El·e·na [el-uh-nuh, uh-ley-nuh; It. e-le-nah] /ˈɛlənə, əˈleɪnə; It. ɛˈlɛnɑ/ –noun a female given name, form of Helen // A proud student of His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche // Personal assistant with a BSc (Hons) Psych from Uni of Warwick // These are snapshots of my life, in words and pictures

Lessons from the Lamrim: Part 1

February 27, 2021 0


It’s been an age and a half since I last posted here! Lots has happened since, most of it lockdown-related and since we’ve all heard way too much of that in the last year…let’s skip right past that, shall we? :)

So what’s been happening more recently? Well, for a start, I’ve been teaching a Lamrim class for the last five weeks. We are just getting to Day 4 and as part of the class, we have a WhatsApp group thread so that the students can ask questions. They are questions that we didn’t have a chance to cover in the two-hour class that takes place every Sunday (on Google Meet for now!).

Some of the questions are very good and have been asked by people who have clearly given some thought about what is in Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand. So I thought why not reproduce some of the answers here so that hopefully, more people can benefit?

I’ll post up the Q&As here whenever they come in. Do bear in mind that the answers here are also given in the context of material already covered during class and so might not be as complete as they could be. If you’ve ever got any questions or need anything clarified or elaborated upon, please feel free to ask me and I’ll do what I can to answer them! Hope you’re all enjoying 2021 so far :)


Dear pastors🙏🏻, pg 18 (…with all favorable conditions, we cannot achieve Buddhahood, it is certain that in the future life we will not gain any better rebirth or dharma), please elaborate 🙏🏻thanks.


In the entire context of the sentence – everything right now is perfect for us to gain Buddhahood. We have a guru, there are still qualified teachers, we have practices, we have a perfect and pure lineage that’s still potent with blessings. We got a human body to receive Dharma, to sit in meditation and so on.

If we don’t even try now when we have our perfect conditions, then we will definitely not create the causes to have things like a better rebirth or Dharma in the future.


If one wishes to emulate the Great Atisha in terms of proficiencies and attributes prior to attaining bodhichitta, including but not limited to sacrifices (giving up the throne and comfortable life ), persistence, perseverance, discipline, an erudite in all faculties and an ordained monk with extraordinary qualities, this seems like a tall order for a layperson like myself, even with deep motivation and reasonable commitment.

Similarly, I have nothing but true admiration and in awe of his greatness, however in contrast I’m beginning to wonder if bodchitta is attainable in this life time.

The antidote might just be, if I could relate to ordinary sentient beings who have attained liberation and bodichitta upon studying and practicing the lamrin (renunciation, bodichitta and the correct view of emptiness) in one lifetime.

Thanks a million 🙏🏻.


I’m not sure what your question really is so I’m just going to comment on the message and hope it benefits. My apologies if I got it wrong 🙏🏼

Why is it we excel in some things over others? Because we prioritise those things. It’s not good or bad; we’re just doing what we were habituated into doing. For example, some people are very determined to become a millionaire by the time they are 25. They will work very hard, cut down drastically on sleep, push their brains creatively, try and get insider information, cancel all their social appointments, miss people’s birthdays, etc. just to make sure they attain the goal.

When we think about that, it’s easier to see we already have the qualities like determination and perseverance within us, as demonstrated by our commitment to succeed in certain things within our life. (Rinpoche always advised us that whilst external inspirations are helpful, we can also look inwards.)

The question is why we direct those energies towards the attainment of one goal over another. VERY HYPOTHETICALLY SPEAKING – if someone asks you to move to Bentong after MCO, to devote more time to practise, could you do it? Alternatively, if someone asked you to move to, let’s say, Belgium to work and they will pay you quadruple, would you go? (Not good or bad, no judgement, no pressure, nothing. Just a chance for you to do a little meditation)

It’s a case of redirecting our energies towards new goals and learning to keep it steady. Hence what really “separates” Atisha and such from the rest of us, is their CONSTANT perseverance towards the goal of practice. They created that steadiness over lifetimes whilst we are still in the process of doing so; the process can be hastened if we are determined. Is it possible? Yes – I have seen people switch literally overnight, from being very wishy-washy one moment, to something fruitioning in their minds that they suddenly become very determined to do Dharma.

And if we are incredibly determined, as many lay and ordinary practitioners have shown us is possible, then we can attain enlightenment in this lifetime. Bodhicitta and enlightenment are definitely attainable in one lifetime. The Buddha has promised us this, as have many other masters in the succeeding years. There are plenty of “ordinary” monks in the monastery who have demonstrated that it is possible, even in this day and age. Rinpoche talked about monks who achieved realisation of emptiness on the debate grounds in the monastery. Rinpoche also talked about an example of when he was in India, and asked a monk why he’s always bright and happy. The monk said all he does is recite Migtsema (the mantra of Lama Tsongkhapa).

There is another example of a seemingly ordinary monk who passed away in Tibet in 2018 (if I’m not wrong). Everyone thought he was just a nice monk meditating in retreat. When he died in his cave, locals reported flowers raining down from the sky, rainbow lights streaming from his cave and so on. There are also older ladies who do their Vajra Yogini practice every single day, and have done so for 60 over years and if you look at them, they are very, very different. So there are plenty of examples which you may not yet

Take the Lamrim teachings to heart and realise that it’s a step-by-step process (literally stages on the path!). You’re on Day 2, there’s still 22 more days to go and there is a reason why Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche didn’t overload us with instructions on how to achieve bodhicitta yet.

Hope that helps.

Reflections and Teachings

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