The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment ("The Great Treatise") is the core foundation of the studies for Bliss and Wisdom monastics and laity, upon which the study of other major Buddhist sutras and abhidharma are built.
The Great Treatise: The authoritative work on practicing Buddhism
The Great Treatise, composed by Great Master Tsong-khapa is not merely one of the many sutras and abhidharmas. It is an authoritative work that encapsulates all Buddhist sutras such that one is able to practice them. For over six hundred years,The Great Treatise has set both the standard and rules of practice for countless learned Buddhist practitioners. It is based on the three stages of the path to enlightenment to guide practitioners. Its unique quality is that it allows practitioners to more easily understand Buddha's deeper meaning as well as the key to practicing Buddhism.
Well versed in this knowledge, after a life of studying the different methods of Buddhism, Late Master Jih-Chang used the practice of The Great Treatise to tie the learnings together. He developed all the Bliss and Wisdom endeavours based on the content of The Great Treatise. Furthermore, he guided all his monastic and lay students to use The Great Treatise as their main method for studying Buddhism. Whereupon he taught many other sutras and abhidharmas such as the Prajnaparamita Sutra, Suvarnaprabhasasutram, Ten Cakras of Ksitigarbha, Nanshan Vinaya and The Wheel of Sharp Weapons. Master Jih-Chang also respectfully invited many learned Buddhist masters to teach the monastics and laity other sutras and abhidharmas such as Treatise Differentiating Interpretable and Definitive Meanings: The Essence of Eloquence, Great Treatise on the Stages of Mantra, Dharmadhatustava, The Seven Points of Mind Training etc.
Learning The Great Treatise as a unique method of studying Buddhism within the Chinese culture
Master Zhen-Ru received the lineage of Late Master Jih-Chang's core instructions. She thoroughly understood that every word and sentence within Master Jih-Chang's 160 Chinese lecture tapes on The Great Treatise was based on Great Master Tsong-kha-pa's teachings. Master Jih-Chang's teachings in these tapes closely adhered to Great Master Tsong-kha-pa's teachings and used the steps outlined in The Great Treatise to guide his students on how to change their mindset when encountering challenges. Thereby allowing people of Chinese culture to learn The Great Treatise as a unique method of studying Buddhism. As such, after Master Jih-Chang passed away, the importance of repeatedly listening to the lecture tapes was more strongly emphasized and promoted even more widely by Master Zhen-Ru. In order to learn The Great Treatise more deeply and broadly, Master Zhen-Ru took a step further and advocated the implementation of the Five Great Treatises studies within Chinese culture. She pioneered the curriculum of the Five Great Treatises for the monastics, with the curriculum for laity being under development.
The aforementioned The Great Treatise and the Five Great Treatises formed the core curriculum. In addition, for many years Master Zhen-Ru continued to invite many Buddhist masters to give the monastics teachings of many varied sutras and abhidarmas, such as Engaging in the Bodhisattva Deeds, The Basic Path to Awakening: The Complete Bodhisattva, The Blue Compendium, Fifty Verses on Guru Devotion, An Offering Ceremony to the Spiritual Masters, The Four Interwoven Annotations etc. The laity is also able to participate in the learning. May the lineaged teachings be handed down for generations to come.
● The composer of The Great Treatise, Great Master Tsong-kha-pa spent his entire life learning all scriptures within the tripitakas and had complete mastery. Thereby becoming the pinnacle of all Buddhist master in his era. In his latter years, Great Master Tsong-kha-pa systematically and orderly arranged his entire life's knowledge—the complete scriptures within the tripitakas—as steps of practice into the three stages of the path. This offers a Buddhist practitioner all the teachings to be learned in the process of achieving buddhahood from start to finish.
● The five great treatises are: Commentary on the "Compendium of Valid Cognition", Ornament of Clear Knowledge, Commentary on "The Middle Way", Treasury of Knowledge, and A Compendium of Discipline. With these five commentaries as the core texts, time and again, generations of great Buddhist masters have composed commentaries explaining them. These commentaries total over hundreds. As such, learning the Five Great Treatises captures all of Buddha's true meaning when he spoke at the three turnings of the wheel of dharma. The five great treatises include the complete doctrine of Sarvastivada, Sautrantika, Cittamatra, and Madhyamaka.