Beginning a Ngöndro

Moderator: Tibetan Buddhism moderators

Re: Beginning a Ngöndro

Postby Karma Jinpa » Thu May 29, 2014 7:24 pm

What I meant by my previous statement was that Mr. Erlewine does a great job at conveying the "shock and awe" factor of how many of us "Western" Buddhists initially feel about ngöndro, but his leaving out of certain more traditional explanations could lead someone to mischaracterize it. For instance:

What was not clear when I first heard about ngöndro is why it exists. It is not primarily intended to be a life-long practice, although some do it. It is not something you have to do or that everyone does. It is purely remedial, a simple remedy, but for what? It sounded like a trip to the woodshed when I first heard about it.

Personally I think the choice of the word "remedial," with its negative connotations, is perhaps a poor choice. Those who chance across this may begin to think "I don't need remedial work... I need to move forward, not backward!" The first two practices (Refuge & Bodhicitta and Vajrasattva) are to purify obscurations, and the second two (Mandala and Guru Yoga) are to gather merit. These two processes (purification and accumulation) are things I think we all can see a use for, rather than feel like we're wearing a dunce cap and sitting in a corner while the cool kids get to play.

In fact, in Tibet, dharma students often do ngöndro BEFORE they ever try to seriously meditate. Think about that please. Perhaps the only reason that here in the U.S. we first try to learn to meditate is because ngöndro is too difficult for Americans to contemplate. Yet we are very comfortable with various physical exercise programs. Well, ngöndro is essentially the same thing, but it is primarily a mind-exercising regime, as in: the mind is something we also have to get in shape and learn how to use.

Here I think it is worth noting that it isn't just Americans choosing to do shamatha & vipashyana before ngöndro, but arguably just as much a matter of emphasis on the Lama's side. Several Tibetan teachers have made a point of mentioning that "Westerners" don't have the cultural baggage that Tibetans do, and that this means they can more readily jump in on those meditative practices. Some have even gone as far as to say that it was a fault of the Tibetans that they didn't strenuously engage in these, choosing to rely on lamas to do pujas, etc. Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche come to mind here.

Otherwise I think it's a pretty good intro, all in all...
"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, it happens that a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་རཱ་ག་ཨ་སྱ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།
ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།


:namaste:
User avatar
Karma Jinpa
 
Posts: 441
Joined: Wed Dec 12, 2012 10:19 pm

Re: Beginning a Ngöndro

Postby Simon E. » Thu May 29, 2014 8:08 pm

I did Ngondro back in the day...under CTR while he was still in the robe. Its was 'Precious Garland' ( Gampopa's ) and "Torch Of Certainty " all the way.
But he sent a number of us to learn Vipassana from the Thai monk Chao Khun Dhammasudhi. who later was known as Dhiravamsa.
The idea was for us to teach others who were his students..
It didn't quite work out that way..but thats a whole 'nother story.
Simon E.
 
Posts: 2543
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

Re: Beginning a Ngöndro

Postby smcj » Fri May 30, 2014 5:25 am

Simon E. wrote:I did Ngondro back in the day...under CTR while he was still in the robe.

Wow... :bow:…and I prided myself on being an old-timer! After all you've seen this website must seem tame!
Last edited by smcj on Fri May 30, 2014 5:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
smcj
 
Posts: 2078
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:13 am

Re: Beginning a Ngöndro

Postby smcj » Fri May 30, 2014 5:32 am

Here I think it is worth noting that it isn't just Americans choosing to do shamatha & vipashyana before ngöndro, but arguably just as much a matter of emphasis on the Lama's side.

Also worth noting is that the last two lines in "The Torch of Certainty" are:

Do not run full tilt at tranquility and insight. First, cultivate a fertile ground for positive qualities within yourself.

A virtuous/positively charged mind is generally considered an asset when approaching shamatha. Of course YMMV.
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
smcj
 
Posts: 2078
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:13 am

Re: Beginning a Ngöndro

Postby Simon E. » Fri May 30, 2014 9:34 am

smcj wrote:
Simon E. wrote:I did Ngondro back in the day...under CTR while he was still in the robe.

Wow... :bow:…and I prided myself on being an old-timer! After all you've seen this website must seem tame!



" Tame " isn't the word I would choose.
Simon E.
 
Posts: 2543
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

Re: Beginning a Ngöndro

Postby Karma Jinpa » Wed Jul 16, 2014 8:16 am

I found this (excerpted from a description of upcoming teachings with Khenpo Samdrup at GBI) to be a good summary of the importance of the so-called "ordinary foundations":

Contemplation of the Four Thoughts, whose fruit is the renunciation of samsara, is a profound practice that lays the foundation for all subsequent practice. As pointed out by His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche, “If you think getting a full night’s sleep is a good thing, this is a sign you have not really understood the meaning of the Four Thoughts.” He further said that “in order to really integrate their meaning, it is important to think about them every day.”

To lay a firm foundation for practice, we contemplate the following: the preciousness of our human incarnation, the certainty of death and the impermanence of all that exists, the principle of karmic cause and effect, and the defects of samsara. Until our contemplation bears fruit, we will continue to seek happiness through samsaric existence, which always only leads to more suffering.

The practice of the Four Thoughts, also known as the “Ordinary Preliminaries,” may be done as part of one’s daily practice or intensively in 100-day retreat.

Recommended reading: Gampopa, The Jewel Ornament of Liberation, Chapters 2-11; Patrul Rinpoche, The Words of My Perfect Teacher, Chapters 1-4; Khandro Rinpoche, This Perfect Life; and Thrangu Rinpoche, Four Foundations of Buddhist Practice.
"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, it happens that a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་རཱ་ག་ཨ་སྱ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།
ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།


:namaste:
User avatar
Karma Jinpa
 
Posts: 441
Joined: Wed Dec 12, 2012 10:19 pm

Previous

Return to Tibetan Buddhism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot], SamBodhi and 17 guests

>