Did the 84 mahasiddhas practice Ngöndro?

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fckw
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Did the 84 mahasiddhas practice Ngöndro?

Post by fckw » Thu Apr 16, 2015 5:30 pm

It is generally accepted that Ngöndro is a fundamental practice for all those who want to dive deeper into the higher teachings of Tantra, Mahamudra and Dzogchen. Recently, I read somewhere that the Ngöndro as a practice was actually introduced by Shantarakshita for monastic practitioners, but that according to the known biographies neither Padmasambhava nor any of the 84 mahasiddhas performed a Ngöndro themselves. I was a little astonished, since I had automatically assumed that all or at least most of the ancient great masters had practiced the Ngöndro (or something similar) themselves before being introduced to the higher teachings. Do you have any arguments that either support or reject the idea that the mahasiddhas did not do Ngöndro? Please be aware that this is not meant to be a discussion in favor or against the Ngöndro. I am sure these practices have their own value, otherwise they would not be there and would not be hold in high regard by so many contemporary masters.

smcj
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Re: Did the 84 mahasiddhas practice Ngöndro?

Post by smcj » Thu Apr 16, 2015 5:34 pm

Ngondro is a relatively recent innovation.
Last edited by smcj on Thu Apr 16, 2015 5:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

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Re: Did the 84 mahasiddhas practice Ngöndro?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Thu Apr 16, 2015 5:35 pm

Isn't Ngondro (at least as we think of it) alot more modern than.that?
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Sherlock
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Re: Did the 84 mahasiddhas practice Ngöndro?

Post by Sherlock » Thu Apr 16, 2015 5:39 pm

Ngondro was present in Dzogchen tantras, apparently Sakyas never had it until very recently though so it might not have been part of the Indian sarma tantras.

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Re: Did the 84 mahasiddhas practice Ngöndro?

Post by dzogchungpa » Thu Apr 16, 2015 5:44 pm

Sherlock wrote:Ngondro was present in Dzogchen tantras ...
IIRC, it didn't include the 100,000 thing.
There is not only nothingness because there is always, and always can manifest. - Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

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Re: Did the 84 mahasiddhas practice Ngöndro?

Post by Motova » Thu Apr 16, 2015 5:47 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:
Sherlock wrote:Ngondro was present in Dzogchen tantras ...
IIRC, it didn't include the 100,000 thing.
Didn't Malcolm say something like Vajrasattva was 100,000 and then all the others followed suit?

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Re: Did the 84 mahasiddhas practice Ngöndro?

Post by dzogchungpa » Thu Apr 16, 2015 5:50 pm

Motova wrote:
dzogchungpa wrote:
Sherlock wrote:Ngondro was present in Dzogchen tantras ...
IIRC, it didn't include the 100,000 thing.
Didn't Malcolm say something like Vajrasattva was 100,000 and then all the others followed suit?
I thought the idea was to get signs. Maybe I'm wrong.
There is not only nothingness because there is always, and always can manifest. - Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

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Re: Did the 84 mahasiddhas practice Ngöndro?

Post by fckw » Thu Apr 16, 2015 5:57 pm

In the corresponding Wikipedia article it says:
Before receiving advanced tantric practices from a qualified spiritual teacher a Ngöndro usually must be completed and fully internalized. Without this foundation, practicing Tantra would be like, "planting a scorched seed, nothing will come of it." This was not the case in India or early Tibet, however, as the formalized Ngöndro known today was developed in Tibet.
(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ng%C3%B6ndro)

If this is true, then none of the 84 mahasiddhas has done a Ngöndro. And probably most of the ancient Tibetan masters have done so neither. I have to say, I find the idea quite curious that a practice which is considered to be so important should have been introduced only a few hundred years ago, much later than the original teachings of tantra, mahamudra and dzogchen.

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Re: Did the 84 mahasiddhas practice Ngöndro?

Post by Thomas Amundsen » Thu Apr 16, 2015 6:00 pm

fckw wrote: I have to say, I find the idea quite curious that a practice which is considered to be so important should have been introduced only a few hundred years ago, much later than the original teachings of tantra, mahamudra and dzogchen.
Why?

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Re: Did the 84 mahasiddhas practice Ngöndro?

Post by Simon E. » Thu Apr 16, 2015 6:02 pm

fckw wrote:In the corresponding Wikipedia article it says:
Before receiving advanced tantric practices from a qualified spiritual teacher a Ngöndro usually must be completed and fully internalized. Without this foundation, practicing Tantra would be like, "planting a scorched seed, nothing will come of it." This was not the case in India or early Tibet, however, as the formalized Ngöndro known today was developed in Tibet.
(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ng%C3%B6ndro)

If this is true, then none of the 84 mahasiddhas has done a Ngöndro. And probably most of the ancient Tibetan masters have done so neither. I have to say, I find the idea quite curious that a practice which is considered to be so important should have been introduced only a few hundred years ago, much later than the original teachings of tantra, mahamudra and dzogchen.
We are not the people our spiritual forebears were. Ngondro is a concession to our enfeeblement during the Kali Yuga.
Back to fishin' folks... :namaste:

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Re: Did the 84 mahasiddhas practice Ngöndro?

Post by fckw » Thu Apr 16, 2015 6:03 pm

tomamundsen wrote:
fckw wrote: I have to say, I find the idea quite curious that a practice which is considered to be so important should have been introduced only a few hundred years ago, much later than the original teachings of tantra, mahamudra and dzogchen.
Why?
Because it implies that for several hundred years students were introduced to these teachings without having gone through the Ngöndro, and only a few hundred years back suddenly a change or shift happened, and after this shift it seemed to have been generally accepted that Ngöndro is an indispensable prerequisite - a sine-qua-non, so to say. It makes me wonder why and how this shift or change occurred.

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Re: Did the 84 mahasiddhas practice Ngöndro?

Post by smcj » Thu Apr 16, 2015 6:07 pm

Good think this is an online discussion. Otherwise I could see an angry mob forming. :popcorn:
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

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Re: Did the 84 mahasiddhas practice Ngöndro?

Post by fckw » Thu Apr 16, 2015 6:08 pm

Simon E. wrote: We are not the people our spiritual forebears were. Ngondro is a concession to our enfeeblement during the Kali Yuga.
That might indeed be true. (Or not.) But I am more inclined towards more, uhm, scientific argumentation. Any researchers out there who know more about the topic? Maybe there were other important social or economic changes going on as well at that time?

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Re: Did the 84 mahasiddhas practice Ngöndro?

Post by dzogchungpa » Thu Apr 16, 2015 6:10 pm

smcj wrote:Good think this is an online discussion. Otherwise I could see an angry mob forming. :popcorn:
Here you go:

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Re: Did the 84 mahasiddhas practice Ngöndro?

Post by Thomas Amundsen » Thu Apr 16, 2015 6:44 pm

fckw wrote:
Simon E. wrote: We are not the people our spiritual forebears were. Ngondro is a concession to our enfeeblement during the Kali Yuga.
That might indeed be true. (Or not.) But I am more inclined towards more, uhm, scientific argumentation. Any researchers out there who know more about the topic? Maybe there were other important social or economic changes going on as well at that time?
Well perhaps because the spiritual curriculum was devised by people who also believe in the religious politics of the Kali Yuga?

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Re: Did the 84 mahasiddhas practice Ngöndro?

Post by Simon E. » Thu Apr 16, 2015 6:45 pm

tomamundsen wrote:
fckw wrote:
Simon E. wrote: We are not the people our spiritual forebears were. Ngondro is a concession to our enfeeblement during the Kali Yuga.
That might indeed be true. (Or not.) But I am more inclined towards more, uhm, scientific argumentation. Any researchers out there who know more about the topic? Maybe there were other important social or economic changes going on as well at that time?
Well perhaps because the spiritual curriculum was devised by people who also believe in the religious politics of the Kali Yuga?

Bingo.
Back to fishin' folks... :namaste:

smcj
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Re: Did the 84 mahasiddhas practice Ngöndro?

Post by smcj » Thu Apr 16, 2015 6:48 pm

Ngondro is a concession to our enfeeblement during the Kali Yuga.
The definition of the Kali Yuga I've heard that seems to fit is "the darkness in men's minds." Having personally had an acute substance abuse episode I need no further convincing.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

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Re: Did the 84 mahasiddhas practice Ngöndro?

Post by Sherlock » Thu Apr 16, 2015 6:53 pm

Motova wrote:
dzogchungpa wrote:
Sherlock wrote:Ngondro was present in Dzogchen tantras ...
IIRC, it didn't include the 100,000 thing.
Didn't Malcolm say something like Vajrasattva was 100,000 and then all the others followed suit?
He aaid only VS specifies the number. He never said the rest followed suit.

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Re: Did the 84 mahasiddhas practice Ngöndro?

Post by Challenge23 » Thu Apr 16, 2015 7:35 pm

fckw wrote:
tomamundsen wrote:
fckw wrote: I have to say, I find the idea quite curious that a practice which is considered to be so important should have been introduced only a few hundred years ago, much later than the original teachings of tantra, mahamudra and dzogchen.
Why?
Because it implies that for several hundred years students were introduced to these teachings without having gone through the Ngöndro, and only a few hundred years back suddenly a change or shift happened, and after this shift it seemed to have been generally accepted that Ngöndro is an indispensable prerequisite - a sine-qua-non, so to say. It makes me wonder why and how this shift or change occurred.

There are a lot of factors, from my understanding both spiritual and practical.

From the spiritual point of view almost all of the ancient practitioners did some form of purification practice. The best example I can think of is Milarepa's trials before he got instruction. The Ngondro is the codification of the various purification practices that the ancient practitioners DID do(because remember, Tibetan Buddhism was an institution for a very long time). Also the length of the Ngondro helps to prepare someone for retreats and compared to other Tantric practices is relatively safe and it is very good as a way to find mental illnesses that will need to be dealt with before more risky practices are engaged in.

From the practical point of view here are a couple of the things to consider.

1. The Ngondro is a minimalist version of almost all of the later practices in the Vajrayana. Because of this being taught later practices becomes much easier, i.e., in order to do X you do like you did in Y part of Ngondro, just make small change Z. I can't give specific details because samaya. Though there are some practices that have nothing in common with the Ngondro but they are actually more rare than one might think. For me, at least, I can easily tie back every single advanced practice I've been taught to Ngondro with very little effort.

2. The Ngondro was originally designed as the first thing that young monks do when they have a lot of energy to expend. The prostrations not only have the benefit of purifying pride and all of the other spiritual perks but they also are a fantastic way of tiring out a high strung 10 year old who would otherwise get restless and start fights with the other kids. By the time you get into your 30's and 40's in traditional Tibet you will have done your Ngondro at least once and are able to work on more sedentary practices.

3. The repetition of the full Ngondro helps to indoctrinate you into the Vajrayana way of seeing things in the same way that seeing dozens and dozens of commercials about the double down sandwich will make you start to believe that bacon and cheese sandwiched between two chicken paddies might actually not be a bad idea.
IN THIS BOOK IT IS SPOKEN OF THE SEPHIROTH & THE PATHS, OF SPIRITS & CONJURATIONS, OF GODS, SPHERES, PLANES & MANY OTHER THINGS WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT EXIST. IT IS IMMATERIAL WHETHER THEY EXIST OR NOT. BY DOING CERTAIN THINGS CERTAIN RESULTS FOLLOW; STUDENTS ARE MOST EARNESTLY WARNED AGAINST ATTRIBUTING OBJECTIVE REALITY OR PHILOSOPHICAL VALIDITY TO ANY OF THEM.

Wagner, Eric; Wilson, Robert Anton (2004-12-01). An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson (Kindle Locations 1626-1629). New Falcon Publications. Kindle Edition., quoting from Alister Crowley

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Re: Did the 84 mahasiddhas practice Ngöndro?

Post by fckw » Thu Apr 16, 2015 7:42 pm

Thanks, good answer!

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