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Lamrim outline: Initial

Lamrim outline: Initial

Thangka image of Shantarakshita.
Photo by Himalayan Art Resources

IV. How to guide students to enlightenment

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

    B. Stages for training the mind
      1. Being persuaded to take advantage of our precious human life
      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
        b. Training our minds in the stages in common with a person of intermediate motivation—striving for liberation from cyclic existence
        c. Training our minds in the stages of a person of higher motivation—striving for enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings

The path in common with the initial level practitioner

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 future lives

      a) Remembering death

        1′: Six disadvantages of not remembering death

          a’: We won’t remember or be mindful of the Dharma
          b’: Even if we remember Dharma, we won’t practice it and will procrastinate
          c’: Even if we practice, we won’t do so purely. Our practice will be mixed with the eight worldly concerns

          d’: We won’t practice earnestly at all times. Our practice will lack intensity.
          e’: By acting negatively, we’ll prevent ourselves from gaining liberation
          f’: We will die with regret

        2′: Six benefits of remembering death

          a’: We’ll act meaningfully and will want to practice Dharma
          b’: All our positive actions will be powerful and effective
          c’: It’s important at the beginning: it gets us started on the path
          d’: It’s important in the middle: it helps us to persevere
          e’: It’s important at the end: it keeps us focused on beneficial goals.
          f’: We’ll die with a happy mind

        3′: The actual way to become mindful of death

          a’: Nine-point death meditation

            1. Death is inevitable, definite

              a. Nothing can prevent our eventually dying
              b. Our life span can’t be extended when it is time for us to die and with each passing moment we approach death.
              c. We will die even if we have not had time to practice Dharma.
              Conclusion: we must practice the Dharma

            2. The time of death is uncertain

              a. In general there is no certainty of lifespan in our world
              b. There are more chances of dying and less of remaining alive
              c. Our body is extremely fragile
              Conclusion: We will practice Dharma continually beginning now

            3. Nothing else can help at the time of death except the Dharma

              a. Wealth is of no help.
              b. Friends and relatives are of no help.
              c. Not even our body is of any help.
              Conclusion: We will practice purely

          b’: Meditating on imagining our own death

      b) Advantages and disadvantages of two kinds of rebirth

        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

    2) Methods for benefiting future lives

      a) Taking refuge

        1′: Reasons for taking refuge

          a’: Dread and caution regarding rebirth in unfortunate life forms or in all of cyclic existence
          b’: Conviction or confidence in the ability of the Triple Gem to guide us

        2′: What objects to take refuge in

          a’: Recognizing the proper objects to take refuge in

            1. Buddha

              a. Ultimate = Dharmakaya: the nature body and the wisdom Dharmakaya
              b. Conventional = Rupakaya (form body): the enjoyment body and the emanation body

            2. Dharma

              a. Ultimate = Arya’s true cessation and true path
              b. Conventional = 84,000 Dharma teachings: the scriptures

            3. Sangha

              a. Ultimate = Arya’s knowledge and liberation: true path and true cessation
              b. Conventional = individual arya or assembly of ordained beings

            [Causal and resultant three refuges:

              a. Causal—those persons or things that already are the Three Jewels. They guide us by:

                1] Buddha manifests in different forms to guide and teach us
                2] Dharma is the actual refuge because by actualizing it, we abandon obscurations and develop qualities
                3] Sangha guides by being a good example and encouraging us.

              b. Resultant—taking refuge in the Three Jewels we’ll become]

          b’: Reasons they are suitable objects of refuge

            1. Buddhas are free from all fears of cyclic existence and self-complacent peace.
            2. They have skillful and effective means to free others from all fear
            3. They have equal compassion for all, regardless of whether we have faith in them or not
            4. They fulfill the aims of all beings whether or not those beings have helped them

        3′: Measuring the extent to which we have taken refuge; how to take refuge

          a’: Taking refuge from knowing their qualities and skills

            1. The good qualities of a Buddha

              a. Qualities and skills of a Buddha’s body
              b. Qualities and skills of a Buddha’s speech
              c. Qualities and skills of a Buddha’s mind: wisdom and compassion
              d. Qualities and skills of a Buddha’s enlightening influence

            2. The good qualities of the Dharma

              a. True path directly destroys ignorance
              b. True cessation prevents afflictions from re-arising

            3. The good qualities of the Sangha

              a. Hearer aryas
              b. Solitary realizer aryas
              c. Arya bodhisattvas

          b’: Taking refuge by knowing their differences in terms of:

            1. Characteristics
            2. Enlightening influence
            3. Aspirations or fervent regard we have for each
            4. How we practice in terms of each
            5. What qualities to remember or to be mindful of
            6. How positive potential is gained in relation to them

          c’: Taking refuge by accepting them

            1. Buddha is the ideal teacher, is like the doctor
            2. Dharma is what will actually free us, like medicine
            3. Sangha are ideal friends for helping us realize the refuge, nurse

          d’: Taking refuge by not speaking in favor of other refuges
          e’: Taking refuge from knowing the three ultimate objects of refuge

        4′: Benefits of having taken refuge

          a’: We become Buddhists
          b’: We establish the foundation for taking all further vows
          c’: We can eliminate results of previously accumulated negative karma
          d’: We can quickly accumulate great positive karma
          e’: We can’t be harmed by humans and non-humans
          f’: We won’t fall to unfortunate rebirths
          g’: In general our virtuous purposes and temporal goals will be fulfilled
          h’: We will quickly attain Buddhahood

        5′: Points for training after having taken refuge

          a’: Specific guidelines

            1. Having taken refuge in the Buddha:

            2. Having taken refuge in the Dharma:

              a. avoid harming any living being
              b. respect the written words which describe the path

            3. Having taken refuge in the Sangha:

              a. do not cultivate the friendship of people who criticize the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, who teach wrong views, or who act unruly
              b. develop respect for monks and nuns

          b’: Common guidelines

            1. Being mindful of the qualities, skills, and differences between the Three Jewels and other possible refuges, repeatedly take refuge in them
            2. Remembering their kindness, make offerings to them
            3. Mindful of their compassion, encourage others to take refuge
            4. Remembering the benefits of taking refuge, do so 3 times each morning and evening
            5. Do all actions by entrusting yourself to the Three Jewels
            6. Do not forsake your refuge at the cost of our life or as a joke

      b) Conviction in actions and their effects

        1′: Thinking about the general aspects of actions and their effects

        2′: Thinking about specific aspects of action and its results

          a’: Recognizing the eight favorable qualities for Dharma study and practice

            1. Long life
            2. Sound, attractive, and healthy body
            3. Birth in a good, reputable family
            4. Wealth, good reputation, and many friends
            5. Honesty and credibility of speech
            6. Strong influence on others
            7. Courageous, objective, assertive, diligent

              In traditional texts this one is listed as birth as a male

            8. Mental and physical stamina

          b’: Proper utilization of these eight favorable qualities
          c’: Virtuous actions which are causes leading to human birth with these eight

        3′: Having considered actions and their results, how to engage in positive actions and avoid destructive ones

          a’: How to do this in general
          b’: Specifically, how to cleanse yourself by the four opponent powers so you don’t have to experience negative karmic results

            1. Regret—purifies result similar to cause in terms of experience
            2. Object (restoring the relationship: refuge and altruistic intention)—purifies environmental result
            3. Determination not to repeat it—purifies result similar to cause in terms of behavior
            4. Remedial actions—purify maturation result

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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