Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Discuss your personal experience with the Dharma here. How has it enriched your life? What challenges does it present?

Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby Luke » Fri Apr 26, 2013 2:57 pm

Konchog1 wrote:I don't understand your assumption that studying the Jewel Ornament requires you to join a Kagyu group. Why can't you just study the Jewel Ornament by yourself and discuss it with anyone you want?

Yes, you're right. I could re-read it on my own. But right now, I would be more interested in reading things I haven't read yet. But yeah, I'm not opposed to reading about Tibetan Buddhism.

However, right now, I want to practice a different, non-Vajrayana tradition of Buddhism, so I am mostly reading about these now.

randomseb wrote:Padma Sambavha's Tibetan book of the Great Liberation is a good place to find the core of some of the Tibetan practices, especially Kagyu, after you no longer need all of the religious stuff and mantra practice.

Perhaps I'll read it sometime. Thanks.
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby Luke » Fri Apr 26, 2013 3:11 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:I don't understand what all the fuss is about?

I am just expressing the thoughts and feelings which I have kept silent about for a long time. It was something I needed to do, but I can understand if not everyone finds it interesting. After all, I posed this in the "Personal Experience" section. It's not like I posted this in the Vajrayana section and tried to tell people what to do!

gregkavarnos wrote:Do you want people to convince you that you are right to leave, or wrong to leave?

Neither. Besides just expressing the thoughts I need to express, my interest is in other people who have had similar experiences. I think these are stories which are rarely told publicly on the internet. Most of the stories about Vajrayana are so extreme: they are usually either extremely worshipful posts of praise or venomous posts about scandals, but neither of these reflect the average person's experience of Vajrayana.

gregkavarnos wrote:It doesn't sit right with you anymore? Try something else! Vajrayana, Mahayana, Theravada, Dzogchen, Mahamudra, Pure Land, etc... It is all Buddhism.

Yes, I plan to.

gregkavarnos wrote:Why make such a song and dance of it? You can always come back to Vajrayana if you wish anyway.

This is just a big turning point in my life and I have lots of feelings about it because I invested so much emotionally in the time I spent with Vajrayana groups.

I'll answer your other questions a bit later.
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Apr 26, 2013 4:13 pm

Luke wrote:I am just expressing the thoughts and feelings which I have kept silent about for a long time. It was something I needed to do, but I can understand if not everyone finds it interesting. After all, I posed this in the "Personal Experience" section. It's not like I posted this in the Vajrayana section and tried to tell people what to do!
I am not accusing you of anything like that, I am just trying to figure out your motivation in posting.
Neither. Besides just expressing the thoughts I need to express, my interest is in other people who have had similar experiences. I think these are stories which are rarely told publicly on the internet. Most of the stories about Vajrayana are so extreme: they are usually either extremely worshipful posts of praise or venomous posts about scandals, but neither of these reflect the average person's experience of Vajrayana.
Sure, I can understand what you are saying here, but I find it unlikely that you are just asking for the sake of asking, I believe that there must be something else motivating your questions, something that maybe you are unaware of?
This is just a big turning point in my life and I have lots of feelings about it because I invested so much emotionally in the time I spent with Vajrayana groups.
In your OP you stated that you have ben practicing Vajrayana for 5 years now and that you have yet to finish the ngondro. Five years is about how long I have been "officially" practicing Vajrayana too. I feel that I have barely scratched the surface, yet you feel that you know enough so that you can make an "objective" decision about whether you want to continue or not? If I was in your position I, personally, would finish ngondro before making that decision. Stop chasing the empowerments and receiving more practices (if your situation is anything like mine you probably have a pile of practices sitting somewhere in your shrine room), maybe just get a few more detailed explanations of the practices you have already received, and put all your energy into finishing ngondro. I recommend this so that you will not (later) feel that you left things half completed, that you actually tried your hardest but it just was not for you. Your time will not be lost (you will still be "advancing through practicing the ngondro) and at least you will have completed a very important series of practices.

But that is just my personal opinion.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby LastLegend » Fri Apr 26, 2013 4:46 pm

I have picked a boat and stick to it through thick and thin. I might read Zen and other teachings here and there. But those are like seaweeds that I eat while floating on the boat. This sounds like the story of Pi.

NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

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―Listen! Those of you who devote yourselves to the Dharma
must not be afraid of losing your bodies and your lives―
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby Luke » Fri Apr 26, 2013 5:02 pm

gregkavarnos wrote: If I was in your position I, personally, would finish ngondro before making that decision. Stop chasing the empowerments and receiving more practices (if your situation is anything like mine you probably have a pile of practices sitting somewhere in your shrine room), maybe just get a few more detailed explanations of the practices you have already received, and put all your energy into finishing ngondro. I recommend this so that you will not (later) feel that you left things half completed, that you actually tried your hardest but it just was not for you. Your time will not be lost (you will still be "advancing through practicing the ngondro) and at least you will have completed a very important series of practices.

But that is just my personal opinion.
:namaste:

Hmm, so you are playing "Yoda" to my eager "Skywalker"? ("Luke! You must complete the training.") lol Thank you, I will consider your advice. But anyway, I need to at least try out a Zen group. The one I want to meet is away in retreat right now. Maybe in a few weeks, I can meet them.

Honestly, I have never met another Buddhist group besides Vajrayana groups! I think I just need to see and feel what different types of Buddhism are like in real life for a while. I have never seen a Zen sesshin in person. I have never seen a Pure Land ceremony in person. These are beautiful things which I should see. I guess I am starting to emerge from my self-imposed isolation.

And I hate the attitude among some Vajrayana Buddhists which is "Our teachings are superior, so to hell with the teachings of the other Buddhist schools!" I think it's very important for there to be friendship and understand between the different schools of Buddhism and at least some appreciation of each other's teachings.
As western Buddhists, there are still too few of us as is!
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby Luke » Fri Apr 26, 2013 5:08 pm

And Greg, which school of Tibetan Buddhism do you practice?
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby kirtu » Fri Apr 26, 2013 5:09 pm

Luke wrote:No, I don't want to force tantric imagery over my daily life anymore.... I meant feeling separated from people in terms of a feeling of social identity. Feeling that I have all these practices and visualisations which I can't talk about with normal people. I don't want to have the "I'm part of something you'd never understand" feeling all the time. I don't like having all these secrets which I'm forbidden from disclosing. It's like living as a spy or something. I don't find it normal or comfortable. ...
Perhaps some people like the feeling of "Oh, now I can retreat back into my secret world of Vajrayana! How nice!" but I don't want to be like that anymore. I don't need to visualize people as deities anymore. They can simply be what they are--sentient beings which have buddha-nature--and that's enough for me!


There's a lot here but basically everything we do is a kind of fabrication no matter what path (Therevada, Mahayana, Pure Land or Vajrayana). It's just that the fabrication is upaya that helps us gather merit or wisdom or both.

In Zen (or Therevada, etc.) you will also not really be able to talk to most people about Buddhism just because most people aren't Buddhist or Dharmic and don't have a context. If you are ethnically Asian and/or in an ethically Asian community in some sense then you might have people with more context but then again maybe not. I never talk about Vajrayana to non-Dharma friends anyway (sometimes to family or my ex is they ask a question but not secret stuff).

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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Apr 26, 2013 6:43 pm

And I hate the attitude among some Vajrayana Buddhists which is "Our teachings are superior, so to hell with the teachings of the other Buddhist schools!" I think it's very important for there to be friendship and understand between the different schools of Buddhism and at least some appreciation of each other's teachings.
As western Buddhists, there are still too few of us as is!


This attitude exists plenty in Zen, and every other tradition too. The Tibetan center I go to is very ecumenical, and I have never heard anyone proclaim superiority over any other tradition, in fact people recommend reading etc. in other traditions, we'ev watched videos of Dharma talks from other traditions etc. Not trying to discourage you by any means..but let's be realistic here, everyone does the things you are decrying Vajrayana for doing here. Just wait till your first lecture on the be-all end-all awesomeness of Zazen, Zazen, Zazen, and more Zazen and you just might catch the same vibe..it's the odor of samsara, not really Vajrayana - look long enough and you'll find a place with less of it, but it exists everywhere..i'm sure we do it ourselves too from time to time.

If what bothers you is this attitude (it bothers me too - strongly- btw) then maybe it's worth basing who you want to study with on lack of this kind of behavior, rather than tradition?
"We're chained to the world and we all gotta pull" -Tom Waits
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby Luke » Fri Apr 26, 2013 7:09 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:If what bothers you is this attitude (it bothers me too - strongly- btw) then maybe it's worth basing who you want to study with on lack of this kind of behavior, rather than tradition?

Yeah, maybe. I just need to meet more types of Buddhist groups so that I can understand the differences of their actual approaches better.

In any case, my current uncertainty inspires me to investigate Buddhism more, so this could be a good thing.
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby Luke » Fri Apr 26, 2013 7:26 pm

kirtu wrote:There's a lot here but basically everything we do is a kind of fabrication no matter what path (Therevada, Mahayana, Pure Land or Vajrayana). It's just that the fabrication is upaya that helps us gather merit or wisdom or both.

That's deep! :D I'll have to think about this one...

kirtu wrote:In Zen (or Therevada, etc.) you will also not really be able to talk to most people about Buddhism just because most people aren't Buddhist or Dharmic and don't have a context.

Perhaps, but I think it's refreshing and liberating to know that I'm at least permitted to share all parts of the teachings of Zen and other non-Vajrayana types of Buddhism. I like the fact that I could walk out to any street corner and read the Shobogenzo or Pure Land sutras until most people leave! lol There's none of this "you can't read text XYZ without first getting the lung" stuff.
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby Luke » Fri Apr 26, 2013 7:31 pm

Indrajala wrote:Luke, have you studied much classical Indian Buddhist literature? Abhidharma and so forth.

Nobody can claim that as exclusively their own and moreover it isn't associated with a single ethnic or lineage development of Buddhism. You can read it on your own without any organization. I've found such readings extremely insightful and empowering. There's no secret or esoteric truth concealed therein. It is all out in the open and logically elucidated. If you read it, you get it without having to defer to tradition.

No, I haven't read much of that. That's a good idea.
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby Luke » Sat Apr 27, 2013 2:13 pm

After reflecting on things, I think in many ways, that one can never really "leave" Vajrayana after having had a close student-teacher relationship with a lama for a while, even if one stops practicing it. It's an intense thing, so people who are interested in Vajrayana, but who have never tried it should consider carefully if it's really what they want. Perhaps this is why there is that traditional advice of "study a lama for 10 years before you decide to study with him seriously." It's sort of like being in the Marines: a person can quit the Marines, but those years he spent in it will have permanently changed in him in many ways, both positive and negative.

On the other hand, people who just go to pujas at Vajrayana centers and drink tea and chat with the other sangha members don't need to worry about any of this.

In my case, I may have gotten more than I bargained for. My lama is Tibetan and very traditional, and I had little experience with interacting with Tibetans before. A lot of my problems may have been "culture shock."
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby ground » Sat Apr 27, 2013 2:38 pm

Luke wrote:Have any of you tried Vajrayana, but then decided that it wasn't for you?

Interestingly this question differs from the title of the thread which is "Has anyone else left Vajrayana?"

I have had a try, yes.

As I see it, if something benefits me the benefit is even greater if I leave it. :sage:
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Apr 27, 2013 5:34 pm

ground wrote:As I see it, if something benefits me the benefit is even greater if I leave it. :sage:
So you have a festering wound and somebody gives you a balm to put on it and because the wound starts to finally heal you stop using it??? Excuse me for my brain dead stupidty but I fail to see the :sage: in your logic. Care to explain?
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby randomseb » Sun Apr 28, 2013 5:04 am

Luke wrote:However, right now, I want to practice a different, non-Vajrayana tradition of Buddhism, so I am mostly reading about these now.

randomseb wrote:Padma Sambavha's Tibetan book of the Great Liberation is a good place to find the core of some of the Tibetan practices, especially Kagyu, after you no longer need all of the religious stuff and mantra practice.

Perhaps I'll read it sometime. Thanks.


Sure.. Keep in mind that these religion structures are for people who require all that dogma in order to motivate themselves and/or to practice in stages, or just need that kind of religion structure to advance in any way.. At one point one might be ready to put it all down, leaving the mantra and worship rituals of imaginary deities behind, and go right to the point of the practice.. As this is Padma Sambhava's own text, and he's the one who brought the still-active buddhism to tibet, there can be no doubt. This is also in the book of the dead, but there it's covered in a typical metaphorical discursive mythology structure.. but you'll recognize it as soon as you see it, once you know that it all comes down to the same core..

Here's a sample of the Great Liberation text to give you an idea of what I mean:

Mind In Its True State
When one seeks one's mind in its true state, it is found to be quite intelligible
although invisible. In its true state, mind is naked, immaculate; not made of
anything, being of the Voidances; clear, vacuous, without duality, transparent,
timeless, uncompounded, unimpeded, colorless, not realizable as a separate thing,
but as the unity of all things, yet not composed of them; of one taste, and
transcendent over all differentiation
...

The Yoga Of Introspection
The One Mind being verily of the Voidness and without any foundation, one's mind
is, likewise, as vacuous as the sky. To know whether this be so or not, look within
thine own mind. Being of the Voidness, and thus not to be conceived as having
beginning or end, Self-Born Wisdom has in reality been shining forever, like the
Sun's essentiality, itself unborn. To know whether this be so or not, look within
thine own mind.

Divine Wisdom is undoubtedly indestructible, unbreakable, like the ever flowing
current of a river. To know whether this be so or not look within thine own mind.
Being merely a flux of instability like the air of the firmament, objective appearances
are without power to fascinate and fetter. To know whether this be so or not, look
within thine own mind.

All appearances are verily one's own concepts, self-conceived in the mind, like
reflections seen in a mirror. To know whether this be so or not, look within thine
own mind.


Does that last bit sound familiar?

This is Padma Sambhava.. ake Guru Rinpoche - getting right to the point, clearly!
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby Luke » Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:16 am

randomseb wrote:
Divine Wisdom is undoubtedly indestructible, unbreakable, like the ever flowing
current of a river. To know whether this be so or not look within thine own mind.
Being merely a flux of instability like the air of the firmament, objective appearances
are without power to fascinate and fetter. To know whether this be so or not, look
within thine own mind.

All appearances are verily one's own concepts, self-conceived in the mind, like
reflections seen in a mirror. To know whether this be so or not, look within thine
own mind.


Does that last bit sound familiar?

This is Padma Sambhava.. ake Guru Rinpoche - getting right to the point, clearly!


Yes, that's all very beautiful, thanks. Like I said, I don't have anything against still reading Tibetan Buddhist books or against being friends with Tibetan Buddhists.
I just don't want to be a part of the whole complicated empowerment-lung-samaya system in terms of my own practice anymore.
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby justsit » Sun Apr 28, 2013 12:41 pm

randomseb wrote:Here's a sample of the Great Liberation text to give you an idea of what I mean:

Mind In Its True State
When one seeks one's mind in its true state, it is found to be quite intelligible
although invisible. In its true state, mind is naked, immaculate; not made of
anything, being of the Voidances; clear, vacuous, without duality, transparent,
timeless, uncompounded, unimpeded, colorless, not realizable as a separate thing,
but as the unity of all things, yet not composed of them; of one taste, and
transcendent over all differentiation
...

The Yoga Of Introspection
The One Mind being verily of the Voidness and without any foundation, one's mind
is, likewise, as vacuous as the sky. To know whether this be so or not, look within
thine own mind. Being of the Voidness, and thus not to be conceived as having
beginning or end, Self-Born Wisdom has in reality been shining forever, like the
Sun's essentiality, itself unborn. To know whether this be so or not, look within
thine own mind.

Divine Wisdom is undoubtedly indestructible, unbreakable, like the ever flowing
current of a river. To know whether this be so or not look within thine own mind.
Being merely a flux of instability like the air of the firmament, objective appearances
are without power to fascinate and fetter. To know whether this be so or not, look
within thine own mind.

All appearances are verily one's own concepts, self-conceived in the mind, like
reflections seen in a mirror. To know whether this be so or not, look within thine
own mind.



This is Padma Sambhava.. ake Guru Rinpoche ...

May I ask, what is the source of this translation? Thanks.
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Apr 28, 2013 3:19 pm

Luke wrote:And Greg, which school of Tibetan Buddhism do you practice?
Mainly Karma Kagyu but I have received teachings and empowerments from Rime and Nyingma teachers too.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby randomseb » Sun Apr 28, 2013 3:38 pm

Luke wrote:I just don't want to be a part of the whole complicated empowerment-lung-samaya system in terms of my own practice anymore.


I understand, and agree.. And these are not actually necessary or even always helpful.. To others, they are great tools, but not to some of us!

Because the ultimate teachings, let's call them, tell you to do away with all mental constructs and concepts, and to just bask in the pure light of your own mind, the whole building up complicated dogmatic systems that the typical common folk need for their belief system doesn't make any sense to me.. But they need it, they may not even know what it is they are actually doing, but they need the tool to reprogram their own mind to clear away the obscurations. There's like a pyramid of levels of teaching to slowly climb, with less and less fantastic religious imagery and worshipful rituals, until you reach the top level buddhist teachings, and you reach the point where you have to put it all down.

In the lotus sutra Buddha makes a parable about a magical city temporarily conjured up to give a resting point before moving on, that is related heh

A Kagyu Lama explained to me how those kinds of religious rituals are not necessary, if you are attached to the notion of hierarchy of teachings and need a linear source of information :rolling:

That is to say, you can be a part of the lineage of, in this case, the Karmapa, and not bother with the sadhanas and empowerments and so on.. Do mahamudra only, if you are ready for it. See?
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Re: Has anyone else left Vajrayana?

Postby Adamantine » Sun Apr 28, 2013 3:58 pm

Luke wrote:
randomseb wrote:
Divine Wisdom is undoubtedly indestructible, unbreakable, like the ever flowing
current of a river. To know whether this be so or not look within thine own mind.
Being merely a flux of instability like the air of the firmament, objective appearances
are without power to fascinate and fetter. To know whether this be so or not, look
within thine own mind.

All appearances are verily one's own concepts, self-conceived in the mind, like
reflections seen in a mirror. To know whether this be so or not, look within thine
own mind.


Does that last bit sound familiar?

This is Padma Sambhava.. ake Guru Rinpoche - getting right to the point, clearly!


Yes, that's all very beautiful, thanks. Like I said, I don't have anything against still reading Tibetan Buddhist books or against being friends with Tibetan Buddhists.
I just don't want to be a part of the whole complicated empowerment-lung-samaya system in terms of my own practice anymore.



Hi Luke, it is quite normal to go through periods of questioning and doubt: even aversion, in regards to one's own path while one is making progress. These are generally obstacles that are important to recognize and move through. I myself had a time where I began to get frustrated with the seeming foreignness of some visualizations, the clumsy recitation in a language not my own, etc. Luckily I live in a place chock full of plenty of experienced senior western practitioners of varied ages and capacities and I was able to have some good inspirational talks the enabled me to push through- - and I am ever so grateful now that I did. 5 years invested is no small thing. I wonder how immersive you've been able be in your practice in this time. It's one thing to do a little practice for an hour or two a day. It's another to do a closed retreat for at least a week or two to get a real taste of the meaning and effect of the practice. These are not "imaginary" or imagined deities or lineage gurus. We use the clarity of our minds to connect to the enlightened energies that are more real than our ordinary perceptions. These are not "out there" explicitly nor residing inherently "within" our minds. It is not so easy to understand. But to delve deeply into immersive practice in a retreat setting with the sincere intent to see it through and to surrender to uncontrived devotion once it arises: then you can achieve a real taste for the amrita the path is headed towards. Similarly, it is good to make an aspiration to go to some of the powerfully magnetized holy places that sing with the enlightened energies of the great lineage masters. This will also really help you to resolve some doubts and understand cultural contexts. For instance, the holy places of Shakyamuni Buddha like Bodhgaya, Sarnath, Lumbini-- and of Guru Rinpoche such as Parphing in Nepal and Tso Pema in India. The whole reason I became a Buddhist in this life is related to my first trip to India and living in these holy places. Please try both of these things: retreat for as long as you can manage, and pilgrimage~ before you decide to abandon your path for another.
Samaya is not a casual thing - it is a commitment as you know, that you made with your whole being and you should not treat it lightly because you are going through a moment of doubt. The mind is as fickle as the seasons.. the vows we take are binding factors meant to see us through these changeable seasons to allow us to arrive at our final goal: freedom. And yes, there are aspects that may seem constrictive or foreign, but that's because we are at the exciting time of the American Early-translation period-- just as the early Nyingma-pas were in 9th century Tibet. If your current teacher is not well versed in American language or culture and that is alienating to you in some ways, then before you jump ship please realize there are some incredibly inspirational high Lamas who are. Please look to the teachings -the recordings and books (and even films) of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, as well as the teachings of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche. There are also Westerners who are now wonderful lineage holders such as Chagdud Khandro, or Tsultrim Allione among many others. Before you jump ship on the tradition, maybe explore what else is out there. It is OK to have more than one guide, you don't need to abandon your Lama to take teachings from another.

Also, the purification of ngondro will create kick-back: resistance in many forms including the desire to abandon ship. Just realize that. However, if the question is of leaving the Guru and the tradition behind entirely versus continuing ngondro -then your teacher would probably prefer you to focus on a different practice. For instance, you could focus on various types of Shine (calm abiding) meditation which does not involve mantra or visualization or secrecy and that may be just what you need. And this is also an essential ingredient on the path that you'll need to do sooner or later. This may also help you recognize these upheavals of the mind that try to destabilize our practice.

~A
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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