Taking Apart Ngondro

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Cinnabar
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Taking Apart Ngondro

Post by Cinnabar » Mon Aug 26, 2019 3:32 pm

So, I am doing ngondro again. A personal choice really.

What I have found myself doing is spending time on each piece, and doing additional meditations and accumulations. As opposed to going through as a liturgy, and not particularly focusing on a given part over any other.

Is this acceptable?

I have my own thoughts, but there seem to be differences of opinion.

DISCLAIMER. No, I'm not engaging in ngondro practice without my teacher's transmission, instructions and direction. No, I'm not soliciting practice advice on the internet. Yes, I'm going to follow my own teacher's instructions.

I'm just asking because it's hard to understand that this approach would be controversial.

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Miroku
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Re: Taking Apart Ngondro

Post by Miroku » Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:01 pm

I mean sure. It depends on what you are accumulating as an "additional accumulation". However, I do not see much problem. It could be quite beneficial to spend more time on the ngöndro as a whole.
“Observing samaya involves to remain inseparable from the union of wisdom and compassion at all times, to sustain mindfulness, and to put into practice the guru’s instructions”. Garchen Rinpoche

Simon E.
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Re: Taking Apart Ngondro

Post by Simon E. » Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:32 pm

Well despite your italicised portion I am going to say it. WHAT DOES YOUR TEACHER SAY?...sorry but it needs saying....again.
“Why don’t you close down your PC for a while and find out who needs your help?”

HH Tai Situ.

smcj
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Re: Taking Apart Ngondro

Post by smcj » Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:35 pm

If you’re taking what is taught an adding something personal that is compatible then it isn’t an issue. For instance, Gompopa’s promise he made to his dying wife was a completely personal drama. But it was in accord with the intentions of the teachings it wasn’t a corruption.

“Changing it” however sounds worrisome. If you’ve cleared what you’re doing with an authentic lineage lama then there’s no problem.

Since you’ve done it once already then slowing it down so you feel you’re deepening your understanding sounds excellent to me.

So take that as a vote of support from an anonymous internet DW poster.
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that, through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

Cinnabar
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Re: Taking Apart Ngondro

Post by Cinnabar » Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:35 pm

Simon E. wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:32 pm
Well despite your italicised portion I am going to say it. WHAT DOES YOUR TEACHER SAY?...sorry but it needs saying....again.
I know what my teacher says.

I'm curious where spending time on individual parts of the ngondro being a problem came from. Thus the question.

Cinnabar
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Re: Taking Apart Ngondro

Post by Cinnabar » Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:38 pm

smcj wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:35 pm
If you’re taking what is taught an adding something personal that is compatible then it isn’t an issue. For instance, Gompopa’s promise he made to his dying wife was a completely personal drama. But it was in accord with the intentions of the teachings it wasn’t a corruption.

“Changing it” however sounds worrisome. If you’ve cleared what you’re doing with an authentic lineage lama then there’s no problem.

Since you’ve done it once already then slowing it down so you feel you’re deepening your understanding sounds excellent to me.

So take that as a vote of support from an anonymous internet DW poster.
What I'm speaking about is spending time just focusing on one part of the four thoughts for an extended period of time. Then just focusing on refuge for an extended period of time, even beyond just doing prostrations. Meditating on the benefits of refuge. Then focusing on bodhicitta. Spending time really training in lo jong. And so on.

My lama said to me privately that this is a really good thing. What one would do on one's own in retreat. Or through one's life as a practitioner. Really gnaw on things.

But then people come to practice with me, and it's a big problem.

smcj
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Re: Taking Apart Ngondro

Post by smcj » Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:39 pm

But then people come to practice with me, and it's a big problem.
Ah.

Group practice, if that’s what you’re talking about, has a certain pace of chanting. As such you don’t have the opportunity to dwell on something. Your individual practice is where it counts.

Because of this I could never do a group retreat. I’ll do a session with people on occasion. But I see that more as a community bonding activity than personally making progress on the Path.
Last edited by smcj on Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that, through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

Cinnabar
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Re: Taking Apart Ngondro

Post by Cinnabar » Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:40 pm

smcj wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:39 pm
I'm curious where spending time on individual parts of the ngondro being a problem came from. Thus the question.
What makes you think it’s a problem?
Because when I practice with a dharma brother he says: this is a problem.

Simon E.
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Re: Taking Apart Ngondro

Post by Simon E. » Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:45 pm

HIS problem perhaps.
“Why don’t you close down your PC for a while and find out who needs your help?”

HH Tai Situ.

smcj
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Re: Taking Apart Ngondro

Post by smcj » Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:47 pm

I edited my post after you replied. See above.
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that, through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Taking Apart Ngondro

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Mon Aug 26, 2019 6:51 pm

Cinnabar wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:40 pm
smcj wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:39 pm
I'm curious where spending time on individual parts of the ngondro being a problem came from. Thus the question.
What makes you think it’s a problem?
Because when I practice with a dharma brother he says: this is a problem.
Just go with what your teacher says. I asked my Sakya teacher years ago about the "why's" of undertaking Refuge Ngondro (Ngondro is less of a "required" sort of thing in Sakya) after all these conversations on DW, and he was just kind of like "yeah, just do it, it's a great practice". When I brought up niggling details he just sort of did the polite version of rolling his eyes. This a consistent experience I've had, fellow practitioners will say "hey you can only do this if blah blah blah and only in this precise way", then I ask a teacher, they just kind of sigh and tell me to get to work. YMMV
His welcoming
& rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state,
he discerns rightly,
has gone, beyond becoming,
to the Further Shore.

-Lokavipatti Sutta

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Miroku
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Re: Taking Apart Ngondro

Post by Miroku » Mon Aug 26, 2019 7:17 pm

Heh, yeah as Johnny says. My teacher told us how sometimes people worry about small things and get really nervous trying to be precise, however it is better to just do it.

We in the west often don't give enough credit to the wisdom that appears when we supplicate our lama with intense devotion or do our practice for some time. It really does answer questions.
“Observing samaya involves to remain inseparable from the union of wisdom and compassion at all times, to sustain mindfulness, and to put into practice the guru’s instructions”. Garchen Rinpoche

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heart
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Re: Taking Apart Ngondro

Post by heart » Mon Aug 26, 2019 7:31 pm

Cinnabar wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:40 pm
smcj wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:39 pm
I'm curious where spending time on individual parts of the ngondro being a problem came from. Thus the question.
What makes you think it’s a problem?
Because when I practice with a dharma brother he says: this is a problem.
Group practice should be done in a traditional way, when you are alone it is fine to spend extended time on the parts you want to.

/magnus
"We are all here to help each other go through this thing, whatever it is."
~Kurt Vonnegut

"The principal practice is Guruyoga. But we need to understand that any secondary practice combined with Guruyoga becomes a principal practice." ChNNR (Teachings on Thun and Ganapuja)

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Sonam Wangchug
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Re: Taking Apart Ngondro

Post by Sonam Wangchug » Mon Aug 26, 2019 7:51 pm

While there is no hard fast rule that one absolutely CAN NOT, focus on the sections that one wants to ..

With that being said, there is an actual purpose and wisdom behind the masters presenting the Ngondro in the order that it is given .. Each section has a specific purpose and these purposes are complimentary when presented in the standard order.

With that said, some teachers in their Wisdom knew which section would best benefit the individual students, a wise guide can tell the level of purification of the student. Some teachers even have told students that other meritorioius actions they have done have served in place of their Ngondro. I know one women who helped construct the 16th Karmapa stupa in Crestone Colorado, and Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche told her that was sufficient in place of Ngondro.

Sometimes students were told to move on to the next section before they "formally" finished 100,000. Sometimes students have been told to repeat that section again because the necessary purification had not occurred. Some have been told to skip ahead to Guru yoga, others to focus on the prostrations..

Some food for thought .. Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche was talking about the tendency for students to not spend enough time on the dissolution stage of a practice as opposed to the creation stage. On a similar vein of spending time, I guess Thinley Norbu Rinpoche had told some students in Bhutan to spend ONE YEAR on EACH of the four empowerments section of their Guru yoga practice.. that is to say one year receiving the Vase empowerment only, and then the next year the next etc.. Interesting huh

Anyway, in the Kagyu approach as i've learned if we were doing the Prostrations then we would only chant the Refuge section and not the others.. If we then moved onto Vajrasattva we would recite the refuge section briefly and then the Vajrasattva and so on and so forth, so that by the time one was doing Lama Naljor one would also recite the previous sections leading up to it.

As I have been taught in the Nyingma System, the Ngondro practice itself represents a complete wisdom, it is a complete practice. & so even if we are only doing Refuge, we would also briefly recite the other sections of the Ngondro.

Good luck
"To have confidence in the teacher is the ultimate refuge." -Rigzin Jigme Lingpa

Cinnabar
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Re: Taking Apart Ngondro

Post by Cinnabar » Tue Aug 27, 2019 2:02 am

Miroku wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 7:17 pm
Heh, yeah as Johnny says. My teacher told us how sometimes people worry about small things and get really nervous trying to be precise, however it is better to just do it.

We in the west often don't give enough credit to the wisdom that appears when we supplicate our lama with intense devotion or do our practice for some time. It really does answer questions.
I was trying to take the low position, the lowest seat, and presume my dharma brother was correct, and I was practicing entirely wrong.

I didn't see it.

Never heard it once said that focusing on practice was bad.

Even though this isn't my first go through the ngondro, I just figured I'm an idiot and doing it all wrong.

dharmafootsteps
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Re: Taking Apart Ngondro

Post by dharmafootsteps » Tue Aug 27, 2019 6:38 am

Sonam Wangchug wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 7:51 pm
Some food for thought .. Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche was talking about the tendency for students to not spend enough time on the dissolution stage of a practice as opposed to the creation stage. On a similar vein of spending time, I guess Thinley Norbu Rinpoche had told some students in Bhutan to spend ONE YEAR on EACH of the four empowerments section of their Guru yoga practice.. that is to say one year receiving the Vase empowerment only, and then the next year the next etc.. Interesting huh
Very interesting. Is there anywhere for hear more about this? Is it from a book/recorded teaching?

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tobes
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Re: Taking Apart Ngondro

Post by tobes » Tue Aug 27, 2019 10:49 am

Cinnabar wrote:
Tue Aug 27, 2019 2:02 am
Miroku wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 7:17 pm
Heh, yeah as Johnny says. My teacher told us how sometimes people worry about small things and get really nervous trying to be precise, however it is better to just do it.

We in the west often don't give enough credit to the wisdom that appears when we supplicate our lama with intense devotion or do our practice for some time. It really does answer questions.
I was trying to take the low position, the lowest seat, and presume my dharma brother was correct, and I was practicing entirely wrong.

I didn't see it.

Never heard it once said that focusing on practice was bad.

Even though this isn't my first go through the ngondro, I just figured I'm an idiot and doing it all wrong.
I think, frankly, your Dharma brother is very untrustworthy on this question.

Going more slowly and deeply into a profound practice - what could possibly be wrong with that?

Cinnabar
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Re: Taking Apart Ngondro

Post by Cinnabar » Tue Aug 27, 2019 3:50 pm

tobes wrote:
Tue Aug 27, 2019 10:49 am
I think, frankly, your Dharma brother is very untrustworthy on this question.

Going more slowly and deeply into a profound practice - what could possibly be wrong with that?
Spiritual orthorexia is a real thing.

The only reason I entertained the idea was that I *have* heard different instructions. They are often in contradiction, but that doesn't mean they are wrong. Just wisdom from different angles, from different experiences, traditions.

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conebeckham
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Re: Taking Apart Ngondro

Post by conebeckham » Tue Aug 27, 2019 7:51 pm

Cinnabar wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:38 pm
smcj wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:35 pm
If you’re taking what is taught an adding something personal that is compatible then it isn’t an issue. For instance, Gompopa’s promise he made to his dying wife was a completely personal drama. But it was in accord with the intentions of the teachings it wasn’t a corruption.

“Changing it” however sounds worrisome. If you’ve cleared what you’re doing with an authentic lineage lama then there’s no problem.

Since you’ve done it once already then slowing it down so you feel you’re deepening your understanding sounds excellent to me.

So take that as a vote of support from an anonymous internet DW poster.
What I'm speaking about is spending time just focusing on one part of the four thoughts for an extended period of time. Then just focusing on refuge for an extended period of time, even beyond just doing prostrations. Meditating on the benefits of refuge. Then focusing on bodhicitta. Spending time really training in lo jong. And so on.

My lama said to me privately that this is a really good thing. What one would do on one's own in retreat. Or through one's life as a practitioner. Really gnaw on things.

But then people come to practice with me, and it's a big problem.
I think you're doing it the right way.
I think the people coming to practice with you do not appreciate or understand Ngondro.
དམ་པའི་དོན་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ཆེ་བ་དང་།
རྟོག་གེའི་ཡུལ་མིན་བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་།
སྐལ་ལྡན་ལས་འཕྲོ་ཅན་གྱིས་རྟོགས་པ་སྟེ།
དེ་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ལ་ནི་ལོ་རྟོག་སེལ།།


"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")

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conebeckham
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Re: Taking Apart Ngondro

Post by conebeckham » Tue Aug 27, 2019 7:56 pm

heart wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 7:31 pm
Cinnabar wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:40 pm
smcj wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:39 pm

What makes you think it’s a problem?
Because when I practice with a dharma brother he says: this is a problem.
Group practice should be done in a traditional way, when you are alone it is fine to spend extended time on the parts you want to.

/magnus
I also agree with this. When I was living at a Dharma center, Ngondro was done as a group practice Saturdays from 10 to 11:30 am. Recitations were done 7 times each, except for VS mantras which were done 100x. (long one, and a bunch of the short one). This was the Kamtsang Ngondro, Chariot for Travelling.....also, it was done in English and Tibetan, alternately, and actual physical prostrations were not done in a group setting, nor were Mandala plates used.

In personal practice, things were different.
དམ་པའི་དོན་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ཆེ་བ་དང་།
རྟོག་གེའི་ཡུལ་མིན་བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་།
སྐལ་ལྡན་ལས་འཕྲོ་ཅན་གྱིས་རྟོགས་པ་སྟེ།
དེ་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ལ་ནི་ལོ་རྟོག་སེལ།།


"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")

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