Curriculum for the five year course of Great Chariot of Longchen Rabjam

The Great Chariot is an autocommentary on the root text, Relaxing in the Nature of Mind. Along with its companion texts, the Great Chariot presents the complete Buddhist path to awakening covering everything from the common foundations to the practice of the Great Perfection. Intended for the serious Buddhist student, the goal of this five-year course is to cover completely the Relaxing in the Nature of Mind cycle, combining study with practice. There will be an exam after the third course and a final exam at the end of the the fifth year course.

First Year: Turning the Mind toward the Dharma The first four chapters present the four common foundations: the preciousness of human birth, impermanence and death, the sufferings of samara, and the causes and results of karma. Just as a house must have a solid foundation, our practice must have a solid foundation. In order to practice the stages of the path of the luminous Great Perfection, it is extremely important in the beginning to train in how to turn one’s mind toward the Dharma through properly understanding the nature of samsara.
Second Year: Following an Authentic Master, Going for Refuge, Aspirational Bodhicitta Chapter five presents in great detail how to rely on an authentic master. If either the genuine or fabricated thought to be free from samsara arises, it is important to rely on an authentic master for the method of liberation, just as it is necessary to rely on an experienced physician to remove a long-standing chronic illness. Chapter six presents going for refuge. Once it is understood there is no essence in the phenomena of samsara, the wish for liberation arises.

Because going for refuge is the foundation of the path of freedom, once one meets an authentic master who can show one the path, it is necessary to receive an extensive explanation of the causes and results of going for refuge and the means by which persons of greater, medium and average capacity go for refuge in the Three Jewels.

Chapter seven presents the training on the four immeasurables and aspirational bodhicitta. According to the teachings on the refuge of the greater person, the thought to attain happiness and peace merely for oneself is incorrect because all sentient beings have been connected with oneself in past lives. Thus, it is necessary to generate precious bodhicitta in order to have the courage to free all sentient beings from suffering and place them in happiness.

Read more about practice and study of this text.

Third Year: Mahayana Path and Philosophy Chapter eight presents the six perfections, the conduct of bodhisattvas, as well as the view, meditation, conduct, stages, paths and result of the Sūtra Vehicle of Characteristics. The foundation of all Dharmas of Sūtra and Mantra is the generation of bodhicitta, the essence of the oceanic conduct of bodhisattvas.
 Fourth Year: Secret Mantra

Chapter nine presents the basis of Secret Mantra Vajrayāna, the actual path of ripening and liberation to actualize the kāya of union in a single life, the general explanation of practicing the creation stage and completion stage in tandem.

Chapter ten explains how the discerning wisdom of the view enters into the meaning of the nature of the beginingless nonarising of all phenomena without dwelling in the two extreme views of permanence and annihilation.

Fifth Year: The Great Perfection

Chapter eleven explains that meditation is the luminous self-originated wisdom that is like the sun and moon. As such, the nature of all phenomena is nonarising. The nature of reality that is like space must be confirmed with the view of the great freedom from extremes.

Chapter twelve presents the instructions for the accomplishment of concentration and the conduct for making progress, such as the training in the samadhi of the three immobilities and so on.

Chapter thirteen presents the kāyas and wisdoms of the luminous Great Perfection, the ultimate result that arises once one has reached the conclusion of the view, mediation and conduct of the ripening and liberating path of the result, the vajra essence of luminosity.