Meditation-based solutions to life’s problems

Kadam Lamrim is a modern presentation of Buddha’s teachings that emphasises their practical application in daily life. All the practices taught at the centre are included within Kadam Lamrim.

Kadam’ is Buddha’s teachings combined with the special instructions for putting them into practice given by the great Buddhist master, Atisha.

Lamrim’ is the systematic presentation of the stages of Buddhist meditation according to the different levels of spiritual capacity. It is also known as ‘the stages of the path.’

Sincere practitioners of Kadam Lamrim are called ‘Kadampas’.

Je Tsongkhapa

Everyone, both Buddhist and non-Buddhist, needs permanent liberation from suffering, and pure and everlasting happiness. This wish will be fulfilled through Lamrim practice; therefore it is the real wishfulfilling jewel.

In general, all Buddha’s teachings, the Dharma, are very precious, but Kadam Dharma or Lamrim is a very special Buddhadharma that is suitable for everyone without exception. The great Master Dromtonpa said, ‘Kadam Dharma is like a mala made of gold.’Just as everyone, even those who do not use a mala (or prayer beads), would be happy to accept a gift of a gold mala because it is made of gold, in a similar way, everyone, even non-Buddhists, can receive benefit from Kadam Dharma. This is because there is no difference between Kadam Dharma and people’s everyday experiences.

Even without studying or listening to Dharma, some people often come to similar conclusions as those explained in Kadam Dharma teachings through looking at newspapers or television and understanding the world situation. This is because Kadam Dharma accords with people’s daily experience; it cannot be separated from daily life.

Everyone needs it to make their lives happy and meaningful, to solve temporarily their human problems, and to enable them ultimately to find pure and everlasting happiness through controlling their anger, attachment, jealousy, and especially ignorance.

In this spiritually degenerate time there are five impurities that are increasing throughout the world: (1) our environment is becoming increasingly impure because of pollution; (2) our water, air and food are becoming increasingly impure, also because of pollution; (3) our body is becoming increasingly impure because sickness and disease are now more prevalent; (4) our mind is becoming increasingly impure because our delusions are getting stronger and stronger; and (5) our actions are becoming increasingly impure because we have no control over our delusions. Because of these five impurities, suffering, problems and dangers are increasing everywhere. However, through Lamrim practice we can transform our experience of all these impurities into the spiritual path that leads us to the pure and everlasting happiness of liberation and enlightenment.

We can use all the difficulties that we see in the world as spiritual teachings that encourage us to develop:

  • Renunciation, the wish to liberate ourself from the cycle of impure life

  • Compassion, the wish that others may be liberated permanently from the cycle of impure life

  • Wisdom realising that all these impurities are the results of our non-virtuous actions

In this way, through Lamrim practice we can transform all adverse conditions into opportunities for developing realizations of the spiritual path that will bring us pure and everlasting happiness.

Whenever Lamrim practitioners experience difficulties and suffering they think, ‘Countless other living beings experience greater suffering and difficulties than I do’, and in this way they develop or increase their compassion for all living beings, which leads them quickly to the supreme happiness of enlightenment.

Kadam Lamrim is the supreme medicine that can permanently cure all the sufferings of sickness, ageing, death and rebirth; it is the scientific method to improve our human nature and qualities, and to solve our daily problems.

Kadam Lamrim is the great mirror of Dharma in which we can see the way things really are; and through which we can see what we should know, what we should abandon, what we should practise and what we should attain. And it is only by using this mirror that we can see the great kindness of all living beings.

The Preciousness of Kadam Lamrim

Atisha wrote the original Kadam Lamrim based on Ornament of Clear Realization by Buddha Maitreya, which is a commentary to the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras that Buddha Shakyamuni taught on Massed Vultures Mountain in Rajagriha, India. Later, Je Tsongkhapa wrote his extensive, middling and condensed Kadam Lamrim texts as commentaries to Atisha’s Kadam Lamrim instructions, and through this the precious Buddhadharma of Kadam Lamrim flourished in many countries in the East and now in the West.

The Kadam Lamrim instructions, the union of Buddha’s teachings and Atisha’s special instructions, are presented in three stages: the instructions on the stages of the path of a person of initial scope; the instructions on the stages of the path of a person of middling scope; and the instructions on the stages of the path of a person of great scope. All Buddha’s teachings, both Sutra and Tantra, are included within these three sets of instructions.

Buddha’s teachings are the supreme medicine that permanently cures both physical sickness and the sickness of delusions. Just as doctors give different medicine for different sicknesses, so Buddha gave different Dharma medicine according to people’s different capacities. He gave simple teachings to those of initial scope, profound teachings to those of middling scope, and very profound teachings to those of great scope. In practice, all these teachings are part of Kadam Lamrim, which is the main body of Buddha’s teachings; there is not a single teaching of Buddha that is not included within Kadam Lamrim.

For this reason, Je Tsongkhapa said that when we listen to the entire Lamrim we are listening to all Buddha’s teachings and when we practise the entire Lamrim we are practising all Buddha’s teachings. Kadam Lamrim is the condensation of all Buddha’s teachings; it is very practical and suitable for everyone and its presentation is superior to other instructions. Through gaining experience of Lamrim we shall understand that none of Buddha’s teachings are contradictory, we shall put all Buddha’s teachings into practice, we shall easily realize Buddha’s ultimate view and intention, and we shall become free from all mistaken views and intentions.

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
Modern Buddhism