Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby Chaz » Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:50 pm

Adamantine wrote:
Chaz wrote:
conebeckham wrote:I've done 10,000 prostrations in a day....and I've done it a few days in a row....So....11 days of doing that, I suppose, is possible. Brutal, but possible.



Brutal? To say the least!


Well prostrations are pretty close to an ascetic practice, purification through suffering seems to be part of the equation.

I think you may be right, there, Adam.

I've been thinking. I'll be recieving the Ngondro practice lung this weekend, which means I can start my practices any time after that. I've been considering taking a week's vacation and do a prostrations "death march".
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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby Chaz » Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:58 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:PPS Who said you need to recite the entire refuge "formula" for each prostration?


Noone has said anything yet.

I'd prefer to not go into any detail, but my read of the pertinent section of my Ngondro manual indicates that each prostration is preceded by a refuge formula.

I'll freely admit I may be reading this wrong and I'll have clarification on that matter on Sunday. It's on the list of questions I have for my teacher.
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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby tamdrin » Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:09 am

Adamantine wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote:If you do the maths it's 444,444 accumulations over 48 days.

That's 9,258.25 accumulations per day.

Now you don't have to finish prostrations in order to accumulate Vajrasattva mantras or mandla offerings so it's not necessarily 9,258.25 prostrations per day. So 2,500 of each practice per day, starting at 4am and finishing in the wee hours of the night with breaks for eating, excreting and a few hours sleep is not impossible at all.


Maybe that's how you're taught, but in my lineage you only count one at a time- so if you begin with prostrations you may do 3 each of the other ngondro sections when you read through the entire ngondro sadhana each session, but you only count the prostrations until you've completed them.. then you begin counting the accumulations for the next section. .

I also learned the hard way that if you go one day without doing the ngondro, no matter what the excuse, then you have to start accumulations all over again from scratch, because the momentum is lost. .


I don't buy that. Once you accumulate and dedicate the merit. It can not be last. That may be one tradition or ways of doing Ngondro, but missing a day doesn't mean all your hard work is for nothing. Even if, One could always manage to do 1 or 3 prostrations and call that "ngondro".
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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby conebeckham » Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:22 am

How many hours did that take?


Four sessions a day, approximately 3 to 3 1/2 hours each session...so, about 2500 a session.

I finished these in a retreat of about 5 days--but only the last two days were 10,000/day affairs. The first three days I gradually worked up. I had about 30,00 left to do at the beginning of this retreat....this is all from memory, and it's been some time....

And I'm not going to kid you, I was sore for days afterward---at my current age, there's no way I would consider doing that many in a day.

And, as others have said, although ngondro seems to stress "quantity" I now look back and think more about the quality....same thing with any accumulation you do--mantras, mandalas, tsoks, whatnot. But quantity makes up for poor quality, but increasing one's odds! :smile:
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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby Adamantine » Tue Feb 22, 2011 5:49 am

tamdrin wrote:I don't buy that. Once you accumulate and dedicate the merit. It can not be last. That may be one tradition or ways of doing Ngondro, but missing a day doesn't mean all your hard work is for nothing. Even if, One could always manage to do 1 or 3 prostrations and call that "ngondro".


What's not to buy? This is the way the Lamas instruct. . And yes, if you're too busy or physically ill it is acceptable to just go through the sadhana once and do three of everything, including the section you're accumulating- this counts for continuity. It's when you skip the ngondro sadhana entirely one day that you must start over. I think this is a type of training for later in Vajrayana empowerment when you may be given a samaya to do a certain practice or number of recitations everyday- and the consequences of keeping or breaking that commitment multiply exponentially.

But no, as you say, whatever accumulation you do, once you dedicate the merit of course the merit does not disappear once you've broken the continuity. However, this is a method of training the mind, it's not just about the quantity of merit you accumulate. I certainly don't feel any loss from the accumulations I did that I couldn't count any longer... it was a great wakeup call actually and I never missed a day after that.
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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby heart » Tue Feb 22, 2011 6:28 am

conebeckham wrote:
How many hours did that take?


Four sessions a day, approximately 3 to 3 1/2 hours each session...so, about 2500 a session.

I finished these in a retreat of about 5 days--but only the last two days were 10,000/day affairs. The first three days I gradually worked up. I had about 30,00 left to do at the beginning of this retreat....this is all from memory, and it's been some time....

And I'm not going to kid you, I was sore for days afterward---at my current age, there's no way I would consider doing that many in a day.

And, as others have said, although ngondro seems to stress "quantity" I now look back and think more about the quality....same thing with any accumulation you do--mantras, mandalas, tsoks, whatnot. But quantity makes up for poor quality, but increasing one's odds! :smile:


I have never heard about anyone doing 10.000 a day before. If it was anyone else then you that said they done it I would seriously doubt it. I never managed to do more than 1.500 a day and then it was impossible for me to do any the next few days. But I am very tall and heavy.

Seriously I think it is better for westerners to do Ngondro "slowly". If you do 400 a day, that is a lot, it would take you three years. That would be great since most westerners don't finish their Ngondro at all. 400 a day takes a least 1.5 - 2 hours if you go through the complete Ngondro sadhana properly, spending time on the four contemplations and doing at least 7 or 21 of all the parts. Even then you have to work slowly up to managing 400 a day. That is quite reasonable for someone having a work and a family. It took me longer than three years to do my Ngondro because I listened to all this "cowboy stuff" about finishing it in a few weeks or months. These ideas just make you depressed when you fail to accomplish them and depression isn't not helpful. The thing that helps is renunciation, devotion, compassion and emptiness. Please understand that Ngondro is about cultivating these qualities.
Doing Ngondro "slowly" even just 200 a day but never quitting you will finish in a few years, you will have faith in Ngondro and you will have developed some excellent qualities.

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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Feb 22, 2011 7:46 am

It seems to me that, on this thread, there are as many takes on ngondro are there are ngondro practitioners! That is to be expected. Vajrayana! Again this highlights the importance of the lama/guru. If you are lucky enough to have a more personal relationship with your teacher they will be able to see your needs, shortcomings and capacities and define the practices according to those personal factors.

Then, of course, there is each students personal response to the practices. Others get depressed and frustrated, others awe struck and motivated, etc... The purification process induces different thoughts and feelings in each individual due to their karmic proponderences. Again, this only serves to highlight the importance of the guru in Vajrayana practice. To guide us through our purification.

Coz, even if many of us may believe that ngondro is just a necessary/imposed preparation for the "real" thing, for the "higher" or more "advanced" practices, what we forget is that ngondro is a 100% Vajrayana practice, with all the bells, ribbons and frills of any vajrayana practice.
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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby gnegirl » Tue Feb 22, 2011 2:40 pm

My teacher considers ngondro to be the base that everything else is built upon. If you do not have a stable base, how can you hope to build up further without it all collapsing down upon you?
"Things are not what they appear to be: nor are they otherwise." --Surangama Sutra

Phenomenon, vast as space, dharmata is your base, arising and falling like ocean tide cycles, why do i cling to your illusion of unceasing changlessness?
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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby conebeckham » Tue Feb 22, 2011 6:25 pm

I'd like to thank Heart for his vote of confidence...seriously. I'm flattered. :thanks:

I agree with what he says, too...ngondro is not just "grunt work" to be done before the so-called "main practice." In my case, I knew I had another practice that would take all my allotted daily practice time, and in discussion with my teacher, I agreed that I could finish the prostrations. This was carefully planned. In fact, it was clear that I could be expected to do more, later.....

"Ngondro" means "That which goes before." In one sense, it can mean "preliminary." But in another sense, it can mean that which comes before all else, or, in other words, that which is Highest Priority or Most Important. The longer one practices, I think the more one realizes the latter definition. When I have time, or am in retreat, I do full ngondro...it takes me about 25 minutes to do 100 prostrations now, plus an additional 15-20 minutes for the liturgy before and after.....

And I think it's better to take one's time, whether outside or inside of retreat, with ngondro. Five months, Six Months, in retreat. seems like an appropriate time span to really spend with these practices as one's main practice. It took me 3 years, also, to finish prostrations.....3 years to do about 80k, and 5 days to do the rest. I'm not recommending this. Especially not for someone who's now my age and weight! :smile:
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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby lisehull » Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:53 pm

I have been considering joining a Ngondro group at my center here in Ashland. My teacher says I am ready but I still feel as if meditation is a challenge for me. When does one decide to begin doing Ngondro, is there a "right" time to so?
Thanks for the insight.
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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Feb 23, 2011 5:11 pm

Well, I asked (one of) my Karma Kagyu lama for a "higher" teaching and he said "Do ngondro first..." and (foolishly) I accepted. I knew I could have hassled him a little and he would have given me the higher teaching but, when I thought about it, I decided that (he was right and) it was (finally) the "right" time to start ngondro.

I have regretted my decision ever since... NOT!
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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby heart » Wed Feb 23, 2011 5:46 pm

lisehull wrote:I have been considering joining a Ngondro group at my center here in Ashland. My teacher says I am ready but I still feel as if meditation is a challenge for me. When does one decide to begin doing Ngondro, is there a "right" time to so?
Thanks for the insight.
Lise


I read this book http://www.wisdom-books.com/ProductDetail.asp?PID=9072 and I felt in my heart that it would be very worthwhile to do this practice even if it took me the rest of my life. These days there are many other fantastic books about Ngondro like WOMPT.

/magnus
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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby lisehull » Wed Feb 23, 2011 10:39 pm

I have a copy of Torch of Certainty but have yet to start it. Sounds like I should give it a read!
:thanks:
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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby Chaz » Wed Feb 23, 2011 10:45 pm

lisehull wrote:I have a copy of Torch of Certainty but have yet to start it. Sounds like I should give it a read!
:thanks:
Lise


It was recommened for me to read before I start Ngondro. It's a good overview of the practice.
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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby Chaz » Wed Feb 23, 2011 10:55 pm

lisehull wrote:I have been considering joining a Ngondro group at my center here in Ashland. My teacher says I am ready but I still feel as if meditation is a challenge for me. When does one decide to begin doing Ngondro, is there a "right" time to so?
Thanks for the insight.
Lise


Lise -

If your teacher says you're ready, you're probably ready.

I feel the same way though. My practice ebs and flows. At times it basically sucks. My PI said to begin. My sangha's Practice Coordinator said to begin. One of our senior teachers said it was ok start. I have not consulted with our resident lama, but he'd confer with the three people I mentioned and would agree, so ................

There's an old saying - when 10 men tell you you're drunk, you should lay down.

When your three most important practice mentors say to start Ngondro ......... start Ngondro. When your teacher says you should begin, respect his judgement.

I truly wish you luck moving forward. Trust your teacher. May all beings benefit.
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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby conebeckham » Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:12 pm

Lise-
Ngondro is an excellent way to accumulate merit. When merit accumulates, you create circumstances and opportunities to accumulate wisdom, as well. If one has difficulty meditating, ngondro will help you gather the merit to create conducive circumstances to meditate.

So, ngondro is excellent for you, I think!

(Plus, sounds like your teachers say you're ready..... :smile: )
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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby Adamantine » Thu Feb 24, 2011 5:56 am

conebeckham wrote:Lise-
Ngondro is an excellent way to accumulate merit. When merit accumulates, you create circumstances and opportunities to accumulate wisdom, as well. If one has difficulty meditating, ngondro will help you gather the merit to create conducive circumstances to meditate.



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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Thu Feb 24, 2011 8:19 am

conebeckham wrote:Lise-
Ngondro is an excellent way to accumulate merit. When merit accumulates, you create circumstances and opportunities to accumulate wisdom, as well. If one has difficulty meditating, ngondro will help you gather the merit to create conducive circumstances to meditate.

So, ngondro is excellent for you, I think!

(Plus, sounds like your teachers say you're ready..... :smile: )


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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby Pero » Thu Feb 24, 2011 8:19 pm

Chaz wrote: My PI said to begin.


Wow, you hired a private investigator to tell you when to begin with ngondro? :D
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Re: Mantra Recitation - Do You Do Enough?

Postby Pero » Thu Feb 24, 2011 8:25 pm

mudra wrote:Again no disagreement with quality over quantity, but I do have an objection to simply reciting mentally. According to the instructions I received, the practitioner should actually recite the mantra verbally so that he/she can hear the mantra him/herself. It should be discreet, but audible to oneself at least.


Adamantine wrote:Definitely. The point is to simultaneously practice with body, speech, and mind, and thus simultaneously purify all three. Actually vocalizing mantras is said to have the effect of purifying all manner of past negative speech and obscurations of speech.


Ah interesting, thanks!
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