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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 February 7, 2021 Class
After exchanging greetings with class participants, Geshe-la began the teaching with a calm-abiding meditation preceded by a brief meditation on the breath. He reminded us that when practicing calm-abiding, it is important to not change objects during the meditation session and to use the same object during all subsequent sessions. He used Shakyamuni Buddha as an example of one’s object of focus as it is considered a highly auspicious one. When visualizing one’s object, try to see it at eye level in front of oneself.
Following our meditation practice, Geshe-la continued his previous weeks’ instruction on mind training by reviewing the topics he covered earlier - see Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, Day Seventeen, Outline 344 – 358 (page numbers vary according to the edition of the book). Topics covered were the Preliminary practices, Training in the Two Bodhichittas, Converting Unfortunate Circumstances into the Path to Enlightenment and the Five Powers. He also described in more detail the meaning of ultimate bodhichitta. Geshe-la noted that although it may seem as if he is not moving forward by introducing the next topics in the text, this is intentional. It is essential for us to deepen our understanding of the current subjects and actually apply them to our daily lives as they are the essence of Mahayana Buddhism and possess transformative power if we practice them.
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.