For effortful realizations, first read a lamrim text, such as the Lamrim Chenmo, the Middle-Length Lamrim or Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, completely. Lama Tsongkhapa’s Middle-Length Lamrim is the same as studying the Lamrim Chenmo. The Middle-Length Lamrim is very good, and then shorter than that is Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, which is simpler. Then smaller than that is Essence of Refined Gold and The Happy Path.
You have to study one lamrim text from beginning to end, and you can write down in a notebook anything that you don’t know or understand and then at a later time ask an older student who has studied the lamrim very well, or ask a geshe and check up like that. Then you can discuss any questions you have, and sometimes you can ask me. If I know then I will answer.
Then you need to practice effortful meditation, which leads into effortless meditation and experience. Of course, while practicing effortful meditation, realizations can happen at that time.
Meditate on the lamrim 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
Guru yoga meditation is the root of the path, so you need to gain a stable realization of this, seeing all the gurus as a buddha and all the buddhas as the guru. Keep going until there’s no separation, from the bottom of your heart.
Keep going step-by-step, following the lamrim outlines for the path of the three capable beings. If you do not gain the realizations, practice the meditations again and again until you generate renunciation of this life and future lives, and bodhicitta. In order to have realizations of the lamrim, you also need to practice purification and collect merits by receiving the blessings of your guru.
Then do effortless meditation, no matter how many weeks, months or years it takes. Continue until you have stable realizations of guru devotion, until you see the one guru as all the buddhas from your side and one buddha is all the gurus, that you received Dharma connection from. You see that one hundred percent and you are able to see that for a long time, without effort.
If possible, each day also do a little bit of meditation on the graduated path of the lower capable being, the different levels. Meditate on the perfect human rebirth until you see from your side how precious this human body is, more precious than a wish-granting jewel, than skies of wish-granting jewels. This human body is most precious. Continue until you feel this—how it is most precious—for months and years without effort, and go on like that relating to each meditation. After that, meditate on its usefulness, how it is difficult to find again, etc. Then impermanence and death, which has the nine-round meditation, then the sufferings of the lower realms, refuge and karma.
After you have these realizations you can train the mind in the graduated path of the middle capable being, particularly the sufferings of the deva and human realms, the general sufferings, the six and twelve types and the twelve links, until you see that samsara is like being in the center of a fire or like being in prison, it’s so unbelievable. Then without effort you will have renunciation, wanting to be free from samsara, every second without effort.
Then meditate on bodhicitta until the thought to achieve enlightenment arises day and night without effort, and every person that you see, you want to achieve enlightenment for them.
After generating bodhicitta, put more emphasis on tantra—the generation and completion stages. You can do more meditation on the generation stage—try to train mind in that, while also doing a little completion stage to leave imprints.
You should meditate on emptiness every day by reading the Heart Sutra, the Four-Point Analysis or even one verse or one stanza on emptiness.
So you realize the real I—what appears, what you trust in—is false. Recognize it as false and then see it as empty, after that see it is totally empty, it does not exist. From the beginning by training the mind in that, you see this as a result. What you realize first is ultimate truth and through that you realize the truth for the all-obscuring mind—that the I exists in mere name. You realize that as result, the I is merely labeled by the mind, so you see, I exists in mere name and because it exists in mere name that’s why it is empty, so unified emptiness and dependent arising. When you realize that, you have completed the understanding of emptiness.
Continue in that, by training the mind in that, you achieve great insight meditation, emptiness with the realization of shinä, calm abiding, deriving rapturous ecstasy of body and mind. By training the mind in that, it leads to the direct perception of emptiness, which ceases the seed of delusion, then there is no delusion and karma, no suffering, and we achieve nirvana, we achieve the ultimate nature of the mind, free from delusion and karma.
With the support of bodhicitta we develop the ultimate wisdom. By developing ultimate wisdom, the direct perception of emptiness, with the supporting method, bodhicitta and so forth, then we can achieve full enlightenment. We are able to cease the subtle obscurations and complete the mind in all the realizations, and then become a perfect guide, to do perfect works for sentient beings.
After actualizing bodhicitta, put more emphasis on tantra—the generation and completion stages. You can do more meditation on the generation stage—try to train mind in that—while also doing a little completion stage, just to leave imprints.
1 The length of time advised by Rinpoche varies for each individual. [Return to text]