The Easy Path: Illuminating the First Panchen Lama's Secret Instructions

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9780861716784: The Easy Path: Illuminating the First Panchen Lama's Secret Instructions

The First Panchen Lama's Easy Path (de lam), written nearly four hundred years ago, is like a chest of jewels that has, until now, been locked to English speakers. This translation, with Gyumed Khensur Lobsang Jampa's commentary, unlocks that chest and holds each jewel up to the sunlight to reveal its great beauty and value.

A number of books in the past have explained how to meditate on the stages of the path, but Geshe Lobsang Jampa's volume is unique in showing the reader how to integrate visualizations from highest yoga tantra, guru yoga, and the instructions of the oral tradition within the contemplations of every single stage. From the initial meditations on the precariousness and immense value of human existence, through the contemplations of how we perpetuate the cycle of suffering, to the highest teachings on the practice of universal compassion and the empty nature of phenomena, The Easy Path leads practitioners step by step through the journey to enlightenment.

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About the Author:

As one of the last generation of Tibetan Buddhist scholars to begin their educational careers in Tibet prior to the Chinese invasion, Gyumed Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Jampa has played an instrumental role in the reestablishment and preservation of Tibetan Buddhist traditions in exile, and in the spread of Tibetan Buddhism to the Western world. Highly regarded for his scholarship and depth of religious practice, Rinpoche teaches frequently in New York, Washington D.C., and at Do Ngak Kunphen Ling (DNKL), a Tibetan Buddhist center in Connecticut, where he hosted a visit from the Dalai Lama in 2012. He is abbot emeritus of Gyumed Tantric College, head of Mey College's Thewo regional house at Sera Monastery-one of the largest Tibetan monasteries in exile-and Spiritual Director of DNKL where he resides.

Lorne Ladner, PhD, is a clinical psychologist in private practice in the suburbs of Washington DC, where he also directs and teaches at the Guhyasamaja Buddhist Center. Dr. Ladner has produced a training video on Mindful Therapy and provides workshops on the psychology of positive emotions, the integration of meditation and sychotherapy, and on Buddhist psychology. He is the author of The Lost Art of Compassion: Discovering the Practice of Happiness in the Meeting of Buddhism and Psychology (HarperOne 2004).

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

From the Introduction
What to Do Between Meditation Sessions


Our last general point is what to do between meditation sessions. This is a very important topic because “between meditation sessions” includes most of your life. This includes your time spent eating, sleeping, walking, driving, working and so forth. Of course, usually we don’t meditate much and so most of our time is spent between sessions. Therefore, post meditation time is more important for your spiritual practice than the actual meditation sessions are! Also, how you handle your life between sessions determines your success in meditation itself. So, I want to explain in some detail how to keep your mind positive between sessions, to illustrate how to make your meditation support your daily life and how to make your daily life support your meditation.

In one sense, meditation is like studying in a class and mindfulness between sessions is like doing your homework. You must work at both to succeed. Of course, if you’re with your guru, then you can offer service to him or her between sessions. And, it’s also very good to engage in extensive preliminary practices such as making offerings between sessions. When you’re focusing in your meditation practice on a particular topic from the stages of the path, it’s good between sessions to read books related to that topic.

But, many people are quite busy and so don’t usually spend most of their time meditating or reading. Therefore, I’d like to share some very profound advice for busy people! During the Buddha’s time, King Prasenajit was extremely busy working for his kingdom, so he went to the Buddha to ask for advice regarding how to practice Dharma in that context. The Buddha gave him three instructions: generate bodhichitta, rejoice, and dedicate. This instruction from the Buddha is also very excellent for your practice during daily life!

It’s a mistake to think that generating bodhichitta is only for formal meditation sessions. While it’s difficult to gain the uncontrived realization of bodhichitta, it’s quite easy to generate bodhichitta motivation any place and any time. Doing so doesn’t require entering a retreat or gaining single-pointed concentration. All you have to do is develop a clear intention to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings. Practitioners of the past would set this sort of motivation when they went out from home in the morning, thinking that all their activities outside that day were motivated toward attaining enlightenment for all sentient beings. Then when they came home they’d generate that same intention. And, when walking or eating again you can think that you’re doing that for the benefit of all sentient beings. Even in the restroom you can generate that kind of intention! Generating bodhichitta is very powerful; it makes whatever you’re doing into a Dharma practice and a cause of your enlightenment. So, this is an excellent and easy practice that you can totally integrate into your daily life. Particularly when we’re interacting with others, it’s easy to make mistakes, harming others or engaging in negative actions. So, again at those times generating bodhichitta is an excellent protection.

The second practice advised by the Buddha for busy people is rejoicing. Rejoicing is also a very important practice that you can do any time, anywhere. Gungtang Rinpoche said that rejoicing is a method for accumulating great merits even while you’re lying down to rest. Ordinarily when lying around, you may find yourself worrying about work or craving for objects of your attachment. This is of no spiritual benefit and even on a worldly level, not getting what you want causes you suffering and even getting what you want may not bring happiness to your life! So, it’s much more beneficial to stop thinking such thoughts and to turn your mind to rejoicing. Rejoicing makes you happy while you’re practicing it and also generates a great deal of good karma which will follow you into your future lives. Also, rejoicing in other’s good actions and their results is a powerful antidote to jealousy, which otherwise can cause much suffering. And, there’s so much that you can rejoice in! You can think joyfully about the marvelous deeds of the buddhas that led them to enlightenment and also their constantly helping other beings as buddhas. Then you can joyfully think of bodhisattvas who are practicing the six perfections. And you can similarly think of the actions of hearers and solitary realizers. Sometimes, Mahayana practitioners think of them as lower beings, but actually their activities are similar to those of the buddhas. Their equanimity is so profound that if someone applied scented water to one part of their body and someone else chopped off another part of their body they wouldn’t discriminate preferring the one being over the other. Their qualities are inconceivable like a golden mountain. And then you can think of your own good actions and of those of other ordinary persons. You can think joyfully of everything from great deeds of compassion down to giving a bit of food to others. Really, there’s no end to things worthy of rejoicing. So, having thought extensively of how amazing and wonderful others’ good actions are, you can then pray: may I be able to do as they have done! Finally, having generated bodhichitta and having rejoiced, you’ll have created lots of good karma. So, then you must engage in the third practice advised by the Buddha, dedicating that merit for great purposes. We’ll look at some other advice on how to train between meditation sessions when we come to the instructions on this subject in Easy Path.

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