There is a formal, precise sequence of contemplations and practices within all of the four major lineages of Vajrayana Buddhism, usually referred to as the graduated path.
Although it has different names in each lineage - Lam rim, Path and Fruition, Words of my Perfect Teacher , and The Jewel Ornament of Liberation, this path incorporates the same sequence. All the paths begin with the contemplation on the four thoughts that turn the mind, then bodhichitta, then the meditation on the yidam deity, then a meditation on devotion to the guru, then the ultimate truth, Mahamudra, and finally the dedication.
These five elements constitute the Five-fold Path of Mahamudra by Lord Jigten Sumgon, which is the root text for this extensive commentary by His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche. This is an eloquent, clear and systematic explanation of the path, covering not only the essentials, but also providing wide ranging and contemporary examples and exposition. For example, karma, the kayas, the six perfections, sleep yoga, the bardo and the benefits of yidam practice are some of the topics beautifully and clearly explained.
There is also a comprehensive commentary on the Ganges Mahamudra, which is the advice given to Naropa by the MahasiddhaTilopa.
The book also benefits from the friendly and accessible vocabulary of Ina Bieler, the translator, and thus provides a valuable and authentic resource for both the beginning and the more mature student of Vajrayana Buddhism.