The second thing was some research I heard about in regards to negative effects of Dharma practice(I posted about it elsewhere but here is the link for convenience http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2011/09/bg ... of-dharma/ , though the real "this is how you end up in a psych ward" isn't until the next episode which is linked in the page). This caused me, and does cause me, an immense amount of worry. The thing in particular that worries me for not only ngondro but the whole Buddhist path is that a potential side effect of practicing the path correctly is insanity. Not to put too fine of a point on it but I have a deep and abiding reason to not want to have "clinical impairment" as part two of the link I posted calls it.
However, I have gotten some peace when I realized that insanity doesn't seem to happen unless you do intensive sitting practice, usually in a retreat situation. That and I think there is a sample bias as she concentrated on teachers from a tradition where going crazy during meditation seems to be pretty standard. Though people outside of the tradition might think it is somewhat paradoxical so far it looks like Vajrayana seems to have a pretty good track record of not making people crazy. Who knew?
Now, with that updates, some responses.
This is why I can not recommend enough doing even a short retreat, or a series of short retreats on your ngondro practice. If you can spend 2 or 3 hour sessions of consistent practice continuously, traditional style: wake up at 3am, first session.. take short break for meals, in the afternoon rest for a couple hours.. and keep practicing like this until 9pm, then sleep. --Your Lama will tell you the right schedule for yourself-- you will have a different experience of the practice. Even if you can't take time off from work, then do weekend retreats. You can take the phone off the hook if you live alone, and do retreat in your home or apartment, etc. Or better yet, use a cabin in a retreat center that has a sacred atmosphere.
Oddly enough I actually had a retreat scheduled a few weeks ago. However due to my car staging an open revolt(the coolant system died twice) I was unable to do so. In the past I've done what I call "quasi-retreats" which was basically chanting until my brain turned into a fine goo, doing something else for awhile and then more chanting.
Also, one thing that I would like to point out is a problem with direct experience. In a nutshell, if you put any religious pursuit into steady practice you will gain evidence that it is so. If you chant Ooto Gaio Erista and concentrate on a 2000 year old Greek goddess of Chaos then you will get absolute evidence that there is a 2000 year old Greek goddess of Chaos and you have her absolute, undivided attention(that is direct experience and I would strongly advise against doing this especially). If you get the components and take the time to do the Abramelin working you will get results and be chatting with angels and demons, if you believe in Jesus enough you may start feeling his presence and voice, etc.,etc. It's the same for all forms of faith. If you believe something and put it into practice your experience will confirm it. I would suggest that you not take my word for it but that would be a very poor idea. Trust me on this one.
Yontan wrote:Challenge23, figuring out how to work through our own blocks is a difficult part of the path. Sometimes we need many different methods and it's not simply that this one didn't work so I must try another one.
If you're committed to finishing your prostrations, it may help to simply do them without asking what benefit. Don't forget the visualization and maybe set a minimum daily, do just that for a long time. Even if it's just twenty-one.
At one point I honestly didn't care about the benefit and to some extent I still don't. What I am much more worried about is the cost. Before the turn of the new year Buddhist practice seemed inexpensive. I gave a little bit to my teacher every month, spent some time practicing, didn't act like a bad person and the Dharma took the edge off of life and maybe would help me further down the road. Even if Enlightenment wasn't really defined that well it also wasn't really that "expensive". Now I'm learning that even if I am doing the practice right I might be risking joy, time, and even my sanity for a goal that nobody seems to be able to clearly define.
Yontan wrote:The Four Boundless Thoughts and tonglen may help as well, just randomly throughout the day, to bring motivation. If we really believe enlightenment is possible, and that aside from it we only have endless suffering, and we develop our connection with others who are also suffering, it becomes natural to come to the Three Jewels. The 100,000 number is not magic. It sucks to break your time goal, but things happen. Getting finished with ngondro isn't nearly as helpful as doing ngondro, if you catch my drift.
Hope that helps some.
That's the thing. Right now I'm not sure that Enlightenment is better than samsara. The best definition for Enlightenment I've found is from the Therevada tradition(it's at this link, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... birth.html , but it's somewhat buried in there) and it sounds downright horrifying(no more joy, exhilaration, or any of the strong positive emotions. Just a grey same-ness until you die and after that..who knows?). I will continue to do Ngondro and I will complete it if for no other reason then I said I would, I am stubborn as a mule, and most of the really nightmare inducing stuff is from non-Nyingma teachers. But right now I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared to death of Enlightenment.
Again, thank you for reading and I truly apologize if this was offensive in any way.