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The Lamrim ( Tib .: “Lam” means path; “Rim” means steps) is a teaching presentation and form of practice of Tibetan Buddhism with a 1000-year-old tradition, which, through concrete instructions, is a guide to the gradual perfecting of the path to enlightenment. The Lam Rim goes back to a writing by the Indian Buddhist master Atisha .


The first Lamrim text "The lamp on the path to enlightenment" was the masterpiece of the Indian Buddhist master Atisha, who wrote it for the Tibetans after his arrival in Tibet and was later greatly appreciated by the Indian panditas (scholars) of his monastery Vikramashila .

Later the Lamrim was integrated into the Karma Kagyu School by Gampopa and is known as the script “ Jewelery of Liberation ”.

The founder of the Gelug School Tsongkhapa wrote three Lamrim texts: a long one, known as the Great Explanation of the Steps on the Path to Enlightenment (Tib .: Lam Rim Chen Mo), which is approx. 1000 pages long, and a shorter one of approx. 200 pages and a short summary (Tib .: Lamrim Düdon) of approx. 10 pages, which in the Gelug tradition is usually recited daily.

The most important lamrim of the Nyingma school comes from Patrul Rinpoche and is called The Words of My Perfect Teacher .

Atisha's Lamrim Text

Atisha's “lamp on the path to enlightenment” begins with the homage to the Bodhisattva Manjushri , the bow to the three jewels - Buddha , Dharma and Sangha - and the declaration of intent to write the text for Jangchub Ö (verse 1).

In verse 2 Atisha summarizes beings into three groups according to their spiritual ability:

  1. People with the least ability
  2. Medium-skilled people
  3. Highly qualified persons

The least able are those who, by all means, seek nothing more than the joys of samsara . The intermediate person is those who seek peace for themselves, turn away from worldly joys and avoid harmful actions. Individuals of the highest ability are those who, because of their own suffering, truly want to completely overcome all the suffering of others.

(Verses 3–6 of the original text)

The original text of Atisha then continues with producing and training the mind of enlightenment ( skt .: Bodhicitta ) (verses 7-18), taking the bodhisattva vows (verses 19-39) and how to develop higher knowledge through concentration and wisdom ( Verses 34-59). It ends with the presentation of Vajrayana (verses 60-68).


Traditionally, certain constructive explanations are given for each level. For people with the least ability e.g. B. Teachings on precious human life, death and impermanence, refuge and karma . Thereby the mind turns to the teachings and overcomes the fixation and attachment to this life. Good human rebirth is to be achieved by doing good actions and not doing harmful ones.

Those of intermediate ability receive teachings on the disadvantages of cyclical existence, the twelve links of interdependent arising, ethics ( pratimoksha ), focus, and wisdom (known as the three higher trainings). This is to develop disgust for samsara and the turning away from its transitory pleasures (renunciation) and to create the causes for the attainment of liberation ( nirvana ).

People of the highest qualifications receive explanations of how they develop the spirit of enlightenment ( bodhicitta ) and on its basis practice the six perfections ( paramitas ) in order to follow the path of a bodhisattva to full enlightenment (Buddhahood) - for the benefit of all living beings.

Finally, Vajrayana (Tantra) is presented as a fast but also dangerous path for those with extraordinary abilities.

The structure of the Lamrim texts is different and can be found in all four Tibetan traditions. Gampopa's text begins with the demonstration of Buddha nature (Tathagatagarbha), then precious human life, etc. Tsongkhapa, on the other hand, begins his explanations with trust in the teacher and then follows with explanations about precious human life.




  • Geshe Sonam Rinchen: Atisha's Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment.
  • Tsong-Kha-Pa, Snow Lion: The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path of Enlightenment. Vol. 1-3.

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