Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

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Lobsang Chojor
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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Post by Lobsang Chojor » Wed Nov 16, 2016 6:58 pm

I think verses 21 and 22 are talking about the bodhisattva ideal and bodhichitta
Je Tsongkhapa wrote: The generation of the mind is the central post of the Mahayana path,
I think this is the mind of bodhichitta
The base and support of great waves of conduct,
A philosopher’s stone transforming all into the two collections,
The base and support here is compassion which is described as a "philosopher's stone", this highlights the importance of bodhichitta in sutra and tantra.
A treasure of merit gathering infinite virtue.

Having understood this, the heroic children of the conquerors
Maintain deeply the pledges of the precious supreme mind.
I think this is talking about how bodhsattvas maintain their bodhisattva vows and we should do likewise.
I, a yogi, practiced like this.
You who desire liberation, should do likewise.
"Morality does not become pure unless darkness is dispelled by the light of wisdom"
  • Aryasura, Paramitasamasa 6.5
ༀ་ཨ་ར་པ་ཙ་ན་དྷཱི༔ Oṃ A Ra Pa Ca Na Dhīḥ

Jeff H
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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Post by Jeff H » Thu Nov 17, 2016 5:07 pm

Interesting point, Lobsang. I’m not sure how to parse verses 21-22, but here’s an alternate translation for comparison:
21
Generating the mind is the central axle of the supreme vehicle path;
It’s the foundation and the support of all expansive deeds;
To all instances of two accumulations it is like the elixir of gold;
It’s the treasury of merits containing myriad collections of virtues;

22
Recognizing these truths the heroic bodhisattvas
Uphold the precious supreme mind as the heart of their practice.
I, a yogi, have practiced in this manner;
You, who aspire for liberation, too should do likewise.
“Supreme vehicle path”, which in another context (Foundation of All Good Qualities) I think Tsongkhapa uses to means Tantra, is rendered in our version as “Mahayana path”. Then “precious supreme mind” in both versions could refer specifically to bodhicitta.

I have not found a commentary for Hymn of Experience, but parts of it make me think of Shantideva, especially here. In chapter five Shantideva speaks about the primacy of the mind immediately before a brief summary of each of the six perfections, just as Tsongkhapa does here. Shantideva’s point is that the perfections are first and foremost a matter of mental transformation, not merely doing good. First train the mind, then the perfections will flow naturally.
In [i]Way of the Bodhisattva[/i] 5:10, Shantideva wrote:10.
Transcendent giving, so the teachings say,
Consists in the intention to bestow on every being
All one owns, together with the fruits of such a gift.
It is indeed a matter of the mind itself.
I think we can apply a similar intention to Tsongkhapa here, which is to say, that at the beginning of the path we must clearly understand the importance of mind transformation as the “central axle”, the “foundation and support”, of all our Dharma efforts. When we then apply Dharma to any samsaric situation, we will be mindful of the alchemical elixir which changes our ordinary minds to the gold of a bodhisattva’s mind. In this way we can complete the two collections of merit in the vast deeds of the bodhisattva and the profound wisdom of emptiness.

Shantideva establishes this essential first principle of seeing the mind as the origin of all that is evil and all that is good, the enemy we fight and the hero that will emerge victorious, in the context of a book whose main theme is bodhicitta, the supreme mind of enlightenment. So I think both understandings apply.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Post by Jeff H » Thu Nov 17, 2016 5:27 pm

In my previous post I said I couldn't find a commentary on this text, but it turns out that's because I did a search on "Hymn of Excellence", not "Hymn of Experience". There are references out there, but I haven't had a chance to read through them yet. Two that caught my eye are teachings by Lama Yeshe and Ven. Thubten Chodan.

In Thubten Chodan's I happen to notice this quote which seems to clarify our verses 21-22 just as you said, Lobsang:
Development of the bodhicitta, the thought of enlightenment,
is the central pillar of Mahayana practice,
The foundation of the bodhisattva activities,
An elixir producing the gold of positive potential and wisdom,
A mine holding the infinite varieties of goodness.
Knowing this, the courageous Children of the Buddhas
Hold it tightly at the center of their hearts.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Post by Jeff H » Fri Nov 18, 2016 5:16 pm

I looked further at the two links I provided above. It turns out the first is a teaching by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, and it isn't an explication of Hymn of Experience, but a setting of intention and dedication for a longer teaching.

The link to Ven. Thubten Chodron, however, is a teaching on Hymn of Experience. I've saved the pdf in my One Drive and I added bookmarks to each of the verses for easier reference. I have not yet read through her teaching, but it may prove useful for our discussion. Ven. Thubten Chodron's pdf.

(I continue to refer back to our root text, in the hope that other's may join the discussion.)
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Post by Jeff H » Mon Nov 21, 2016 4:17 pm

I just finished reading The Essence of Refined Gold which is available from Ven. Thubten Chodron’s website.

It is a translation by Glenn Mullin of Gyalwa Sonam Gyatso’s (the Third Dalai Lama’s) commentary on Lama Tsongkhapa’s Song of the Stages of the Spiritual Path, which is our root text. (Our version is called Hymn of Experience). It is an extremely clear, well organized text, very brief and yet richly detailed in the teachings.

This thread is not generating much input, but I see that more people are continuing to read it quietly for themselves (740 views as of this posting). I suggest that Essence of Refined Gold would be an excellent reference commentary for this Lam Rim Discussion thread, rather than merely taking stabs at interpreting the original verses ourselves. As His Holiness the Third Dalai Lama says, “Whether you are studying or teaching a Lamrim text, do so purely and with intensity.”
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

Lukeinaz
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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Post by Lukeinaz » Mon Nov 21, 2016 7:05 pm

Jeff H wrote: This thread is not generating much input, but I see that more people are continuing to read it quietly for themselves (740 views as of this posting).”
At least 10 of those views are mine. I suspect 99% of the remaining views are from Cone and Tsonngkhapafan checking to see if the discussion has reached the verse pertaining to special insight.
You are truly astonishing--going to look for yourself when you already are yourself! --Longchen Rabjam

Jeff H
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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Post by Jeff H » Mon Nov 21, 2016 7:12 pm

Lukeinaz wrote:
Jeff H wrote: This thread is not generating much input, but I see that more people are continuing to read it quietly for themselves (740 views as of this posting).”
At least 10 of those views are mine. I suspect 99% of the remaining views are from Cone and Tsonngkhapafan checking to see if the discussion has reached the verse pertaining to special insight.
:rolling:Probably right! (Maybe we can skip that one...)
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

Lukeinaz
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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Post by Lukeinaz » Mon Nov 21, 2016 7:58 pm

Jeff H wrote:
Lukeinaz wrote:
Jeff H wrote: This thread is not generating much input, but I see that more people are continuing to read it quietly for themselves (740 views as of this posting).”
At least 10 of those views are mine. I suspect 99% of the remaining views are from Cone and Tsonngkhapafan checking to see if the discussion has reached the verse pertaining to special insight.
:rolling:Probably right! (Maybe we can skip that one...)
I say we jump ahead!
You are truly astonishing--going to look for yourself when you already are yourself! --Longchen Rabjam

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Tsongkhapafan
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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Post by Tsongkhapafan » Thu Jan 26, 2017 10:10 am

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.
A valid Teacher must have five qualities:

(1) Unmistaken knowledge of all objects to be abandoned
(2) Complete knowledge of the methods for abandoning them
(3) Unmistaken knowledge of all objects to be practised
(4) Complete knowledge of the methods for practising them
(5) Revealing all this to others with the motivation of compassion

If we find such a teacher we can place our unreserved trust in him or her. I guess the problem is knowing whether a Teacher has these qualifications or not and that depends upon our own investigation.

A fully qualified Mahayana Spiritual Guide is someone who possesses ten special qualities. According to Ornament for Mahayana Sutras these are:

(1) A mind that is controlled by the practice of moral discipline.
(2) A mind that has become peaceful and undistracted through the practice of concentration.
(3) Reduced self-grasping through the practice of wisdom.
(4) Greater knowledge than the disciple.
(5) Delight in teaching Dharma.
(6) A wealth of scriptural knowledge.
(7) A deep and stable realization of emptiness.
(8) Great skill in explaining Dharma.
(9) Compassion and love for his disciples.
(10) Enthusiasm for teaching Dharma, being free from discouragement or laziness.

It's advisable to take time to check out any potential Spiritual Guide against this list of qualities over time.

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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Post by lobsangrinchen » Thu Dec 20, 2018 2:57 pm

this is a great thread, hopefully we can get it back to being active again?

Lam Rim, specifically the "Easy Path" version as written by the First Panchen Lama, is the specific practice/study given to me by my teacher. I have also been studying the Lam Rim Chen Mo three volume translation (which is EXCELLENT) by Tsongkhapa and have recently been delving into Pabongka's three volume "Liberation" teaching on Lam Rim.

One question that arose yesterday that seemed like an apparent contradiction - in the Lam Rim, "Great misdeed are terminated spontaneously" - as I understand that, it prevents one from ever repudiating the Dharma, considering one flavor or path to be superior or to give any version more respect or authority.


And then a few pages later, we have the "Three attributes of excellence" of the Lam Rim teaching, which essentially states #3 - "It is superior to other teachings" - which to be seems to be committing a "great misdeed" almost immediately!

What do you think or glean from this? Thanks in advance :hi:

kausalya
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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Post by kausalya » Thu Dec 20, 2018 4:28 pm

lobsangrinchen wrote:
Thu Dec 20, 2018 2:57 pm
this is a great thread, hopefully we can get it back to being active again?

Lam Rim, specifically the "Easy Path" version as written by the First Panchen Lama, is the specific practice/study given to me by my teacher. I have also been studying the Lam Rim Chen Mo three volume translation (which is EXCELLENT) by Tsongkhapa and have recently been delving into Pabongka's three volume "Liberation" teaching on Lam Rim.

One question that arose yesterday that seemed like an apparent contradiction - in the Lam Rim, "Great misdeed are terminated spontaneously" - as I understand that, it prevents one from ever repudiating the Dharma, considering one flavor or path to be superior or to give any version more respect or authority.


And then a few pages later, we have the "Three attributes of excellence" of the Lam Rim teaching, which essentially states #3 - "It is superior to other teachings" - which to be seems to be committing a "great misdeed" almost immediately!

What do you think or glean from this? Thanks in advance :hi:
It depends on what you mean by "superior".

All I take from it is that, because of its structure & the clarity of the teachings expressed, it's preferable to trying to "reinvent the wheel" for ourselves. With a teaching like this in existence, it's already all there, and there's nothing missing. This is a distinct advantage for someone who hasn't committed to a particular lineage and wants to know they're in good hands.

It's not a sectarian message for people from other traditions, who won't read it anyway.
"Open sky does not abide, nor do sentient beings."

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Tsongkhapafan
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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Post by Tsongkhapafan » Thu Dec 20, 2018 11:07 pm

lobsangrinchen wrote:
Thu Dec 20, 2018 2:57 pm
One question that arose yesterday that seemed like an apparent contradiction - in the Lam Rim, "Great misdeed are terminated spontaneously" - as I understand that, it prevents one from ever repudiating the Dharma, considering one flavor or path to be superior or to give any version more respect or authority.

And then a few pages later, we have the "Three attributes of excellence" of the Lam Rim teaching, which essentially states #3 - "It is superior to other teachings" - which to be seems to be committing a "great misdeed" almost immediately!

What do you think or glean from this? Thanks in advance :hi:
It is not sectarian to recognise that a particular Dharma instruction is superior to others if it is. For example, Lamrim is superior to other types of Dharma because it is the condensation of all Buddhadharma. Even the king of Tantras, Heruka Tantra does not possess this quality. However, we can also say that Tantra is superior to Sutra because it is a direct path to Buddhahood and it contains more direct, skilful and swift methods for attaining enlightenment. It's the same with lamrim - it is superior to other presentations of Buddha's teachings because it is contains the whole meaning of Buddhadharma and it is very practical.

The great misdeed is rejecting any of Buddha's teachings. In fact, we are less likely to incur this if we practise lamrim because we recognise the value of each of Buddha's teachings. Buddha is like a skilful doctor, giving medicine depending upon the patient and by studying and practising lamrim we appreciate Buddha's unsurpassed skill and all of his instructions.

kausalya
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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Post by kausalya » Thu Dec 20, 2018 11:26 pm

Still, nothing can be said to have inherent qualities. An examination has to be made by each person to determine which Dharma has the greatest effect on their life... and whoever you ask, you'll get a different answer.
"Open sky does not abide, nor do sentient beings."

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Josef
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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Post by Josef » Thu Dec 20, 2018 11:32 pm

Tsongkhapafan wrote:
Thu Dec 20, 2018 11:07 pm
lobsangrinchen wrote:
Thu Dec 20, 2018 2:57 pm
One question that arose yesterday that seemed like an apparent contradiction - in the Lam Rim, "Great misdeed are terminated spontaneously" - as I understand that, it prevents one from ever repudiating the Dharma, considering one flavor or path to be superior or to give any version more respect or authority.

And then a few pages later, we have the "Three attributes of excellence" of the Lam Rim teaching, which essentially states #3 - "It is superior to other teachings" - which to be seems to be committing a "great misdeed" almost immediately!

What do you think or glean from this? Thanks in advance :hi:
It is not sectarian to recognise that a particular Dharma instruction is superior to others if it is. For example, Lamrim is superior to other types of Dharma because it is the condensation of all Buddhadharma.
Lamrim is a category of literature. Not all Lamrim texts include all Buddhadhama. It doesnt really make sense to classify a literary device as superior to dharma.
Kye ma!
The river of continuity is marked by impermanence.
Ceaseless flowing of appearance.
Beautiful and repulsive.
The dance of life and death is a display of the vast expanse.
With gratitude the watcher and the watched pass through the barrier of duality.

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Josef
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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Post by Josef » Thu Dec 20, 2018 11:44 pm

kausalya wrote:
Thu Dec 20, 2018 11:26 pm
Still, nothing can be said to have inherent qualities. An examination has to be made by each person to determine which Dharma has the greatest effect on their life... and whoever you ask, you'll get a different answer.
Well said. This is also why Lamrim is such a powerful teaching tool. Since it includes so many stages and paths the practitioner is able to gradually work with their circumstances and apply the practices in a fluid way.
Kye ma!
The river of continuity is marked by impermanence.
Ceaseless flowing of appearance.
Beautiful and repulsive.
The dance of life and death is a display of the vast expanse.
With gratitude the watcher and the watched pass through the barrier of duality.

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Tsongkhapafan
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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Post by Tsongkhapafan » Fri Dec 21, 2018 10:24 am

Josef wrote:
Thu Dec 20, 2018 11:32 pm
Lamrim is a category of literature. Not all Lamrim texts include all Buddhadhama. It doesnt really make sense to classify a literary device as superior to dharma.
Lamrim is not a category of literature, it's the very essence of all of Buddha's teachings. If a 'lamrim' text doesn't contain the essential meaning of all of Buddha's teachings from relying upon a Spiritual Guide up to Superior Seeing then it's not lamrim. Lamrim is the main body of Buddhadharma and all other texts and practices are limbs.

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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Post by Tsongkhapafan » Fri Dec 21, 2018 10:26 am

kausalya wrote:
Thu Dec 20, 2018 11:26 pm
Still, nothing can be said to have inherent qualities. An examination has to be made by each person to determine which Dharma has the greatest effect on their life... and whoever you ask, you'll get a different answer.
Agreed, which is why Buddha gave some many different instructions to suit the minds of many practitioners.

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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Post by kausalya » Fri Dec 21, 2018 3:05 pm

I think it can be natural to develop intense feelings of devotion toward a particular method once it works for you, & that must be why we do have sectarianism.

In reality, it seems to me we can't expect lightning to strike for others in the same way it has for us. What it means for each one of us to be on our own path is that people have to have particular inclinations in order for a teaching to make sense to them.

For me, I find Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand to be an amazingly evocative text.
"Open sky does not abide, nor do sentient beings."

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Josef
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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Post by Josef » Fri Dec 21, 2018 5:20 pm

Tsongkhapafan wrote:
Fri Dec 21, 2018 10:24 am
Josef wrote:
Thu Dec 20, 2018 11:32 pm
Lamrim is a category of literature. Not all Lamrim texts include all Buddhadhama. It doesnt really make sense to classify a literary device as superior to dharma.
Lamrim is not a category of literature, it's the very essence of all of Buddha's teachings. If a 'lamrim' text doesn't contain the essential meaning of all of Buddha's teachings from relying upon a Spiritual Guide up to Superior Seeing then it's not lamrim. Lamrim is the main body of Buddhadharma and all other texts and practices are limbs.
By this reasoning Tsongkhapa's lamrim text is not a lamrim text since it lacks clear teachings on Anuyoga and Ati yoga. Which is an odd criticism of Tsongkhapa to be presented by anyone, especially a fan.
And lamrim is without question a category of Tibetan spiritual literature with composers of lamrim texts from every major lineage it is a class of text that creates the foundational approach to understanding the teachings from numerous perspectives. A few examples of masters who used this literary device are Tsongkhapa, Jigten Sumgon, Gampopa, Longchenpa, Jigme Lingpa etc.
Kye ma!
The river of continuity is marked by impermanence.
Ceaseless flowing of appearance.
Beautiful and repulsive.
The dance of life and death is a display of the vast expanse.
With gratitude the watcher and the watched pass through the barrier of duality.

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Tsongkhapafan
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Re: Lam Rim Discussion: Part 1

Post by Tsongkhapafan » Fri Dec 21, 2018 10:48 pm

Josef wrote:
Fri Dec 21, 2018 5:20 pm
By this reasoning Tsongkhapa's lamrim text is not a lamrim text since it lacks clear teachings on Anuyoga and Ati yoga. Which is an odd criticism of Tsongkhapa to be presented by anyone, especially a fan.
And lamrim is without question a category of Tibetan spiritual literature with composers of lamrim texts from every major lineage it is a class of text that creates the foundational approach to understanding the teachings from numerous perspectives. A few examples of masters who used this literary device are Tsongkhapa, Jigten Sumgon, Gampopa, Longchenpa, Jigme Lingpa etc.
Tsongkhapa's text is a lamrim text because it contains the essential explanations of the meaning of all of Buddha's teachings - renunciation, bodhichitta and the correct view of emptiness. These can be practised according to either Sutra or Tantra so there is no fault that explicit Tantric teachings are not included.

Lamrim is a specific presentation of all of Buddha's teachings that originates from the great Indian Master Atisha in Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment. It is true that later masters from different traditions wrote commentaries which clarified the meaning of Atisha's presentation.

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