Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

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Lobsang Chojor
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Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Postby Lobsang Chojor » Sat Oct 29, 2016 4:42 pm

As discussed, we will start our Lam Rim discussions with A Hymn of Experience (Lamrim Nyam Gur) by Lama Tsongkhapa (The text is available as a PDF from FPMT).

Hopefully we can work through each text and discuss any difficult points.

:namaste:
ༀ་ཨ་ར་པ་ཙ་ན་དྷཱི༔ Oṃ A Ra Pa Ca Na Dhīḥ

"Morality does not become pure unless darkness is dispelled by the light of wisdom"
    Aryasura, Paramitasamasa 6.5

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Lobsang Chojor
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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Postby Lobsang Chojor » Sat Oct 29, 2016 4:46 pm

I'll start off with the begining praises
Je Tsongkhapa wrote:I bow my head to you, foremost of the Shakyas,
Whose body is formed by ten million perfections, virtues,
and excellence;
Whose speech fulfills the hopes of infinite transmigratory beings;
Whose mind perceives all objects of knowledge.

I prostrate to Manjushri and Maitreya,
Whose emanations sport in innumerable universes.
Assuming the responsibility of all the conquerors’ conduct,
You are the supreme sons of the peerless teacher.

I prostrate at the feet of Nagarjuna and Asanga,
Ornaments of Jambudvipa
Renowned throughout the three levels,
Who composed commentaries, in accordance with the intention,
On the Mother of the Conquerors so hard to fathom.

I bow to Dipamkara Atisha, holder of the treasury of instructions
That gathers together the important points, completely
and unmistakenly,
Of the paths of profound view and vast conduct,
The excellent lineages descending from the two great charioteers.


I think the first three verses are common praises by Tsongkhapa; and the final verse in praise to Atisha, is a reminder of the Lam Rim lineage.

Through it, you can realize that all the teachings are
without contradiction,
Understand all the scriptures as an instruction,
Easily find the intention of the Conqueror,
And be protected from the abyss of very faulty conduct.

Therefore, this supreme instruction is relied on by many
fortunate ones,
The wise beings of India and Tibet.
What analytical person would not be captivated
By the stages of the path of the three types of beings?

Then Tsongkhapa tells us the benefits of Lam Rim practice.
ༀ་ཨ་ར་པ་ཙ་ན་དྷཱི༔ Oṃ A Ra Pa Ca Na Dhīḥ

"Morality does not become pure unless darkness is dispelled by the light of wisdom"
    Aryasura, Paramitasamasa 6.5

Jeff H
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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Postby Jeff H » Sun Oct 30, 2016 6:49 pm

Lobsang Chojor wrote:
Je Tsongkhapa wrote:Through [the stages of lam rim], you can realize that all the teachings are without contradiction,
Understand all the scriptures as an instruction,
Easily find the intention of the Conqueror,
And be protected from the abyss of very faulty conduct.

Therefore, this supreme instruction is relied on by many fortunate ones,
The wise beings of India and Tibet.
What analytical person would not be captivated
By the stages of the path of the three types of beings?

I am initially drawn to the identification of "analytical persons". The reason I am attracted to lam rim is because I feel, at my stage of development, the analytical process is very important. There are many different approaches to Buddhism represented on DW, all excellent methods. But I'm going to suggest that in this lam rim discussion sub-group, we are the ones who wish to strengthen our grasp of Tsongkhapa's analyses. In these verses we are encouraged that this method is a valid means to make progress on the path.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

Lukeinaz
Posts: 156
Joined: Thu Feb 20, 2014 9:34 pm

Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Postby Lukeinaz » Sun Oct 30, 2016 7:59 pm

Jeff H wrote:
Lobsang Chojor wrote:
Je Tsongkhapa wrote:Through [the stages of lam rim], you can realize that all the teachings are without contradiction,
Understand all the scriptures as an instruction,
Easily find the intention of the Conqueror,
And be protected from the abyss of very faulty conduct.

Therefore, this supreme instruction is relied on by many fortunate ones,
The wise beings of India and Tibet.
What analytical person would not be captivated
By the stages of the path of the three types of beings?

I am initially drawn to the identification of "analytical persons". The reason I am attracted to lam rim is because I feel, at my stage of development, the analytical process is very important. There are many different approaches to Buddhism represented on DW, all excellent methods. But I'm going to suggest that in this lam rim discussion sub-group, we are the ones who wish to strengthen our grasp of Tsongkhapa's analyses. In these verses we are encouraged that this method is a valid means to make progress on the path.


I agree here. One thing I have always appreciated is the very logical step by step graduated path. Not being under the direct guidance of a teacher it is probably the only thing that has kept my practice so steady.
What a joy when the gentle rain comes on time.
What a joy when the crops ripen in the fields.
What a joy if bodhicitta were to be produced
in the minds of living beings equal to space.
-Khunu Rinpoche

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Lobsang Chojor
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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Postby Lobsang Chojor » Sun Oct 30, 2016 8:19 pm

Lukeinaz wrote:
Jeff H wrote:
Lobsang Chojor wrote:

I am initially drawn to the identification of "analytical persons". The reason I am attracted to lam rim is because I feel, at my stage of development, the analytical process is very important. There are many different approaches to Buddhism represented on DW, all excellent methods. But I'm going to suggest that in this lam rim discussion sub-group, we are the ones who wish to strengthen our grasp of Tsongkhapa's analyses. In these verses we are encouraged that this method is a valid means to make progress on the path.


I agree here. One thing I have always appreciated is the very logical step by step graduated path. Not being under the direct guidance of a teacher it is probably the only thing that has kept my practice so steady.


I agree, we can slowly go through the text and analyse, I thought we could get through the praises relatively quickly.
ༀ་ཨ་ར་པ་ཙ་ན་དྷཱི༔ Oṃ A Ra Pa Ca Na Dhīḥ

"Morality does not become pure unless darkness is dispelled by the light of wisdom"
    Aryasura, Paramitasamasa 6.5

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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Postby Lobsang Chojor » Sun Oct 30, 2016 10:04 pm

Je Tsongkhapa wrote:This body of leisure,
More precious than a wish-fulfilling jewel,
Is found but once. Though difficult to obtain again,
It finishes as quickly as lightning in the sky.
Having reflected in this way, realize that all worldly activities
Are like winnowed chaff

Here Tsongkhapa is reminding us of impertinence and the perfect human rebirth we have (I'm away from my texts right now so I'll describe these benefits later).
winnowed chaff

This is the protective casing of grain, which are inedible for humans. This is telling us how worldly activities are a waste of the precious time we should us to practice the dharma.
ༀ་ཨ་ར་པ་ཙ་ན་དྷཱི༔ Oṃ A Ra Pa Ca Na Dhīḥ

"Morality does not become pure unless darkness is dispelled by the light of wisdom"
    Aryasura, Paramitasamasa 6.5

Lukeinaz
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Joined: Thu Feb 20, 2014 9:34 pm

Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Postby Lukeinaz » Mon Oct 31, 2016 6:42 pm

You seem to be leaving out some lines.

I feel this rebirth is only made precious once we have met and practice the Dharma. Inittially I had a lot of trouble understanding this line. Once I understood it is only precious because it gives us an opportunity to practice it started to make sense. And it is only truly perfect when we have met and recieved guidance from a qualified teacher (the lines you left out).

By "leisure" I am thinking this to encompass the eight freedoms and ten richnesses
What a joy when the gentle rain comes on time.
What a joy when the crops ripen in the fields.
What a joy if bodhicitta were to be produced
in the minds of living beings equal to space.
-Khunu Rinpoche

Brunelleschi
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Joined: Tue May 05, 2015 4:09 pm

Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Postby Brunelleschi » Mon Oct 31, 2016 7:49 pm

Lobsang Chojor wrote:
Je Tsongkhapa wrote:This body of leisure,
More precious than a wish-fulfilling jewel,
Is found but once. Though difficult to obtain again,
It finishes as quickly as lightning in the sky.
Having reflected in this way, realize that all worldly activities
Are like winnowed chaff

Two thoughts:

1. How do you, and others, feel about the supposed difficulty of finding a human rebirth again?

I guess we've all heard the parable of the tortoise swimming the oceans and entering a golden circle (which makes it seem like a daunting task indeed to get a proper rebirth). Supposedly, it is also far easier to traverse down, into the lower realms, than up. Hence, most human beings will be reborn either as animals, or worse. If one simply looks at the proportions of human beings vs other sentient beings on the planet it seems plausible. However, this have always kind of bothered me. Especially the extreme rarity of being reborn as a human again. Thoughts?

2. I guess the proper way to understand last two lines is that worldly activites are activities that are motivated by worldy/samsaric thoughts. Otherwise, it would approach nihilism. Correct?
Last edited by Brunelleschi on Mon Oct 31, 2016 8:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Brunelleschi
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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Postby Brunelleschi » Mon Oct 31, 2016 7:53 pm

Lukeinaz wrote:You seem to be leaving out some lines.

I feel this rebirth is only made precious once we have met and practice the Dharma. Inittially I had a lot of trouble understanding this line. Once I understood it is only precious because it gives us an opportunity to practice it started to make sense. And it is only truly perfect when we have met and recieved guidance from a qualified teacher (the lines you left out).

By "leisure" I am thinking this to encompass the eight freedoms and ten richnesses

How do you personally define the term precious?

Are you talking about it in the sense of the "Three types of human existence"?

Jeff H
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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Postby Jeff H » Mon Oct 31, 2016 8:51 pm

Brunelleschi wrote:
Lobsang Chojor wrote:
Je Tsongkhapa wrote:This body of leisure,
More precious than a wish-fulfilling jewel,
Is found but once. Though difficult to obtain again,
It finishes as quickly as lightning in the sky.
Having reflected in this way, realize that all worldly activities
Are like winnowed chaff

Two thoughts:

1. How do you, and others, feel about the supposed difficulty of finding a human rebirth again?

I guess we've all heard the parable of the tortoise swimming the oceans and entering a golden circle (which makes it seem like a daunting task indeed to get a proper rebirth). Supposedly, it is also far easier to traverse down, into the lower realms, than up. Hence, most human beings will be reborn either as animals, or worse. If one simply looks at the proportions of human beings vs other sentient beings on the planet it seems plausible. However, this have always kind of bothered me. Especially the extreme rarity of being reborn as a human again. Thoughts?

2. I guess the proper way to understand last two lines is that worldly activites are activities that are motivated by worldy/samsaric thoughts. Otherwise, it would approach nihilism. Correct?

I think the teaching is that being born human is necessarily the karmic result of intentional and selfless loving kindness in previous lives. We don't know what we did to gain a fortunate life any more than we know specifically what we did to create the causes of our suffering.

"Rebirth" is not the continuation of a particular being with their knowledge and attitudes; it is literally the new birth of a new person who must start from scratch. Their learning process, and the karmic conditions they encounter, however, are guided by the positive or negative propensities that they inculcated through habituation.

So even if someone had enough positive karma to generate a human rebirth, they may take it for granted and squander it because they don't realize they need to invest their good fortune to generate more good karma. We need a teacher to show us that our life has the potential to be precious.

That's why, as Lukeinez said, the spiritual guide is a crucial first step of lam rim. The path is not obvious. In fact, it is in many ways counter-intuitive within human society. A "precious" life, in contrast, is one in which we are able to see what we've got and consciously work to increase our chances of being reborn as a human in the future. That much is what Tsongkhapa calls the "initial scope" in lam rim: the desire for a better samsaric life.

Regarding worldly activities, Lama Zopa Rinpoche has an excellent book, How to Practice Dharma: Teachings on the Eight Worldly Dharmas. He makes it quite clear that whenever we act in consideration of Pleasure/Pain, Gain/Loss, Praise/Blame, or Fame/Shame (the 8 worldly dharmas), we are not practicing spiritual Dharma at all - even if the activity is a spiritual one.

LZR wrote:We should feel extremely fortunate that we have met the holy Dharma. Even though we might still create negative karma, at least we have the opportunity to purify it. With an understanding of karma and refuge we have the opportunity to practice Dharma and know there is a solution. This is Dharma wisdom: it opens our eyes to the precipice before us and gives us the tools to avoid it.
One of Atisha’s followers, the great meditator and Kadampa master Sharawa, makes it clear that no matter who we are, all our problems are created by the thought of the eight worldly dharmas. This is just as true for somebody on a spiritual path trying practice Dharma as it is for somebody who doesn’t follow any religion. If we don’t renounce the thought of the eight worldly dharmas we’ll always experience many problems and be unable to develop our mind.
All the problems we experience—from not sleeping to thoughts of suicide—arise from attachment. This is simple Buddhist psychology; it clearly shows the source of both all our problems and all our happiness. This science of the mind is so logical; studying it brings us peace as we come to understand how all our problems are rooted in the mind.

Rinpoche, Lama Zopa. How To Practice Dharma: Teachings on the Eight Worldly Dharmas (FPMT Lineage Series) (Kindle Locations 723-731). Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive. Kindle Edition.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

Jeff H
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Location: Vermont, USA

Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Postby Jeff H » Mon Oct 31, 2016 9:38 pm

I have added verse numbers to the text for easier reference. (Unfortunately I can't upload it as an attachment.)

A Hymn of Experience
(Lamrim Nyam Gur)
Lama Tsongkhapa

1.
I bow my head to you, foremost of the Shakyas,
Whose body is formed by ten million perfections, virtues, and excellence;
Whose speech fulfills the hopes of infinite transmigratory beings;
Whose mind perceives all objects of knowledge.

2.
I prostrate to Manjushri and Maitreya,
Whose emanations sport in innumerable universes.
Assuming the responsibility of all the conquerors’ conduct,
You are the supreme sons of the peerless teacher.

3.
I prostrate at the feet of Nagarjuna and Asanga,
Ornaments of Jambudvipa
Renowned throughout the three levels,
Who composed commentaries, in accordance with the intention, On the Mother of the Conquerors so hard to fathom.

4.
I bow to Dipamkara Atisha, holder of the treasury of instructions
That gathers together the important points, completely and unmistakenly,
Of the paths of profound view and vast conduct,
The excellent lineages descending from the two great charioteers.

5.
I prostrate respectfully to the spiritual teachers,
Eyes that see all the infinite scriptures,
Who with skillful means moved by compassion
Clarify the supreme entryway for the fortunate traveling to liberation.

6.
The stages of the path to enlightenment
Are the excellent lineage handed down from Nagarjuna and Asanga,
Crown ornaments of the wise of Jambudvipa
And banners of fame resplendent among transmigratory beings.

7.
This instruction, the king of powerful jewels,
Fulfills all the desired aims of the nine types of beings;
It is an ocean of glorious and excellent explanations
Gathering the rivers of a thousand fine scriptures.

8.
Through it, you can realize that all the teachings are without contradiction,
Understand all the scriptures as an instruction,
Easily find the intention of the Conqueror,
And be protected from the abyss of very faulty conduct.

9.
Therefore, this supreme instruction is relied on by many fortunate ones,
The wise beings of India and Tibet.
What analytical person would not be captivated
By the stages of the path of the three types of beings?

10.
Contemplate the meaning of this method
That gathers the essence of all the scriptures;
Even teaching or hearing a single session definitely gathers great waves
Of the assembled benefits of explaining or listening to the holy Dharma.

11.
Rely, correctly and with effort, in thought and action
On the holy spiritual friend, the teacher of the path
And the foundation perfectly bringing auspiciousness
For all the excellent collections of this and future lives.

12.
Having seen this, do not give him up even at the cost of your life,
And please him with the offering of practicing just as he instructs.
I, a yogi, practiced like this.
You who desire liberation, should do likewise.

13.
This body of leisure,
More precious than a wish-fulfilling jewel,
Is found but once.
Though difficult to obtain again,
It finishes as quickly as lightning in the sky.

14.
Having reflected in this way, realize that all worldly activities
Are like winnowed chaff,
I, a yogi, practiced like this.
You who desire liberation, should do likewise.

15.
Although there is no certainty that after death
You will not be reborn in the bad migrations,
The Three Jewels will definitely protect you from this fear,
Therefore, steadfastly take refuge in them and never degenerate their precepts.

16.
In addition, think well about the results of black and white actions,
And depend on the correct practice of that to be adopted and that to be rejected.
I, a yogi, practiced like this.
You who desire liberation, should do likewise.

17.
Until you attain a body with pure characteristics,
You will not make progress in your practice of the supreme path;
Train in the causes for becoming free from those impurities.
Since your three doors are defiled by negative actions, downfalls, and stains,

18.
It is particularly important to purify karmic obscurations;
Therefore, continuously cherish reliance on purification with the four forces.
I, a yogi, practiced like this.
You who desire liberation, should do likewise.

19.
If you do not put effort into contemplating true sufferings – the faults of cyclic existence –
You will not develop the wish for liberation.
If you do not contemplate true origins – the steps for entering cyclic existence –
You will not understand how to cut the roots of cyclic existence.

20.
Therefore, rely on weariness, definite emergence from existence;
And cherish the knowledge of what binds you to cyclic existence.
I, a yogi, practiced like this.
You who desire liberation, should do likewise.

21.
The generation of the mind is the central post of the Mahayana path,
The base and support of great waves of conduct,
A philosopher’s stone transforming all into the two collections,
A treasure of merit gathering infinite virtue.

22.
Having understood this, the heroic children of the conquerors
Maintain deeply the pledges of the precious supreme mind.
I, a yogi, practiced like this.
You who desire liberation, should do likewise.

23.
Generosity is a wish-fulfilling jewel satisfying the hopes of transmigratory beings,
The supreme weapon cutting the knot of miserliness,
The activity of the children of the conquerors that strengthens courage without dismay,
And the basis of being renowned in the ten directions.

24.
Having understood this, the wise rely on the excellent path
Of giving away their bodies, possessions, and virtue.
I, a yogi, practiced like this.
You who desire liberation, should do likewise.

25.
Morality is water cleansing the stains of faulty behavior;
Moonlight dispelling the hot torment of the afflictions.
As splendid as Mount Meru in the midst of the nine types of beings,
It gathers all transmigratory beings with no threat of force.

26.
Having understood this, holy beings guard morality correctly taken
As they do their eyes.
I, a yogi, practiced like this.
You who desire liberation, should do likewise.

27.
Patience is the finest ornament of the powerful,
The supreme of all hardships counteracting the torment of the afflictions,
A garuda against the enemy, the snake of hatred,
And thick armor against the weapon of harsh speech.

28.
Having understood this, cultivate the armor
Of supreme patience in many ways.
I, a yogi, practiced like this.
You who desire liberation, should do likewise.

29.
When you don armor-like effort steady and immovable,
The qualities of scripture and realization will increase like the waxing moon,
All your behavior becomes meaningful,
And whatever actions are undertaken will be accomplished as desired.

30.
Having understood this, the conquerors’ children put forth
Billowing waves of effort dispelling all laziness.
I, a yogi, practiced like this.
You who desire liberation, should do likewise.

31.
Concentration is a king ruling the mind:
When placed, it is as immovable as Mount Meru;
When sent forth, it engages all virtuous objects.
It induces the great bliss of a serviceable body and mind.

32.
Having understood this, the lords of yogis rely continuously
On the meditative stabilization that destroys the enemy, distraction.
I, a yogi, practiced like this.
You who desire liberation, should do likewise.

33.
Wisdom is an eye seeing profound thusness,
The path eradicating the root of existence,
A treasury of qualities praised in all the scriptures,
And renowned as the supreme of lamps dispelling the darkness of ignorance.

34.
Having understood this, the wise who desire liberation
Generate the path with much effort.
I, a yogi, practiced like this.
You who desire liberation, should do likewise.

35.
One-pointed concentration alone
Is not considered to be able to cut the roots of cyclic existence.
Wisdom separated from the path of calm abiding
Will not avert the afflictions no matter how much you analyze.

36.
Having mounted the wisdom that reflects on the real mode of existence
Upon the horse of steadfast calm abiding,
With the sharp weapon of the logic of the middle way free of extremes
Destroy all mental fabrications grasping at extremes.

37.
With vast wisdom analyzing in this way,
Increase the wisdom that realizes thusness.
I, a yogi, practiced like this.
You who desire liberation, should do likewise.

38.
The meditative stabilization achieved by one-pointed meditation
Is not enough; with the individual investigation of proper analysis,
Generate the meditative stabilization that abides
Firm and immovable on the mode of existence.

39.
Having seen this, understand how wonderful are those who endeavor
To accomplish the union of calm abiding and special insight.
I, a yogi, practiced like this.
You who desire liberation, should do likewise.

40.
In meditative equipoise, emptiness is like space;
In post-meditation, emptiness is like an illusion;
Through meditation on both, method and wisdom are unified,
Whereby, the perfect conduct of the conquerors’ children is praised.

41.
Having realized this, the tradition of those of good fortune
Is not satisfied by either path alone.
I, a yogi, practiced like this.
You who desire liberation, should do likewise.

42.
Having generated the common path necessary for
The two supreme Mahayana paths, the causal and resultant,
Rely on a protector, a skillful master,
And enter the great ocean of the classes of tantra.

43.
Then through reliance on complete and perfect instructions,
Make the attainment of your leisures and endowments meaningful.
I, a yogi, practiced like this.
You who desire liberation, should do likewise.

44.
Due to the virtue from explaining in clear words
The perfect complete path pleasing to the conquerors
So as to familiarize my mind with it
And to benefit others of good fortune,

45.
I made the prayer, “May all transmigratory beings
Never be parted from the excellent pure path.”
I, a yogi, prayed like this.
You who desire liberation, should do likewise.

An alternative for the last line is: “You who desire liberation, should pray likewise.”

Colophon:
This brief presentation of the practice of the stages of the path to enlightenment, made in the form of a note, was composed by glorious Losang Dragpa, a fully ordained monk who had done much listening, at Genden Nampar Gyelwe Monastery on Solitary Mountain.

Translated by Ven. Joan Nicell, Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa, Pomaia, Italy, 1998.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

Brunelleschi
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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Postby Brunelleschi » Mon Oct 31, 2016 9:54 pm

Thank you Jeff H, for your answer. Very well-put. I've taken the time to comment on some of your text.

Sorry, I can just introduce myself quickly. I have attended two Lam Rim-courses at Kopan Monastery, Kathamndu. I've also read books in the subject such as the excellent Liberation in the Palm of your Hand. By that I mean, I am familiar with the Buddhist/Gelug view of rebirth.

I guess my questions was how do you feel about the great difficulty of obtaining a human rebirth. Is the tortoise in the great sea an accurate parable, or is too pessimistic? What about the view that most humans alive right now will be reborn in the lower realms?

Are these assumptions correct? And if they are, what does it entail?

Jeff H wrote:I think the teaching is that being born human is necessarily the karmic result of intentional and selfless loving kindness in previous lives. We don't know what we did to gain a fortunate life any more than we know specifically what we did to create the causes of our suffering.


Yes definitely. In a previous life as a human is my take on it(or some other being with higher cognitive capabilities). I.e. an animal is not really capable of intentional and selfless loving kindness (or perhaps it is).

"Rebirth" is not the continuation of a particular being with their knowledge and attitudes; it is literally the new birth of a new person who must start from scratch. Their learning process, and the karmic conditions they encounter, however, are guided by the positive or negative propensities that they inculcated through habituation.

Yes, which makes it all the more terrible.

So even if someone had enough positive karma to generate a human rebirth, they may take it for granted and squander it because they don't realize they need to invest their good fortune to generate more good karma. We need a teacher to show us that our life has the potential to be precious.

Yes I think this is the meaning of the text. I wonder though, is good karma necessary if you have the sufficient wisdom (i.e. a correct view of emptiness)? Is not the goal of meditation, dedicating the merits e.t.c. to put your mind in a certain state (i.e. seeing reality as it is). Would you still need good karma(accumulation of merit) if you had the correct view?

In Tibetan Buddhism, enlighenment as I understand it, is Jang Chup. Which would be (1) removing the obscurations and (2) the "expansion" of one's good qualities. It's an appealing model, but I don't really see why the later stage would be needed.

Regarding worldly activities, Lama Zopa Rinpoche has an excellent book, How to Practice Dharma: Teachings on the Eight Worldly Dharmas. He makes it quite clear that whenever we act in consideration of Pleasure/Pain, Gain/Loss, Praise/Blame, or Fame/Shame (the 8 worldly dharmas), we are not practicing spiritual Dharma at all - even if the activity is a spiritual one.

Yes, I have this book actually, though I haven't read it. Lama Zopa Rinpoche is of course a wonderful teacher and a wonderful example of the capabilities of the human mind, and it's a great passage.

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Lobsang Chojor
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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Postby Lobsang Chojor » Mon Oct 31, 2016 10:15 pm

Lukeinaz wrote:You seem to be leaving out some lines.

Hi Luke, I've picked out what I think may help but if I miss anything please mention it.
:namaste:

I will ask a mod about the attatchment as it says the pdf is not allowed, but this is looking good thanks everyone
ༀ་ཨ་ར་པ་ཙ་ན་དྷཱི༔ Oṃ A Ra Pa Ca Na Dhīḥ

"Morality does not become pure unless darkness is dispelled by the light of wisdom"
    Aryasura, Paramitasamasa 6.5

Jeff H
Posts: 466
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2014 8:56 pm
Location: Vermont, USA

Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Postby Jeff H » Tue Nov 01, 2016 1:26 am

Brunelleschi wrote:I guess my questions was how do you feel about the great difficulty of obtaining a human rebirth. Is the tortoise in the great sea an accurate parable, or is too pessimistic? What about the view that most humans alive right now will be reborn in the lower realms?

Are these assumptions correct? And if they are, what does it entail?

Big question! (See also the metaphor discussion going on here: Do we really believe every story and accounts in Sutra in a literal sense?). This is what Buddha is reported as having said and I’m willing to accept it. One argument I’ve heard is based on the inconceivably vast number of living beings. Remember that we are not only talking about humans here. Given so many living beings, all experiencing ongoing rebirth, what percentage of them are born human? And among humans, what percentage are consciously living in a manner conducive to creating causes for a subsequent human rebirth? An among those actively seeking liberation, how many are successful?

Brunelleschi wrote:I wonder though, is good karma necessary if you have the sufficient wisdom (i.e. a correct view of emptiness)? Is not the goal of meditation, dedicating the merits e.t.c. to put your mind in a certain state (i.e. seeing reality as it is). Would you still need good karma(accumulation of merit) if you had the correct view?

In Tibetan Buddhism, enlighenment as I understand it, is Jang Chup. Which would be (1) removing the obscurations and (2) the "expansion" of one's good qualities. It's an appealing model, but I don't really see why the later stage would be needed.

When your wisdom is perfect, you’re a Buddha and you’ve gone beyond karma. And prior to that, once an arhat or bodhisattva has successfully ceased believing in the delusions of samsara, they also stop generating karma. Arhats rest in liberation, while bodhisattva choose to remain in samsara to work for beings’ welfare.

The obscurations refer to the obscurations to liberation (delusions) and the obscurations to omniscience (latencies of delusions).

I think you’re referring to the two accumulations which are referred to in the text as the “paths of profound view and vast conduct”. The bodhisattva accumulates merit (through the six perfections) and wisdom (through mediatation and insight) over many eons.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

Jeff H
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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Postby Jeff H » Tue Nov 01, 2016 9:24 am

Not knowing who is familiar with lam rim to start with, it may be a good idea to outline what it is. Especially here on DW where there are so many different traditions and methodologies all thrown together into individual threads, often without being clearly identified. I am not a scholar or advanced practitioner, like so many on DW are. I don’t have the breadth of knowledge of various schools, I have no attainments, and I don't speak Tibetan. But I think I have a “working-schmoe’s” grasp of how lam rim works. Corrections to my misunderstanding are always welcome. Since Lobsang has begun this thread as a long-term, progressive study of lam rim, the purpose of this post is to see if those of us who wish to discuss it are all on basically the same page.

Lam rim is the stages of the path to enlightenment. It’s like a map that lays out all the necessary elements for attaining enlightenment. It is one method among many. As Tsongkhapa presents it, it precedes Vajrayana. One progresses through the stages and levels, learning and applying principles that help reduce the pollution of our delusions. Once the practitioner becomes sufficiently purified in the upper stages, Tsongkhapa urges him or her to then speed up the process with Vajrayana.

Vajrayana speeds up the process, but in lam rim proper we are not overly concerned with the time and trials of the journey. Rather we are focused on the techniques of preparing our minds while keeping a steady vision of the prize. I think of it like AAA’s (Auto Association of America’s) TripTiks. Tell them where you want to drive and they prepare a booklet of maps describing how to get there, where to stay, where to eat, and what to see along the way. Another analogy is a journey by train, where you know where you’re going and all the stations you will pass through. Along the way you look out the window to take in the sights where you are now, but you also read your travel guide to learn about the areas that lay ahead.

My teacher compares lam rim to levels of schooling, junior school, high school, and college. Tsongkhapa’s levels are the initial, middling, and great scopes.

The initial scope addresses the basics: the spiritual guide; precious human life; impermanence and death; rebirth; refuge; and karma. Here the task is learning to create the karma that ensures future human rebirths because only as humans do we have the mental capability to analyze our condition and sufficient, but not overwhelming, experience of suffering to realize the seriousness of our deluded habits.

The middling scope is renunciation. Here we come to realize that no samsaric life is acceptable and we cultivate the mind intent on liberation, which Tsongkhapa calls “definite emergence”. We realize the urgency of taking advantage of a precious human life because we’ve come to understand the true consequences of our deluded worldview and actions. This is compassion for oneself.

The great scope then turns that compassion outward toward all beings. Here we cultivate bodhicitta, concentration, and wisdom. This scope is primarily focused on the seven-point method of great compassion and/or exchanging self with others, leading to bodhicitta. In the present text, Tsongkhapa emphasizes the six perfections as the work of this scope.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

pael
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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Postby pael » Tue Nov 01, 2016 12:12 pm

Why karma is after rebirth&refuge? It may seem that you can get free by prayers.
And why refuge is after rebirth? Beginner may at first think that gods can free you from rebirth.

Here is my first thoughts after reading years ago school book and book called Eastern Wisdom.

When I first time read Four Noble Truths at I thought desire is only cause of suffering/rebirth. And when desire is ended only mental suffering ceases, not physical. That physical suffering/rebirth ceases only at nirvana.
Are these wrong?
May all beings be free from suffering and causes of suffering

Bristollad
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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Postby Bristollad » Tue Nov 01, 2016 12:27 pm

I think you’re referring to the two accumulations which are referred to in the text as the “paths of profound view and vast conduct”.


Acutally the phrase "paths of profound view and vast conduct" refers to the two lineages of teachings from Nagarjuna and Asanga, hence the reference to the two charioteers:

I bow to Dipamkara Atisha, holder of the treasury of instructions
That gathers together the important points, completely and unmistakenly,
Of the paths of profound view and vast conduct,
The excellent lineages descending from the two great charioteers.


also see here from Alex Berzin's website:

So, when we look at the lineages of the teachings that come from Buddha, we often speak of the “lineage of the profound teachings” – these would be the voidness teachings that come through Manjushri, Nagarjuna, and so on, and eventually through Shantideva. And also the “vast teachings” – the vast teachings are the teachings on bodhichitta that come through Maitreya to Asanga, and then also through Shantideva.

http://studybuddhism.com/web/en/archive ... ipt_1.html

Pael, one way to look at the sequence is to see how it compares to the 4 noble truths. The 4 truths are presented not in order that they occur, but in the order that makes sense from a teaching point of view: here's the problem, this is the cause of the problem, don't worry the problem can be stopped, here's the path to make that happen. The same with the sequence in the Lam Rim - first it outlines the problem and then its causes, then reassures that it is possible to address the problem and the paths that do that. It starts with Guru devotion because lucid faith, faith based on analysis and confidence is the root of the path.
Last edited by Bristollad on Tue Nov 01, 2016 12:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Lobsang Chojor
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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Postby Lobsang Chojor » Tue Nov 01, 2016 12:37 pm

Hi Jeff, thanks for that I have found a good outline we can use for reference (I'll also post it in the original discussion thread)

Dagpo Rinpoche wrote:The following is an extremely brief outline of the major topics of the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment.

1. Preeminent qualities of the compilers
2. Preeminent qualities of the teachings
3. How the teachings should be studied and taught
4. How to guide students to enlightenment

4. A. How to rely on spiritual teachers as the root of the path
    1. What to do during the actual session
      a. 6 preparatory practices
      b. How to cultivate reliance on our teachers
      c. How to conclude the session
    2. What to do between sessions to develop reliance on our teachers
4. 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
    1. Taking an interest in benefiting future lives
      a. Remembering death
      b. Advantages and disadvantages of 2 kinds of rebirth
    2. Methods for benefiting future lives
      a. Taking refuge
      b. Conviction in actions and their effects
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)
    1. Developing an interest in liberation
      a. Purpose for proclaiming truth of suffering first
      b. Meditation on suffering
    2. Becoming convinced of the nature of the path
      a. Causes of suffering
    1. Afflictions
    2. Karma
    3. Leaving the body and taking rebirth
      b. Actually becoming convinced of path to liberation
    1. The kind of body with which we can break out of samsara
    2. The kind of path with which we can break out of samsara
C. Training our minds in the stages of a person of higher motivation – striving for enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings
    1. Advantages of bodhicitta
    2. How to develop bodhicitta
      a. Actual stages
      b. How to take bodhisattva vows
    3. Engaging in bodhisattvas’ conduct
      a. General conduct
    1. Six perfections
    2. Four ways of gathering students
      b. Practicing the last two perfections
    1. Calm abiding
    2. Special insight
c. Special path of tantra
ༀ་ཨ་ར་པ་ཙ་ན་དྷཱི༔ Oṃ A Ra Pa Ca Na Dhīḥ

"Morality does not become pure unless darkness is dispelled by the light of wisdom"
    Aryasura, Paramitasamasa 6.5

Jeff H
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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Postby Jeff H » Tue Nov 01, 2016 12:55 pm

Bristollad wrote:
I think you’re referring to the two accumulations which are referred to in the text as the “paths of profound view and vast conduct”.


Acutally the phrase "paths of profound view and vast conduct" refers to the two lineages of teachings from Nagarjuna and Asanga, hence the reference to the two charioteers:

I bow to Dipamkara Atisha, holder of the treasury of instructions
That gathers together the important points, completely and unmistakenly,
Of the paths of profound view and vast conduct,
The excellent lineages descending from the two great charioteers.


also see here from Alex Berzin's website:

So, when we look at the lineages of the teachings that come from Buddha, we often speak of the “lineage of the profound teachings” – these would be the voidness teachings that come through Manjushri, Nagarjuna, and so on, and eventually through Shantideva. And also the “vast teachings” – the vast teachings are the teachings on bodhichitta that come through Maitreya to Asanga, and then also through Shantideva.

http://studybuddhism.com/web/en/archive ... ipt_1.html


Thanks Bristollad.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

Jeff H
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Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2014 8:56 pm
Location: Vermont, USA

Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Postby Jeff H » Tue Nov 01, 2016 1:11 pm

pael wrote:Why karma is after rebirth&refuge? It may seem that you can get free by prayers.
And why refuge is after rebirth? Beginner may at first think that gods can free you from rebirth.

Here is my first thoughts after reading years ago school book and book called Eastern Wisdom.

When I first time read Four Noble Truths at I thought desire is only cause of suffering/rebirth. And when desire is ended only mental suffering ceases, not physical. That physical suffering/rebirth ceases only at nirvana.
Are these wrong?

Here's how I understand it:

Lamrim Flow
Initial Scope
1. Rely Upon The Spiritual Guide
I am blind and the path is hidden from ordinary beings so I need a spiritual guide.

2. Precious Human Life
The guide explains that human life is a rare and precious opportunity to gain control of my mental continuum.

3. Death and Impermanence
When I die I will lose this opportunity, so I must practice purely.

4. Fear of Rebirth
Death is not the enemy; rebirth is because that is the cycle of suffering.

5. Go For Refuge
All hope for breaking that cycle lies in the 3 jewels: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.

6. Understand Karma
Once I understand the true consequences of my deluded actions I will understand the need for liberation.

Middling Scope
7. Renounce Samsara
The cycle of rebirth produces only suffering, so it is necessary to renounce all the deluded views which prolong it.

Great Scope
8. Cultivate Equanimity
In equanimity we learn that all conscious beings are equally precious.

9. Recognize All Living Beings as My Mother
I have affectionate love for them all, as if I was experiencing each as my own mother.

10. Remember the Kindness of All Living Beings
I realize that my very life depends upon all other beings.

11. Equalize Self and Other
Therefore I cherish all beings just as I do myself.

12. Abandon Self-Cherishing
But I notice that cherishing myself solidifies my delusions and causes suffering.

13. Cherish Others
I also notice that cherishing others reduces my delusions and causes happiness.

14. Exchange Self with Others
Therefore I change the imputation of ‘I whom I cherish’ to refer to all other beings instead of myself.

15. Have Great Compassion
On this basis I more fully appreciate the suffering of the cycle of rebirth and I am moved to the superior intention of acting to ease and then end it.

16. Take the Suffering of Others
Acting upon this intention I strive to take upon myself the sufferings of others.

17. Wishing Love for Others
As I attempt to relieve their suffering I wish all good things for them.

18. Giving Love to Others
I imagine myself as a superior being capable of bestowing inner peace on all living beings.

19. Generate Bodhichitta
But in reality, I can do very little as an ordinary being because I, too, am drowning and so I realize that to fulfill my loving desires I must attain enlightenment.

20. Attain Mental Stability
In order to reach enlightenment I must take control of my mental processes.

21. Realize Emptiness
And in conjunction with that, I must escape my delusions by realizing emptiness directly.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva


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