Different(?) Forms of the Kamtsang Ngondro

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Re: Different(?) Forms of the Kamtsang Ngondro

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Sep 10, 2013 8:27 pm

Thanks everyone it is clearer to me now!
A foolish man proclaims his qualifications,
A wise man keeps them secret within.
A straw floats on the surface of water,
But a precious gem placed upon it sinks to the depths
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Re: Different(?) Forms of the Kamtsang Ngondro

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Sep 10, 2013 8:47 pm

JKhedrup wrote:I have two main motivations for doing the Ngondro:

1)Purifying and accumulating
2)being eligible to receive teachings on Mahamudra from HHK when he finally gives them
I received Mahamudra instructions before even taking refuge! ;)
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Different(?) Forms of the Kamtsang Ngondro

Postby Karma Jinpa » Wed Sep 11, 2013 7:48 pm

conebeckham wrote:Deity yoga, in general, is "part" of the Path of Liberation, which is the focus of the Kagyu ngondro---the spontaneously-coemergent Mahamudra. But it's not the same "deity yoga" path as that of the Path of Means, which relates to Creation and Completion in a more extensive form--the full sadhanas of the Three Main Kamtsang Yidams, and the Six Yogas of Naropa.


Cone, can you please expound on this a little more? From what I understand based on what you said, there is Mahamudra deity yoga and then there is the deity yoga of the elaborate Yidam practices (which is the one we are more used to).

Perhaps because I simply haven't received enough teachings, studied in shedra or read enough books, but I haven't heard much of the Paths of Liberation & Means. Can someone please go into detail on those? I find the distinction fascinating...
"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, it happens that a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་རཱ་ག་ཨ་སྱ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།
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Re: Different(?) Forms of the Kamtsang Ngondro

Postby passel » Wed Sep 11, 2013 9:34 pm

I'd second this request, Cone. I've come across your mentions of these two Paths before but haven't found them in my own reading (mostly of Mahamudra practice manuals, so that probably explains it). Are they from Gampopa, or limited to Karma Kagyu presentations? They seem like a really useful distinction to make, especially to clear up confusion about why different teachers offer such different practices to their students. They seem to roughly correlate with Dro Lam and Tap Lam from the Nyingmapa presentation.
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Re: Different(?) Forms of the Kamtsang Ngondro

Postby conebeckham » Thu Sep 12, 2013 12:58 am

TharLam, the Path of Liberation, in the Karma Kagyu tradition is the path of Mahamudra, the Coemergent Mahamudra....as presented mainly by Gampopa and his followers. Deity yoga is a part of that path--as is the Ngondro, and the meditation practices of Shinay and Lhatkong, as well as the practice of combining the two, and resting in Mind's Nature, or Ordinary Mind, after it has been properly pointed out, and recognized. Deity Yoga is a method that can be useful in this path, but it is not the essential element.

The TabLam, or Path of Means, is the Path of the Two Stages--the Path of Creation Stage, elaborate retreat practices on the main Yidams of the Karma Kagyu--Phagmo, especially, but also Demchok and GyalGyam, and the Path of the Completion Stage which includes Naropa's Six Yogas, and Mahamudra as well. In this path, the deity yoga practice is the essential practice, for beginners, and even for those who are farther along the path.

In practice, both of these are combined, more or less, according to one's capacity and one's teacher's evaluation of the student, etc. The Three Year Retreat, in general, focuses more on the TabLam, while the Tharlam is felt to be more suited to lay practitioners, or non-sealed-retreat settings.
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Re: Different(?) Forms of the Kamtsang Ngondro

Postby Karma Jinpa » Thu Sep 12, 2013 1:18 am

conebeckham wrote:TharLam, the Path of Liberation, in the Karma Kagyu tradition is the path of Mahamudra, the Coemergent Mahamudra....as presented mainly by Gampopa and his followers. Deity yoga is a part of that path--as is the Ngondro, and the meditation practices of Shinay and Lhatkong, as well as the practice of combining the two, and resting in Mind's Nature, or Ordinary Mind, after it has been properly pointed out, and recognized. Deity Yoga is a method that can be useful in this path, but it is not the essential element.

The TabLam, or Path of Means, is the Path of the Two Stages--the Path of Creation Stage, elaborate retreat practices on the main Yidams of the Karma Kagyu--Phagmo, especially, but also Demchok and GyalGyam, and the Path of the Completion Stage which includes Naropa's Six Yogas, and Mahamudra as well. In this path, the deity yoga practice is the essential practice, for beginners, and even for those who are farther along the path.

In practice, both of these are combined, more or less, according to one's capacity and one's teacher's evaluation of the student, etc. The Three Year Retreat, in general, focuses more on the TabLam, while the Tharlam is felt to be more suited to lay practitioners, or non-sealed-retreat settings.


:good: Perhaps that's part of why Traga Rinpoche gave me the refuge name he did. Hmmm...

:namaste: Cone :thumbsup:
"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, it happens that a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་རཱ་ག་ཨ་སྱ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།
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Re: Different(?) Forms of the Kamtsang Ngondro

Postby passel » Thu Sep 12, 2013 5:00 pm

This is clear, thanks Cone. Most of what I have been exposed to is clearly then within TharLam. These categories don't seem to correlate directly with Sutra/Tantra distinctions which I gather have been more academic than practical...
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Re: Different(?) Forms of the Kamtsang Ngondro

Postby conebeckham » Thu Sep 12, 2013 6:16 pm

The whole Sutra/Tantra/Essence Mahamudra issue is mainly one of pedagogy, I think.

In practice, Kagyu Lamas support methods of deity yoga, as well as Shinay/Lhaktong, Ngondro, and especially the practice of "resting in Mind's Nature" once that has been experienced via Direct Introduction. "Deity Yoga," initially, is approached as "Appearance/Emptiness" which is an effective approach in the Mahamudra tradition. Most of the deity yoga practices done in Kagyu centers by laypeople are approached from the POV of this rubric. And Chenrezig, in particular, is widely popular because of the importance of Great Compassion and the ability of this Great Compassion as a state that helps facilitate seeing Mind's Nature. Guru Yoga, also, is important, as genuine, Profound Devotion is another state that helps facilitate the experience.

In the Path of Means, deity yoga becomes more about "Wisdom/Emptiness" and "Bliss/Emptiness," especially in regard to the specific Completion Stage techniques, but also with regard to the Creation Stage. But these are all rubrics, again, to facilitate a direct experience of Mind's Nature.

Guru Yoga is a part of both the Path of Means and the Path of Liberation, so in essence they're both "tantra," in my view. Karmapa's "Ocean of Certainty" presents Ngondro, and Guru Yoga, in particular, though not too much comment on deity yoga. So-called "Sutra Mahamudra" is a way of presenting Mind's Nature via Sutra sources, and without elements of Tantra, but in practice I don't think anyone is relying on a mere "Sutra Mahamudra" presentation. However, I suppose it's possible that someone is practicing Shinay/Lhatong with the special features of the Mahamudra presentation, and without any Guru Yoga, Deity Yoga, etc. But I think without the Direct Introduction, which I feel is a Tantric element, I'm not sure how powerful or effective such practice would be. And perhaps this is why we have the normal, myriad-methods presentation in the current-day Karma Kagyu.
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Re: Different(?) Forms of the Kamtsang Ngondro

Postby Karma Jinpa » Thu Sep 12, 2013 7:22 pm

Path of means. Refers to the stages of development and completion with attributes (RY)
http://rywiki.tsadra.org/index.php/thabs_lam
Emphasis mine.

I think I'm starting to get the distinction a bit more thanks to your words, Cone. :bow:

Can you or anyone else explain the difference between creation & completion with attributes, and without, and which category these fall into (Tharlam or Thablam)? Perhaps through my curiosity I'm simply intellectualizing this a bit too much. Then again, it's good to have your bearings and know which path it is you're taking, right? :roll:
"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, it happens that a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་རཱ་ག་ཨ་སྱ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།
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Re: Different(?) Forms of the Kamtsang Ngondro

Postby heart » Thu Sep 12, 2013 7:31 pm

Karma Jinpa wrote:
Path of means. Refers to the stages of development and completion with attributes (RY)
http://rywiki.tsadra.org/index.php/thabs_lam
Emphasis mine.

I think I'm starting to get the distinction a bit more thanks to your words, Cone. :bow:

Can you or anyone else explain the difference between creation & completion with attributes, and without, and which category these fall into (Tharlam or Thablam)? Perhaps through my curiosity I'm simply intellectualizing this a bit too much. Then again, it's good to have your bearings and know which path it is you're taking, right? :roll:


Creation stage belongs to both paths. Then there are the completion stage with signs that belong to the thablam while the completion stage without signs belong to the tharlam. I think, Cone will correct me, that often you do some of both but then later discover what circumstances and disposition is best for you.

/magnus
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Re: Different(?) Forms of the Kamtsang Ngondro

Postby conebeckham » Thu Sep 12, 2013 7:38 pm

I think Magnus is right.

:smile:

And I think you're right, too, Karma Jinpa..."Completion Stage with Attributes" is properly part of the TabLam, or Path of Means. In fact, the "Creation Stage" of the Karma Kagyu HYT practices "blurs into" the Completion Stage with Attributes, as well--especially as regards the myriad methods of "Day-pa," or Mantra recitation, you'll find in those practices. But both TharLam and ThabLam have the Completion Stage without Attributes, as well.
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Re: Different(?) Forms of the Kamtsang Ngondro

Postby passel » Thu Sep 12, 2013 9:44 pm

Cone and Magnus- can you recommend a couple of good book sources for following up on the distinctions you are making? Thanks!
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Re: Different(?) Forms of the Kamtsang Ngondro

Postby conebeckham » Fri Sep 13, 2013 4:58 pm

First one that comes to mind is Kalu Rinpoche's "Luminous Mind." I think it's Wisdom Pubs.....

Covers the various paths of the Karma Kagyu...and Shangpa as well...

For a real comprehensive volume covering both paths, concentrating mainly on the Path of Liberation, but with some pretty extensive info on the Path of Means, check out Peter Roberts "Mahamudra" from the Asian Classics series.....
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Re: Different(?) Forms of the Kamtsang Ngondro

Postby heart » Fri Sep 13, 2013 5:12 pm

passel wrote:Cone and Magnus- can you recommend a couple of good book sources for following up on the distinctions you are making? Thanks!


I can't really remember anymore, I am reading mainly Nyingma books these days. But to get a practical view of these paths you can check out Mingyur Rinpoches take on things here;
http://tergar.org/programs/what-is-the- ... iberation/

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Re: Different(?) Forms of the Kamtsang Ngondro

Postby Karma Jinpa » Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:33 pm

Stewart wrote:The text from Samye Ling is the 9th Karmapa's text....same as KTD.

Karma Pakshi is a separate Guru Yoga, usually done after Ngondro.

The short Jamgon Kongtrul Ngondro Magnus linked to, was the text usually taught by Mingyur Rinpoche as part of a 3 year Mahamudra course he used to teach....it's very nice and concise.

Edit: just checked the Samye Ling website... No idea why it says Guru Yoga: Karma Pakshi....they may have included it as Mingyur Rinpoche taught it there a few times....but I doubt it....I'll ask Ani Paldron in the shop. The standard Guru Yoga is in that to text....plus you need a separate Wang, Lung and Tri for Karma Pakshi....it's quite an elaborate Sadhana.


Just received the KSL text via mail today. While it doesn't include the U-chen for the text, the title given on the 4th section is "The Guru Yoga That Swiftly Brings Blessings." It begins on page 21a and goes all the way thru page 34a, listing 44 figures in the lineage (last of which is the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa) and then one's own root guru. Then it goes to "Calling the Distant Guru" by Shamarpa Konchog Yenlak, taking the 4 empowerments, and various dedication prayers composed by lineage holders.

Taken altogether, the Guru Yoga comprises nearly half the text (pages 21a - 40b). On page 21b (flip-side of the title and curiously mislabeled 5b), there is an illumination of one of the Karmapas holding the bell & dorjé in the same way as Vajrasattva, with a peceful expression on his face. It isn't the typical stance of Karma Pakshi, and the mantra used is "Karmapa Chenno."

The colophon says "Translated under the kind and illuminating guidance of Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche. Ngondro translation and phonetical transcription by Katia Holmes - 1980. Editing help, translation and phonetical transcription of 'Calling the Distant Guru' and additional prayers by Ken Holmes - 1984. Reprinted in 2006..."
"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, it happens that a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་རཱ་ག་ཨ་སྱ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།
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Re: Different(?) Forms of the Kamtsang Ngondro

Postby conebeckham » Mon Sep 16, 2013 11:45 pm

Yeah, that's the "Chariot"--the "official" ngondro practiced in Karma Kagyu. Karma Pakshi figures as one of the Karmapas, of course...but your text does not contain the Pakshi Ladrup.

That "Calling the Distant Guru" is also variously translated as "Calling the Lama From Afar," or even, to use I think Mingyur Rinpoche's delightful re-working, "Calling the Guru Long-Distance." :smile: That is a "variety" of prayer for which there are many examples...at the time I was focusing on this, the prayer I used was written by Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche.
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Re: Different(?) Forms of the Kamtsang Ngondro

Postby Karma Jinpa » Tue Sep 17, 2013 5:30 am

I knew that Calling the Lama from Afar was, for lack of a better term, a genre in Tibetan prayers, but the only one I knew of was the one written by Jamgön Kongtrul Lodro Thaye. That this one was authored by the 5th Shamarpa was a bit of a surprise, since I expected JK Rinpoche's name to appear. That's what I get for having expectations! :rolling:

Makes sense, though, since he was the root guru of the 9th Karmapa, who authored the main text of the Chariot.
"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, it happens that a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་རཱ་ག་ཨ་སྱ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།
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Re: Different(?) Forms of the Kamtsang Ngondro

Postby Karma Jinpa » Fri Sep 27, 2013 8:01 pm

An interesting development:

Since i've been practicing 17th Karmapa's text, i now find myself being drawn to his refuge visualization (which is slightly less complex than in 9th Karmapa's Chariot), and feel a bit daunted by the refuge visualization in the longer ngondro.

This has led to a marked decline in the frequency of my ngondro practice. I have the lung for one text, but feel more drawn to the other... :shrug:

I could've easily resolved this by asking Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche to give the lung for the shorter text sometime in the 2-3 weeks that I attended his teachings in Valdosta, GA & Jacksonville, FL this year... but alas, I didn't.
So much for mindfulness! :rolleye:

Would it be better to get the lung for Ngondro for Our Current Day from a lama I trust, even if via long distance, or should i just push thru and do the Chariot, which my root lama already gave me the lung for?

Please help! (And yes, I have asked my teachers; currently awaiting their responses. In the meantime, I'm interested in hearing your opinions.)
"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, it happens that a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་རཱ་ག་ཨ་སྱ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།
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Re: Different(?) Forms of the Kamtsang Ngondro

Postby conebeckham » Fri Sep 27, 2013 9:52 pm

I'm a big fan of the longer one, though I do the shorter one sometimes.

But, even talking about the longer one, the amount and content of detail, for instance, of the refuge field can differ depending on which Lama you've talked to. Generally, it's the same, but I've seen depictions of the tsokshing with the Lamas in various places, and differences in the yidams portrayed, etc., etc.

So, I wouldn't worry too much about the details. Instead, ask yourself what you realistically can do..the long or short one? Maybe sometimes it's one, sometimes another. In either case, don't forget the main aspects of the visualization-Vajradhara, The Karmapas and other Tulkus of the lineage massed around him, the yidams with central figure being either/or Phagmo and Demchok, Chenrezig as the focus of the Noble Sangha, Sakyamuni as the focus of the Buddhas, Mahakala and Mahakali as the central focus of the protectors.....

But you should get some "official" input as well, these are just one poor practitioner's ideas.
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Re: Different(?) Forms of the Kamtsang Ngondro

Postby Karma Jinpa » Fri Sep 27, 2013 10:26 pm

conebeckham wrote:But, even talking about the longer one, the amount and content of detail, for instance, of the refuge field can differ depending on which Lama you've talked to. Generally, it's the same, but I've seen depictions of the tsokshing with the Lamas in various places, and differences in the yidams portrayed, etc., etc.

So, I wouldn't worry too much about the details. Instead, ask yourself what you realistically can do..the long or short one? Maybe sometimes it's one, sometimes another. In either case, don't forget the main aspects of the visualization-Vajradhara, The Karmapas and other Tulkus of the lineage massed around him, the yidams with central figure being either/or Phagmo and Demchok, Chenrezig as the focus of the Noble Sangha, Sakyamuni as the focus of the Buddhas, Mahakala and Mahakali as the central focus of the protectors.....


Karmapa's commentary, included in the same text, has very beautiful and specific instructions about the visualization of the refuge field, but it is still succinct. The only other instructions I have on the visualization come from Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche's teaching transcript, Commentary on Ngondro Practice. In that, the visualization is broken down, detail by detail.

While KKR's description is exceedingly beautiful, knowing my own capacities, I feel that the quality of the visualization would likely suffer if I try to focus too much on the quantity of the different symbols and their inner meanings. I'm pretty good at visualizing the deity, but often even then I have to visualize bit by bit. Plus it's usually the Ekavira (or "Solitary Hero") form, and not any of the complex mandalas I know are out there. Therefore it's nothing short of miraculous that I've become habituated to and can do the Tsok Shying from Ngondro for Our Current Day.

Then again, perhaps I should just do my best and have confidence that the sources of refuge are present.
"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, it happens that a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་རཱ་ག་ཨ་སྱ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།
ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།


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