Getting the MOST out of ngondro

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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Getting the MOST out of ngondro

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Fri Feb 28, 2020 11:08 pm

Könchok Thrinley wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 10:53 pm
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 10:36 pm
I have never seriously done prostrations/refuge, I spent a bit of time on the practice and did consult teachers about it, they stressed that the refuge part was more important than full physical prostrations. in fact, we were even given modification of simply bowing etc. when not capable of the full physical motion. One could substitute circumambulation etc. and simply recite the prayer as well. Is this not common? I have always assumed that the "Refuge" bit is really the important part and the physical act is a supporting role.
There seem to be some traditions where they focus bit more on the number of prostrations really. Especially it seems to be like that in Karma Kagyu (please correct me if I am wrong). In some other traditions, such as Drikung Kagyu, there are some instructions that prostrations are good idea even while doing mandala and then bodhicitta in the context of five fold mahamudra.
This may explain it. I have been around mainly Sakyapas as far as this goes, and they seem to see Ngondro as far less of requirement or prerequisite. In fact, the Sakya Ngondro is fully modern, I don't even think they did it prior to Deshung Rinpoche as a school, but I could be wrong.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

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Re: Getting the MOST out of ngondro

Post by Könchok Thrinley » Fri Feb 28, 2020 11:12 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 11:08 pm
There seem to be some traditions where they focus bit more on the number of prostrations really. Especially it seems to be like that in Karma Kagyu (please correct me if I am wrong). In some other traditions, such as Drikung Kagyu, there are some instructions that prostrations are good idea even while doing mandala and then bodhicitta in the context of five fold mahamudra.
This may explain it. I have been around mainly Sakyapas as far as this goes, and they seem to see Ngondro as far less of requirement or prerequisite. In fact, the Sakya Ngondro is fully modern, I don't even think they did it prior to Deshung Rinpoche as a school, but I could be wrong.
Do the Sakyapas even have the "standard" Ngöndro consisting of 4 inner preliminaries, or are they more like Gelug and Bön having bit more elaborate or special one? I have been searching for some info on that particular topic and really could not find anything to be honest. It just seems that Sakyapas go straight to Lamdre.
“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

Formerly known as Miroku.

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Re: Getting the MOST out of ngondro

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Fri Feb 28, 2020 11:15 pm

Könchok Thrinley wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 11:12 pm
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 11:08 pm
There seem to be some traditions where they focus bit more on the number of prostrations really. Especially it seems to be like that in Karma Kagyu (please correct me if I am wrong). In some other traditions, such as Drikung Kagyu, there are some instructions that prostrations are good idea even while doing mandala and then bodhicitta in the context of five fold mahamudra.
This may explain it. I have been around mainly Sakyapas as far as this goes, and they seem to see Ngondro as far less of requirement or prerequisite. In fact, the Sakya Ngondro is fully modern, I don't even think they did it prior to Deshung Rinpoche as a school, but I could be wrong.
Do the Sakyapas even have the "standard" Ngöndro consisting of 4 inner preliminaries, or are they more like Gelug and Bön having bit more elaborate or special one? I have been searching for some info on that particular topic and really could not find anything to be honest. It just seems that Sakyapas go straight to Lamdre.
There is one, I think it was composed or compiled by Deshung Rinpoche."Marvelous Path of the Two Accumulations" or something like that. Sakya monastery in Seattle often has copies.

Like I said, it is not a prerequisite in the manner of other schools, in fact I think it normally comes after HYT empowerment, if it's emphasized at all. I have to say, my Sakya teachers have generally not emphasized it, but a lot of the content from the Ngondro Sadhana is featured prominently in the Sadhana that people regularly practice.

Kirtu or Malcolm would probably know more.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low

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Re: Getting the MOST out of ngondro

Post by Sennin » Sat Feb 29, 2020 4:14 am

Könchok Thrinley wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 11:12 pm
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 11:08 pm
There seem to be some traditions where they focus bit more on the number of prostrations really. Especially it seems to be like that in Karma Kagyu (please correct me if I am wrong). In some other traditions, such as Drikung Kagyu, there are some instructions that prostrations are good idea even while doing mandala and then bodhicitta in the context of five fold mahamudra.
This may explain it. I have been around mainly Sakyapas as far as this goes, and they seem to see Ngondro as far less of requirement or prerequisite. In fact, the Sakya Ngondro is fully modern, I don't even think they did it prior to Deshung Rinpoche as a school, but I could be wrong.
Do the Sakyapas even have the "standard" Ngöndro consisting of 4 inner preliminaries, or are they more like Gelug and Bön having bit more elaborate or special one? I have been searching for some info on that particular topic and really could not find anything to be honest. It just seems that Sakyapas go straight to Lamdre.
Even in Lamdre you accumulate (based on signs) Heruka Vajrasattva, Mandala offerings and Guru yoga. They're embedded in the various Hevajra liturgies/sadhanas as well. Panchen Ngawang Choedak notes that the superior benefit of Guru Yoga is the attainment of Mahamudra; the mediocre is the attainment of the eighth siddhis, four activities, etc and for the those of lesser intelligence, it is the preliminary practice of the path.

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Re: Getting the MOST out of ngondro

Post by Könchok Thrinley » Sat Feb 29, 2020 1:20 pm

Sennin wrote:
Sat Feb 29, 2020 4:14 am
Even in Lamdre you accumulate (based on signs) Heruka Vajrasattva, Mandala offerings and Guru yoga. They're embedded in the various Hevajra liturgies/sadhanas as well. Panchen Ngawang Choedak notes that the superior benefit of Guru Yoga is the attainment of Mahamudra; the mediocre is the attainment of the eighth siddhis, four activities, etc and for the those of lesser intelligence, it is the preliminary practice of the path.
Oh, thanks Sennin! That is pretty interesting. It also makes quite clear why Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche had his view on ngöndro (except that it is not completely necessary in dzogchen, but that is a discussion for another time).
“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

Formerly known as Miroku.

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Re: Getting the MOST out of ngondro

Post by KoolAid900 » Thu Mar 05, 2020 7:10 am

Könchok Thrinley wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 10:53 pm
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 10:36 pm
I have never seriously done prostrations/refuge, I spent a bit of time on the practice and did consult teachers about it, they stressed that the refuge part was more important than full physical prostrations. in fact, we were even given modification of simply bowing etc. when not capable of the full physical motion. One could substitute circumambulation etc. and simply recite the prayer as well. Is this not common? I have always assumed that the "Refuge" bit is really the important part and the physical act is a supporting role.
There seem to be some traditions where they focus bit more on the number of prostrations really. Especially it seems to be like that in Karma Kagyu (please correct me if I am wrong). In some other traditions, such as Drikung Kagyu, there are some instructions that prostrations are good idea even while doing mandala and then bodhicitta in the context of five fold mahamudra.
The refuge part is what's important, but if you can actually do prostrations it is extremely beneficial IMO. If you legitimately cannot do them, doesnt mean you cant pactice. No reason to give up. If you can do them, but dont or make excuses then I am skeptical of the sincerity in the refuge practice. In Drikung we usually count the prayers (said while doing prostrations), whereas in Karma Kagyu its usually the prostrations that are counted. But as you pointed out, in the Drikung 5 fold Mahamudra preliminaries, prostrations are done during refuge, mandala, and the Bodhisattva vow sections 111,111 each section (though prayers are counted rather than the prostrations). Full prostrations are done during refuge and half prostrations are acceptable during mandala and Bodhicitta. During mandala the 37 point mandala is created and during each recitation/prostration more rice is thrown on the mandala. I personally prefer this to the 7 point mandala generation that is often done in Karma Kagyu (which I dont mean to knock at all).

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Re: Getting the MOST out of ngondro

Post by Soma999 » Thu Mar 05, 2020 10:42 am

If you really want to get the most out of your ngondro, i would suggest you don't focus too much on numbers, accumulations, which are tools to make you practice regularly, and focus instead on integrating the essence of the ngondro, and transformation.

Contemplate the four thoughts until the light of those ideas transform all your attitudes. For exemple, contemplate the law of karma until you realise you are creating your reality, and you are responsable (responsability = response-ability, or capacity to respounds).

Contemplate the idea of impermanence until it gives rise to a feeling of how precious time is.

Contemplate the idea of a precious human body, and realise using it to only accumulate without any discrimination pleasures of all kind and all kind of evil (gossiping and so on) is like pissing in a precious vase.

Contemplate the nature of suffering until you realise true refuge cannot come from anything external.

The importance is not to recte it X times, but to really infuse your being with understanding, and to let it go deeper and deeper until it becomes "flesh and blood".

-------------

Take refuge until you redirect your being from peripheral to center, the heart of all heart.

Affirm boddicitta until love shine forth in you, and you cherich others at least as much as yourself.

-------------

Perform vajrasattva until you can let go of your fears, hatred, grasping and ignorance, until the "real human" manifest, until the mirror of your heart is pollished, until you stop taking yourself so seriously and sectarian walls crumble.

Perform mandala offering until a true sense of generosity radiates in you.

Perform union with the Guru until its wisdom, love and energy flow through you, and you are connected to an endless flow of universal blessings.

And when it is attained... just keep doing !

-------------

The goal is not to accumulate, accumulations means nothing. You have done 5 millions recitations ? Good, where are they ? Show me. They are nowhere. There is nothing substantial that is called "5 millions accumulations", it's just a vision of the mind.

The goal is to transform yourself, and the mind has to participate.

Instead of having the mind counting your accumulations, telling you to go faster so you end the ngondro quicker, or telling you how good you are because you did it, and you are so much better than others, or that now you become "someone" (while the Buddha is no one...)... just let the mind feed the real spirit of ngondro "i have to really purify myself and let my body, speech and mind becomes pure vessels for Buddha nature to express itself", "i want to generate pure generosity, and that this spirit of generosity magnify whatever i do" and so on...

Understand accumulations of high number are given originally to monks in monastery, to yogi in hermitage... who have 10 hours per day to do that !

Now you live in another world, you have to adapt.

If your mind is focusing on really integrating the essence of the teaching, and to really transform yourself, to practice as an offering... you will get the most of your ngondros. Even one recitation will be meaningful.

And you will maybe find it so profund you will never want to stop.

But if you place at the center of your mind "accumulations" and "objectives", you act like a businessman, trying to get, to obtain, to calculate...

Just let go of all this : practice as an offering, and put all your heart in it. Then, repeat it, but don't make accumulations of repetitions an objective per se. It is just a tool.

What i suggest is you read also the biography of great saints, it will really empower your practice and connect you with those great beings. I suggest for exemple Shabkar Tsogdruk Rangdrol in the book the life of Shabkar.

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