(Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche began the day's discourse by quoting these lines by the great scholar and spiritual adept Gendun Tenzin Gyatso:[1]

It[2] is the essence of the unerring Kangyur and Tengyur,[3]
unlike the false, made-up teachings of others.
It represents the views of the great philosophers,
unlike the speech of fools.
It contains the realized experience of learned adepts,
unlike the frenzied delusions of others.
It is the great road to supreme enlightenment,
unlike the terrifying abyss of samsara.[4]

Following this, he explained briefly how we should correct our motivation, adding words of praise for the teaching being given. Then he enumerated the various sections of the outline covered in previous days and reviewed all the instructions that come after the section entitled "Serving a spiritual teacher through action," which itself forms the final portion of the division entitled "The root of the pathhow to serve a spiritual teacher.")

Between meditation periods, we should primarily read scriptures that deal with the subject at handin this case, the leisure and fortune of an excellent human rebirth.

The reason for reflecting on the just-completed teachings about our leisure and fortune, their great value, and the difficulty of obtaining them is so that we will generate the desire to derive true meaning from our human form. It is only when we succeed in evoking this desire that we are in fact ready to begin training our mind in the stages of the path for the three types of practitioner. This is because the value that we ultimately derive from our leisure and fortune will be either small, medium, or great depending upon how well we are able to train our mind in each of these three divisions of the teaching.

Moreover, if we wish to attain the goal of Buddhahood, we must start by generating the earlier paths, each in their respective order. For without first generating the earlier paths, any attempt we make to generate the later ones will end in failure. When pilgrims travel from Kham to view the image of Lord Shakyamuni, for instance, they do so with their mind fixed on the Lord from the time they first leave home. But they must make their way gradually, following the road step by step. They can't just take one great leap and bring themselves before the Lord. Similarly, we cannot generate such higher paths as compassion without first having generated the lower ones of renunciation and the like. This point is also implied in the following verse from Engaging in Bodhisattva Activities:

Never before, not even in their dreams,
Have these very sentient beings ever
Had such a desire even toward themselves.
How could they experience it toward others?[5]

The expressions "person of lesser capacity" and "person of moderate capacity," are intended to suggest that we must train our mind in certain stages of the path that are held in common with persons of lesser and moderate capacity. They do not mean that we should train ourselves in the actual paths that persons of lesser and moderate capacity themselves practice.

This point can be explained with the analogy of three travelersone of whom is going to Tashi Hlunpo, another to Rong, and a third to Chushur.[6] The first person, the one whose destination is Tashi Hlunpo, will proceed in part over the same road that the two other travelers use. However, all three individuals have different aims. Two intend to go no farther than Rong and Chushur, respectively. But the third does not plan to stay in either of those places; he intends to continue on to Tashi Hlunpo.

Thus, even when we are practicing the Lamrim topics that are associated with persons of lesser and moderate capacity, we must keep in mind that our goal is to achieve Buddhahood for the sake of all sentient beings. For this reason, we must recognize that generating enlightenment mind represents the main practice of the overall Lamrim teaching, and that the paths which are held in common with persons of lesser and moderate capacity are meant to serve as preparations for generating that mind.

You might think, "Well then, why don't we refer to the initial Lamrim topics as part of the path for persons of great capacity, since it would seem that the terms 'lesser' and 'moderate' serve no purpose?" Nonetheless, these terms do serve two specific purposes.[7]

One purpose is the great benefit that it provides to persons of high, moderate, and lesser intellect. This refers [in part][8] to the fact that some individuals are unable to train their minds from the outset in the practices for persons of great capacity. Therefore, they are instructed to practice the stages of the path relating to persons of lesser and moderate capacity as a way of training themselves more gradually.

The other purpose is to overcome pride.[9] It is the pride we might develop through believing ourselves to be Mahayanists and practitioners of tantra despite having failed to generate even the attitude of renunciation because we did not cultivate the earlier Lamrim paths.

In order to generate the enlightenment mind which forms the main practice of the Lamrim teaching, we must generate the compassion which cannot bear the suffering that torments others. But before we can generate this compassion, we must realize the manner in which we ourselves are tormented by suffering. And, in order to gain this second realization, it is necessary for us to realize that the nature of all samsara is suffering. However, before gaining that realization, we must first develop fear regarding the suffering of the lower states. For if we lack the fear of being reborn in the lower states, we will be unable to develop aversion for the pleasures of human and divine life [167b].

So the reason we need to train ourselves in the paths which are held in common with persons of lesser capacity is that these practices are like the base or foundation of a building. Unlike certain accomplished practitioners, we cannot generate spiritual results out of sequence.[10]

Even Je Milarepa practiced the common paths while under Marpa's tutelage. Many of his spiritual songs describe how he attained the realizations associated with those practices. Moreover, the speediness of the secret mantra path is a quality that must be elicited by properly practicing the Lamrim teachings. Indeed, this point is alluded to in the very titles of the instruction texts known as Easy Path and Quick Path.

Milarepa did not achieve the united pair state[11] during his lifetime by the mantra path alone. He succeeded because he had also practiced the path associated with the three types of practitioner in past lives. It is mentioned in the Initial Instructions for Training the Mind[12] and other instruction traditions that he was the Kadampa Chaktri Chok[13] in his former life.

([Kyabje Rinpoche summarized by making the following point.] While it is necessary to train ourselves in the common Mahayana path[14] before entering that of the secret mantra, many of us ignore this principle and seek to enter the Mantrayana from the outset. Such persons typically pretend to meditate on the two stages of Anuttarayoga tantra[15] even while failing to observe the pledges of tantric morality. But all they are really doing by this is throwing themselves into the Adamantine Hell.[16])

We must, therefore, correct our attitude at the outset and engender a strong-minded determination in which we are able to reflect: "If I have to, I will meditate all my life on a single Lamrim topic." The more common practice, though, is to adopt such determination toward worldly affairs. But this represents a mistaken kind of strong-mindedness. As for weak-mindedness, the object toward which our resolve should be weak is worldly activity, while the object toward which it shouldn't be weak is the dharma.

If we can strive so courageously that we are able to reflect, "There is no dharma practice that I cannot master successfully," then we won't have to actually spend months or years meditating on the same topic. As Geshe Kamapa[17] declared:

You say: "I am not succeeding in my contemplation practice." But when did you contemplate? During the day you were continually distracted and at night you slept. So don't be a liar![18]

But we are even worse than this. Although we haven't meditated on the points associated with a single meditation topic for even one morning period, we still wonder why we haven't generated any spiritual realizations. This is utterly wrong thinking!

Some of us may not want to practice with a firmness that is like "rock meeting bone."[19] We might even wish to be able to generate the Lamrim's spiritual realizations by closing our eyes briefly and reciting such prayers as the Basis of All Virtues.20 But these are extremely unrealistic desires.

The Kadampa teacher Gomba Rinchen Lama[21] had a saying: "Train your eyes far ahead, keep a strong mind, and remain inwardly free." This admonition conveys three important principles. The first means that we should set our sights on the ultimate goal of Buddhahood. The second means that we should develop a strong determination toward practicing the paths for persons of lesser and moderate capacity. The third means that, when meditating, we should remain relaxed. That is, we should develop an evenmindedness that is neither too strained nor too lax.

We should also maintain evenmindedness toward our regular practice. For instance, after hearing a dharma teaching from our guru's lips, we sometimes develop a shallow kind of renunciation that is short-lived and unsteady. A person who has this attitude will at first become very excited about practicing dharma. But after only a few days his enthusiasm will disappear. This is a sign that such a person will not carry through his practice to completion.

2. The methods of deriving value from a human form possessing leisure and fortune

The subject of how to derive value from our leisure and fortune is divided into three parts:
(1) training the mind in the levels of the path that are held in common with persons of lesser capacity;
(2) training the mind in the levels of the path that are held in common with persons of moderate capacity; and
(3) training the mind in the levels of the path for persons of great capacity.

a. Training the mind in the levels of the path that are held in common with persons of lesser capacity

The first section has two parts: (1) generating an attitude of concern for future lives and
(2) practicing the methods for achieving happiness in future lives.

i. Generating an attitude of concern for future lives

This first part also has two sections: (1) recalling death in the sense that we do not remain long in this life; (2) contemplating the nature of future lives in terms of the kinds of happiness and suffering that the two basic types of beings experience.[22]

1) Recalling death in the sense that we do not remain long in this life

(next) The disadvantages of failing to recall death

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