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Geshe Tenley continues his teachings on the lam-rim, making use of Pabongka Rinpoche's Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand. The text is the seminal lam-rim text of the 20th century. It is a transcription of a twenty-four day lam-rim teaching given in 1921. Offered as a "practical teaching," it is less scholarly than Je Tsongkhapa's Jangchub Lam-rim Chen-mo or The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment and as such it is the text from which most modern lamas teach lam-rim.
Recently, Geshe-la has been focusing on actualizing the teachings through meditation, and spending a good portion of each class guiding us in specific meditations on the lam-rim topics we have been studying to help us understand what is meant by “meditating on the lam-rim” and show us how we can integrate these meditations into our daily practice. As our teachers repeatedly stress, we will not make progress if we only ingest the teachings intellectually. It is only engaging in the three wisdoms (listening, reflecting and meditating) that we will actually make changes in our minds. Receiving this type of practical guidance from an experienced teacher such as Geshe Tenley is a great blessing, and we are very fortunate to benefit from his guidance.
Summary of January 31, 2021 Class
Geshe Tenley continued his instruction on The Five Powers -- see Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, Day Nineteen, Outline 358 (page numbers vary according to the edition of the book). He led us in meditations on calm-abiding/shamatha, on the breath, and tong-len (giving and taking). In order for our meditations to be most effective, he encouraged us to first review the preliminary topics of Perfect Human Rebirth, the Kindness of the Three Jewels and all mother sentient beings to enhance our determination to take on others’ suffering and give them our happiness.
Geshe-la reminded us how important it is to integrate the Five Powers into our life, so they become more than just words we hear once a week or advice we write in our notebook, but set aside until the next class. Every day we must think about the problems of self-cherishing and make the strong determination to make our lives meaningful by increasing our concern for the welfare of others. If we mentally review these topics every day, we will soon develop familiarity, for as Shantideva wrote, "There is nothing whatsoever that is not made easier through acquaintance."
At the end of the class, Geshe-la summarized of the important points and asked everyone to review and engage in them daily:
1. Think when you wake up: “I am fortunate that I am not sick or dead today”
2. Breathing meditation
3. Calm abiding meditation
4. Think about the Perfect Human Rebirth
5. Think about the kindness of the Three Jewels
6. Think about the kindness of others, how all your happiness is due to them, and on this basis develop a feeling of loving-kindness and compassion
7. Do Tong Len (giving and taking) meditation based on this loving-kindness and compassion
8. Every day, engage in the practice of The Five Powers:
- 1. The Power of Determination (when you wake up in the morning, think “I will not become angry or make others angry today")
- 2. The Power of the White Seed (engaging in virtuous activities/increasing our merit or positive potential)
- 3. The Power of Familiarity (anything is possible with habituation)
- 4. The Power of Repudiation (repudiate the delusions of covetousness, ill will and wrong view - "stand guard with a spear in your hands at the door of your mind")
- 5. The Power of Dedication/Prayer (so that your virtues don’t go to waste)
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 2005 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.