min]: Download

*Part 2 of 4. DFF, Seattle. 20 Dec 93. [Transcript in PDF format]

Disadvantages of anger. Is anger required to signal that something is wrong? Is anger required to correct societal injustice? [26 min]: Download

Antidotes to anger [29 min]: Download

*Part 3 of 4. DFF, Seattle. 22 Dec 93. [Transcript in PDF format]

Antidotes to anger - Part I
Dependent Arising ~ Reaping the Fruits of Karma ~ Kindness of "Enemies" [13 min]: Download

Part II
Giving the Pain to the Self-Cherishing Attitude ~ Basic Nature: Evil or just Clouded Over? [19 min]: Download

Part III
Disadvantages of Anger and Holding a Grudge ~ Walking in the Other Person's Samsara ~ Buttons, Buttons. What are Our Buttons? ~ Stopping the Cause for Future Unhappiness ~ Buddha Atoms ~ Remembering the Past Kindness of the People who Harmed us ~ Recalling the Essence of Taking Refuge
[24 min]: Download

*Part 4 of 4. DFF, Seattle. 27 Dec 93. [Transcript in PDF format]

2) Patience of Enduring Difficulties
[29 min]: Download
3) Patience of Definitely Practicing the Dharma
[32 min]: Download

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The Far-Reaching Attitude of Joyous Effort

*Part 1 of 5. DFF, Seattle. 29 Dec 93. [Transcript in PDF format]

What is joyous effort? With joyous effort, practising Dharma and doing virtuous actions become a delight.
The 3 types of joyous effort. Armor-like joyous effort ~ Joyous effort of acting positively (gathering virtues) ~ Joyous effort of working for the benefit of others.
The 3 types of laziness which interrupt joyous effort. Procrastination ~ Attraction to trivial matters & negative behavior ~ Discouragement, feelings of incapability.
[17 min]: Download

Elaboration of the first 2 types of laziness and their antidotes. [32 min]: Download

Laziness and the attachment to the happiness of this life. Removing it through reflecting on death and impermanence ~ Giving up attachment is not giving up happiness.
[13 min]: Download

*Part 2 of 5. DFF, Seattle. 12 Jan 94. [Transcript in PDF format]

The 3 kinds of joyous effort and the first 2 kinds of laziness which interrupt joyous effort [9 min]: Download

The 3rd kind of laziness that interrupt joyous effort.
Discouragement, feelings of incapability
[11 min]: Download

Question-and-Answer [17 min]: Download

*Part 3 of 5. DFF, Seattle. 19 Jan 94. [Transcript in PDF format]

The 3 types of discouragement:
1. Discouragement about the Result

How to counteract the thinking: "I can't possibly do that, this goal is too high, this result is too high!" [6 min]: Download

2. Discouragement about the Path - Part 1
The mind that wants "fastfood" enlightenment ~ Being content to plant the seeds ~ Having a good relationship with our teachers ~ Developing the courage to face difficulties ~ the middle way between asceticism and indulgence.
[20 min]: Download

Discouragement about the Path - Part 2
[23 min]: Download

3. Discouragement about the Basis
Feeling "Everybody else has Buddha nature but I don't! I'm hopeless, I'm helpless, everything I do is wrong." ~ Value of reading practitioner biographies

Learning to evaluate ourselves ~ Be realistic and go step by step ~ Positive impact of Refuge and Bodhicitta prayer ~ Rejoicing and encouraging ourselves ~ Setting Motivation ~ Benefiting "others" does not mean self-sacrifice ~ Opportunity to contribute in every situation [14 min]: Download

*Part 4 of 5. DFF, Seattle. 24 Jan 94. [Transcript in PDF format]

Compassion. An antidote to low self-esteem and the source of inner strength.
Four important qualities to generate as aspects of Joyous Effort:
1. Aspiration.
Generating aspiration by thinking about the benefits of practice and the law of cause and effect.
[14 min]: Download

2. Steadfastness - part 1. Self-confidence is the cause for steadfastness in practice. [19 min]: Download
Steadfastness - part 2. [14 min]: Download

*Part 5 of 5. DFF, Seattle. 26 Jan 94. [Transcript in PDF format]

Four aspects of Joyous Effort - Cont'd:
1. Aspiration.

2. Steadfastness.
3. Joy. Having joy in the practice is not pushing ourselves.
4. Rest. Taking a break when we need to; Learning to pace ourselves; balancing our practice; Giving up the things that we have already attained.
[26 min]: Download

The 3 types of laziness. Deer Park, Wisconsin. 10 June 2004.

Joyful Effort: The Three Types of Laziness
The three types of laziness, how they can hinder successful practice and how to overcome then .
[Part 1: 15 min]: Download
[Part 2: Q&A: 32 min]: Download

Joyous Effort. Kirkland, Washington. 14 April 2007.

Joyful Effort
Venerable Chodron discusses how joyous effort is important to Buddhist practice. She explains the three types of joyous effort and the three types of laziness.

[50 min]: Download

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The Far-Reaching Attitudes of Meditative Stabilization & Wisdom (in brief); Practicing each in relation to the other five

*Part 1 of 2. DFF, Seattle. 31 Jan 94. [Transcript in PDF format]

Practicing each of the first four far-reaching attitudes in relation to the other five [21 min]: Download

Far-reaching attitude of Meditative Stabilization (in brief)
Far-reaching attitude of Wisdom (in brief)
Practicing each of these with the other far-reaching attitudes

[17 min]: Download

Questions and answers. Includes clarification of terms used differently in the West (from their usage in Asia), eg "Vipassana".
[7 min]: Download

*Part 2 of 2. DFF, Seattle. 2 Feb 94. [Transcript in PDF format]

Three types of meditative stabilization according to their strength [6 min]: Download

Far-reaching attitude of Wisdom. The 4 kinds of wisdom in terms of how they're generated; The misunderstanding that teachings are categorised into those meant for study and those meant for meditation; Importance of developing the ability to discriminate wisely.
Questions and answers
[27 min]: Download

Afternote [2 min]: Download

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The Far-reaching attitude of Meditative Stabilization

*Part 1 of 9: Training in Calm Abiding to Perfect Meditative Stabilization. DFF, Seattle. 7 Feb 94. [Transcript in PDF format]

Source of the teachings on calm abiding. Important to study before actual meditation.
Etymology, definition and explanation of calm abiding.
The Tibetan approach to meditation.

[29 min]: Download

*Part 2 of 9: Arranging Proper Circumstances for Calm Abiding Meditation. DFF, Seattle. 14 Feb 94. [Transcript in PDF format]

1. Live in a proper and conducive place
2. Have few desires and attachments
3. Be content
4. Avoid distractions and extraneous activities
5. Maintain pure ethical conduct
6. Abandon preconceptions about sense objects

[24 min]: Download

More advice on doing retreat or meditation practice
[31 min]: Download

Retreat hut in Dharamsala.

Retreat hut in Dharamsala.

*Part 3 of 9: Actual Way to Practice Calm Abiding: Objects of meditation. DFF, Seattle. 16 Feb 94. [Transcript in PDF format]

Review; Importance of having bodhicitta motivation for doing practice; Preparatory practices to do before actual calm abiding meditation
[7 min]: Download

Possible objects of meditation for developing calm abiding:
a) Objects to purify desire.
Meditating on the ugliness of what we're attracted to. [18 min]: Download

Objects to purify desire - cont'd [15 min]: Download

b) Objects to purify hatred
c) Objects to purify obscuration
d) Objects to purify pride
e) Objects to purfiy discursiveness

[20 min]: Download

*Part 4 of 9: Actual Way to Practice Calm Abiding: Objects of meditation and Deterrents to calm abiding and the antidotes. DFF, Seattle. 21 Feb 94. [Transcript in PDF format]

Using the Buddha image as an object of meditation
[22 min]: Download

Using the mind as an object of meditation
Questions and answers

[19 min]: Download

Deterrents to calm abiding and the antidotes:
1. Laziness and its antidotes.
Antidotes: Confidence or faith in the benefits of calm abiding; Aspiration; Joyous effort; Pliancy or serviceability of body and mind
[20 min]: Download

*Part 5 of 9: Deterrents to Calm Abiding and the Antidotes - Cont'd.
DFF, Seattle. 23 Feb 94.
[Transcript in PDF format]

2. Forgetting the object of meditation and Mindfulness as antidote.
Questions and answers.
Includes discussion on mindfulness vs obsession, being absorbed in something vs calm abiding, how preliminary practices like making mandala offerings and prostrations fit into the practice of calm abiding.
[25 min]: Download

*Part 6 of 9: Review Session - Excerpts. DFF, Seattle. 11 May 94.
[Transcript in PDF format]

Choosing the object of meditation. [3 min]: Download

More advice on cultivating mindfulness. [2 min]: Download

*Part 7 of 9: Deterrents to calm abiding and the antidotes - Cont'd.
DFF, Seattle. 16 May 94. [Transcript in PDF format]

3. Laxity and excitement. Two main qualities we want to cultivate in developing calm abiding: stability and clarity ~ Mental factor of lethargy [16 min]: Download

Coarse laxity, subtle laxity, antidotes to laxity.
[23 min]: Download

Excitement and its antidotes [12 min]: Download

*Part 8 of 9: Deterrents to calm abiding and the antidotes - Cont'd.
DFF, Seattle. 18 May 94. [Transcript in PDF format]

Gross excitement, subtle excitement, antidotes to excitement.

[26 min]: Download

4. Non-application and its antidote
5. Over-application and its antidote
Questions and answers
[22 min]: Download

*Part 9 of 9: The Nine Stages, Six Mental Powers and Four Engagements; Developing Calm Abiding. DFF, Seattle. 23 May 94.
[Transcript in PDF format]

Nine stages in practicing calm abiding. a.Setting (placing) the mind; b.Continuous setting; c.Resetting; d.Close setting; e.Taming; f.Pacification; g.Thorough pacification; h.Single-pointedness; i.Setting in equipoise
Six mental powers to attain these stages.
a.Hearing; b.Thinking; c.Mindfulness; d.Introspective alertness; e.Effort; f.Familiarity
Four engagements to employ to do this.
a.Painstaking (forceful); b.Repeated (interrupted); c.Uninterrupted; d.Effortless (spontaneous)
[27 min]: Download

Way to develop actual calm abiding from this. Signs of having attained calm abiding. [13 min]: Download

Questions and answers [16 min]: Download

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The Far-reaching attitude of Wisdom

Who Is Making this Decision Anyway? (article)

Audio Teachings:

*Far-Reaching Attitude of Wisdom Part 2 of 3. DFF, Seattle. 30 May 94. [Transcript in PDF format]

Three levels of dependent arising
Why is it important to learn about dependent arising?
Ignorance: the root cause of our unsatisfactory experiences
Wisdom realizing emptiness: antidote to ignorance

[25 min]: Download

As above - Cont'd
Questions and answers

[25 min]: Download

*Far-Reaching Attitude of Wisdom Part 3 of 3. DFF, Seattle. 23 Jun 94. [Transcript in PDF format]

Establishing the selflessness of persons and phenomena
[20 min]: Download

Questions and answers
[21 min]: Download

What is emptiness? How do we apply it to our lives? Singapore, Nov 2001. [14 min] : Download

The Wisdom Realizing Emptiness, 11 & 12 Feb 2003, US.

How to Develop Wisdom (mp3), 10 Oct 03, Mahabodhi Society of USA

Basis, Path, and Result, 6-7 October 04, Boise, Idaho, USA

Emptiness in Everyday Life. Treasure Valley Dharma Friends, Boise, Idaho. 18 April 05.

Part 1 [55 min] : Download mp3 file
Venerable Chodron explains how to look at everyday phenomena  in terms of emptiness and dependent arising. Understanding emptiness can be helpful in looking at everyday problems, and how we label things influences our experience of them.

Questions and answers [35 min] : Download mp3 file

  • If we hurt someone and we see the other person as empty do we cause them more suffering by not apologizing or acknowledging our own negative behavior?
  • How do I apply emptiness when I see a person on the street who hasn’t eaten? How do I put together the person who is empty of inherent existence and the person who is conventionally existent?
  • What advice would you give to someone worries a lot?
  • I have become so busy in my life that I have less time to devote to Dharma practice. How can I refocus and get priorities back to what is important?
  • Do you think we are born with a purpose to accomplish in life?
  • Is there a difference in the positive potential created in meditative practice and engaged compassion?

Dependent Arising. The Sakya Monastery, Seattle, Washington, USA. 28 April 2005.

Part 1 [70 min] : Download mp3 file
Venerable Chodron explains dependent arising and how it acts as a reason to establish the emptiness of inherent existence.

Questions and answers [19 min] : Download mp3 file

  • If the cause of the apple is the seed, where did the first seed come from?
  • If the nature of our mind is pure how did ignorance come into being?
  • Is the pure nature of the mind absolute?
  • How do we practice identifying the true nature of things?

Dependent Arising. Sravasti Abbey, Washington, USA. 24 June 2006.

Audio [55 min] : Download mp3 file
Transcript: Download pdf file
In this teaching the topic of dependent arising is applied to the development of bodhicitta. The teaching addresses dependent arising of three types:

  • Dependent upon causes and conditions – Here we learn about the many ways in which we are dependent upon the kindness of other sentient beings and how this relates to our happiness and even our eventual enlightenment.
  • Dependent upon parts – We remove obstacles to our bodhicitta by eliminating our anger; how to work with anger, by using the dependent arising analysis, is explained for daily life situations.
  • Dependent upon the mind that conceives and the label – How to use these teachings to overcome discouragement that prevents us from making the effort to practice.

Emptiness: Questions and Answers. In April 2008 Khensur Jampa Tegchok gave teachings on Nagarjuna's Precious Garland. After the talks Venerable Chodron answered questions about emptiness.
Sravasti Abbey, Newport, Washington

17 April 2008 [53 minutes] : Download mp3 file

  • How do you balance the practice of love and compassion and bodhicitta and the practice of emptiness?
  • Can you clarify the meaning of "causes cease before the result begins"?
  • What does non-conceptual realization mean?
  • Do you need to realize dependent arising before realizing emptiness?
  • Is emptiness the ultimate purification?
  • Can you explain the two kinds of self-grasping, of persons and phenomena?
  • Can we really have a direct perception?

18 April 2008 [56 minutes] : Download mp3 file

  • Is space empty?
  • Why is nirvana permanent?
  • Does loosening the labels help to realize emptiness?
  • What is a valid cognizer?
  • Is the feeling aggregate helpful in determining where our mind is at?
  • What are the different types of ignorance?
  • What is nirvana without remainder?
  • Is the Buddha's enlightenment superior to the arhat?
  • How does the mind move from rebirth to rebirth?

21 April 2008 [51 minutes] : Download mp3 file

  • What are the different types of wisdom?
  • How does cause and production work between emptiness and an object?
  • How does wisdom overcome ignorance?
  • Can you clarify the meaning of "permanent" and "eternal"?
  • Can you explain the nihilist's view?

Understanding Reality. Ven. Chodron explores conventional and ultimate reality within the context of her mother’s recent death, showing how her mother’s death and her own Buddhist practice coincide: the effect of the death on her practice and how her practice helped in dealing with the death. She looks at such questions as: Where in the body is the person? Where in the personality, now gone, was the person? She also examines the issue of the kindness of our own mother in this life and, by extension, the kindness of all beings, all of whom have been our mother in the course of infinite past life times.
Dharma Friendship Foundation, Seattle, Washington

2 December 2008 [77 minutes] : Download mp3 file

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