Motova wrote:I have this book called, "The Great Path of Awakening: The Classic Guide to Lojong, a Tibetan Buddhist Practice For Cultivating the Heart of Compassion" by Jamgon Kongtrul, translated by Ken McLeod.
"The Great Path of Awakening" is one of the greatest books ever written. However Kongtrul is writing for people who are beginning serious practice in that book. The lojong teachings themselves are separate from that background and are in fact a common Mahayana teaching.
Under "The Groundwork: Instruction on What Supports Dharma", the first instruction is to start a session of Guru Yoga. I don't have a guru, thus I cannot do guru yoga. So will this impede any of the practices described within this book?
No. The root verses and root teachings are common Mahayana. My impression of the book is that he wrote it as an elaboration for monks beginning his retreat program but I cannot prove that. I haven't had Ken McLeod's excellent translation in my hand for years, but he may state the circumstances under which Kongtrul wrote it.
An example is one of the very first statements in the book in Kongtrul's commentary is "Begin with the preliminaries" - by which he means ngondro - the 400,000 (or 500,000 or 600,000 depending on lineage) accumulations of refuge and Bodhicitta meditation with prostrations, mandala offering, Vajrasattva meditation and Guru Yoga. But lojong does not have to be engaged at that level. This is an example of common Mahayana teaching in Tibetan Buddhism without necessarily being Vajrayana teaching. In fact, usually when Gelug and Sakya teachers present Geshe Chekawa's teaching, they often do not mention Vajrayana practice at all. The teaching is beyond golden and you do not need to practice Vajrayana itself to practice the slogans.
I reviewed the slogans just now and "train in the preliminaries" is in fact Geshe Chekawa's first slogan. Kongtrul's commentary focuses on ngondro but you can apply the common Mahayana preliminaries: precious human birth, impermanence and the inevitability of death for all beings, cause and effect (karma) and the faults of samsara (it's all suffering although it appears to be a mixture of happiness and suffering).