The Three Stages of the Path
Teachings by Lama Zasep Tulku Rinpoche
September 1998, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Now, during this program, during this year we are studying the Lam Rim. We made a plan and schedule to study Lam Rim, and we are studying mainly the book called "Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand." This text is a very special text, wonderful text. It was written by a great lama from the Gelugpa tradition called Pabongkha, Pabongkhapa. He was the root guru of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, Kyabje Ling Rinpoche, and Kyabje Song Rinpoche. As you know, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche and Kyabje Ling Rinpoche are root gurus of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama.

And this book actually is very special. I'd like to say why we choose this book as a main text. Because when the great lama, Je Pabongkha gave the teaching of the Lam Rim, when he was giving the teaching he used the book, Lam Rim text written by the Fifth Dalai Lama. This text called "The Oral Speech of Manjushri." And the great Pabongkha gave the Lam Rim teaching in 1921 in a place called Chozang Retreat. It's above Sera Monastery. It's said there was 1000 people, 700 monks and nuns, 300 lay people, 30 highly reincarnated lamas, and many great geshes and scholars and yogis came from all over Tibet. From the west, from Kham, from the east, various places.

At that time Ling Rinpoche and Trijang Rinpoche, teachers of His Holiness Dalai Lama, both were there. And Trijang Rinpoche made note, and same time many high lamas, Rinpoches and geshes wrote a note, because those days there was no machine, recording machine, so they have to write down everything. And Trijang Rinpoche was quite young, and he was very fast writing, so he wrote as much as possible. And other lamas wrote as much, fast. Some monks or some people are what they call, like a secretary. They have special training, and so they can write very fast. They have to do this training for fast writing, because we don't have recording system.

So after the meditation course, the teaching, Trijang Rinpoche gathered various notes and books, gathered together, put it together, and then he did lots of research and study. And then finally he offered the text, this text, "Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand" to the great Pabongkhapa for proofreading, and the great Pabongkhapa, Pabongkhapa the teacher, approved. And he praised Trijang Rinpoche: how wonderful book, how wonderful text.

And as I mentioned before, when the great Pabongkha gave the teaching, at that time, he used the Fifth Dalai Lama's Lam Rim text, "The Manjushri's Oral Speech." And also the First Panchen Lama's text called "Gelam." The First Panchen Lama was the root guru of the Fifth Dalai Lama. So therefore, I feel this text is very special, because the text is originally based on the commentary by the Fifth Dalai Lama and the First Panchen Lama, and written down by Trijang Rinpoche, who was one of the main guru of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. And I feel very auspicious and I think I feel that this is very important for us to study, because we follow that lineage. And also Trijang Rinpoche is one of my most important guru. He is my root guru, and so I have a very special connection. And I feel very blessed.

So I know some of you had the opportunity to receive teachings from Trijang Rinpoche, some of you met. And those of you haven't met Trijang Rinpoche, I believe that you are blessed by Trijang Rinpoche because you also received teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and Lati Rinpoche, and His Holiness Khalkha Jetsun Dampa, and so forth. All the lamas are one in essence. So I feel strongly that you are also blessed. So by studying this book, it will be very beneficial for us.

Now also I would like to make it clear. I would like to say that we are using this text as a main book, kind of a base of the Lam Rim study. Now this does not mean we are saying that you should not study other Lam Rim books. We are actually encouraging you to study other Lam Rim books. It is very beneficial to study other Lam Rim books, written by various Gelugpa lamas, Kargyu lamas, Sakya lamas, Nyingma lamas and so your knowledge and understanding of Lam Rim becomes very deep. So it is good to study different Lam Rim texts. But at the same time, as a group when we are studying it is important to us to study one text, as a base. Then we can go on and have a dialogue and we can have a debate.

And this Lam Rim book, "Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand" has various examples, very beautiful examples, and so many beautiful stories. Life stories of various yogis and yoginis, and Dharma practitioners, about their realizations. And also about problems, you know, as a human being. Many great yogis and Dharma practitioners and lamas, when they're on the path, they have to struggle. They have many difficulties. As you know, like Milarepa's life story, and so forth. So it is very wonderful for us to read, because it gives us encouragement. It makes us to feel, "Yes, I should study hard, practice hard." Even the great lamas and yogis had to go through such difficult training. But then they achieved the realizations. So it is normal, as a Dharma practitioner, as an ordinary practitioner, as an ordinary person, go up and down, having difficulties, sometimes doubts and skepticism, and crisis on devotion to Dharma, commitment to Dharma, crisis in guru devotion, crisis, some problem with tantric practice. These things are normal, because we are ordinary human being. We are filled with delusions, filled with karma. So it is normal thing, natural thing. But sometimes we don't think this way, sometimes.

So when you read Lam Rim text like this one, and there are so many stories of the yogis and yoginis and teachers. Very encouraging stories. It explains their patience, perseverance, devotion, compassion, love towards all sentient beings. Also this book explains not only the stories and devotion, but also explains logic and reasons, the logic and reasons. And explains how to practice Dharma in everyday life, why do we practice Dharma and why do we study Lam Rim. And there are also many beautiful stories, funny stories. It makes you laugh. Some of the stories of lamas and lay people, and various stories, it makes you laugh. Some of the stories so interesting, and some of them make you cry. And some of these teachings and explanations and stories makes you feel like shivering, shivering. Like when you think about sufferings of all sentient beings. And also when you read the stories of great yogis and realizations makes you feel kind of shivering. And also it makes you feel very fortunate, when you're studying, like the topic "The Precious Human Rebirth" and so forth.

And also these teachings explains and gives you great hope. It makes you feel, "Oh, even though I'm born in the west, and Dharma is new for me, and I haven't studied Dharma for a long time, and sometimes I feel maybe it's too late for me. We're such westerners, so many confusions, so many questions, so many doubts. And I'm not a Tibetan person, I don't have those devotions and faith, and maybe it's not possible for me to have great realizations." But when you're studying this Lam Rim, and this text, when you read those stories about people who studied Dharma, begin to study Dharma when they are sixties, late sixties, seventies, eighties, even nineties, who obtain realizations in such a short time.

It is not always a matter of time, how much you study, how long you study. Sometimes depends on your karma, depends on your karma. And depends on your karmic connection. For example, if you have studied Dharma in the past lives, and meditated, not only Tibetan Buddhism, like other Dharma Buddhism, or other Dharma spirituality, so you already have realizations. So then easy to light the fire of realizations, you already have this pile of wood, kind of like wood. And just easy to start fire.


OnwardOnward to Three Stages, p.4 

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