Path in Stages

Nicholas Weeks

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Many ways in Southern or Northern Buddhism to arrange Buddha's teachings into steps or stages. The Tibetans are fond of Lam Rim method as given in the book Lamrim Year. Here are parts of the 365 daily practices following the steps that Je Tsongkhapa & his lineage use:

The lamrim is the main road, the direct highway to enlightenment —Lama Zopa Rinpoche

The full responsibility of each of us is to free every sentient being from
suffering and its cause and bring them to enlightenment, by ourselves alone.
In order to do this, we first need to attain enlightenment ourselves; we need to
achieve the omniscient mind that sees all sentient beings directly. Then we can
read sentient beings’ individual minds, see all their characteristics, levels of mind
and karma, and know all the methods that will suit even one sentient being’s
mind to lead that being from happiness to happiness to full enlightenment.

To reach enlightenment ourselves, we need to actualize the path, which
doesn’t happen without cause and conditions. That is, we need to actualize the
steps of the path to enlightenment, to follow the graduated path to enlightenment,
the lamrim. That’s the only way to complete the path. And to bring
realizations, the steps of the path have to be practiced in the right order. By just
meditating on the bits we like and avoiding the bits we don’t—like the sufferings
of the three lower realms, impermanence and death, and the suffering nature
of samsara and life—by not thinking about or meditating on what we feel to be
unpleasant, not putting these teachings into practice, and focusing only on the
parts that sound good, we can’t really achieve any realizations.
 

Cino

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Many ways in Southern or Northern Buddhism to arrange Buddha's teachings into steps or stages.

It's also a good motivational technique :)

Also, thanks for the reminder, I still have the 10-Grounds-Sutra reading project going on here on the forums.

By just meditating on the bits we like and avoiding the bits we don’t—like the sufferings
of the three lower realms, impermanence and death, and the suffering nature
of samsara and life—by not thinking about or meditating on what we feel to be
unpleasant, not putting these teachings into practice, and focusing only on the
parts that sound good, we can’t really achieve any realizations.

Nice!

There is also a kind of "stages" teaching in Theravada Buddhism about the four noble truths in Buddhism: each of them comes with three "tasks". The tasks for the first noble truth, the truth of suffering, are: 1. "This is the truth of suffering" (aspects of this: this is the reality of suffering, this is what suffering is truly like, etc), 2. "The truth of suffering has to be understood completely", and 3. "The truth of suffering has been understood completely". It's all a bit formulaic and terse, as is the style of Theravada scripture, but I feel the Lamrim teaching of the Lama you quote expresses a similar aim.
 

Thomas

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As an aside, when I practiced Japanese swordsmanship, there were two schools, the 'advance by stages' school and the 'show everything', and we, of course, tended to do a bit of both.

What I saw of the 'show all' school was that you 'got it' according to where you were at. And people being the messy, organic things they are, you found you could do a technically complex okuden technique with credit, while stumble and fumble with one of the most basic, easy-peasy, first forms you learned.
 

stranger

the divine ignorance (and friends)
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As an aside, when I practiced Japanese swordsmanship, there were two schools, the 'advance by stages' school and the 'show everything', and we, of course, tended to do a bit of both.

What I saw of the 'show all' school was that you 'got it' according to where you were at. And people being the messy, organic things they are, you found you could do a technically complex okuden technique with credit, while stumble and fumble with one of the most basic, easy-peasy, first forms you learned.

Too true, friend. Experience is the great teacher, but the first form fumbles must be admitted and accepted as a constant threat to our progress. Like some of the work vehicles I have had to operate in the past, I roll on maypops. Never know when one of them is going to blow but we hope against hope that it will not happen before we reach our destination. :(
 

Nicholas Weeks

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Within Tibetan Buddhism the sequence of analytical meditations is similar to this one, from this 1983 translation:

“Part One: Basics
1Meditation 1: Guru Devotion (97–139)
2Meditation 2: The Opportune, Fortunate Rebirth (140–176)
Part Two: Path of the Inferior Person
3Meditation 3: Death (177–209)
4Meditation 4: The Sufferings of the Realms of Woe (210–238)
5Meditation 5: The Practice of Taking Refuge (239–252)
6Meditation 6: How to Generate Confidence in the Laws of Actions and Results (253–264)
Part Three: Path of the Intermediate Person
7Meditation 7: The Sufferings of the Happier Realms and the General Sufferings of Samsara (265–296)
8Meditation 8: How to Think about the Process of Functioning of Samsara, and Practise the Path to Liberation (297–304)
Part Four: Path of the Superior Person
9Meditation 9: The Development of Bodhicitta (305–366)
10Meditation 10: How to Train in the Six Perfections (367–382)
11Meditation 11: How to Train in the Four Means of Attraction (383–384)
12Meditation 12: How to Meditate on Quietude (385–393)
13Meditation 13: How to Meditate on Insight (394–423)
14Meditation 14: How to Enter the Adamantine Vehicle (424–425)”

From Geshe Rabten, The Essential Nectar.
 

Nicholas Weeks

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This large Library of Tibetan Classics volume from 2015 give three texts with distinctions, but no critical differences:

Stages of the Buddha’s Teachings: Three Key Texts by Dölpa, Gampopa, and Sakya Paṇḍita
 
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