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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 10:20 am 
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Paul wrote:

Personally, I think any practice should be immersive. It should flavour 24 hours of your day - which why I think a retreat is great for ngondro as it's all you're doing - it can do its job and take hold of your mind. Interrupting it with an ordinary lay-person's life spoils that for me. I have no doubt that what you've mentioned is very productive and that I'd also find it productive.



You may think the interruptions of your lay life spoil it for you, and it is almost certainly the case that being able to live in retreat as long as you want would provide the optimal circumstances for palpable continuity, but there is always the infallibility of the accumulation of merit and wisdom to consider. If you are properly opening with refuge and bodhicitta, practicing with the least conceptual elaboration possible for you thus far, and sealing with dedication, you are definitely accumulating the two heaps. You are purifying obscurations. Once you've dedicated the merit, nothing can spoil that. You have to work with your circumstances. You don't have the circumstances for hermit life, or else your desire to live and practice in that context would have propelled you into that life. So you practice the best you can with the circumstances you have, and if it's feasible you work to bring about whatever circumstances you desire.

Basically, your logic that ngondro isn't a good fit for you because you have trouble allowing it to flavor your whole day is applicable to any other practice you could consider doing. If you can't immerse yourself in ngondro, you can't immerse yourself in any other practice either. However, the essence of ngondro - not least of which in the tradition you practice - is guru yoga. In post-session, you absolutely have the opportunity to consider everything you experience to be the 3 vajras of the lama, which really is identical to, and inseparable from, your own nature as the 3 vajras. And you can do that whether you're busy on the grind, having sex, eating, taking a dump, or doing a formal meditation session. How's that for 24 hr immersion?


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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 11:25 am 
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Pema Rigdzin wrote:
You may think the interruptions of your lay life spoil it for you, and it is almost certainly the case that being able to live in retreat as long as you want would provide the optimal circumstances for palpable continuity, but there is always the infallibility of the accumulation of merit and wisdom to consider. If you are properly opening with refuge and bodhicitta, practicing with the least conceptual elaboration possible for you thus far, and sealing with dedication, you are definitely accumulating the two heaps. You are purifying obscurations. Once you've dedicated the merit, nothing can spoil that. You have to work with your circumstances. You don't have the circumstances for hermit life, or else your desire to live and practice in that context would have propelled you into that life. So you practice the best you can with the circumstances you have, and if it's feasible you work to bring about whatever circumstances you desire.

I agree with a lot of this.

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If you can't immerse yourself in ngondro, you can't immerse yourself in any other practice either.


I'm afraid I really disagree with that.

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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 12:25 pm 
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Pema Rigdzin wrote:

If you can't immerse yourself in ngondro, you can't immerse yourself in any other practice either.


Paul wrote:
I'm afraid I really disagree with that.


Would you care to elaborate?


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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 6:09 pm 
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Paul wrote:
dakini_boi wrote:
What do you hate about it?


These answers are based on me doing it outside of a long retreat - in a long retreat or monastic setting I would have a very different view.

I think that it's taking up a huge amount of time which I would much rather spend meditating. I also think that the results are not as palpable as those from my usual practice, which would probably be different if I could do four sessions a day. It also seems arbitrary - for example I think spending as much free time & money as I can helping to build a retreat centre for my friends and teachers is a much better use of time than bowing to a visualisation 100000 times. The major reasons I am doing it and want to continue are *all* pride based.

Essentially I feel like I'm the wrong audience or am using the wrong tool.



Excuses.

I have a friend who took the lung for our Ngondro practice at the same time I did. he's not activly working with the practice. He claims that he won't get anything out of the practice unless he can do the practice in a group setting. That's fine, but even though there is a small group over at the local Shambhala center doing group Ngondro, he's not attending. he won't do his practice privately either. He just keeps making excuses.

I'm of the opinion that if someomeone doesn't want to do Ngondro, they don't have to, but if someone takes the lung for it, they have, in effect made a commitment do the practice faithfully through to completion. I view my practice as a commitment to my Guru, the Lineage and all sentient beings. You can always ask for permission to abandon the practice, but not all teachers support that idea, especially the old school Tibetans. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche was notorious for not letting his student off the hook with their Ngondro practice. Not many people who started the practice got the Vidyadhara's permission to stop. I'm told that he felt that the karmic downside to abandoning the practice was just too serious to allow it to happen on his watch.


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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 6:13 pm 
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I haven't had the lung.

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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 6:18 pm 
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Paul wrote:
There are three reasons I am continuing - because I don't want to do it (which is pointless), to get it over with (which is barely a reason) and to get access to teachings from teachers who would usually demand a ngondro (which is pointless and very prideful). I can't honestly think of a positive reason I'm doing it for.


If you honestly can't think of a positive reason you're doing it - then I think it's probably best to stop for now. If you would like to do it on retreat, then maybe start making aspirations and plans to practice it on a retreat. In the meantime, maybe you could just do a short guru yoga practice in conjunction with the types of meditation you find beneficial. Your point about "getting access to teachings from teachers who would usually demand a ngondro" gives the impression that you're not particularly connected to a specific teacher and/or lineage. is this correct? Maybe you are putting the cart before the horse by embarking on a ngondro practice without this. On the other hand, some people are inspired to start the ngondro in order create the causes/conditions to make such a connection and find a teacher. But if you're not inspired to do it, and you're struggling so much, and finding that it's mostly motivated by pride, consider taking a simpler approach - don't throw the whole idea out completely (and I personally don't believe you don't have a single positive reason for doing it!) but just do 5 minutes of guru yoga, or 21 prostrations or something.


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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 6:32 pm 
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dakini_boi wrote:
Your point about "getting access to teachings from teachers who would usually demand a ngondro" gives the impression that you're not particularly connected to a specific teacher and/or lineage. is this correct?


No, I feel very, very attached to my two root teachers. I don't actually consider I need any other teachers at all - that plus point was just something that I kept thinking about as a reason to continue. That combined with how smug I could allow myself to be once I'd finished.

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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 6:47 pm 
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Paul wrote:
dakini_boi wrote:
Your point about "getting access to teachings from teachers who would usually demand a ngondro" gives the impression that you're not particularly connected to a specific teacher and/or lineage. is this correct?


No, I feel very, very attached to my two root teachers. I don't actually consider I need any other teachers at all - that plus point was just something that I kept thinking about as a reason to continue. That combined with how smug I could allow myself to be once I'd finished.


That's good to hear. Do your teachers think ngondro is important? If not, then don't worry about it. If so, and you really admire them, then that's 1 good reason to do ngondro!


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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 6:54 pm 
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dakini_boi wrote:
Paul wrote:
dakini_boi wrote:
Your point about "getting access to teachings from teachers who would usually demand a ngondro" gives the impression that you're not particularly connected to a specific teacher and/or lineage. is this correct?


No, I feel very, very attached to my two root teachers. I don't actually consider I need any other teachers at all - that plus point was just something that I kept thinking about as a reason to continue. That combined with how smug I could allow myself to be once I'd finished.


That's good to hear. Do your teachers think ngondro is important? If not, then don't worry about it. If so, and you really admire them, then that's 1 good reason to do ngondro!


I've never heard them mention it on any retreat I've been on - no sadhana stuff either. I know they have given some teachings on ngondro, but to pretty specific audiences (ie people doing a month+ retreats from what I'm aware).

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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 7:06 pm 
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Paul wrote:
I've never heard them mention it on any retreat I've been on - no sadhana stuff either. I know they have given some teachings on ngondro, but to pretty specific audiences (ie people doing a month+ retreats from what I'm aware).


Ok, well here's my advice: first, get really honest with yourself and become aware of any worthwhile reasons you might have had to even have the idea to begin ngondro. You said you started because "it was about time." Time for what? As I've said, I don't really buy that ALL your reasons for starting were based on pride and nonvirtue. If that were the case, I don't think you would have had the humility and presence of mind to even notice, let alone posting it here. If you can articulate the positive motivation behind wanting to start, you can go to your teacher and say: "This is what I REALLY want - [insert positive motivation]. In order to accomplish this, do you recommend that I do ngondro, or maybe some other practice?" And discuss the your options, as well as what kind of timing/environment would be best. Maybe your lama(s) will agree that ngondro is best practiced in a retreat. Or maybe they'll assess your needs and give you something totally unexpected to do, or else give you some advice to refine the way you approach your meditation practice. In any case, this kind of conversation could give you some direction, as well as some confidence to follow through with whatever you decide. Good luck & Godspeed!


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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 9:21 pm 
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Paul wrote:
dakini_boi wrote:
Why did you begin the practice in the first place?


I thought it was about time. I've never been told to do it.


Not to put too fine a point on it, but since you took it upon yourself to begin ngondro without your teacher's permission, perhaps you aren't ready.

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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 1:31 am 
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Paul wrote:
I haven't had the lung.



Really?

That means you're doing this practice without the guidance or permission of your Guru (provided, of course, you actually have one).

No wonder you're having issues.


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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2011 1:52 am 
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I haven't had the enpowerment either but i am still on the prostrations and i was shown how to do the practice by a monk and i was very lucky to have the fortune of being able to do the prostration practice with him as he had recently been ordained, so i am not sure that counts. or not lol the kagyu school is less formal with its emporments anyway :S

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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2011 6:32 am 
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AdmiralJim wrote:
I haven't had the enpowerment either but i am still on the prostrations and i was shown how to do the practice by a monk and i was very lucky to have the fortune of being able to do the prostration practice with him as he had recently been ordained, so i am not sure that counts. or not lol the kagyu school is less formal with its emporments anyway :S


I practice in the Kagyu lineage and I couldn't have gotten anywhere near the practice without my Guru's permission. I can't speak for all Kagyu sanghas but in mine all the the relevant texts and sadhana are restricted to only those what have permission. The arrangements for the lung were very formal. First I had to be formally/officially accepted as my Guru's student. Then I had to complete a certain practice and study curriculum, take both Refuge and Bodhisattva vows, have my practice instuctor's and the study director's endorsement, the sangha's practice director's okay, and the ok of the senior teacher (empowered by the Guru to give permission and the lung in his stead) who would give the lung. Then I was authorized obstain and read the texts. About a week after I got the texts, I receieved the lung in a formal setting along with 3 other studnets. Only then was I allowed to begin the practice.


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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2011 7:38 am 
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Chaz wrote:
AdmiralJim wrote:
I haven't had the enpowerment either but i am still on the prostrations and i was shown how to do the practice by a monk and i was very lucky to have the fortune of being able to do the prostration practice with him as he had recently been ordained, so i am not sure that counts. or not lol the kagyu school is less formal with its emporments anyway :S


I practice in the Kagyu lineage and I couldn't have gotten anywhere near the practice without my Guru's permission. I can't speak for all Kagyu sanghas but in mine all the the relevant texts and sadhana are restricted to only those what have permission. The arrangements for the lung were very formal. First I had to be formally/officially accepted as my Guru's student. Then I had to complete a certain practice and study curriculum, take both Refuge and Bodhisattva vows, have my practice instuctor's and the study director's endorsement, the sangha's practice director's okay, and the ok of the senior teacher (empowered by the Guru to give permission and the lung in his stead) who would give the lung. Then I was authorized obstain and read the texts. About a week after I got the texts, I receieved the lung in a formal setting along with 3 other studnets. Only then was I allowed to begin the practice.


Wow, you had to get the permission of four different people just to begin ngondro?! I just went to my lamas and asked if it was ok to begin ngondro (one has since passed, but they were brothers and taught as a duo) and they thought it was a great idea, so after our interview, they announced to all the students present that they were giving the lung for the ngondro and all who felt they were ready and interested could receive it. So they gave however many of us were present the lung and said go for it. I bought the text from the bookstore that day and the rest is history. I thought that was pretty much how it worked everywhere, but I guess not.


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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2011 3:07 pm 
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Pema Rigdzin wrote:

Wow, you had to get the permission of four different people just to begin ngondro?!


Yep. Four people.

And "just" to begin Ngondro? Well, it's only the most important step in my practice since I took my Refuge Vows. Had it been ten peoples' permission, including a trip to India to seek the Karmapa's blessing, I would have done that - "just" to begin Ngondro. :smile:

If you didn't have to jump through all those hoops, that's fine, but you did have someone's permission to begin the practice. However, it seems like there are people who have commenced the practice without permission from a lama qualified to give such blessings and I'm not sure I'm comfortable with that.


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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2011 3:31 pm 
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I think it is strange that there is such a huge variance, as I said before it was more or less expected of me to begin ngondro, not long after my refuge ceremony. it was a case of here is the next practice and here are the instructions - get on with it! :rolling:

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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2011 4:00 pm 
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Depends on the teacher, I guess. When you have a rock star guru, it can be tough to get face time.


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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2011 4:33 pm 
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Chaz wrote:
Pema Rigdzin wrote:

Wow, you had to get the permission of four different people just to begin ngondro?!


Yep. Four people.

And "just" to begin Ngondro? Well, it's only the most important step in my practice since I took my Refuge Vows. Had it been ten peoples' permission, including a trip to India to seek the Karmapa's blessing, I would have done that - "just" to begin Ngondro. :smile:

If you didn't have to jump through all those hoops, that's fine, but you did have someone's permission to begin the practice. However, it seems like there are people who have commenced the practice without permission from a lama qualified to give such blessings and I'm not sure I'm comfortable with that.



To do prostrations to the Buddha requires no one's permission.

N

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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2011 11:05 pm 
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Paul wrote:
I haven't had the lung.


Yeah that explains a lot. Ngondro is essentially a Guru
Yoga practice, so without the transmission and blessing
of the Guru it would naturally feel flat. Why don't you stop,
for all the reasons you've mentioned, then bring up your experience
with your Guru, ask if it would be a good idea to restart it
with the proper transmission from him, and if so give it
a shot again: a real, authentic, one that is magnetized with blessings and
devotion to the Guru who ushered it into motion.

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