Teachings from The Book of Kadam Part 2, Classes 3 & 4

Teachings from The Book of Kadam Part 2, Classes 3 & 4


 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 3, Geshe la begins with some uplifting words about the opportunities of our current life, holding as we do, this text in our hands. Not only do we have great potential to change for the better, we also benefit from the lights shone by the great teachers of the past. The light guiding us here shines on the very root of our unhappiness, the very root of all our problems: our grasping to “self”.

Geshe la reminds us that in our previous classes we looked at how we can recognise this grasping to self. How do we find it, where does this “self” reside?

In this class we look at the delusional aspect of self grasping. We are like hungry dogs who bark at an empty food container.  Lama Atisha says to Drom, “Our mindstream is greatly perturbed with no ground at all.” Not because of the presence of the object of grasping (the container, the exaggerated self), instead because of the presence of our distorted mind (the hunger).

In order to help us see this exaggeration, Geshe la explains how the text now follows a pattern established in the Heart Sutra. Lama Atisha takes us through the emptiness of the five material senses and their objects, and then the sixth sense, the mind and its objects. But here we shouldn’t go too far and conflate our existence with an exaggerated self. One exists, the other doesn’t. What about the higher and lower realms, what about the good qualities of a teacher, what about “ethical norms”, do these exist?

Here Geshe la makes an extremely important concluding point. We will only understand what is exaggerated, he says, through our own analysis.


In Class 4, Geshe la again begins with a very helpful recap. What is self-grasping? On what basis does self-grasping arise? How does self-grasping hold on, what does it hold on to? He encourages us to keeping looking out for ourselves, to look carefully whenever we do the equivalent of stub our toe, or stand on the edge of a high place, whatever that “cliff edge” might be for us.

We are a self, we do exist, he says. It is because of our selfhood that we can express love and compassion. Geshe la then takes us straight to the highest understanding of self according to Madhyamaka Prasangika, explaining what the “mere” is in the “mere I”?


Elaborating on the last class, Geshe la cites Master Vasubhandu to explain why Lord Buddha often began his teachings on self by going through the five (or six) sense objects. It is because in this desire realm we are so caught up in them. We either want to attract them or reject them. So if we want to make a fundamental change, he says, this is where we must start.

As for the mind, the sixth sense consciousness, Lama Atisha explains that “fabrications of conceptualisation can appear too”. To see reality as it is, Geshe la says, the main obstacle is our conceptual mind. 

When Lama Atisha admonishes Geshe Dromtunpa: “So you should not add meaningless branches and leaves [onto a non-existent tree]”, what is this non-existent tree? Geshe la explains that it is the conceptual thought, the belief, that the “I” exists in its own right.


During the Q&A session at the end of the weekend, Geshe la left us with the happy prospect of another series of classes in 2024, this time on recalling the Three Jewels.


Until then, your Admin Team would like to wish you a very happy 2024!


Thank you for your attendance, thank you for your generosity, thank you all!


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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