We found a very good article in the following (French 🙂 ! )blog with a clear explanation of the Lamrim path : http://bouddhismedanslaude.over-blog.com/
Below is our translation in English :
Lamrim is a Tibetan term referring to the gradual steps towards enlightenment. It is based on the teachings of the Buddha and offers a coherent rational, functional and progressive system.
The Indian saint and scholar Atisha, who had been invited to Tibet to help restore Buddhism in a time of decline, was the first to compose this type of text bringing together all the aspects of the path towards enlightenment in a condensed form. His text, The lamp for the Path (Sanskrit : Bodhipathapradipa), served as a foundation three centuries later for Lama Tsong Khapa’s major piece, the Lamrim Tchènmo (The Great Lamrim). Djé Tsong Khapa, who was at once a great scholar and a renowned yogi, wrote other Lamrims, some shorter and some longer (among these, one of them deals with the path of Tantra, Nagrim Tchènmo) – he is at the origin of the Gelug tradition, to which all the Dalaï Lamas have since been affiliated.
The Lamrim is directed towards the three types of practitioners – of initial, intermediate and superior capacities – that is those who wish to prepare better future lives, those who wish to free themselves from the cycle of birth and death, and lastly those who wish to become fully awakened buddhas and untiringly work for the worldly and ultimate happiness of every single being, with no exception.
Empirically, the Lamrim helps the practitioner to progress on the Path as he listens and reads the corresponding teachings, as he reflects upon them and meditates in order to integrate the subject.
After thinking and meditated upon the qualities of the teachings and the different ways of approaching them, upon the spiritual friend who is the foundation of the path and the disciple’s guide, and upon his or her precious human rebirth, so rare and so difficult to obtain, the practitioner continues to progress, approaching issues related to his initial capacity :
– Impermanence and death (its certainty, the uncertainty of its occurrence, and what helps at the moment of death)
– Inferior rebirths and their unbearable sufferings : being reborn as an infernal being, a hungry ghost or an animal
– The Buddhist refug : the qualities of the Buddha, the Dharma (the teachings of the Buddha), and the Sangha (the community of practitioners) and the rules to abide to.
– Karma, that is the actions of body, speech and mind and their fruits; in other words, the law of causality.
When he feels determined not to waste one single instant of his life by creative negative karmas that will one day result in suffering, the lamrim practitioner then turns to the points that are approached with intermediated capacity :
– The disadvantages of the cycle of birth and death
– The suffering of so called superior rebirths (human, semi-celestial and celestial)
– The origin of suffering and the way disruptions occur
– The twelve-fold conditioned arising
With this will to free himself from all suffering related to the cycle of birth and death, the practitioner becomes “superior” as soon as he engenders the spirit of enlightenment; in order to do so, with the foundation of perfect equanimity, he integrates:
– The six causes with one effect
– The exchange of oneself with another
– Perfection of generosity (gift of teaching, gift of protection of material possessions)
– Perfection of ethics (ethics of vows, ethics of the accumulation of positive energies and ethics realizing the well-being of all beings)
– Perfection of patience (its nature and the acceptance of suffering)
– Perfection of energy (its nature and how to practice it)
– Perfection of meditation (realization of mental calm; samatha in Sanskrit, shiné in Tibetan),
– Perfection of wisdom (deep vision or penetrating vision that realizes the non-self ; vipassana in Sanskrit, lhagtong in Tibetan),
– Training in the four means: gift, good words that reveal perfections, instructions for the practice and harmonious behavior.