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The Non, the One, and the Many.


Introduction to Lamrim

Page Contents.

  1. What is Lamrim Meditation?
  2. There are two types of meditation.
  3. The 21 Lamrim Meditations
  4. How to Meditate (the three scopes)
  5. The five parts of the meditation practices
  6. Summary


What is Lamrim Meditation?

Meditation is a method for acquainting our mind with virtue. The more familiar our mind is with virtue, the calmer and more peaceful it becomes. When our mind is peaceful we are free from worries and mental discomfort, and we experience true happiness.

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There are two types of meditation:

  1. Analytical Meditation: When we contemplate the meaning of a Dharma instruction we have heard or read we are doing analytical meditation. By deeply contemplating the instruction, eventually we reach a conclusion or cause a specific virtuous state of mind to arise. This is the object of placement meditation.
  2. Placement Meditation: Having found our object of placement meditation, we then concentrate on it single-pointedly for as long as possible to become deeply acquainted with it. This meditation depends upon contemplation depends upon listening to or reading Dharma instructions.

Often, analytical meditation is called simple 'contemplation' and placement meditation simply 'meditation'.

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The 21 Lamrim Meditations

The first seven meditations function principally to help us to develop renunciation, the determination to escape from samsara.

The next twelve meditations help us to cultivate heartfelt love and compassion for all loving beings, and lead us to the realization that we can liverate others from samsata only by attaining enlightenment first.

The principle obstacle that prevents us from attaining liberation and enlightenment is self-grasping, a deeply ingrained misconception of the way things exist.

The main function of the last two meditations is to counter, and eventually to eradicate, this misconception.

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How to Meditate.

According to the Lamrim instructions, we can engage in a meditation practice with any one of three levels of motivation.

  1. Initial Scope: The motivation of the initial scope, is practising with the intention to protect ourself from the danger of taking lower rebirth by ensuring that in future lives we obtain a precious human rebirth endowed with all the conditions necessary for the practice of Dharma.
  2. Intermediate Scope: The motivation of the intermediate scope, is practising with the intention to protect ourself from any kind of uncontrolled rebirth by attaining liberation from samsara.
  3. Great Scope: The motivation of the great scope, is practising with the intention to attain full enlightenment or Buddhahood so that we can benefit all living beings.

These three levels of motivation are progressive. By engaging in meditation practices with the motivation of the initial scope we lay the foundation for advancing to the second level, and by engaging in meditation practices with the motivation of the intermediate scope we lay the foundation for advancing to the third level.

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Each of the twenty-one meditation practices has five parts:

  1. Preparation.
  2. Contemplation.
  3. Meditation.
  4. Dedication.
  5. Subsequent Practice.


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The preparatory practices prepare our mind for successful meditation by purifying hindrances caused by our previous negative actions, empowering our mind with merit, and inspiring it with the blessings of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. These preparatory practices are performed at beginning of each meditation session in conjunction with the short prayers found in the following chapter. It is useful to memorize these prayers.

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The second part of each practice is contemplation. The purpose of contemplation is to bring to mind the object of placement meditation. We do this by considering various lines of reasoning, contemplating analogies, and reflecting on the scriptures. When through our contemplation the object appears clearly, we leave our analytical meditation and concentrate on the object single-pointedly. This single-pointed concentaration is the third part, the actual meditation.

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When we first start to meditate our concentration is poor, we are easily distracted and often lose our object of mediation. Therefore, to begin with we shall probably need to alternate between contemplation and placement many times in each session.

Both contemplation and meditation serve to acquaint our mind with virtuous objects. The more familiar we are with such objects, the more peaceful our mind becomes. More detailed instructions on the contemplations and on meditation in general can be found in The Meditation Handbook ,Introduction to Buddhism, Joyful Path of Good Fortune, and Universal Compassion.

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The fourth part of each practice is dedication. Dedication directs the merit produced by our meditation towards the attainment of Buddhahood. If merit is not dedicated it can easily be destroyed by anger. By reciting the dedication prayers sincerely at the end of each meditation session we ensure that the merit we created by meditation is not wasted but acts as a cause for enlightenment.

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Subsequent Practice

The fifth part of each meditation practice is the subsequent practice. This consists of advice on how to integrate the miditation into our daily lives. It is important to remember that Dharma practice is not confined to our activities during the meditation session; it should permeate our whole life. We should not allow a gulf to develop between our meditation and our daily life, because the success of our meditation depends upon the purity of our condict outside the meditation session. We should keep a watch over our mind at all times by applying mindfulness, alertness, and conscientiousness; and we should try to abandon whatever bad habits we may have. Deep experience of Dharma is the result of practical training over a long period of time, both in and out of meditation. Therefore we should practise steadily and gently, withou being in a hurry to see results.

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To summarize, our mind is like a field. Engaging in the preparatory practices is like preparing a field by removing obstacles caused by past negative actions, making it fertile with merit, and watering it with the blessings of the holy beings. Contemplation and meditation are like sowing good seeds, and dedication and subsequent practice are the methids for ripening our harvest of Dharma realizations.

If we genuinely wish to gain experience of the stages of the path we should try to meditate every day. In this way we can complete the whole cycle in twenty one days. Then we can begin again. Between sessions we should try to remain mindful of the instructions on subsequent practice. Occasionally, when we have the opportunity, we should do a retreat on Lamrim. By practising like this, we use our whole life to further our experience of the stages of the path.

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The Joyful Path of Good Fortune, Author, pp.. Press., Country, Date.