All your striving is making me tired. Why not just sit for a few days and look at the sky?
Mostly because if I do I will have to start my practice over at the beginning. I cannot put into words how little I want to do that.
Motivation sets the pace at how we practice, Is your motivation that you perform the preliminaries for the benefit of all or specifically for your self needs alone ?
I think that is one of the places where I get into problems. I have a great deal of trouble seeing how me doing Dharma helps people in the short or the long term. I can't see how sitting on a cushion, offering the mandala, or anything else helps anyone except myself(sometimes) in the short term. In the long term it is written that being Enlightened helps other sentient beings but it doesn't say how, exactly. How does becoming a bodhisattva put food in anyone's stomach? How, exactly, do they heal the sick or comfort the dying? Since people have to do the practice on their own to get happiness, how does my doing the practice bring other people happiness? How does my Enlightenment, which is a deeply personal state, help others? More on Enlightenment a bit further down.
So, I agree that helping others should be our(and my) number one concern, but I've found that focusing on that leads to problems for me.
I know that feeling. You have to spend more time with the 4 thoughts. You have to realize that you may die at any moment, and the next prostration or mantra you do might be your last. At the same time, you also have to come to terms with the fact that you may have to do ngondro 10 times in this life to attain siddhi. Who knows. I think for this to be effective, there must be both the sense of urgency to practice, AND the willingness to do whatever it takes - if you approach it simply like passing a test or doing well with investments in the stock market, I think it will have less impact in actually transforming you. When I notice myself getting preoccupied with the numbers, I literally imagine that the next prostration is the last thing I will ever do. It helps me get back into the moment.
Actually a few weeks ago I had a massive panic attack in regards to my own death. I started thinking about what it will be like to die, how it would be if my consciousness slowly faded into blackness as opposed to a sudden "whomp" like turning off a light switch. I questioned how sure I really was in reincarnation and if I was so absolutely sure that Enlightenment was the way to go for all sentient beings(including myself) that I was willing to spend the rest of my life striving and sacrificing for it.
I realized that I'm not sure. As a bit of background, the reason I became Buddhist in the first place is that, unlike other paths, Buddhism has a way for me to become a better person in a tangible fashion. It wasn't because I wanted to serve sentient beings, to become Enlightened, or to become some type of super being. I just wanted to not be an SOB.
As I've practice I've realized that I don't really understand what Enlightenment is. What few glimpses I have had in meditation seem not as much "pleasurable" as much as not "not" unpleasant. Also I'm not sure that being in the states that I read about and to a very small extent experienced(as in a few seconds once or twice) helps anyone.
Please understand. I'm not saying that I think Enlightenment is somehow wrong. What I am saying is that I'm not as 100% "gung ho" "super convinced" as a lot of people I talk to in regards to the end goal.
Obviously all of this is something I don't talk to with my Teacher or anyone. It seems like something that everyone thinks is perfectly and absolutely obvious and that I just don't see.
Think about refuge in relation to the 4 thoughts. . . what ngondro commentaries have you read?
btw, good that you are asking for help now.
Thank you. I've tried to be really honest in my thoughts here. Please understand that I'm not trying to be offensive or inappropriate. It is what has come up in my Ngondro practice and the concerns that have come up.
In regards to commentaries I've read.
I tried to read, "A Cascading Waterfall of Nectar" and "Words of my Perfect Teacher" and even though I can tell they are very good books they are very difficult reads for me. I can only make it through about one or two pages in 15 minutes or so. I'm used to being able to buzz through a page in 5 minutes or less.