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Lamrim: the Gradual Path to Enlightenment


About this section:
The Buddha gave teachings in order to share with us the path to enlightenment that he had actualized himself. These teachings are practical, give us the tools to deal with difficulties, and show us how to live a meaningful life.

The Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eight-fold Path are one way of formulating these teachings. The Gradual Path to Enlightenment is another. These two are compatible, and knowing both enables us to look at the same thing from different perspectives. 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 Tzong Khapa into the text The Great Exposition on the Gradual Path to Enlightenment (Lam Rim Chemmo). Venerable Chodron comments on this text and relates these practical teachings to our daily lives.

 


Lamrim Outline in:
- html format
- PDF format
- Microsoft Word format


Help with listening to audio recordings

Tapes of teachings given at DFF in Seattle can be ordered from DFF. Pls refer to: www.dharmafriendship.org


 
 

4.B.2.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)


"When we develop an intention to free ourselves from cyclic existence and its causes and to attain liberation,...we decide, for the first time in our life, that we're really committed to being happy. Because you see, when we chase samsaric pleasures, we're not really committed to being happy. We're committed to being addicts."
- Ven. Chodron

Articles

The Four Noble Truths Part I

 

Audio Teachings

Contents (Click on any heading)

 


Note: parts of the teachings were lost due to change of tape during recording.

*These are from a series of Lamrim teachings that Ven. Chodron gave at Dharma Friendship Foundation, Seattle, fr 1991 to 1994. The audio files were previously available on this website in realplayer format. These have been converted to mp3 format. The contents remain the same. The audio files and transcripts have also been renamed to run in sequence and to match the transcripts with their corresponding audio files. Another round of light editing has been done to most transcripts (revised on 5 Jan 2006).


The Four Noble Truths

*Four Noble Truths; Six Unsatisfactory Experiences of Cyclic Existence in General. 9 Sep 92, Dharma Friendship Foundation, Seattle. [Transcript in PDF format]

Four Noble Truths corresponding to the three levels of practice [17 min]: Download

The six unsatisfactory experiences of cyclic existence in general:
1. No certainty
2. No satisfaction
3. Having to abandon your body repeatedly.
4. Having to take rebirth in cyclic existence repeatedly.
5. Changing status repeatedly, from exalted to humble.
6. Essentially being alone, no friends.

[30 min]: Download

Questions and answers [18 min]: Download

Four Noble Truths. 24 Nov 01, India. [Transcript in PDF format]

1st Noble Truth [20 min]: Download
2nd Noble Truth [21 min]: Download
3rd & 4th Noble Truths [12 min]: Download


First Noble Truth: The unsatisfactory experiences

*Eight Unsatisfactory Experiences of Humans - Part 1 of 2.
14 Sep 92, Dharma Friendship Foundation, Seattle.
[Transcript in PDF format]

Listening to these unsatisfactory experiences with an open mind. Being aware of our resistance and not whitewashing things; the "if only" mentality. [19 min]: Download

Unsatisfactory experiences of humans:
1. Birth
2. Aging
3. Sickness

[28 min]: Download

4. Death
5. Being parted from what you like
6. Meeting with what you don't like
7. Not obtaining what you like

Questions and answers

[16 min]: Download

*Eight Unsatisfactory Experiences of Humans - Part 2 of 2; The Three Unsatisfactory Experiences of Cyclic Existence in General.
16 Sep 92, DFF, Seattle.
[Transcript in PDF format]

Unsatisfactory experiences of humans - Cont'd:
8. Having contaminated physical and mental aggregates
Looking at our daily life experiences through this framework cures a lot of the belligerence we have towards other people and external situations; Generating the determination to be free, which in Western terms, means having compassion for ourselves.

[22 min]: Download

The Three Unsatisfactory Experiences of Cyclic Existence in General:
1. Suffering and pain
2. Change
3. Compounded, pervading unsatisfactory experience

"Should" vs "I want to".

[28 min]: Download

Questions and answers
[8 min]: Download

*Unsatisfactory Experiences of the Demi-gods and Gods.
21 Sep 92, DFF, Seattle. [Transcript in PDF format]

Unsatisfactory experiences of demi-gods and gods
[17 min]: Download

Back


Second Noble Truth: The causes of unsatisfactory experiences; how they keep us in cyclic existence

*The Root Afflictions - part 1 of 5. 21 Sep 92, DFF, Seattle.
[Transcript in PDF format]

Thinking about the causes of suffering and how they place and keep us in cyclic existence:
Six root afflictions:
1. Attachment. Definition. How it functions. How it's based on the three preconceptions which are the opposite of the three characteristics of existence (transcience, unsatisfactoriness, selflessness). [22 min]: Download

Differentiating between attachment and love.
[9 min]: Download

2. Anger [16 min]: Download

*The Root Afflictions - part 2 of 5. 9 Nov 92, DFF, Seattle.
[Transcript in PDF format]

3. Pride. 7 categories:
a) Pride over the inferior
b) Great pride. Why do we have to be best to feel worthwhile?
c) Pride of pride
d) Pride of the sense of 'I'
e) Evident pride

[21 min]: Download

f) Self-effacing pride
g) Distorted pride
Antidotes to pride
[19 min]: Download

4. Ignorance
[17 min]: Download

*The Root Afflictions - part 3 of 5. 11 Nov 92, DFF, Seattle.
[Transcript in PDF format]

Constantly remembering the purpose of attending this class, and Using the opportunity wisely
[8 min]: Download

Six root afflictions - Cont'd:
4. Ignorance - Cont'd
5. Deluded doubt

[17 min]: Download

6. Deluded views. 5 types:
a) View of the transitory collection/composite
[27 min]: Download

b) View holding to an extreme
c) Holding wrong views as supreme

[13 min]: Download

*The Root Afflictions - part 4 of 5. 16 Nov 92, DFF, Seattle.
[Transcript in PDF format]

6. Deluded views - Cont'd
d) Holding bad ethics and modes of conduct as supreme
[19 min]: Download

e) Wrong views. Is the existence of a creator God logically possible? Must there be a beginning to the universe? Examples of wrong views: We were reincarnated to learn lessons; Karma is a system of reward and punishment; The mind doesn't exist; The mind is a function of the brain. [14 min]: Download

Questions and answers
[34 min]: Download

*The Root Afflictions - part 5 of 5;
The Secondary Afflictions - part 1 of 2.

18 Nov 92, DFF, Seattle.
[Transcript in PDF format]

6. Deluded views - Cont'd
e) Wrong views - Cont'd. Thinking that human beings are by nature evil. Thinking that there's one universal mind.
[9 min]: Download

The 20 Secondary Afflictions. Why are they "secondary"? 1.Wrath ~ 2.Vengeance/Grudge-holding ~ 3.Concealment ~ 4.Spite [21 min]: Download

The 20 Secondary Afflictions - Cont'd. 5.Jealousy ~ 6.Miserliness ~ 7.Pretension/Deceit ~ 8.Dishonesty ~ 9.Complacency ~ 10.Harmfulness [18 min]: Download

How to meditate on these
Questions and answers
[10 min]: Download

*The Secondary Afflictions - part 2 of 2.
23 Nov 92, DFF, Seattle.
[Transcript in PDF format]

The 20 Secondary Afflictions - Cont'd.
11.Lack of self-respect ~ 12.Inconsideration for others. ~ 13.Dullness ~ 14.Agitation/Excitement ~ 15.Laziness ~
16.Non-faith
[29 min]: Download

The 20 Secondary Afflictions - Cont'd.
17.Un-conscientiousness ~ 18.Forgetfulness ~ 19.Non-introspection ~ 20.Distraction
[28 min]: Download

Questions and answers
[12 min]: Download

*Order of Development of the Afflictions and Causes of the Afflictions - part 1 of 3. 7 Dec 92, DFF, Seattle.
[Transcript in PDF format]

Order of development of the afflictions.
[8 min]: Download

Causes of the afflictions:
1. Dependent basis: the seed of the afflictions
[20 min]: Download

2. Object stimulating them to arise
[9 min]: Download

*Causes of the Afflictions - part 2 of 3. 9 Dec 92, DFF, Seattle.
[Transcript in PDF format]

3. Detrimental influences: wrong friends
[16 min]: Download

4. Verbal stimuli [17 min]: Download

5. Habit [12 min]: Download

*Causes of the afflictions - part 3 of 3. [Transcript in PDF format]
14 Dec 92, DFF, Seattle.

6. Inappropriate decisive attention. Paying attention to the one thing that goes wrong instead of the 100 things that go right; Over-emphasis on our childhood experiences and traumas; Conditioning.
[33 min]: Download

*Disadvantages of the Afflictions and How Karma is Accumulated by the Afflictions. 23 Dec 92, DFF, Seattle. [Transcript in PDF format]

Disadvantages of the afflictions. Including what Shantideva said about the afflictions.
[28 min]: Download

How karma is accumulated by the afflictions.
Question-and-answer.

[25 min]: Download

*The way of leaving the body in death and taking rebirth - part 1 of 2. 28 Dec 92, Dharma Friendship Foundation, Seattle.
[Transcript in PDF format]

a. The way death occurs [18 min]: Download
a. Cont'd [20 min]: Download
b. The way bardo is reached after death
[20 min]: Download

*The way of leaving the body in death and taking rebirth - part 2 of 2. 20 Jan 93, Dharma Friendship Foundation, Seattle.
[Transcript in PDF format]

c. The way connection is made to the next life
[26 min]: Download
(Note: audio quality improves after the first minute)

*Overview of the death and rebirth process.
27 Jan 93, Dharma Friendship Foundation, Seattle.
[Transcript in PDF format]

[3 min]: Download

Back


Twelve Links of Dependent Arising

[ Click here for a picture of the Wheel of Life depicting the Twelve Links. ]

Twelve Links of Dependent Arising - short version. 6 Oct 2006. DFF, Seattle.

Part 1. [32 min]: Download mp3 file

Setting a positive motivation before teaching.
Twelve Links:
1. Ignorance
2. Karma
3. Consciousness
4. Name and form
5. Sense sources
6. Contact
7. Feeling
8. Craving

Part 2. [31 min]: Download mp3 file

Twelve Links:
8. Craving – Cont’d. Three kinds of craving.
9. Grasping
10. Becoming
11. Birth
12. Aging and Death

How a set of 12 links occur over 2 lifetimes and over 3 lifetimes; Thinking about the 12 links can help bring about a significant shift in our minds and in our lives.

Part 3. [31 min]: Download mp3 file

Questions and Answers:

  • Why is ignorance the first link? How can you have ignorance if there is no consciousness?
  • Does every karmic action have the potential to throw you into another rebirth?
  • How does a purification practice done with the four powers affect the twelve links? Includes an explanation of throwing karma and completing karma.
  • What can we do at the time of death to create a good ambience that will help our good karma to ripen in a beneficial cycle of 12 links? Are there any prayers to say?
  • Question about the bardo state.
  • How do making prayers for a person help that person since every person is responsible for his/her own actions?
  • The karma that affects what the circumstances of our death will be and the karma that affects how we react and respond to those circumstances - are they the same karma or different karmas?
  • Classifying karma as positive or negative – is this a form of judging?
  • Is there a kind of action that does not create imprints in our consciousness? Are the imprints in our consciousness the cause of our rebirths?

 


 

*Twelve Links of Dependent Arising - long version (5 sessions). 20 Jan to 8 Feb 1993. DFF, Seattle.

*Part 1 of 5: The Wheel of Life. 20 Jan 93, DFF, Seattle.
[Transcript in PDF format]

The Wheel of Life [9 min]: Download

*Part 2 of 5: The Twelve Links. 25 Jan 93, DFF, Seattle.
[Transcript in PDF format]

Overview of the twelve links (Note: First three links not recorded) [21 min]: Download

Purpose of studying the twelve links
Two sets of cause and effect
What is cyclic existence or samsara?
Questions and Answers
[26 min]: Download

*Part 3 of 5: The Twelve Links. 27 Jan 93, DFF, Seattle.
[Transcript in PDF format]

Purpose of studying the twelve links
1. Ignorance
[17 min]: Download

2. Karma or formative action
[27 min]: Download

3. Consciousness [6 min]: Download

*Part 4 of 5: The Twelve Links. 1 Feb 93, DFF, Seattle.
[Transcript in PDF format]

First three links - cont'd
4. Name and form
5. Six sources
6. Contact
7. Feeling
8. Craving

[22 min]: Download

9. Grasping
10. Becoming
11. Rebirth
12. Aging and death

[23 min]: Download

Questions and answers
Importance of meditating on the twelve links
[9 min]: Download

*Part 5 of 5: The Twelve Links. 8 Feb 93, DFF, Seattle.
[Transcript in PDF format]

Relating the 12 Links to the 4 Noble Truths
How a set of 12 Links occurs over 2 and over 3 lifetimes
Why having the determination to be free is very important
[24 min]: Download

The 12 Links in forward order.
Why the links are said to be dependent arising ~ determination to be free=compassion for ourselves.
The 12 Links in reverse order
Reason for looking at the 12 Links in different ways

[20 min]: Download

Back


Fourth Noble Truth: Becoming convinced of nature of the path to liberation

*Part 1 of 2. 10 Feb 93, DFF, Seattle. [Transcript in PDF format]

What are 'true paths' and 'true cessations'?
What is the difference between liberation and enlightenment?
The kind of body with which to break out of cyclic existence
[14 min]: Download

The kind of path to follow to break out of cyclic existence. The higher trainings in ethics, concentration and wisdom.
[20 min]: Download

Advantages of observing the higher training in ethics. Why is ethics emphasized here over concentration and wisdom?
[23 min]: Download

Questions and answers [4 min]: Download

*Part 2 of 2. 15 Feb 93, DFF, Seattle. [Transcript in PDF format]

Advantages of observing the higher training in ethics - cont'd. Why we need not be afraid of taking vows.
[29 min]: Download

Advice for monastics about observing ethics
Advice for all about observing ethics
Disadvantages of not observing ethics
[13 min]: Download

4 factors that lead us away from pure ethics. Ignorance ~ disrespect ~ lack of conscientiousness ~ strong afflictions.
[23 min]: Download

Back


Mind, Rebirth and Liberation. 29 Oct 01, Singapore.

Part 1 [16 min]: Download
Part 2 [17 min]: Download
Part 3 [18 min]: Download
Question & Answer session [33 minutes] : Download

Questions covered:

    • At death, the body and mind break apart. At what point do they separate?
    • If a person dies young, eg. as a baby, doesn't he have less chance to create karma or practise the Dharma?
    • How do we purify our karma?
    • With good deeds done in one lifetime, how does one guarantee a good rebirth in the next?
    • If nothing is predetermined, how can you explain the science of astrology?
    • Since Buddhahood is a universal entity, is there any distinction between Islamic, Christian, Jewish and Buddhist Buddhas?
    • Can an animal or an insect gain Enlightenment in this lifetime?
    • I am raised a Catholic. You said there is no soul. But the Catholic faith teaches me to pray for the repose of the soul. Can you comment on this? Can you please share with me the concept of "heaven"?
    • Is it possible that rebirth can only be achieved after a few years and meanwhile, for a few years after death, the deceased person stays in the ghost realm?
    • In the case of a miscarriage, is it a change of mind of the consciousness to be reborn, or has the consciousness decide that the body was a wrong choice?
    • If a patient has been declared brain-dead, can we still take out their organs when we're not sure whether their mind is still working?
    • In meditation, do you sometimes see light or hear sound or both see light and hear sound?
    • Why do people have dreams of the future, and if in reality, it happens exactly like in the dream, is it an indication of something?
    • It's rather difficult to be convinced that there is a mind and a body. Scientifically, it would be considered a whole package, mind and body together. Once the body dies, everything dies with it. Could you please enlighten us on this?
    • How did the mind or consciousness get ignorant in the first place? Where did this consciousness come from in the first place?

     

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