Path to Enlightenment

(Lam Rim)

Learning Dharma means less ignorance and more wisdom. It means more light in your life, no darkness in your mind. It means you have more freedom in your life to achieve liberation from samsara and great enlightenment. The more you understand Dharma, the more you can benefit others.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche Spiritual Director of the FPMT
Path to Enlightenment (Lam-rim)

Path to Enlightenment (Lam Rim). This is a step-by-step way to transform one’s unenlightened mind into an enlightened mind. The practices included in the Lam-rim also help us to deal with problems we encounter in life, to experience greater happiness and peace, to have better relationships with friends and family, and a more meaningful and satisfying life. 

Structure & Schedule

The course will include five weekend courses spread out over 6 months (January-June), plus a one-week study-retreat in July.

The weekend schedule will be from 10h -16h on Saturday, and from 10h – 13h on Sunday.

The schedule will include talks, guided meditations, discussions in small groups or pairs, and question-answer sessions.

Our intention is to initially run this course for 6 months, and depending on the interest and attendance, we will re-evaluate whether or not to continue offering it for the next semester in Fall 2017.

 

The dates and topics of the five weekends are as follows:

1) January 28th-29th: Precious Human Rebirth 

2) February 25th-26th: Impermanence and Death 

3) April 1st-2nd: Rebirth and the Different Realms of Existence

4) May 6th-7th: Refuge

5) June 10th-11th: Karma

+ 1 Week Study and Practice Retreat — June 30th – July 7th

6) September 16th-17th: The Four Noble Truths – Suffering and its Origins

7) October 7th-8th: The Four Noble Truths – Suffering and its Origins (the process of dying and being reborn, the mind wishing to attain liberation, and the actual path that leads to liberation)

Registration

Navigate to the individual events to register to attend in person, or for the ‘online only’ option.

The online only options gives you access to course materials for all 5 topics on our website.

Go to event listing to register for one of the remaining topics:

  1. Refuge May 6th-7th
  2. Karma June 10th-11th

For the weekend courses taking place in the autumn of 2017, registration is possible directly at the center.


Three ways of following the course

 

1 For credit; the most in-depth option

Those who have the time and energy can participate in the course as part of the Basic Program.

Read more about the Basic Program and all topics of the curriculum on the FPMT website here.

Four components:
a. Study

Attending the classes; participating in the discussions; keeping up with reading assignments; doing the homework assignments (monthly) and exams (2-3 times per year).

b. Ethical Conduct

Trying one’s best to live ethically (according to the five lay precepts), to refrain from behavior that causes suffering or disharmony, to act in a helpful and compassionate way towards other beings, and to work on subduing one’s disturbing emotions (especially anger).

c. Practice

Attending the guided meditations, practicing meditation assignments at home, attending practice days or short retreat, and completing a total of three months of retreat on the Lam-rim.

d. Service

This can include offering service as a volunteer in CVM or one of its projects, and/or assisting in the program by leading meditations (when one is able to do so), group discussions, and so forth.

2 Not for credit; participate a-la-carte

Those who do not have the time and energy to participate in the course in the above way are welcome to attend as many of the weekend courses and retreats as they can, without having to do the homework and exams. However, it is recommended that one participate in the other aspects of the four components to the best of one’s ability.

3 Not for credit; participate remotely via online resources

One can also follow the program online. After registering, one will receive a password to have access to the videos and materials posted on the CVM website.

Course overview and outline

Path to Enlightenment (Lam Rim)

WHAT IS LAM RIM?

“Lam Rim” is a Tibetan term. Lam means path (in this context, it refers to the path to enlightenment), and Rim means stages, or sequence. So Lam Rim translates as  “The Stages of the Path [to Enlightenment.” The Lam Rim is a method of explaining the main points of the Buddha’s teachings in a step-by-step manner that is designed for those who wish to follow the path to enlightenment.

Lam Rim can refer to a style of teaching, or to texts that explain the stages of the path to enlightenment. There are numerous Lam Rim texts of varying lengths and written by different authors. The specific Lam Rim text studied in the Basic Program is called The Middle-length Lam Rim and was composed by Lama Tsong Khapa. 

THE HISTORY OF THE LAM RIM

The original source of the Lam Rim teachings is the sutras taught by the Buddha, specifically a group of sutras called the Perfection of Wisdom (Prajnaparamita) Sutras.

From these sutras, there arose two lineages of teachings in India:

  • The wisdom teachings, which were passed from Manjushri to Nagarjuna, etc.
  • The teachings on method or vast activities, which were passed from Maitreya to Asanga, etc.

These two lineages were eventually received by Dipamkara Atisa (982-1054), who was one of the greatest enlightened masters of his time. Atisa was invited to Tibet to restore the pure Dharma, and there he composed A Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, the first Lam Rim text. Many other Lam Rim texts were composed over the centuries by Tibetan masters, the most notable being The Great Exposition of the Stages of the Path (Lam Rim Chen Mo) by Lama Tsong Khapa. The Middle-length Lam Rim is a somewhat smaller version of the Lam Rim Chen Mo, and was written by Lama Tsong Khapa towards the end of his life, so it is believed to represent his final view on such topics as emptiness. 

AN OVERVIEW OF THE LAM RIM: THE THREE SCOPES

The Lam Rim contains a series of topics to be meditated upon in order to bring about a gradual transformation of the mind culminating in Enlightenment, or Buddhahood.

The first two topics constitute the foundations of the path:

  • Reliance on a spiritual teacher 
  • The precious human life

The remaining topics are included in three sections, known as the Three Scopes:

1. The Small/Initial Scope: this includes meditations for developing an awareness of impermanence and death, and a concern about where one will take rebirth in the next life.

1.1. First, one develops a wish to obtain a good rebirth in the future by:

1.1.1. Remembering that one’s present life will not last forever and that one will inevitably die

1.1.2. Thinking about the sufferings one would experience in the three unfortunate realms

1.2. Second, one learns how one can obtain a good rebirth in the future by:

1.2.1. Taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha

1.2.2. Living one’s life in harmony with the law of cause and effect (karma), by avoiding non virtue and practising virtue

2. The Medium Scope: this includes meditations for developing the wish to be completely free from cyclic existence (samsara), which involves uncontrolled rebirth due to the force of karma and delusion.

2.1. First, one develops a strong wish to be free from cyclic existence by:

2.1.1. Thinking about the general sufferings of cyclic existence

2.1.2. Thinking specifically about the sufferings of the higher realms of humans and devas (celestial beings)

2.2. Second, one becomes familiar with the path that leads to liberation by:

2.2.1. Thinking about the causes of cyclic existence: delusions and karma

2.2.2. Learning how to eliminate the delusions by practising the three higher trainings of morality, concentration and wisdom

3. The Great Scope: this includes meditations for developing bodhicitta, the wish to attain enlightenment in order to free all beings from suffering and lead them to enlightenment as well. It also includes meditations on the main practices one needs to do to become enlightened: the six perfections.

3.1. First, one develops the strong wish to develop bodhicitta by thinking of its

many benefits.

3.2. Second, one meditates on the actual methods for developing bodhicitta: 

3.2.1. Seven Point Cause-and-Effect Method

3.2.1. Method of Exchanging Oneself for Others

3.3. Third, one trains in the six perfections of a bodhisattva:  giving, morality, patience, joyous effort, concentration and wisdom.

 

Mailing list

Signing up for the mailing list ensures that you will receive information about the upcoming Basic Program.

Check ‘Basic Program’ when filling in the form, and you will be added to the group!

Questions?

Please contact the BP coordinator using the contact form below.

Course resources, readings, videos of teachings and meditations