Lama Zopa Rinpoche regularly offers specific practice advice to students who write him. Rinpoche gave this advice about preliminaries and lamrim meditation to a student who had asked for life practices. The following is an excerpt from Rinpoche’s advice, given in October 2016:
What makes your life most meaningful is the lamrim. I suggest the main text for you to use is Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand. If you haven’t studied this text already, then study it from beginning to end, reading through it four times. That itself is lamrim meditation if you read it slowly and relate it to your own life.
As you read, if there’s anything you don’t understand, you can mark the text—not with black ink, but with orange or yellow color. Mark it respectfully, thinking this is the holy Dharma, which has two aspects—one aspect is the realizations and one aspect is the text, the letters, which explain the realizations.
Holy Dharma has two realizations, in case of realizing the absolute Dharma—the cessation of all the obscurations, the sufferings, and the true path to that, which leads to the wisdom directly perceiving emptiness. These two are ultimate Dharma.
When you mark the text, you have to think that you are offering color with respect, like offering to a statue. Otherwise if you are just marking the text with a black line on top of the letter, it creates the negative karma to be born in hell, such as the second hell, called the Black Line Hell. Therefore, it’s important when you mark the text not to do it in a disrespectful manner.
The other thing is that you can buy a notebook and write nicely in that anything you don’t understand. Then you can meet with a geshe or elder student who has studied the lamrim well and you can ask the questions. In this way, you can learn. Or you can telephone and get the answers from someone who has studied the lamrim very well.
Study Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand four times and after that go through the lamrim outline using Liberation as a basis. Cycle through the lamrim outline completely three times.
After that, try to achieve the realization of correctly following the virtuous friend with thought and action, on the basis of the outline in the lamrim. Every day, more or less meditate on that. The time depends on yourself. Do this until you achieve the effortless realization of correctly following the virtuous friend.
After that, do the meditation on the graduated path of the lower capable being, up to karma. Particularly [focus] on the perfect human rebirth. Try to get the realization that your perfect human body is much more precious than skies filled with wish-granting jewels, so you realize the importance.
Even if we have skies filled with wish-granting jewels, that alone can’t help us to be free from the lower realms. That alone can’t help us to be free from samsara, free from lower nirvana, and we can’t achieve buddhahood from wish-granting jewels. With this perfect human body, even if we don’t have a tiny piece of a wish-granting jewel, we can achieve all of this up to enlightenment.
Read the complete advice “The Quickest Way to Achieve Enlightenment” posted in September 2017 by Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive on “Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Online Advice Book”:
Find more from Lama Zopa Rinpoche on lamrim study and practice on FPMT Education Service’s lamrim resources page:
More information, photos and updates about FPMT spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche can be found on Rinpoche’s webpage on FPMT.org. If you’d like to receive news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche and FPMT via email, sign up to FPMT News.