Lamrim: The Stages of the Buddhist Path

In general, any virtuous object can be used as an object of meditation. If we discover that by acquainting our mind with a particular object our mind becomes more peaceful and virtuous, this indicates that for us that object is virtuous. If the opposite happens, for us it is a non-virtuous object. Many objects are neutral and have no particular positive or negative effect on our mind.

Lamrim Meditation: Beyond Breathing Meditation

There are many different virtuous objects of meditation. By relying upon a qualified Spiritual Guide we open the door to practising Dharma. Through the blessings of our Spiritual Guide we generate faith and confidence in our practice, and easily attain all the realizations of the stages of the path. For these reasons we need to meditate on relying upon a Spiritual Guide. We need to meditate on our precious human life to realize that we now have a special opportunity to practise Dharma. If we appreciate the great potential of this life we shall not waste it by engaging in meaningless activities.

If we appreciate the great potential of this life we shall not waste it

We need to meditate on death and impermanence to overcome procrastination, and to ensure that our Dharma practice is pure by overcoming our preoccupation with worldly concerns. If we practise Dharma purely it is not very difficult to attain realizations. By meditating on the danger of lower rebirth, taking refuge sincerely, and avoiding non-virtue and practising virtue, we protect ourself from taking lower rebirth and ensure that life after life we shall obtain a precious human rebirth endowed with all the conditions conducive to the practice of Dharma.

We need to meditate on the sufferings of humans and gods so that we develop a spontaneous wish to attain permanent liberation, or nirvana. This wish, known as `renunciation’, strongly encourages us to complete the practice of the spiritual paths, which are the actual methods for attaining full liberation.

We need to meditate on love, compassion . . . towards all living beings

We need to meditate on love, compassion, and bodhichitta so that we can overcome our self-cherishing and develop and maintain a good heart towards all living beings. With this good heart we need to meditate on tranquil abiding and superior seeing so that we can eradicate our ignorance and finally become a Buddha by abandoning the two types of obstruction.

The 21 Meditations on the Stages of the Path (Lamrim)


1 Our Precious Human Life

2 Death and Impermanence

3 The Danger of Lower Rebirth

4 Refuge Practice

5 Actions and their Effects


6 Developing Renunciation for Samsara


7 Developing Equanimity

8 Recognizing that all Living Beings are our Mothers

9 Remembering the Kindness of Living Beings

10 Equalizing Self and Others

11 The Disadvantages of Self-cherishing

12 The Advantages of Cherishing Others

13 Exchanging Self with Others

14 Great Compassion

15 Taking

16 Wishing Love

17 Giving

18 Bodhichitta

19 Tranquil Abiding

20 Superior Seeing

21 Relying Upon a Spiritual Guide

Concluding advice on Lamrim meditation

Lamrim instructions are not given merely for the sake of intellectual understanding of the path to enlightenment. They are given to help us to gain deep experience, and should therefore be put into practice. If we train our mind in these meditations every day, eventually we shall gain perfect realizations of all the stages of the path. Until we have reached this stage we should not tire of listening to oral teachings on Lamrim or reading authentic Lamrim commentaries, and then contemplating and meditating on these instructions. We need continually to expand our understanding of these essential topics and to use this new understanding to enhance our regular meditation.