A Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment was written by Atisha Dipamkara Shrijnana (982–1054). The great Indian pandit and yogi extracted the essence of all 84,000 teachings of the Buddha and organized them into clear steps known as the lamrim, or stages of the path to enlightenment.
Lama Tsongkhapa was born a few centuries after Atisha. He took Atisha’s presentation and added subsidiary material to provide clarity. The teachings we are about to receive contain all the essential points of the whole path to enlightenment.
H.H. the Dalai Lama explains why the step-by-step approach is also the “fast” path:
“What distinguishes it … is its scope and clarity. It expounds the entire path from the way one should rely on a spiritual teacher, which is the very root, right up to the attainment of buddhahood, which is the final fruit. The various stages of the path are presented so clearly and systematically that they can be easily understood and are inspiring to put into practice.”
Additionally, this text is written for meditation. It’s written so that we learn and think about what we hear and then use it to transform our mind. It is not written for intellectual study. It’s written for us to think about, and in thinking about it, change our attitude and our life. Meditation isn’t just watching the breath. Meditation allows us to enter other states of consciousness and thus transforms the way we think. It transforms perception itself. By learning these different steps on the gradual path, by reflecting on them every morning and every evening, your view of life begins to change. Eventually, the way you interact with yourself and with the world starts to change.