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Ngondro

I'm interested in exploring Ngondro, starting the Karmic clearing as it were. I'd be very interested to hear any experiences of practice such as dorje khadro etc, in particular the actual effects experienced. A wide question, I know, but intentionally so. I mentioned dorje khadro as this particular preliminary practice, for some reason, resonates. Look forward to hearing from you all!

fursatall

Comments

  • KennethKenneth Veteran
    edited May 2015

    For beginners like me, it would be interesting if someone would include a brief discussion of what Ngondro is, or perhaps a useful link on the subject to help us follow along..

  • JohnMacJohnMac Veteran

    Absolutely right Kenneth, sorry. Here's the best one I could find.
    http://thubtenchodron.org/2009/09/clearing-and-enriching-mind/

    KennethBunks
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    edited May 2015

    I skimmed the helpful link above. Before I realized I was out of my zone, I did read the following with pleasure:

    Traditionally these practices are done 100,000 times, with an extra 11 percent to make up for any mistakes we may make in doing them.

    That's me -- the 11% man ... when I'm lucky. :) I appreciate it when my flubs are acknowledged.

    Tnx.

    Rowan1980anataman
  • JohnMacJohnMac Veteran

    1% if I'm lucky....

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    I do ngondro. It's...demanding. That's about all I can say about it. It takes a lot of devotion that I don't quite have yet, but working on. My teacher is a Vajrayana teacher so that is what we practice.

    We start with out preliminaries, and then work on inner. I can't say they are easy. I actually posted a thread about it a couple months ago about "What's the point" or something similar out of my frustration with the billions of repetitions. We measure the outer preliminaries in hours and then the inner ones as repetitions. It takes a long time to repeat the 100 syllable mantra 100,000 times :) LOL At least it's a nice mantra.

    I have a hard time seeing it for what it is rather than seeing it as solely a stepping stone to other teachings I cannot access without going through this first. So I'm working on my intention with regards to Ngondro right now.

    This is our basic format:
    http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Ngöndro

    Rowan1980
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    Sounds horrible. Did the Buddha do this kind of practice??

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator
    edited May 2015

    No. Vajrayana is a Tibetan practice. They are required to later be taught Dzogchen teachings (by my teacher, not required by everyone everywhere, obviously). They are a foundational practice of Vajrayana practice. It is a way to realize Buddha Nature, just a different path than others. (It's supposed to be faster and more direct, but I'm not so sure about that, lol)

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    @silver in the mahayana there is the trikaya and Shakyamuni is just one manifest Buddha of many (and bodhisattvas). They are not kidding when they say that!

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    Are there any cool/unique stories about these things, @Jeffrey or @karasti?

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    Not that I can think of off the top of my head. I'll think on it. My oldest graduates on Saturday and we have baseball games, track meets, and choir concerts in between and right now, my brain is mush, lol.

    Though my teacher has been practicing Ngondro since he was very young. He does the repetitions over and over again. I can't imagine. But he says it is an amazing practice. I'm so far not quite convinced. I believe him, I'm just not sure if it's for me or not. But I have taken vows knowing what I was getting into and this is the next step, so onward I go.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited May 2015

    @silver about Ngondro? Or about subsequent Buddhas/bodhisattvas? I don't know anything about Ngondro.

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    @Jeffrey said:
    silver about Ngondro? Or about subsequent Buddhas/bodhisattvas? I don't know anything about Ngondro.

    About subsequent Buddhas/bodhisattvas. B)

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    I don't know too many stories, but Milerapa was enlightened according to histories. This story is of Milarepa teaching a shephard boy about his mind. And the shephard boy becomes a lineage holder as well.

    It's my guru giving the talk. And there are parts 2 and 3.

  • JohnMacJohnMac Veteran

    Thanks for the link Karasti, interesting material there. I'm very interested in the experiential side of the process, how do you feel after practice? Better, worse, the same?

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    How I feel after often is dictated by how I feel getting started. If I am feeling irritable before I start, I often don't feel any better later. If I am feeling particularly devoted to my practice and my teacher(s) one day, then I feel better after I practice. I am working on inner preliminaries. The meditative portion of the outer I had no problem with and it helped my understanding of the importance of particular things such as the rarity and preciousness of human birth. Recitations are another story. So it just really depends. There is a lot of visualization with the instructions my teacher gives, and that type of practice is not the easiest for me because they get quite complex. So while I enjoy the mantras and find them enjoyable (once I got the pronunciations down) I get distracted and frustrated by the visualizations.

    I've been working on them for a few months, since my last retreat with my teacher which was I think in November. I can't really note a major difference in how I feel or my devotion to the practice since then, so if it's there, it's fairly small (which is often the case, so that is ok). Some people work step by step through them, doing all 100,000 recitations of one preliminary before moving to the next. I find it more helpful to do them all each day in a smaller number. It just brings the practice together more. So depending on my day, I might decide to do just 1 recitation of each practice or I might do more. One of our sangha members does 108 of each practice every day. :O I lose my focus too soon to do that, lol.

    I do find the cleansing portion of the Vajrasattva mantra and visualization to be the most helpful part. I have found it quite helpful in eliminating past transgressions in my life that would crop up from time to time. Truly letting go of and forgiving ourselves for things we've done is quite helpful. Initially I completely disregarded it as it reminded me too much of the Catholic ideal of confession. But really it is just a process of facing yourself and then moving on.

  • JohnMacJohnMac Veteran

    Thank you for a very full answer. I find a similar problem in terms of visualisation, actually, I am very drawn to visualisation but worry that I'm not 'doing it right' and as you say, some visualisations are so involved that I forget what I'm meant to be visualising....hence, my interest in Dorje Khadro, a bit more hands on perhaps. Persistence....I suppose, and application.

  • JohnMacJohnMac Veteran

    This is interesting...

    From "Not for Happiness: A Guide to the So-Called Preliminary Practices":

    As your studies deepen, you will come to realise that ngöndro is the most distinctive element of the vajrayana. Sadly, though, it is fashionable these days to try to get it out of the way as quickly as possible. New vajrayana students are learning to view ngöndro as a hurdle they are required to overcome before being allowed to receive higher teachings. It is such a big mistake! And a potentially dangerous one, because it is virtually impossible to refute. Yet many hold this view, and the consequences are beginning to mushroom out of control. For example, in Buddhist circles, where a kind of spiritual "political correctness" operates, even the gentlest suggestion that not everyone has to accumulate one hundred thousand prostrations is extremely unwelcome. The more people who think like this, the greater the risk that this precious practice will be reduced to meaningless ritual.

    Of course, to follow a step-by-step path can be both beneficial and rewarding, but the problem is that contemporary dharma students tend to follow prescribed practices far too slavishly. Each student's needs are different, and one of the skills a teacher must develop is the ability to discern the method most appropriate to each person's capacity.

    Imagine, for example, you have been given the task of teaching your next-door neighbour to ride a bicycle. The first thing you discover about her is that she has difficulty concentrating early in the morning, which is exactly when she has to ride her bike to work. As her teacher, you suggest she wake herself up by drinking a cup of coffee before leaving home. It works like magic, and within a couple of days your student is riding to work safely every morning. Before long, her cousin asks her to teach him how to ride, and since the cup of coffee you suggested made such a difference to her own bike-riding experience, she passes it on without considering whether he really needs it or not. He then passes the same information on to his brother, who passes it on to his daughter, and so on and so forth, until, five hundred years later, a closely knit cult has grown up of bicycle riders who only cycle after drinking coffee, and anyone who does not drink coffee will not ride a bike.

    Rowan1980
  • TheswingisyellowTheswingisyellow Trying to be open to existence Samsara Veteran
    I did some ngondro back in the day and I am considering resuming the practice, slowing it way down and just practicing my mindfulness and focus. What JohnMac posted regarding just trying to burn through it, was what I was doing. It became burdensome for me .
    lobster
  • JohnMacJohnMac Veteran

    Me too. From thinking and reading about it, I think that quality is preferable to quantity. I'm going to choose an element and practice it properly and with dedication but to doing it right as opposed to getting it done. I don't particularly worry about the numbers, if I get there I get there. After all a symphony isn't about listening to just the ending, is it !

    Theswingisyellowlobstersilver
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