Ngondro

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Re: Ngondro

Postby Clarence » Sat Apr 07, 2012 8:24 am

Ask your teacher if you can do 10000 of each and then again and again until you have done 10 such sets. That way you practice all 5 but still feel like you actually accomplish something. A lot of people give up before finishing 100000 prostrations because it just takes too long. 10000 prostrations can be done in 10 days. Then 10000 Bodhicitta then Vajrasattva, then Mandala, then 100000 Guru Yoga. Then, repeat.
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Re: Ngondro

Postby mindyourmind » Sat Apr 07, 2012 12:15 pm

Clarence wrote:Ask your teacher if you can do 10000 of each and then again and again until you have done 10 such sets. That way you practice all 5 but still feel like you actually accomplish something. A lot of people give up before finishing 100000 prostrations because it just takes too long. 10000 prostrations can be done in 10 days. Then 10000 Bodhicitta then Vajrasattva, then Mandala, then 100000 Guru Yoga. Then, repeat.


That is really good advice, if your teacher will approve. I have never thought of approaching it like that. Too late now, for me :tantrum: :thumbsup:
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Re: Ngondro

Postby justsit » Sat Apr 07, 2012 12:34 pm

Clarence wrote: 10000 prostrations can be done in 10 days.

Sure, if you're a healthy young guy with no family or in closed retreat. Realistically, if you're a Westerner with a full time job and family, and/or older, and/or a woman, and/or have a physical limitation - maybe not. :smile:
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Re: Ngondro

Postby ngondronewbie1 » Mon Apr 09, 2012 3:01 pm

I want to thank everyone for their replies to my questions and the wisdom offered.

To Dharmaswede - that's great if you have a concept of neuroplasticity. That's as big of a mystery as ngondro feels. lol I have heard some great analogies and purposes to ngondro. I still just don't connect with it.

To Nangwa - I have read parts of Khenpo Karthar's commentary, Torch of Certainty. I did read in this string about all parts of ngondro being Guru Yoga (maybe that was you talking about it) and I had never viewed it that way. It does make the process easier to understand, I guess. How can I learn about the "many ngondro" and "many many ways to purify negativities and accumlate merit and wisdom"?

To gregkavarnos - It's not so much clinging to these experiences and expecting "magic" to happen. It's more like, I never felt connected to anything, really, in my life and finally finding buddhism and feeling like I'm finally where I'm supposed to be. The karmic connection I feel with my teacher, and a few other teachers, and to certain practices. It's more a sense of I'm supposed to be here doing this. I've done it before! I don't feel that with ngondro so I kinda don't think it's what I'm supposed to be doing, or what I'm supposed to be doing now. Having it be a requirement for the practice I feel very strongly connected to, makes ngondro be a huge obstacle as it takes so long to complete. If I could do it in a year, even, I would push through. But, it's probably 3 years at least. which makes me hate it. I saw a posting of yours on another ngondro string about doing Vajrasattva first. That actually sounds like maybe the way to go. Or at least do that practice for a while and maybe devotion to the ngondro path will come.

To Clarence - the suggestion of 10,000 of each would maybe make it more possible. Although the numbers are ridiculously daunting, my main problem with this practice is the lack of connection to it. But I will talk to my teacher about maybe doing in sets.

to Justsit - I hear you! There's no way I could do 10,000 in 10 days. Even though I have permission to do minimal prostrations due to physical issues. I don't have the ability to shut myself off to my responsibilities like that.

And to others that posted about setting aside vacation time to do ngondro. Not all of us take vacations or get paid time off. There's a lot of us that don't get paid time off so this isn't even a possibility.

But I have a few good suggestions to talk to my teacher about. I think I"m just going to put ngondro aside until I can talk to him. Maybe removing the pressure to do it for a few months, will lessen the resestment. Thank you all.
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Re: Ngondro

Postby Willy » Tue May 15, 2012 9:49 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Dear ngondronewbie,

Just because your ngondro practice is not satisfying your expectations does not mean it is not bringing results.

Clinging to your experiences from other practices is not going to help you progress. The harder to try to achieve the effect, the more you anticipate it, the less opportunity you give to your practice to actually progress (not in relation to numbers, but in relation to quality).

Anyway why do you expect all the practices to give the same result? An ice cold beer and a cup of hot chocolate are both beverages but you don't expect them to give the same results, so why expect it from the practices?

Really though, you should go see your teacher and discuss the issue.

These are just my thoughts and I am no authority on on the matter, just trying to struggle through my daily practices and ngondro! :smile:
:namaste:


Agreed - I think you're interpretation of "connection" is that you enjoy it or feel bliss. However, if your teacher suggests it for you then you definitely have a connection. Ngondro is hard work that has a huge benefit not only for yourself. Of course if you're not ready to work hard for the benefit of others, then you should stay with what makes you comfortable and feel good.

Also, instead of getting caught up about the daunting numbers, you can incorporate a 1/2 hour in the morning of practice every day before you go off to work. Prostrations are a really healthy physical exercise as well (probably as much or more beneficial than hatha yoga in terms of circulation and vitality).

I personally started my Diamond Mind after 10,000 prostrations and did prostrations in the mnorning, and DM in the evening. It takes about 3 years that way, but again, it's not about how long it takes - it's a really incredible practice that will change the world around you - profoundly. (Mandala and Guru Yoga I did individually)
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Re: Ngondro

Postby Sopa » Tue Jul 10, 2012 2:55 pm

I found this thread to be a very informative. I've underlined some phrases in these quotes for emphasis.

Clarence wrote:Ask your teacher if you can do 10000 of each and then again and again until you have done 10 such sets. That way you practice all 5 but still feel like you actually accomplish something. A lot of people give up before finishing 100000 prostrations because it just takes too long. 10000 prostrations can be done in 10 days. Then 10000 Bodhicitta then Vajrasattva, then Mandala, then 100000 Guru Yoga. Then, repeat.
I like this approach.

justsit wrote:Sure, if you're a healthy young guy with no family or in closed retreat. Realistically, if you're a Westerner with a full time job and family, and/or older, and/or a woman, and/or have a physical limitation - maybe not. :smile:
Everyone's karmic circumstances are different. It's OK, just do what you can do, it's not a race.
I'm in my 60's with two herniated disks and acid reflux (GERD), however, having said this I may well be able to perform prostrations with little ill effect. It may take a few weeks of practice before I would know.

kirtu wrote:Obviously for prostrations you have to work up to that and you may just have to lengthen the period for prostrations (35 prostrations a day still makes it in just under eight years).
Hmmmm. In my case if I was to undertake Ngondro, I believe I would have to accept a mindset that I may actually never finish. Thus the comment made several times that Ngondro is a complete practice in itself is significant since I may never get beyond Ngondro.

Any comments would be appreciated.
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Re: Ngondro

Postby Sopa » Tue Jul 10, 2012 4:13 pm

Having said the above, do you think I should start Ngondro anyway?
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Re: Ngondro

Postby Sopa » Wed Jul 11, 2012 10:06 am

My understanding is that completion of ngondro for certain practices isn't a fixed requirement. For example, at this stage in my life it may be more beneficial to discuss with my teacher focusing on a a practice such as Chenrezig or Green Tara rather than ngondro.

Again, any thoughts?
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Re: Ngondro

Postby Andrew108 » Wed Jul 11, 2012 10:27 am

You can discuss a lot of things with your teacher but eventually it will come down to how you view your experiences. What are your experiences? How do they abide? When do they abide and so on. The ngondro is really good if you want to understand experience and develop the view. If the view is already developed then Chenrezig practice is great. You need confidence in the view first.
What I did was something like 50,000 prostrations and 111,000 Vajrasattva plus studying the 'Progresive Stages of meditation on Emptiness' by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso. The physical part of the ngondro didn't particularly inspire. The vajrasattva part was important and I left out the mandala offering because I thought it contrived and still do. The guru yoga is done all the time. The fact is that the view becomes the meditation. You can do all the practices you want and 3 year retreats and so on but you will need to have confidence in the view in order to practice genuine dharma. So if there is one question you can ask your teacher it is 'how do I get absolute confidence in the view?' Then when you and your teacher know that that is your goal then it makes the practices fit into place because they are obviously secondary to that realization.
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Re: Ngondro

Postby Kelwin » Thu Jul 12, 2012 8:49 am

Sopa wrote:Having said the above, do you think I should start Ngondro anyway?
Ngondro is extremely valuable, and definitely a good idea. However, it's a commitment that will take you a lot of time and effort. There will be challenges, there will be doubts, but if done properly, it will be more than worth it.

To get through the doubts and challenges though, you want to start because your teacher supports you in doing this, and you really want to do it. Not because someone on the internet told you it's a good idea! (even though they may be very experienced, and completely right!)

Sopa wrote:My understanding is that completion of ngondro for certain practices isn't a fixed requirement. For example, at this stage in my life it may be more beneficial to discuss with my teacher focusing on a a practice such as Chenrezig or Green Tara rather than ngondro.

Again, any thoughts?
Certainly, some teachers will prefer if you do that. Others just want you to get started on ngondro as quickly as possible. Others give different advice to different students. They all show a complete path to enlightenment, so it's ok. Again, somewhat random people on the internet can't tell you what your teacher wants for you. By all means, talk to your teacher. Any teacher will make time to answer that question, because it's one of the best questions you can ask in the beginning. And they will certainly be happy to hear that you want to practice and want to make sure you do the right thing.

In starting ngondro, there is a certain unspoken commitment of finishing it. As long as you don't know what your teacher will tell you, do something without such a commitment. Chenrezig and Green Tara would be excellent examples of practices you might learn from others in the sangha, until you talk to your teacher.

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Re: Ngondro

Postby Kelwin » Thu Jul 12, 2012 8:56 am

Andrew108 wrote:You can discuss a lot of things with your teacher but eventually it will come down to how you view your experiences. What are your experiences? How do they abide? When do they abide and so on. The ngondro is really good if you want to understand experience and develop the view. If the view is already developed then Chenrezig practice is great. You need confidence in the view first.
What I did was something like 50,000 prostrations and 111,000 Vajrasattva plus studying the 'Progresive Stages of meditation on Emptiness' by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso. The physical part of the ngondro didn't particularly inspire. The vajrasattva part was important and I left out the mandala offering because I thought it contrived and still do. The guru yoga is done all the time. The fact is that the view becomes the meditation. You can do all the practices you want and 3 year retreats and so on but you will need to have confidence in the view in order to practice genuine dharma. So if there is one question you can ask your teacher it is 'how do I get absolute confidence in the view?' Then when you and your teacher know that that is your goal then it makes the practices fit into place because they are obviously secondary to that realization.

With all due respect Andrew, I'm not sure you're in a good position to give advice here. Because to me it sounds like you just picked what you liked, and did not do what you did not like. The mandala offering can indeed seem very contrived, with the symbolism being based on ancient Indian believes, right? Or the making up of all kinds of offerings, etc. I had a tough time with that as well, when I learned about the practice. Imagine how shocked I was when it had very powerful effects on me! And the symbolism can actually be understood on different levels, which helps in later practices. I now consider it an important foundation indeed, and certainly never expected it to be that.

Minds change, that's why we practice. Who knows, one day you might happily be doing prostrations and mandala offerings?

:namaste:
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Re: Ngondro

Postby Andrew108 » Thu Jul 12, 2012 11:53 am

Mandala is an understanding of appearance / emptiness. If the practice brings this understanding then great.
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Re: Ngondro

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Fri Jul 13, 2012 11:11 am

Andrew108 wrote:Mandala is an understanding of appearance / emptiness. If the practice brings this understanding then great.


When done after having received inner tantric empowerment and instructions, much less atiyoga transmission (the latter being very common even in quite traditional Nyingma circles), I feel sure that people who understand what they've been taught will come to realize the inseparable nature of appearances and emptiness through diligently practicing mandala offerings. At the very least, I feel they will create all the necessary causes to blossom their intelligence and circumstances to create the opportunity to receive further clarifying teachings and understand what they've been taught. Just my two cents.
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Re: Ngondro

Postby pemachophel » Fri Jul 13, 2012 3:56 pm

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche tells a story that each time He does another 100,000 mandala offerings (presumably within a new ngondro each time), He sees His wisdom markedly increase in terms of His understanding of the Dharma. This is an extremely important teaching.

I've said this before but I'm gonna say it again: These practices have results that go beyond rational thought and explanation. Too much thinking about them is not useful. Have faith in your Teacher and the Teachings, do the practices you're instructed to do, and you will see beneficial results. This is a spiritual technology that has been proven to work over dozens of generations of practitioners. Reality is not at all how we think it is (and that, of course, is exactly the problem). By doing these practices, you will experience a new reality far different from what you thought before, a much more magical, open-ended reality that goes far beyond such limiting/grasping concepts as culture, history, science, rationality, etc.

Good luck and best wishes. :namaste:
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Re: Ngondro

Postby dharmagoat » Fri Jul 13, 2012 11:19 pm

pemachophel wrote:This is a spiritual technology that has been proven to work over dozens of generations of practitioners.

Past practitioners within a specific culture.

pemachophel wrote:Reality is not at all how we think it is (and that, of course, is exactly the problem). By doing these practices, you will experience a new reality far different from what you thought before, a much more magical, open-ended reality that goes far beyond such limiting/grasping concepts as culture, history, science, rationality, etc.

Ngondro would have us think in terms of yet another reality, that of medieval Tibet.
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Re: Ngondro

Postby Andrew108 » Fri Jul 13, 2012 11:44 pm

Most of us don't even like being bitten by insects and find it hard to practice when times get tough. If mandala offering could overcome instinctive reactions to those experiences then that would be wonderful. However more usual is that we have confidence in the view and deal with the unpleasant experiences in accordance with how much confidence we have. We take unpleasant experiences to the path and develop that way. Being eaten by mosquitoes is easy but then a snake comes along or a millipied bites your toe or the taxman sends a letter saying you owe money and so on. If mandala gives you the wisdom to deal with those experiences as appearance / emptiness then wonderful. My small understanding is that confidence in the view trumps mandala offering, but everyone has different ways to understand. It's not one size fits all.
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Re: Ngondro

Postby tobes » Wed Jul 18, 2012 11:19 am

Mandala offerings are awesome.

He who offers everything, has everything.

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Re: Ngondro

Postby Clarence » Wed Jul 18, 2012 3:14 pm

When Malcolm still had the Atiyoga Yahoo group, he said his most profound experience was from doing Mandala offerings.
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Re: Ngondro

Postby Pero » Wed Jul 18, 2012 3:22 pm

pemachophel wrote:Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche tells a story that each time He does another 100,000 mandala offerings (presumably within a new ngondro each time), He sees His wisdom markedly increase in terms of His understanding of the Dharma. This is an extremely important teaching.

Yeah, in a book he advises that if we read a text and have problems understanding it we should do mandala offerings and then try reading it again. In his experience it is always more easily understood afterwards. Upon reading this I also think I've had this kind of experience, though maybe not through mandala offerings per se.
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Re: Ngondro

Postby Terma » Mon Oct 15, 2012 12:21 am

Thought I would revive this thread a little. :twothumbsup:

I have started ngondro recently as well and I have read some good comments in this thread.

As I am just beginning, I am doing the prostration/refuge section. I find that even though there are a vast number of accumulations to complete, I have really been trying not to rush the actual prostrations and trying to really get the sense that these objects of refuge are right there with me. In this way, it helps me get through the physical aspect of the practice- kind of like "wow! I get to prostrate and receive blessings from the entire lineage and my Guru!"

How long did it take for you to complete the prostration section? I think it was mentioned that by doing roughly 300 per day it can be done in about a year. Thus far it is really making me take a closer look at what more important when I have some so-called "down-time" from work commitments and things like that.

Any thoughts, advices are welcome!

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