This material is from teachings given by the Dalai Lama at the main Tibetan Buddhist temple in Dharamsala, India, in the spring of 1998. The focus is upon the system of meditation known as Lamrim, stages of the path to enlightenment, begun in the eleventh century by Atisha and refined by successive generations of Tibetan meditators. The Dalai Lama explains the preparatory practices, such as creating a conducive environment and preparing the mind, and then gives the main Lamrim meditations on reliance upon a spiritual teacher and recognizing the human potential. He unravels the multidimensional layers of this practice for trainees of initial capacity, of middling capacity, and of great capacity.
"We should rejoice in our fortune of having the precious chance, as humans, to practice altruism, a practice that I personally believe is the highest fulfillment of human value," writes the Dalai Lama. The Tibetan term for bodhicitta, sem kye, means "to enhance one's courage and mental attitude." It takes great courage and perseverance to practice putting others before self. This spiritual virtue is enhanced by the four immeasurables: love, compassion, joy, and equanimity.
According to the Dalai Lama, a kind heart and compassion are the real sources of peace and happiness. Working for the welfare of all other beings brings inner riches. In one of the most helpful sections, the Dalai Lama explains the six perfections and the four ripening factors. In Appendix II are lists of 46 secondary infractions — the seven downfalls related to generosity, the four downfalls to patience, etc. What comes across here are the psychological insights of Tibetan Buddhism and the nuances in its appreciation of ethical behavior. These teachings on the training of the mind and the transformative path of altruism are subtle and engaging.