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Lam-rim Meditation Outline

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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Essential Daily Practice Advice

A student wrote to Rinpoche explaining his daily practice and asking if he should be doing anything different.

If you still have time, read some of the lam-rim every day, such as Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand. Read a little each day, depending on how much time you have. You can read it slowly and that still becomes meditation. Anything that you don’t understand, write it down in a notebook and at a later time ask an older student who has studied the lam-rim well, or ask Geshe-la. So, read the lam-rim from beginning to end three times. This is called effortful meditation.

Then do effortless meditation on guru devotion. Try to have the realizations by training the mind and by following the outline, no matter how many weeks or month or years it takes, until you see from your side every guru that you have a Dharma connection with as the Buddha and every buddha is all the gurus. If you see every guru is all the buddhas, without effort, all the time, for weeks, months and years, then that is the realization. So each day do some amount of meditation on guru devotion. In the same day, you can do the meditation renouncing this life, so continue like this, one-by-one, until you have realizations.

Next is meditation on the gradual path of the middle capable being—seeing the suffering of human beings, devas, sura and asura beings; then there is suffering of samsara, the twelve links, the evolution of samsara, all those. Carry on meditating until you see samsara as a prison, like being in the center of a fire, until you have no interest and don’t want to be there even for a minute or a second. You need a stable realization that lasts for weeks, months and years, then after that, you need realization on bodhicitta. Use whichever method is more effective for you—exchanging oneself for others or the seven techniques—so train in both, sometimes using one method and sometimes using the other. Do it like that or you can do more, based on whichever one is more effective for you.

Next is emptiness. You also need to do some meditation on emptiness every day, even for five minutes or for however much time you want—short or long. You can do this by reciting the Heart Sutra or any verses on emptiness and thinking about the meaning. Even use this verse from The King of Logic: “The dependent arising: The I is not truly existing one.” So meditate on that, try to recognize that and then see that is the false I; that is empty.

Meditate on dependent arising and on the Prasangika view—the subtle dependent arising on the valid base, the aggregates. Gathered on that, the mind has a valid mind, merely imputed on the I, existing extremely subtly. It is unbelievably, unbelievably, unbelievably subtle, existing in mere name, merely labeled by the mind, therefore it does not exist at all from its own side. Meditate like that. [Excerpted from advice given in October 2013; see here for full advice.]

Lam-rim Meditation

Advice given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche outlining how to meditate on the lam-rim, the graduated path to enlightenment. Please note: The length of time advised by Rinpoche for meditation on each lam-rim topic varies for each individual.

First you need to practice effortful meditation, which leads into effortless meditation and experience. Of course, while practicing effortful meditation, realization can happen at that time.

Meditate on the lam-rim outlines for the number of months I have indicated:1

    Guru devotion: one to three months
    The graduated path of the lower capable being: one to eleven months
    The graduated path of the middle capable being: two to nine months
    The graduated path of the higher capable being:
        Bodhicitta: one to seven months
        Emptiness: one to eleven months