Stages of the Path to Awakening

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Venerable Thubten Chodron has taught extensively on great lamrim texts, a genre on the stages of the path to awakening. Lamrim teachings spell out the entire path to awakening in a step-by-step fashion, guiding you from initial contemplations on the preciousness of our present opportunity to learn and practice the Dharma, to more advanced practices of generating bodhicitta and insight into the ultimate nature of reality.

This page lays out the various commentaries available, how and where to access them, and a brief description of their content.

Essence of a Human Life

The Essence of a Human Life: Words of Advice for Lay Practitioners is a short lamrim text by Lama Tsongkhapa (1357–1419), an important master of Tibetan Buddhism and founder of the Gelug school. This text focuses particularly on the practices of the initial scope practitioner: developing insight into the topics of our precious human life, impermanence, death, and karma.

Venerable Chodron taught on this text in the short (10-15 minute) pre-lunch Dharma talks in 2015. Access audio and video recordings, as well as written transcripts, of this 45-part series here, or as a playlist on the Sravasti Abbey Youtube channel.

To conclude: you are born alone, die alone,
friends and relations are therefore unreliable,
Dharma alone is the supreme reliance.
This short life is over, gone in a flash.
Realize that, come what may, now is the time
to find happiness everlasting.
Do not leave this precious human life empty-handed.

Essence of Refined Gold

Essence of Refined Gold by the Third Dalai Lama, Gyalwa Sonam Gyatso (1543-1588) is a commentary on the Lama Tsongkhapa’s short lamrim text Songs of Experience.

Venerable Chodron taught on this text during the during the 2007 Chenrezig Winter Retreat at Sravasti Abbey. Access the audio recordings of this 68-part series here. Each teaching is about one hour long.

Three Principal Aspects of the Path

Venerable Thubten Chodron taught on Lama Tsongkhapa’s Three Principal Aspects of the Path in various locations around the United States from 2002-2007.

This text focuses on three key states of mind that must be developed to progress along the path to awakening: the determination to be free of samsara and the wish to attain liberation, the altruistic intention of bodhicitta, and insight into the ultimate nature of reality.

Access the audio recordings and transcripts for these talks here.

Listen with clear minds, you fortunate ones
who direct your minds to the path pleasing to the Buddha
and strive to make good use of freedom and fortune
without being attached to the joys of cyclic existence.

Swept by the current of the four powerful rivers, 
tied by the strong bonds of karma which are so hard to undo,
caught in the iron net of self-grasping egoism, c
ompletely enveloped by the darkness of ignorance.

Born and reborn in boundless cyclic existence,
unceasingly tormented by the three sufferings—
by thinking of all mother sentient beings in this condition,
generate the supreme altruistic intention.

Easy Path to Travel to Omniscience

Venerable Chodron taught on The Easy Path during the weekly teachings at Sravasti Abbey from 2014-2015.

The Easy Path to Travel to Omniscience is a lamrim text by Panchen Losang Chokyi Gyaltsen, the first Panchen Lama. This text is uniquely written as a meditation manual on each important topic of the entire path to awakening—a great resource for beginners and more experienced Dharma practitioners.

Each teaching begins with a guided meditation on the lamrim topic of the week, followed by a commentary to the text.

Access audio and video recordings of this 60-part series here, or as a playlist on the Sravasti Abbey Youtube channel. Each teaching is about one hour long.

Gomchen Lamrim

The Gomchen Lamrim is the great lamim text Venerable Thubten Chodron currently teaches, streamed live from Sravasti Abbey on Fridays at 6:15 p.m. PST.

Access audio and video recordings here, or as a playlist on the Sravasti Abbey Youtube channel. Each teaching is about 1.5 hour long, including Q&A sessions.

The Great Exposition on the Gradual Path to Enlightenment (Lamrim Chenmo)

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 Tsongkhapa into the text The Great Exposition on the Gradual Path to Enlightenment (Lamrim Chenmo).

Venerable Thubten Chodron gave an in-depth commentary to this text during 1991-94, with particular emphasis on how to relate these practical teachings to our daily lives.

Access here a searchable and easy-to-navigate index of the teachings in this series, as well as links to lamrim outlines to help structure meditation and study sessions.

Each link contains audio recordings and complete transcripts. The transcripts of these teachings have also been formatted into ebooks available from the books for free distribution page.