The lamrim, the gradual path to enlightenment, gives a concise and comprehensive picture of the Buddhist path to awakening. This outline of the lamrim meditations is intended to be used to supplement the audio recordings on Guided Meditations on the Stages of the Path. The outline can also be used on its own as a study guide.
This meditation comes at the beginning of the traditional Lamrim, which assumes that a person is already familiar with Buddhism. This is not the case for Westerners, however. Only after we have an idea of the general Buddhist view and aims—gained from the preceding meditations—will we want to commit to the path. For this, forming a healthy relationship with a spiritual mentor is essential.
How to rely on a spiritual mentor
- To progress on the path, it is important to rely on and be guided by qualified spiritual mentors. Think about why it is important to select teachers who have the following qualities:
- Stable practice or realization of the higher trainings of ethical conduct, meditative stabilization, and wisdom
- Vast and deep knowledge of the scriptures
- Joy and enthusiasm to teach
- Ability to express the teachings clearly
- Loving concern and compassion for the students
- Patience and willingness to undergo the difficulties of guiding others on the path
- Consider the advantages of relying on a qualified teacher:
- You will learn the correct teachings and know how to practice them properly
- You will gain realizations and approach enlightenment
- You will avoid unfortunate rebirths
- You won’t lack spiritual teachers in your future lives
- Consider the disadvantages of not properly relying on a teacher:
- None of the above benefits will accrue
- You will continue to wander in cyclic existence, especially in unfortunate rebirths
- Even though you may try to practice, your practice won’t be successful
- Your good qualities will decline
- Practice relying on your teachers through your thoughts:
- Develop faith in them by remembering their qualities and the role they play in your spiritual progress. They teach you exactly what the Buddha would teach you if he were here. They work to benefit you in the same way as the Buddha does. If your mind picks faults in your teachers, check whether the faults come from the teacher or instead are projections of your own mind.
- Develop gratitude and respect by thinking of their kindness. You did not have the fortune to receive teachings directly from the Buddha or the great masters of the past. Due to the kindness of your spiritual mentors, you are able to listen to teachings, be inspired by their living example of the Dharma, take precepts, and receive guidance in your practice.
- Practice relying on your teachers through your actions. You do this by:
- Making offerings to them
- Showing respect and offering your service to help them with various projects they do
- Practicing the teachings as they instructed
Conclusion: Make a determination to check a person’s qualities before taking that person as your teacher. Determine to put effort into cultivating good relationships with your teachers, so that you will progress easily and steadily on the path to enlightenment.
This article is available in Spanish: Meditaciones guiadas del lamrim