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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 7:09 am 
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Have you considered that the OP may not have the opportunity to engage in retreat? Thus when you say that
Quote:
if you want to really fully enter into the practice...
It is like saying "lisehull you will never fully enter into the practice" and that this may act as a further source of dismay and disenheartenment for somebody already experiencing difficulty in their practice?

Now you go on to say
Quote:
...there is a reason it is traditionally done in retreat among serious practitioners.
Which kindda implies that whoever does Nogondro outside of retreat is not a serious practitioner.

And what of this statement
Quote:
...the purification becomes much more than theoretical.
Here you are implying that outside of intensive retreat purification is merely theoretical. Do you have any scriptural or oral teaching evidence for this?

And this
Quote:
So if you are truly interested...
Implies that only those that do Ngondro within a retreat context are truly interested.

I think you will also find that one can completely immerse themselves in practice in a retreat context and still be merely dwelling in neurotic thoughts and distractions. I personally know of a couple of people that have informed me of this reality.

This obsession with "numbers" overshadows the crux of all practices: sincerity. Without sincerity neither environment nor the total daily accumulations will mean anything at all.
:namaste:
PS I agree that retreats can be helpful, but they are not essential.
PPS Keep at it lisehull, it's definitely "worth the effort"!

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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 7:35 am 
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I find it hard to imagine that most people couldn't take a minimum of 5 days out of their lives to do retreat in a given year. I'm not discussing anything unrealistic. In the U.S. even the most demanding of full time jobs give at least two weeks vacation a year and in most European countries it is more...
In the context of Dharma being the quintessentially most important activity in life, I think it is more disheartening to imply that anyone can't take at minimum 5 out of 365 days to devote fully to it. I think that'd be a really rare case if it were true. On the other hand, there are many people that may choose not to take those 5 days, preferring instead a different type of holiday, but that's another matter altogether!

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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 8:06 am 
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Just practice every day. If you do 300 of whatever section you happen to be on daily (probably an hour or so of practice), you'll be done in 4 years. I don't think I know anyone who can honestly say they don't spend at least an hour a day dicking around doing useless things. If you practice diligently, you'll want to practice more. Ngöndro causes the conditions for a strong practice.

Doing Guru yoga after the previous sections of ngöndro is just unbelievable. Keep at it.


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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 8:13 am 
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gregkavarnos wrote:
And what of this statement
Quote:
...the purification becomes much more than theoretical.
Here you are implying that outside of intensive retreat purification is merely theoretical. Do you have any scriptural or oral teaching evidence for this?

And this
Quote:
So if you are truly interested...
Implies that only those that do Ngondro within a retreat context are truly interested.


Also, when you're in a retreat you have no distractions. It's very easy to practice in a retreat (which for me is motivation to do a very long one).

But even if you can even do a little ngöndro diligently every day in the crazy world we live in, then I highly doubt anything can shake your resolve. That's a strong practice if I've ever heard of one.

Vajrayana isn't about running from or pacifying kleshas, it's about overcoming them.

Not that I'm knocking long retreats -- I dedicate merit so I can do one all the time -- but in the Tibetan tradition lay Buddhists can also attain the highest levels of realization. Further, if it wasn't for lay Buddhists, Buddhism in Tibet wouldn't have survived Langdarma.


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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 8:14 am 
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Adamantine wrote:
I find it hard to imagine that most people couldn't take a minimum of 5 days out of their lives to do retreat in a given year. I'm not discussing anything unrealistic. In the U.S. even the most demanding of full time jobs give at least two weeks vacation a year and in most European countries it is more...
In the context of Dharma being the quintessentially most important activity in life, I think it is more disheartening to imply that anyone can't take at minimum 5 out of 365 days to devote fully to it. I think that'd be a really rare case if it were true. On the other hand, there are many people that may choose not to take those 5 days, preferring instead a different type of holiday, but that's another matter altogether!
You know what Adamantine, there are people out there that have a family to deal with, this may mean that even their time-off from work is still time-on for domestic labour or that they may have to spend their vacation with their families! Then there are people with lots of time for retreat (ie unemployed) but no money to go to a retreat centre. Okay, a retreat does not have to be at a centre, I have friends that do mini-retreats at home, and that's fine, if you don't have a family! Again though, the problem of doing a retreat at home is that unfortunately you don't have the direct support of a teacher or fellow practitioners. :shrug:

One does the best with the circumstances at hand. That's why if I want to give support to a practitioner struggling with a practice I start by giving advice that is directly applicapble within their practice context and not by proposing a solution (and what you proposed is a solution of types) that may be outside of their means and thus act as a further source of dismay with their current situation.

Get where I am coming from? (of course this is all based on my experience as a psychological counsellor)
:namaste:

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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 8:25 am 
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Jangchup Donden wrote:

Not that I'm knocking long retreats -- I dedicate merit so I can do one all the time -- but in the Tibetan tradition lay Buddhists can also attain the highest levels of realization. Further, if it wasn't for lay Buddhists, Buddhism in Tibet wouldn't have survived Langdarma.


Don't confuse retreats with monasticism. Ngakpas are the tantric-lay-householder-yogis who are said to have kept the Vajrayana Dharma alive during the purges of the monasteries. And the great Ngakpas of the past and of our day generally have done a great deal more retreat than the monks confined to monasteries. Just look at the life stories of Dilgo Khyentse RInpoche, Kunzang Dorje Rinpoche, Chatral Rinpoche, Chagdud Tulku, Tulku Urgyen, Lama Wangdu, Ngakpa Yeshe Dorje RInpoche, etc. etc. I could go on and on. These are some of the most well known examples of ngakpa Lamas but there are many more that are less known, and they all have devoted or do devote serious time to retreat.

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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 8:47 am 
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Jangchup Donden wrote:
Also, when you're in a retreat you have no distractions.
I will disagree with you on this point. Circumstances and phenomena can calm or excite our mind but for somebody that has not managed to tame their mind there are distractions to be found everywhere and anywhere because, ultimately, there is no other distraction apart from our mind!
:namaste:

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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 11:39 am 
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Adamantine wrote:
In the context of Dharma being the quintessentially most important activity in life, I think it is more disheartening to imply that anyone can't take at minimum 5 out of 365 days to devote fully to it.


People often confuse the methods for doing dharma practice (sadhanas, ngondro, meditation, etc.) with actual dharma practice, wisdom and compassion. Sometimes not having 'free time' is the best thing, because you are forced to integrate dharma into your everyday life. You have no choice.

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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 1:15 pm 
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Jangchup Donden wrote:
Further, if it wasn't for lay Buddhists, Buddhism in Tibet wouldn't have survived Langdarma.



Actually, Langdarma was unfairly maligned and murdered without good cause.

N

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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 1:17 pm 
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Adamantine wrote:
Ngakpas are the tantric-lay-householder-yogis who are said to have kept the Vajrayana Dharma alive during the purges of the monasteries. .


The monasteries were not purged, they were shut down because they are a huge burden on the Tibetan govt. Langdarma shut them down because the Tibetan Kingdom could not afford to run them anymore nor pay for the monks.

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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 1:53 pm 
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Namdrol wrote:
The monasteries were not purged, they were shut down because they are a huge burden on the Tibetan govt. Langdarma shut them down because the Tibetan Kingdom could not afford to run them anymore nor pay for the monks.
We have a similar situation here in Greece, priestsand monks salaries are paid for by the state (and the church does not pay taxes). The state has cut spending to a minimum but still has not dealt with the church. If they do there will be more than one murder! You can be sure of that!
:namaste:

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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 8:17 pm 
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gregkavarnos wrote:
lisehull wrote:
The issue there is that, as a newbie, I find I get the words jumbled if I focus heavily on the refuge tree.
The words, the visualisation and the action of prostrating are not as important as the "feeling" that the lineage is right there in front of you and the awe, humbleness and respect generated by this presence. This is the key aspect, the erradication of pride that comes about when you are in the presence of all those enlightened beings. Hang in there, it will get better (but may still become a lot worse yet).

Thanks Greg, for your input. I think this aspect of awe is something I need to look at, because at the moment, still only a month and a half into this new practice, I don't think I feel that kind of awe. Right now, I feel more as if I am going through the motions, trying to get it all coordinated and done correctly. I will take some time and consider your comments.
:thanks:


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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 8:20 pm 
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Adamantine wrote:
I find it hard to imagine that most people couldn't take a minimum of 5 days out of their lives to do retreat in a given year. I'm not discussing anything unrealistic. In the U.S. even the most demanding of full time jobs give at least two weeks vacation a year and in most European countries it is more...
In the context of Dharma being the quintessentially most important activity in life, I think it is more disheartening to imply that anyone can't take at minimum 5 out of 365 days to devote fully to it. I think that'd be a really rare case if it were true. On the other hand, there are many people that may choose not to take those 5 days, preferring instead a different type of holiday, but that's another matter altogether!


Five days away from home is impractical for me. My husband and I both have medical issues that need frequent attention. That said, I do my practice six days a week and will try to figure out a way to "go deeper" to generate greater devotion than I am feeling presently. :namaste:


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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 8:38 pm 
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lisehull wrote:
That said, I do my practice six days a week and will try to figure out a way to "go deeper" to generate greater devotion than I am feeling presently. :namaste:


Reading the life story of the masters of your lineage is something very helpful. My master also used to tell me to read the songs of Milarepa when I had problems during the Ngondro.

/magnus

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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 11:18 pm 
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Excellent advice, Magnus. :thumbsup:

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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 12:18 am 
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There's a LOT going on with that refuge tree......I found that it helped to focus on a given figure, whether a Lama, or Yidam, or whatever, for a time, while doing the prostrations. So, for example, thinking about, and working on, the visualization of Saraha, after having read about Saraha......or feeling a particular appreciation for, say, Gyalwa Gyamtso on a given day, I'd spend time focusing on those figures from within the assembly. I even pretended I could discern which volumes of Dharma Texts were stationed where, at one point...so, I was prostrating to the Two Chapters (Hevajra Tantra) for a while, and to the Lankavatara Sutra, also.....
Devotion increased, in my opinion, when I studied life stories, as well...as noted by Heart. Read Marpa's bio, Gampopas, and the various Mahasiddhas......etc.

Maybe this will help with boredom. :shrug:

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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 1:26 am 
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lisehull wrote:
I find it pretty monotonous, repeating the same thing every day and counting prostrations. I find myself detached from the practice and, yes, one could say I am bored. I don't feel connected. I have reduced the number of prostrations I have been doing, which has helped somewhat, but I still find that I have to push myself to do the practice and am relieved when I am done. I have talked with my teacher, but wanted to get input from fellow practitioners. :smile:


I agree with others who said the most important thing is to feel the presence of the sources of refuge, and feel the awe. Think of what a prostration is - it is an offering of your entire being, all your skandas - as represented by your body. I think it's important not just to imagine the Guru in front of you, but to actually feel that they are there right in front of you. If the whole tree is overwhelming or dilutes your focus, just attend to the Guru. When I actually feel the presence of the Guru in front of me, I don't want to stop prostrating! I think - wow, he's sitting right here, what an amazing opportunity. Who cares how tired or bored I actually am, my Guru is sitting right here! Really, imagine you were visiting your teacher and you had the opportunity to do the prostrations right in front of him/her. You probably wouldn't have as much trouble with motivation.

I also think reducing the number was a good idea. Don't give yourself a set number per day - just do however many you feel like, and invite awe and surrender. Also - I think it helps to do them slowly, especially when you're having these kinds of issues. And whatever resistance comes up, recognize that that same resistance is what keeps samsara going. . . so each time you lay yourself flat at your Guru's feet, you put all your defilements, your thoughts, your breath, body, speech, mind, etc., in the Guru's hands. What a relief. And also, through bodhicitta intention, you can invite all other practitioners out there who are having trouble to join you, maybe even those with broken samaya, who unlike you have actually given up their practice due to this same kind of resistance. Practice for them!


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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 3:04 am 
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Adamantine wrote:
I've found that in general it's very hard to deeply enter into any of the ngondro accumulations in fragmented day-to-day way that is mixed with worldly life. It is essential, of course, to do a minimum every day to keep the continuity, however if you want to really fully enter into the practice in a way that will reveal it's true import and inspire and invigorate you beyond boredom and concern for numbers-- then I believe it is essential to do some strict retreat time. It may be hard to get time off from your job, but even doing a 5, 7, or ideally 10 day retreat at the minimum will show you a lot. In this type of context, you should ask your teacher about setting a schedule, but generally you'd wake up before dawn, do three hours of practice----> take a tea and breakfast break, then another three hour session-- on and on like this so you are doing at least 12 to 15 hours a day. Ideally you'd take a couple hour break after lunch, and mix some other practices in-between- like sang in the morning and dharmapala or chod at night if you have those practices. If three hour sessions seems to extreme, you could do more sessions but 2hours each-- that's why you should discuss with your own teacher. But in my humble experience it is through this sustained continuity of prolonged immersion in practice that the mind makes the required leap and the purification becomes much more than theoretical. So if you are truly interested, take the time and really go for it. There is a reason that ngondro is traditionally done in retreat!

A

This is good advice.


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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 3:09 am 
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lisehull wrote:
Adamantine wrote:
I find it hard to imagine that most people couldn't take a minimum of 5 days out of their lives to do retreat in a given year. I'm not discussing anything unrealistic. In the U.S. even the most demanding of full time jobs give at least two weeks vacation a year and in most European countries it is more...
In the context of Dharma being the quintessentially most important activity in life, I think it is more disheartening to imply that anyone can't take at minimum 5 out of 365 days to devote fully to it. I think that'd be a really rare case if it were true. On the other hand, there are many people that may choose not to take those 5 days, preferring instead a different type of holiday, but that's another matter altogether!


Five days away from home is impractical for me. My husband and I both have medical issues that need frequent attention. That said, I do my practice six days a week and will try to figure out a way to "go deeper" to generate greater devotion than I am feeling presently. :namaste:

Not all teachers require you to do the traditional ngöndro. Perhaps a different approach would suit your needs better, but only you can decide that. Why don't you try Chogyal Namkhai Norbu's approach to practice?


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 Post subject: Re: Ngondro
PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 3:28 am 
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Lisehull,
first and foremost dont become disheartened. Everybody, and I mean everybody, develops problems along the way when doing ngondro. You can make the choice to view this as an opportunity for growth. Your ngondro can be viewed as your friend that will show you where your weak points are. Secondly it helps if you do what I call "pre-practice". In other words before you even go into the room to do your practice you think of things that will "amp up" your motivation. That will be different for different people so you will have to figure out what motivates you. Lastly...when you feel the resistance...simply take a moment to relax your mind and body and just breathe. Good luck

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