The compatibility of Nyingma and Kagyu?

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Luke
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The compatibility of Nyingma and Kagyu?

Postby Luke » Sun Sep 26, 2010 12:03 am

Lately I have been thinking that I might later want to switch to the Nyingma school and perhaps eventually do a Nyingma three-year retreat.

If I complete Ngondro with a Kagyu lama, would that "count" for most Nyingma lamas or would I most likely have to do Ngondro again in the Nyingma style before a Nyingma lama would give me further teachings? In general, how "compatible" are Nyingma and Kagyu teachings? It's my understanding that they both have a similar view, but different methods. It seems that it would still be possible to be a Nyingmapa and to receive teachings from Kagyu lamas. I know that in modern times, everybody is doing everything, but I am asking what is proper from a traditional standpoint.

I also greatly dislike the negativity which the Karmapa controversy has created. It's like a big wound cutting the Kagyu school in two. Lamas on one side often don't trust lamas on the other side, and this often leads to feelings of tension and other very non-Buddhist states of mind. I don't think the Nyingma school has any similar problems.

Anyway, I always think about Guru Rinpoche, and I'm sure his methods are quite sufficient for attaining enlightenment.

OM AH HUNG BENZA GURU PEMA SIDDHI HUNG

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Re: The compatibility of Nyingma and Kagyu?

Postby heart » Sun Sep 26, 2010 8:45 am

Hi Luke,

My Guru, Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, hold both the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages. I did a complete Karma Kagyu Ngondro but have after that mainly practiced the terma teachings from the Chokling Tersar.
I have been practicing partial Ngondros from various cycles of the Chokling Tersar. In general there are many more Ngondros in the Nyingma. Almost all major terma cycles have a particular Ngondro. Many of my of my friends have practiced many complete Ngondros. To answer your Ngondro question I would say that at least my Guru counts the Kagyu Ngondro, but all teachers seem to differ in opinion about this.

About the Karmapa story I do understand what you say and I have had similar experiences. But last weekend I met Mingyur Rinpoche and received teachings from him and he made my devotion for the Kagyu lamas bloom again. An amazing teacher his "path of liberation" teachings are wonderful. Made me completly forget about the Karmapa dispute.

Anyway, there is a close relation between Kagyu and Nyingma schools. Read books like "Blazing Splendor" and "Brilliant Moon" and you will see.

/magnus
"We are all here to help each other go through this thing, whatever it is."
~Kurt Vonnegut

"The principal practice is Guruyoga. But we need to understand that any secondary practice combined with Guruyoga becomes a principal practice." ChNNR (Teachings on Thun and Ganapuja)

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Re: The compatibility of Nyingma and Kagyu?

Postby narraboth » Mon Sep 27, 2010 3:04 pm

hi,

Some lama think it's ok, you can 'use' your kagyu ngondro. Some might ask you to do guruyoga again but not other parts because obviously the guruyoga is quite different. Some might ask you do new system ngondro only 1/10 amount. Some might ask you to do everything again even when you just want to transfer one nyingma terma cycle to another. If you want to know 'traditional way', that's the strict traditional way. (But do you know that traditionally some tulku never finish ngondro? well, of course they are tulku, we are nothing :P )

But I think the point is not if you would need to do it again. The point is if you really feel strong linked with that lama and lineage. If yes and you trust him a lot, then just follow what he thinks best for you. Doing ngondro is not a punishment, you are purifying yourself and accumulating merit; even you doing again, it will only do more good for you.

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Re: The compatibility of Nyingma and Kagyu?

Postby Luke » Mon Sep 27, 2010 7:08 pm

Hi Narraboth,

Thanks for the info. I was just curious about how these things worked.

I share your opinion of Ngondro completely. In fact, I am incredibly eager to start it! Part of my present frustration is that my current Kagyu lama won't let me start Ngondro until I have completed a one-week lojong retreat and then done a Ngondro retreat. I am completely willing to do this, but the problem is that my sangha never seems to have these retreats at a time when I'm not working, and I have a new job now, so I don't want to push for time off just yet. It's a problem of "schedule karma."

I know my lama isn't trying to hold me back intentionally, but I find resentful feelings arising within myself which aren't good because of this situation. I feel that Ngondro is the real beginning of Tantric Buddhism, and I feel like an outsider left out in the cold until I begin it.

In any case, since my heart seems to be shifting to the Nyingma school, perhaps it's best that I haven't started Ngondro yet with a Kagyu lama. Maybe I'll eventually find a Nyingma lama who will give me permission to begin a Nyingma Ngondro.

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Re: The compatibility of Nyingma and Kagyu?

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Tue Sep 28, 2010 12:03 pm

Hey Luke,

I can totally understand your strong desire to get started with ngondro, and of course your frustration at your difficulty coordinating the time off for the retreat the lama instructed you to do first. But honestly, as far as getting going with the ngondro, I wish I would have taken time at the beginning to do a thorough retreat on nothing but the 4 mind changers (bka the 4 thoughts that turn the mind from samsara) and lojong, etc. I say this after having received and practiced teachings on everything from sutra to atiyoga.

I was really inspired by an anecdote one of our lamas was telling a group of us on a Dzogchen retreat a couple yrs ago about how he and his fellow monks at his monastery, who were on a long retreat that would culminate with Dzogchen practice, started with something like a week-long period of nothing but contemplation of the 4 mind changers, spending a day or two on each one. He told of how they each made a commitment to not to allow their minds to stray into mundane thoughts but instead to only contemplate whichever of the 4 mind changers they were focusing on until that section of the retreat was done. There's really, really something to be said for systematically and thoroughly going step by step. When you're practicing Dzogchen or Mahamudra at some point, that kind of foundation in each level of teaching from sutra to Dzogchen/Mahamudra will be incredibly valuable. The mental diligence and self-discipline alone that would come from that foundation will be a great benefit in keeping whatever main practice you end up with on track and not all wobbly (i.e. getting overpowered often by doubts and heavy dualistic view and strong emotional habits, bouts of laziness, etc.) Not to mention the taming and settling of the mind that moving step by step very thoroughly will likely cause, which will facilitate things down the road like actually being able to recognize the nature of your mind when you receive those instructions (and especially when you practice them on retreat).

Just some words of advice from a guy who has had to do his fair share of going back to focus on the basics and establish some stability there after itching to focus more on the "more advanced" teachings he received before it was time for that.

P.S. the four mind changers are something that while being part of the ngondro, you can start focusing on right this minute because they are not tantric but the most fundamental Dharma.

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Re: The compatibility of Nyingma and Kagyu?

Postby narraboth » Tue Sep 28, 2010 12:11 pm

dear luke

I think what your Kagyu lama told is actually the traditional way.... In Nyingma, we also have 'four common ngondro', which is similar to lojong. Traditionally people should have a four common ngondro retreat first, but most of case is that people can do it at the same time. Lojong or four common ngondro or say 'four methods to change your mind' is necessary all the way anyway, not just in the beginning. I think if you find a nyingma lama, he will be happy to give you premission to start ngondro. And it shouldn't be that difficult since you are in europe; it's easy to take bus or train to travel i think?

I personally can recommand two very good nyingma lamas whom will be recently in europe. One is Gangteng tulku rinpoche, who is currently in europe (I think), please check his schedule on website. Another one is Terton Namkai Drime rinpoche, who will come to europe during christmas. You can try to contact their centres see what will happen.

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Re: The compatibility of Nyingma and Kagyu?

Postby Luke » Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:49 pm


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Re: The compatibility of Nyingma and Kagyu?

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Tue Sep 28, 2010 3:50 pm

Luke,

Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not discouraging you from exploring other options and approaches and lamas and sanghas that may resonate more with you, or from aspiring to begin ngondro, etc. I do have to say though that in the super traditional environment of monastic or ngakpa long retreat, one would go into it knowing where it should or could lead but without the certainty that one's lama wouldn't tell you that instead of progressing to the next level you need to do whatever you just finished doing all over again. That might mean the 4 thoughts, maybe ngondro, maybe something else. One never knows what obstacles may arise, what obscurations may still persist after completing the usual amount of a certain practice. For example, while still undergoing their training, many great lamas were told by their lamas to repeat ngondro more than once before being given the green light to progress to another practice, or do much more generation stage before moving on to tsa-lung, etc. And of course, even if you do all the khorde rushen practices the prescribed amounts, if at the end you haven't recognized rigpa, there's nowhere to go but back to khorde rushen.

As for long retreat vs daily practice at home, you may be underestimating how much the waves of karma can really get to raging during long retreat. A friend of mine who's done two very traditional 3 yr retreats said something like after a few months of strict retreat, even the paint on the wall of his meditation room seemed to be a personal affront to him lol. Group retreat? Ridiculous tension and tempers and attitudes flaring. Solitary retreat? All kinds of flare-ups of frustration, boredom, loneliness, wild thoughts and emotions can pop up. Now, I do believe that retreat is very important and, if one makes the right preparations, gradually eases into it, and if one is fortunate not to have too many obstacles, that's the ideal situation for making progress one can then later carry out into the rat race. But every moment of sincere and correct Dharma practice generates merit and wisdom and purifies obscurations, so there's no need to feel pessimistic about practice outside of retreat. You can also work on creating the causes to go on retreat by sponsoring or making donations toward others' retreats and helping others do retreat however you can.

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Re: The compatibility of Nyingma and Kagyu?

Postby Luke » Tue Sep 28, 2010 5:53 pm


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Re: The compatibility of Nyingma and Kagyu?

Postby ronnewmexico » Tue Sep 28, 2010 6:27 pm

I guess I must be from some different place or time or some other world perhaps..

"I think my current lama forgets exactly which stages his students are at"...how does one have a current lama?
Seven years time can be used to select a lama. All lamas one listens to are not their lamas. If one has not a lama then it is not a question of direction by a lama. One has not yet established a specific direction. I certainly would not choose one who forgets such things. Nor would I consider myself to have a current lama nor be a student of one if one could be found to exist.

I would suggest if a lama appears to forget such things.. it is not such but a approach, Such approach may not be to a perspective students likeing so before accepting this lama as ones own, one may reconsider the prospective choice.

So a retreat at retreat house being directed by a lama there would seemingly be no problem.
A summer retreat if so desired. Many places have singlular retreat settings with direction by lamas at the retreat houses. If one wants a specific thing in retreat, one has not yet selected a lama so many options may be available. A teacher who is not ones lama may direct one in that fashion or not.

If ones lama was actually ones lama, one could state intent and then ask for the lamas assistance for guidance in the retreat. What to focus on and how to proceed.

But this is seemingly not so. To my opinion ones lama remains ones lama even beyond death.
There are no current lamas.

Vajrasattava practice is a great thing. Many accomplished master such as Thrangu Rinpoche of the Kagyu tradition engage such still. I have no accomplishment but do so. Prostrations are also great for many peoples. A training in such could be certainly found and a entire three month retreat could also focus on this thing. I have personally seen retreatants who do that. A entire three months could be likewise spent with Vajrasattava practice. If one has the empowerment probably even a "temporary" lama would fully endorse that and provide some direction.

How is one to engage any advanced tantric practice without a lama is beyond my comprehension. To this, to that, to this....and then engage advanced tantric practice...

Find a lama first!! Then do all that. That is my opinion.
Or else stick with the basics. There is no incompatibility between Nyingma and Kagyu to my opinion.
Last edited by ronnewmexico on Tue Sep 28, 2010 6:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.

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Re: The compatibility of Nyingma and Kagyu?

Postby Luke » Tue Sep 28, 2010 6:36 pm


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Re: The compatibility of Nyingma and Kagyu?

Postby ronnewmexico » Tue Sep 28, 2010 6:49 pm

I edited my last line...but the point is...I think finding a lama is the most important thing as a first step before engageing a advanced tantric process.

That appears the direction. So....a lama must be found. Hence the current difficult situation. It all revolves around no lama.

A far away lama is not a bad thing.
A three valleys away lama in Tibet was considered by many the best.
Three valleys means not so close so one can see their faults to clearly but remain with their intent.
So don't restrict the search by geography.
Other teachers may be refered by the core lama for specific practices as the lama is not available.
So you may have your cake and eat it to.
You must meet with prospective lamas tell them your plans and find who would work for you.
The current teacher does not. Why go it alone..you make difficulties for yourself.

To add....finding a a lama means also one must be accepted by a lama. It can be a formal process which is a bit involved depending upon lama and takes a bit to engage. They do not automatically accept you as a student. You must be found in a sense worthy of their time. And they yours.
But in the interium you can do basic practices. It may take a few months.

And having a personal meeting and asking for a teaching may be considered by some to be asking that lama to be your personal instructor. So there are cultural nuances to this thing. I would be very clear and do not in any fashion just....feel one to be your lama. This is not a love affair. I cannot count how many people have seen such love affairs go wrong. One certainly ends up loving a lama but it is not a romantic falling in love western thing. First find one that fits you. Then eventually it will grow.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.

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Re: The compatibility of Nyingma and Kagyu?

Postby Pero » Tue Sep 28, 2010 7:46 pm

Although many individuals in this age appear to be merely indulging their worldly desires, one does not have the capacity to judge them, so it is best to train in pure vision.
- Shabkar

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Re: The compatibility of Nyingma and Kagyu?

Postby Pero » Tue Sep 28, 2010 7:52 pm

Although many individuals in this age appear to be merely indulging their worldly desires, one does not have the capacity to judge them, so it is best to train in pure vision.
- Shabkar

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Re: The compatibility of Nyingma and Kagyu?

Postby Luke » Tue Sep 28, 2010 8:23 pm


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Re: The compatibility of Nyingma and Kagyu?

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Wed Sep 29, 2010 12:30 am


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Re: The compatibility of Nyingma and Kagyu?

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Wed Sep 29, 2010 12:59 am


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Re: The compatibility of Nyingma and Kagyu?

Postby ronnewmexico » Wed Sep 29, 2010 5:03 am

Excellent comments all.

Luke... my personal opinion is to engage in a higher tantric practice which you clearly intend to do.... a personal lama, one has direction from, is most important.

Some buddhists especially westerners, do not hold this opinion but I think all lamas would advise that regardless of lineage. I do not think it is the issue with nyingma and kagyu, but with lamas representative of those that is the issue here. If you had mentioned differences with core teachings or understandings I would expect that as the case but it seems not. More like... where is available the teachings to fit what I want to do and how to do that?

WE can't just think circumstances present a lama to us and then we must by circumstance follow them.
WE must actively choose and then, them us. Circumstance has not much to do with it and it may be a circumstance of obstructive nature as well as beneficial nature...we simply do not know.
So we must go with our reason and rational.

Till then retreat vajrasattava prostrations and all the rest can be done. It sounds like you have a excellent practice far superior to mine. Your enthusiasm is contagious and quite refreshing.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.

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Re: The compatibility of Nyingma and Kagyu?

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Wed Sep 29, 2010 6:39 am


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Re: The compatibility of Nyingma and Kagyu?

Postby heart » Wed Sep 29, 2010 9:53 am

"We are all here to help each other go through this thing, whatever it is."
~Kurt Vonnegut

"The principal practice is Guruyoga. But we need to understand that any secondary practice combined with Guruyoga becomes a principal practice." ChNNR (Teachings on Thun and Ganapuja)


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