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Lamrim outline (overview)

Thangka image of Shantarakshita.
Photo by Himalayan Art Resources

View and download the outline as PDF.

I. Preeminent qualities of the compilers
II. Preeminent qualities of the teachings [EO]1
III. How the teachings should be studied and taught [EO]

(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.)

IV. How to guide students to enlightenment

A. How to rely on spiritual teachers as the root of the path [EO]

1. What to do during the actual session

a. The six preparatory practices

b. How to cultivate reliance on our teachers

c. How to conclude the session

2. What to do between sessions to develop reliance on our teachers

B. 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]

2. How to take advantage of our precious human life

a. 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

a) Remembering death [EO]

b) Advantages and disadvantages of the two possible kinds of future rebirth [EO]

2) Methods for benefiting our future lives

a) Taking refuge [EO]

b) Developing conviction in actions and their effects [EO]

b. 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)

1) Developing an interest in liberation

a) The Buddha’s purpose for stating the truth of suffering as the first of the four noble truths

b) Actual meditation on suffering (first noble truth) [EO]

2) Becoming convinced of the nature of the path to liberation

a) Causes of suffering and how they place and keep us in cyclic existence (second noble truth) [EO]

1′ Afflictions

2′ Karma

3′ Leaving the body and taking rebirth

b) Actually becoming convinced of path to liberation (fourth noble truth)

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 [EO]

c. 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

2) How to develop bodhicitta

a) Actual stages

b) How to take bodhisattva vows

3) Engaging in bodhisattvas’ conduct

a) General conduct

1′ Six perfections

2′ Four ways of gathering students

b) Practicing the last two perfection

1′ Calm abiding

2′ Special insight

c) Special path of tantra

  1. [EO] = Expanded outline available 

Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.

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