Teachings from The Book of Kadam Part 2, Classes 1 & 2

Teachings from The Book of Kadam Part 2, Classes 1 & 2

Once again, Khen Rinpoche Geshe Tashi Tsering, abbot of Sera Mey monastery, gives a series of classes on a reading from The Book of Kadam, also known as The Miraculous Book of Kadam, attributed to Lama Atisha and Geshe Dromtönpa.  This time he comments on Chapter 6 of The Jewel Garland of DialoguesHow All Blame Lies in a Single Point.

As usual, Geshe Tashi’s style is part scholarly – he brings an exceptional depth of knowledge, experience and wisdom to the material; and a large part down to earth – how we can best apply these teachings to our everyday lives.


In Class 1, Geshe la begins by explaining how the dismaying events in the world right now are the inspiration for his choice of reading. Listening to the news, reading the news, our minds can go in all sorts of wrong directions, he says. In which direction, then, can the mind safely and appropriately go? This is the subject of our reading over the next four classes.

These teachings by Lama Atisha are an intimate, close discussion between a (lay) student and his teacher and as such, the emphasis is on practical matters. The text immediately shows us, for example, the appropriate way to ask a teacher questions.

The entire text is in answer to one of Dromtunpa’s questions:
“In that case, what is the root of bondage.”

With Lama Atisha’s answer, “It is the grasping at self”, we have an explanation for the texts title. Here we have the single point.

Throughout Geshe la brings much needed clarity and detail to the text, explaining, for example, the meaning of “reified” by talking us through the etymology of the Tibetan word “drotakpa”, the extra feathers added to an arrow.


Lama Atisha’s responds to Drom’s question about self-grasping: “This is pervasive in sentient beings. You know this, so what need is there to ask?”. Geshe la helps us to know this too, by encouraging us to look at our own self-grasping, the circumstances under which we might find ourselves pushing into a queue, for example, revealing the self-grasping beneath our polite veneers.


In Class 2, Geshe la expands on the meaning of “self-grasping”. He breaks down reified self-grasping into three stages, and explains the wonderfully apt Tibetan saying given here by Lama Atisha as a reply to Drom’s question, “What is one’s own mental continuum?”

The Tibetan is migö gu gö, literally means: “what we don’t need, need 9 things.” This is the experience of our mind’s self-grasping: what we don’t need, we want it all!


Geshe la guides us through the very difficult fine line here between denying the existence of a non-existent self and an existent self. So much of this exchange between a Buddhist master and an advanced student is in a knowing, intimate kind of shorthand. Reading it through by ourselves, we may well get lost, it is easy to slip into nihilism here. Geshe la goes to great lengths to patiently and carefully guide us along this high, slippery path.


These are wonderful, friendly and intimate teaching from our own teacher, who, as Abbot, has so many demands on his time We are so lucky!


With best wishes,


The Admin Team


You can find details of upcoming classes as well as the text available for download here.




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