Ngondro refuge/prostration question

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Ngondro refuge/prostration question

Postby mahabuddha » Sat Feb 08, 2014 8:28 pm

When doing the refuge prostrations, do I just cycle through the refuge prayer continuously as I'm doing the prostrations?

Thanks.
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Re: Ngondro refuge/prostration question

Postby michaelb » Sat Feb 08, 2014 8:35 pm

One prayer per prostration, in my experience. The idea is to do 100, 000+ of each.
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Re: Ngondro refuge/prostration question

Postby smcj » Sat Feb 08, 2014 8:47 pm

When I was younger I could do two prostrations per prayer. Not anymore though.

If you are doing them, may I suggest a swimmer's lap counter instead of a hand male. It fits on your finger and is the 21st century way to keep count. Malas are fine for sitting practice still, but given the movement of prostrations you might as well go electronic.
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Re: Ngondro refuge/prostration question

Postby Ivo » Sun Feb 09, 2014 3:45 pm

Traditionally, you are not 'required' to do one recitation per prostration, although this is the usual approach, but you count whatever is slower. If you do two recitations per prostration, you count the prostrations - i.e. you will eventually do 100 000 prostrations and 200 000 recitations. It is also customary to do 10% extra to counteract errors, omissions and distraction, so usually we would do 110 000. And, the swimmer's lap counter is a very good idea. Alternatively, you make a ngondro-specific mala with only ten beads on a round rubber band, which fits tightly around the three middle fingers of your hand. You move the beads with the thumb on each prostration and when you reach 10 (i.e. the knot) you move a pebble or something on the floor. This is still much easier than using your regular mala - no one uses a big mala for ngondro.

But in any case, be gentle with yourself, people often burn out during ngondro practice, especially when trying to combine it with everyday life. One should know that ngondro is traditionally thought up as a retreat practice, and in retreat you would generally finish a ngondro in 3-4 months. When you try to do it in a 'western' style it is hard to develop momentum, it makes it actually harder and many things can go wrong. Just do it wisely and respect your condition.
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Re: Ngondro refuge/prostration question

Postby Terma » Sun Feb 09, 2014 8:16 pm

I suppose it depends on the instruction given by your teacher(s). I know for many people, they are taught to repeatedly recite the refuge prayer as they are prostrating. But for the ngondro I am doing (not the standard Mahamudra ngondro), the instruction for us is to do one refuge prayer for every prostration we do.

Is it possible for you to ask either the teacher who gave you the lung for the ngondro? Otherwise perhaps there are a few close students of his you could ask?

By the way, if it is the standard Kagyu Mahamudra ngondro you are doing, then the commentary by Jamgon Kongtrul "Torch of Certainty" which is sold in book form, may be useful. Have you received the lung for the ngondro?

I also just came across a 2 part teaching by HH 17th Karmapa on this text as well...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcQgheG2jvY
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Re: Ngondro refuge/prostration question

Postby mahabuddha » Sun Feb 09, 2014 10:48 pm

Thank you all for your pointers, I will ask my teacher when he returns back from his teaching travels.
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Re: Ngondro refuge/prostration question

Postby smcj » Mon Feb 10, 2014 4:27 am

Terma wrote:I also just came across a 2 part teaching by HH 17th Karmapa on this text as well...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcQgheG2jvY

Thanks for that. I'm listening to it right now. 15 minutes of introduction so far. Should be interesting.

Kalu R.'s book "Gem Ornament of Manifold Oral Instructions, which benefits each and everyone appropriately" (yes, that's the title) is also a good NgonDro reference for Kagyu practitioners.
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Re: Ngondro refuge/prostration question

Postby conebeckham » Mon Feb 10, 2014 5:28 am

I used a big ol' bodhiseed mala, myself...almost put my eye out a few times, whipping that thing around.

I like the idea of the small finger mala....
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Re: Ngondro refuge/prostration question

Postby smcj » Mon Feb 10, 2014 5:44 am

conebeckham wrote:I used a big ol' bodhiseed mala, myself...almost put my eye out a few times, whipping that thing around.

I like the idea of the small finger mala....

Here's a link:

http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/4028.htm
Last edited by Adamantine on Mon Feb 10, 2014 7:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: removed comment addressed to moderators.
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Re: Ngondro refuge/prostration question

Postby Terma » Mon Feb 10, 2014 11:44 am

conebeckham wrote:I used a big ol' bodhiseed mala, myself...almost put my eye out a few times, whipping that thing around.

I like the idea of the small finger mala....


Haa haa! Yes, I've started to use a small wrist mala with smaller beads on it. Much, much easier! Besides I didn't really like the idea of the mala flying all over the place and I couldnever really figure out how to sort of hold it in the hand and have it wrap around the wrist while still advancing the beads...lol. Seems a little harder to focus on the visualisation that way!

But I have also experimented with electronic counters...Dharma in the techy age!
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Re: Ngondro refuge/prostration question

Postby conebeckham » Mon Feb 10, 2014 4:17 pm

I know a lama who left his mala on the floor, and would move a bead each time, with his hand, before getting back up....seemed tedious to me, but perhaps that was my own mind trying hard to finish.

I wrapped up the prostrations on a retreat, and by the end, I had figured out how the big ol' mala could be kept out of harm's way. Now, when I do them, I do 21, you know....so I count mentally. I confess to not doing the whole ngondro daily, but for years that was my main practice--at least two sessions a day, at least 90 minutes......in retreat I was doing four 2 1/2 or 3 hour sessions daily. Ngondro is really still a wonderful way to gather merit and purify negativity, and also to practice guru yoga. But I have too many other recitation commitments these days.....oh, well.
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Re: Ngondro refuge/prostration question

Postby dakini_boi » Mon Feb 10, 2014 6:24 pm

for counting prostrations I recommend this app:

http://blog.dwbuk.org/diamond-way-buddh ... -for-ipod/

use one of the "button" settings, and keep the device on the floor in front of feet. . . tap each time you come up.
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Re: Ngondro refuge/prostration question

Postby michaelb » Mon Feb 10, 2014 6:53 pm

I used a pile of matches and moved one across for each prostration. Easy to buy and they don't roll about. I actually started off with a mala but trashed it on the concrete floor. My knees didn't fare much better.
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Re: Ngondro refuge/prostration question

Postby TaTa » Mon Feb 10, 2014 7:17 pm

I just cad a piece of paper and a pen and for every ten postration i mark a little line, making little boxes of lines like in the card game "truco"
__
|_\|

Something like that XD
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Re: Ngondro refuge/prostration question

Postby byamspa » Tue Feb 11, 2014 1:26 am

I just count them in my head. *shrug* Its not that hard to count to 108 while doing them IMO.
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Re: Ngondro refuge/prostration question

Postby mahabuddha » Tue Feb 11, 2014 1:47 am

I have ten pennies and ten half-dollars...one half-dollar for each round of ten pennies :D just slide one over after each prostration.
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Re: Ngondro refuge/prostration question

Postby michaelb » Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:28 am

byamspa wrote:I just count them in my head. *shrug* Its not that hard to count to 108 while doing them IMO.

Whilst visualising a full refuge tree and all beings around you and concentrating on the refuge prayer? Sadly my skills don't stretch that far. But then, I'd get so annoyed if I lost count at 70 something and had to start again.
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Re: Ngondro refuge/prostration question

Postby Tsultrim T. » Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:42 pm

A small wrist mala of 27 beads on stretchy bracelet thread worked great for me. Once you complete 4 cycles you did 108 prostrations. Also easy to keep on your hand and move as you prostrate. As for the original question I think counting the actual prostrations is more important as they are harder to perform than the refuge chanting. Personally the 4 line refuge and bodhichitta prayer took almost exactly the same time as one complete prostration for me so I didn't worry about it too much, just kept counted of the prostrations. Once you get into it you will develop of rhythm that feels good for your mind and body and it will just flow. Good luck!! :twothumbsup:
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Re: Ngondro refuge/prostration question

Postby Terma » Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:34 am

Tsultrim T. wrote:A small wrist mala of 27 beads on stretchy bracelet thread worked great for me. Once you complete 4 cycles you did 108 prostrations. Also easy to keep on your hand and move as you prostrate. As for the original question I think counting the actual prostrations is more important as they are harder to perform than the refuge chanting. Personally the 4 line refuge and bodhichitta prayer took almost exactly the same time as one complete prostration for me so I didn't worry about it too much, just kept counted of the prostrations. Once you get into it you will develop of rhythm that feels good for your mind and body and it will just flow. Good luck!! :twothumbsup:


I use the same kind of wrist mala, though oddly I could have sworn that mine has 29 beads though I will have to count again. Well, if so then there are just a few more for the mistakes I guess. I find it easier to use the wrist mala as I can advance the bead easy enough and not have to worry about the mala hitting the ground and things like that. I need all the focus on the visualizations and the refuge that I can get! I do 1 prostration per 1 refuge prayer, and this helps to get into a bit of a rythym I feel.
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Re: Ngondro refuge/prostration question

Postby Zhen Li » Wed Feb 12, 2014 2:49 am

One method that I used was rice. My mala has 108 beads, so I count how many sets of 108 I need in rice to complete how many I set to do.
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