Lam Rim: the Gradual Path to Enlightenment

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 Chenmo"). Venerable Chodron comments on this text and relates these practical teachings to our daily lives.

Ven. Chodron on the importance of Lamrim:
"Prayer and aspiration are not enough for deep transformation; reasoning is necessary. Transformation comes from studying the lamrim, thinking about the topics, and doing analytical meditation on them. With a firm grounding in lamrim, we'll be able to work with our mind no matter what is going on in it or around us. When we do this, our Dharma practice becomes so tasty! We don't get bored practicing. It becomes very exciting and fascinating."

How to access the Lamrim teachings:
1. To get teachings in both audio & text on a particular topic, go to that topic in the Lamrim Outline below and click on "T", or
2. To view the whole list of lamrim teachings in audio form and in text form, click on "Audio Teachings" and "Articles & Transcripts" respectively in the coloured box below.

Lamrim Outlines (Overview & Detailed) in Microsoft Word format
/ in PDF format

Audio Teachings | Articles & Transcripts | Meditation Outline in PDF format | Meditaciones de Lamrim [Espanol]

Other teaching series on the path to enlightenment:

Download free Adobe Acrobat Reader to read transcripts in PDF format


The Lamrim Outline [ Click here for "Introduction to series of teachings on the Lamrim"]

NOTE: Click "EO" to get an expanded outline for the topic; click "T" for articles, transcripts and audio teachings on the topic.

  1. Preeminent qualities of the compilers [T]
  2. Preeminent qualities of the gradual path teachings [EO] [T]
  3. How the lamrim should be studied and taught [EO] [T]
  4. How to guide students to enlightenment

Since the lamrim presupposes an understanding of mind, rebirth, cyclic existence and enlightenment, these subjects are discussed at this point. Click here for the teachings.)

  1. How to rely on spiritual teachers as the root of the path [EO]
    1. What to do during the meditation session
      1. 6 preparatory practices [T]
      2. How to cultivate reliance on our teachers [T]
      3. How to conclude the session
    2. What to do between sessions to develop reliance on our teachers [T]

  2. Having properly relied on a spiritual master, the Stages for training the mind
    1. Being persuaded to take advantage of our precious human life [EO] [T]
    2. How to take advantage of our precious human life
      1. Training our minds in the stages in common with a person of initial motivation - striving for the happiness of future lives
        1. Taking an interest in benefiting our future lives
          1. Remembering death [EO] [T]
          2. Advantages and disadvantages of the 2 possible kinds of future rebirth [EO] [T]
        2. Methods for benefiting our future lives
          1. Taking refuge [EO] [T]
          2. Developing Conviction in actions & their effects [EO] [T]

      2. Training our minds in the stages in common with a person of intermediate motivation - striving for liberation from cyclic existence (Contemplating the Four Noble Truths) [T]
        1. Developing an interest in liberation
          1. The Buddha's purpose for stating the truth of suffering as the first of the Four Noble Truths
          2. Actual Meditation on suffering (First Noble Truth) [EO] [T]
        2. Becoming convinced of the nature of the path to liberation
          1. Causes of suffering & how they place and keep us in cyclic existence (Second Noble Truth) [EO] [T]
            1. Afflictions
            2. Karma
            3. Leaving the body and taking rebirth
          2. Actually becoming convinced of path to liberation (Fourth Noble Truth) [T]
            1. The kind of body with which we can break out of samsara
            2. The kind of path with which we can break out of samsara
            3. [EO]

      3. Training our minds in the stages of a person of higher motivation - striving for enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings
        1. Advantages of bodhicitta [EO] [T]
        2. How to develop bodhicitta
          1. Actual stages [EO] [T]
          2. How to take bodhisattva vows [EO]
            [T-1] [T-2]
        3. Having generated Bodhicitta, how to engage in the bodhisattva's deeds
          1. General conduct
            1. Six perfections
            2. [EO] [T]
            3. Four ways of gathering students
            4. [EO] [T]
          2. Practicing the last two perfections in particular
            1. Calm abiding
            2. [EO] [T]
            3. Special insight
            4. [EO] [T]

          (The eight-fold noble path is often taught at this point)

          c. How to practice the uncommon path of tantra

4.B.2.A.1.b. Considering the quality of life in the 2 possible kinds of future rebirth [T]
    1. Thinking of the suffering of the life forms experiencing continuous pain and fear.
    2. Thinking of the suffering of the life forms experiencing continuous frustration and clinging
    3. Thinking of the suffering of animals

Back to Outline

4.B.2.C.3.a.2. Training in the 4 factors ripening the minds of others [T]
    1. Being generous
    2. Speaking kindly & wisely, teaching the Dharma
    3. Giving encouragement
    4. Acting according to what one teaches, setting a good example

Back to Outline


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