Tsongkhapa (1357–1419), author of the well-known Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment and guru to the First Dalai Lama, is renowned as perhaps Tibet’s greatest scholar-saint. A dozen years after writing his Great Treatise, he wrote the Middle-Length Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, presented here in its first complete English translation.
Less than half the length of the Great Treatise, this work similarly presents a systematic overview of the Buddha’s teachings. Tsongkhapa begins by abridging the longer work, distilling its meditations for quicker integration. After recognizing the rarity of our human existence and the great opportunities it affords, he follows with reflections on impermanence, suffering, and the promise of liberation from our past actions, proceeding then to the path of bodhisattvas, whose universal compassion seeks to free every being from suffering. Tsongkhapa gives especially detailed instructions on shamatha, the deep meditative concentration that is a precondition for the highest insight into the nature of reality. The final and largest section, on that very insight, is unique to this work, particularly Tsongkhapa’s presentation of conventional truth and ultimate truth. Beginners and longtime practitioners alike will cherish the clear guidance from one of Tibet’s great luminaries.