Too much prostrations?

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Too much prostrations?

Postby Sonrisa » Wed Nov 17, 2010 3:06 pm

Lately, I have begun prostrations. The thing is, since I have not done them so often before, my body aches >_< Is this normal?

Is there such thing as too much prostrating?

PS: please excuse me for asking this silly question. I did not know on what other thread to ask it on.
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Re: Too much prostrations?

Postby Indrajala » Wed Nov 17, 2010 4:15 pm

It is like taking up weight lifting -- at first your muscles are not used to it and it aches, but eventually your body gets used to it and it becomes painless.

Take it slowly! :smile:
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Re: Too much prostrations?

Postby Blue Garuda » Wed Nov 17, 2010 7:09 pm

When I started martial arts training my teacher said: 'The first 10 years hurt the most.'

When I started in Buddhism, my teacher should perhaps have said: 'The first 100,000 prostrations are the worst.'

Light hearted, but maybe pretty accurate! LOL :)

I would advise building up slowly. If you ache you may need someone to show you how to stretch etc. to remove lactic acid aches, especially in the legs. Repeatedly getting up from the ground to a standing position is quite a workout.

People with a physical inability to perform full prostration can perform mental prostrations which, as far as I know, are considered as powerful. In both cases one can visualise multiple copies of yourself all prostrating together, which adds to the experience IMHO, and of course keeps the mind from focus on any discomfort, as can combining the prostrations with mantras. ;)
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Re: Too much prostrations?

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Wed Nov 17, 2010 7:50 pm

Yeshe wrote:
People with a physical inability to perform full prostration can perform mental prostrations which, as far as I know, are considered as powerful.


I'd say that for someone with a physical inability to do the physical prostrations, mental ones are certainly better than none and would be wholly worthwhile as a Dharma activity for many reasons, but I'd disagree about the equal power of the two, for the following reasons:

When doing physical prostrations, particularly as part of a ngondro, one is simultaneously practicing with not just the mind but also the body and speech; the visualization & contemplation is said to have the effect of purifying obscurations and negative karmas accumulated by the mind, the recitation of the verse for refuge(and perhaps bodhicitta) is said to purify obscurations and karmas accumulated through speech, and the prostrations themselves are said to purify obscurations and karma accumulated with the body.

So in one fell swoop, one is purifying the body, speech, and mind of negativities accumulated throughout many lifetimes, averting their ripening with ill effects to one's future bodies, speech, and mind. It's certain that mental prostrations would also have very good results, but they would be somewhat less complete than actual physical ones.

Everything else you mentioned I'd wholeheartedly agree with, though, especially the part about visualizing multiple emanations of oneself and others prostrating simultaneously.

edit: wanted to add that I've heard of some lamas having their students who are unable to accumulate prostrations to substitute them with circumambulations in their ngondro, which to some degree would fulfill the physical purpose of prostrations.
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Re: Too much prostrations?

Postby Blue Garuda » Wed Nov 17, 2010 9:16 pm

Pema Rigdzin wrote:
Yeshe wrote:
People with a physical inability to perform full prostration can perform mental prostrations which, as far as I know, are considered as powerful.


I'd say that for someone with a physical inability to do the physical prostrations, mental ones are certainly better than none and would be wholly worthwhile as a Dharma activity for many reasons, but I'd disagree about the equal power of the two, for the following reasons:

When doing physical prostrations, particularly as part of a ngondro, one is simultaneously practicing with not just the mind but also the body and speech; the visualization & contemplation is said to have the effect of purifying obscurations and negative karmas accumulated by the mind, the recitation of the verse for refuge(and perhaps bodhicitta) is said to purify obscurations and karmas accumulated through speech, and the prostrations themselves are said to purify obscurations and karma accumulated with the body.

So in one fell swoop, one is purifying the body, speech, and mind of negativities accumulated throughout many lifetimes, averting their ripening with ill effects to one's future bodies, speech, and mind. It's certain that mental prostrations would also have very good results, but they would be somewhat less complete than actual physical ones.

Everything else you mentioned I'd wholeheartedly agree with, though, especially the part about visualizing multiple emanations of oneself and others prostrating simultaneously.

edit: wanted to add that I've heard of some lamas having their students who are unable to accumulate prostrations to substitute them with circumambulations in their ngondro, which to some degree would fulfill the physical purpose of prostrations.


Hi. I like that idea of substitution.

I omitted the less strenuous (but nevertheless physical) prostration of simply placing the palms together.

The reason I stated that mental prostrations may be considered as powerful is based on a couple of Lamas views and one story where a Lama performed only mental prostrations and his root guru agreed that his attainment was as great as if he had performed them physically.

If only I could remember the source! LOL :) Anyone know?

The whole aspect of 'visualising' (rather than physically performing) rituals with implements, mudras etc. is fascinating. Without entering into details, I have seen tantric rituals performed by lamas I consider very advanced, where they visiualised such things rather than needing them to be physically present. Rupas etc are of great assistance to people like me, but it seems that the advanced practitioners I know are to some extent able to dispense with the physical 'aids' of shrines etc.
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Re: Too much prostrations?

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Wed Nov 17, 2010 9:33 pm

Rupas etc are of great assistance to people like me, but it seems that the advanced practitioners I know are to some extent able to dispense with the physical 'aids' of shrines etc.


Good :)
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Re: Too much prostrations?

Postby nirmal » Thu Nov 18, 2010 6:03 am

Never too much for me.Besides reducing the sorrow of pride,prostrations are a form of yoga, a good form of exercise to keep me fit. I also prostrate when my guru comes to my house to show my humility as I worship him with great devotion.I prostrate to him as if he were a Buddha

From prostration practice,devotion arises and the secret wheel is easily opened even though the Gelugpas say that it can only be done through the third initiation.Prostrations is the other method. Prostrations also help one to get rid of all sorts of troubles and dangers. Even disease may fail to attack us if our mind is centered upon this devotional practice.Even a burglar, when respected, will not harm us what more the Buddhas.
Last edited by nirmal on Thu Nov 18, 2010 6:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Too much prostrations?

Postby plwk » Thu Nov 18, 2010 6:29 am

Imagine 100k mental prostrations...wat a feat Image
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Re: Too much prostrations?

Postby Individual » Thu Nov 18, 2010 6:52 am

Sonrisa wrote:Lately, I have begun prostrations. The thing is, since I have not done them so often before, my body aches >_< Is this normal?

Is there such thing as too much prostrating?

PS: please excuse me for asking this silly question. I did not know on what other thread to ask it on.

How old are you? And what part of the body?

Muscles & Youthful -- it's fine. But give it a couple days of rest (with moderate activity -- too much inactivity will make the soreness worse), eat some grapefruit, lots of protein, and drink lots of water.

Joints & Elderly -- bad. Rinpoche, as I understand it, wouldn't want you to abuse your body for his sake. :)
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Re: Too much prostrations?

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Thu Nov 18, 2010 12:51 pm

Individual wrote:Joints & Elderly -- bad. Rinpoche, as I understand it, wouldn't want you to abuse your body for his sake. :)

Surely he wouldn't want that, and surely he would give the same advice. Prostrations are not, however, in any way for the lama's sake. One prostrates to the objects of refuge - the lama and the 3 Jewels - to purify karma and obscurations of one's body, speech, and mind and to generate merit, for one's own sake and for the sake of all beings.
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Re: Too much prostrations?

Postby spiritnoname » Thu Nov 25, 2010 3:58 am

Generally speaking, normal people do not do enough prostrations, definitely don't tell them to do less. But some of the more fanatic practitioners damage their knees,.. so be careful of that or you'll end up in a wheel chair like Chagdud Tulku.
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Re: Too much prostrations?

Postby Jikan » Thu Nov 25, 2010 10:52 pm

spiritnoname wrote:Generally speaking, normal people do not do enough prostrations, definitely don't tell them to do less. But some of the more fanatic practitioners damage their knees,.. so be careful of that or you'll end up in a wheel chair like Chagdud Tulku.


The key is to do them mindfully in a spirit of devotion. Maintaining the proper view is essential (who is prostrating to what...?).

I've injured myself doing prostrations, both Tibetan style and Japanese style. When I've injured myself, it's been because of my own lack of mindfulness, or because I've made it some kind of heroic personal thing. I've seen elderly women who can barely walk do prostrations on end and without limit just out of a spirit of joyfulness. That's where the practice is, not in mindlessly throwing yourself at the floor over and over.

The ups and downs of prostrations!
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Re: Too much prostrations?

Postby spiritnoname » Thu Nov 25, 2010 11:13 pm

After 50-150 prostrations you may have runners high,.. your body is largely numb from that point,.. people that are doing prostrations for ngondro or retreats hit that stage and continue in a fanatical way, later when runners high stops they might realize damage to knees.
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