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Jetsun Chokyi Gyaltsen's Necklace of Learned Explanations:Presentation of Grounds and Paths is like a map that shows us how to reach some place. The text we’ll be studying is a short map of how to reach enlightenment.
What do we mean when we say “grounds and paths?” The ground is like the earth upon which we live, build houses and so forth. The paths are the routes we travel to get to wherever we’re going. Like Interstates 93 or 95, which go to different places, are based on the earth, the paths in this teaching are based on the grounds. In this context, “grounds and paths” refers to the practice in the continuum of the practitioners, or yogis.
The ground within the continuum of the practitioner as defined here is a genuine wish to be free from cyclic existence - a wish that is present continuously, not just from time to time. Continually, day and night, there is the strong wish to be free from cyclic existence. This kind of wish is the ground. This is the general definition of ground.
When we talk of paths, there are many kinds - the paths of the hearer, the solitary realizer and the Mahayana practitioner. In other words, the path depends on the kind of thought you have on top of the ground; the type of thought conjoined with the ground.
This teaching is an explanation of the paths of the Hearer, the Solitary Realizer, and the Bodhisattva. For each of these three vehicles it explains the way of entering the path, the obscurations to be abandoned, and the realizations to be attained on the levels of the path. It also specifies which defilements are abandoned by which ground. The purpose of this text is to show us the paths we need to follow in order to gain higher levels of realization. When we know this text well, it will be like being fully acquainted with a map of a certain district - we can go anywhere and we will always know where we are.
Geshe Tenley is the Resident Teacher at Kurukulla Center for Tibetan Buddhist Studies in Boston. He was ordained by the late Gyume Khensur Geshe Urgyen Tseten Rinpoche in 1990 and began the program of studies to become a geshe at Sera Jey Monastic University. During the course of his studies, he has received many teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama as well as many other highly qualified masters. In 1998, he received his full ordination (gelong) vows from His Holiness and received his geshe degree in 2008. He began teaching at Kurukulla Center in 2009 and was appointed the Resident Teacher by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in 2010. Geshe Tenley is well-known for his approachability and kindheartedness. His extensive activities in the US and around the world bring great joy and benefit to everyone he meets.