who's ngondro is it anyway

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Re: who's ngondro is it anyway

Post by conebeckham »

Malcolm wrote:
dzogchungpa wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Indian ngondro consisted primarily of Vajrasattva, Mandala offerings and supplications to the guru. Refuge and Bodhicitta were added by Tibetans, as far as I can tell.
Was it typically numbers-based, i.e. you have to do (at least) a certain amount of each practice, and basically a prerequisite?
As far as I know, it was signs based. You did each practice until you have a sign. In SMS level 2 and beyond, it is all signs based, AFAIK.

The number thing comes from lower tantra. Since we live in Kali Yuga, if it says 100, you now have to do 400. :twisted:
I've read a bunch of "Tris," most of them from HYT, though I suppose all of them were written by Tibetans. In any case, they all outline the three ways of "progress:" by time, by number, and by signs. Was this a Tibetan thing?
དམ་པའི་དོན་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ཆེ་བ་དང་།
རྟོག་གེའི་ཡུལ་མིན་བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་།
སྐལ་ལྡན་ལས་འཕྲོ་ཅན་གྱིས་རྟོགས་པ་སྟེ།
དེ་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ལ་ནི་ལོ་རྟོག་སེལ།།


"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")
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Re: who's ngondro is it anyway

Post by conebeckham »

Anonymous X wrote:
yan kong wrote:
Anonymous X wrote:You don't think that ngondro is a practice developed and related through the Tibetan culture? Westerners are not naturally disposed to this kind of practice and resistance seems quite natural to them. I like what Malcolm said: Practicing Dharma is better.
What about it exactly would westerners have a resistance to? It seems to me one of the obstacles is that precise idea that it is culturally alien and therefor more difficult for westerners.
Prostrations are not a part of western culture unless you are perhaps a very devout Catholic monk. There is also a lot of anti-cultic, anti-guru sentiment in western cultures. I'm not suggesting that every person has resistance to the idea of ngondro. Going to church, synagogue is usually not about physical devotion. Perhaps you are not a westerner and don't know what the cultures are like?
A related tangent of this anti-cultic/anti-guru sentiment is also in play, at least here in America, with our "rugged individualism" creed. Leaders, not followers.
དམ་པའི་དོན་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ཆེ་བ་དང་།
རྟོག་གེའི་ཡུལ་མིན་བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་།
སྐལ་ལྡན་ལས་འཕྲོ་ཅན་གྱིས་རྟོགས་པ་སྟེ།
དེ་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ལ་ནི་ལོ་རྟོག་སེལ།།


"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")
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Re: who's ngondro is it anyway

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

I think it's true that something like prostrations carry with them inherent difficulties for someone raised in the west. However, that could as much be an argument in their favor as an argument against them. It took me a while to even understand the Buddhist version of "devotion" - it is not something you have any reference for if you come from Abrahamic religion, or like I did - abject atheism. It's like being asked to tune into a radio station without anyone giving you the frequency..on this level, I -fully- get the value of said practices - particularly for westerners.

What I don't get is why some people think (seemingly) that this is present in ngondro, but not (for instance) in the refuge prayers of a sadhana.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

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Re: who's ngondro is it anyway

Post by dzogchungpa »

Personally, I really like prostrations. I just don't like the idea that I have to do 100,000 of them before I do something else.
There is not only nothingness because there is always, and always can manifest. - Thinley Norbu Rinpoche
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Re: who's ngondro is it anyway

Post by yan kong »

Anonymous X wrote:
yan kong wrote:
Anonymous X wrote:You don't think that ngondro is a practice developed and related through the Tibetan culture? Westerners are not naturally disposed to this kind of practice and resistance seems quite natural to them. I like what Malcolm said: Practicing Dharma is better.
What about it exactly would westerners have a resistance to? It seems to me one of the obstacles is that precise idea that it is culturally alien and therefor more difficult for westerners.
Prostrations are not a part of western culture unless you are perhaps a very devout Catholic monk. There is also a lot of anti-cultic, anti-guru sentiment in western cultures. I'm not suggesting that every person has resistance to the idea of ngondro. Going to church, synagogue is usually not about physical devotion. Perhaps you are not a westerner and don't know what the cultures are like?
I am indeed a westerner and I stand by my claim. While certainly I would agree we interact with ngondro differently which can be influenced by our cultural conditioning it may also make the practice more meaningful to us if we can reflect on whether any resistances are legitimate or due largely to our own ingrained habits. I'm not saying more meaningful compared to Tibetans but more so in general.
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Re: who's ngondro is it anyway

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Malcolm wrote:Everything comes from the guru. This is why guru yoga is the most important practice of all. As Virupa states, "The profound path is the guru."
What I am asking is: if practiced properly, is there a practice/path that is not guru yoga?
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"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
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Re: who's ngondro is it anyway

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dzogchungpa wrote:Personally, I really like prostrations. I just don't like the idea that I have to do 100,000 of them before I do something else.
In my experience, that is mainly a Karma Kagyu idea possibly only applied in the west.

/magnus
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Re: who's ngondro is it anyway

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dzogchungpa wrote:Personally, I really like prostrations. I just don't like the idea that I have to do 100,000 of them before I do something else.
Indeed, and that is what Daharma practice is all about , isn't it kiddies? Like or disliking, accepting or rejecting, ad nauseum... ;)
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
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Re: who's ngondro is it anyway

Post by Malcolm »

Grigoris wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Everything comes from the guru. This is why guru yoga is the most important practice of all. As Virupa states, "The profound path is the guru."
What I am asking is: if practiced properly, is there a practice/path that is not guru yoga?
Yes, śamatha and vipaśyāna are not guru yoga. Nor is practicing the six perfections, nor do any of the three lower tantras have guru yoga. Guru yoga exists only in highest yoga tantra on up.

Meditating on the guru is held to be more effective than yidam practices, and so on.
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that name does not exist."
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Re: who's ngondro is it anyway

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Malcolm wrote:Yes, śamatha and vipaśyāna are not guru yoga. Nor is practicing the six perfections, nor do any of the three lower tantras have guru yoga. Guru yoga exists only in highest yoga tantra on up.

Meditating on the guru is held to be more effective than yidam practices, and so on.
Yes, but I want to go to my original point, which you did not answer too: If the Yidam and the Guru are seen as inseparable, then surely the one practice is as effective as the other? If the Six Perfections are seen as the qualities of the perfect teacher, etc... Surely it is more a matter of view then it is a matter of specific practices? If the Guru is the source of all blessing (and no doubt the Guru is), then wouldn't any teaching bestowed by the Guru (including the "lowly" practices of śamatha and vipaśyāna) be on par with a "formal" Guru Yoga? With the right view wouldn't all teachings be a Guru Yoga since the Guru is the source of those teachings?
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"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
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Re: who's ngondro is it anyway

Post by dzogchungpa »

Grigoris wrote:
dzogchungpa wrote:Personally, I really like prostrations. I just don't like the idea that I have to do 100,000 of them before I do something else.
Indeed, and that is what Daharma practice is all about , isn't it kiddies? Like or disliking, accepting or rejecting, ad nauseum... ;)
My understanding is that Dharma practice is about benefiting oneself and, eventually, others. IMO, likes and dislikes should not just be glibly dismissed as you seem to be doing here. If someone doesn't like something it may indeed be because it is harmful for them. On the other hand, it may be especially beneficial if it helps them to overcome a limitation or whatever. The point is, there's no general rule and things like 100,000 prostrations should not be prescribed for everyone like some kind of panacea.
There is not only nothingness because there is always, and always can manifest. - Thinley Norbu Rinpoche
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Re: who's ngondro is it anyway

Post by Malcolm »

Grigoris wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Yes, śamatha and vipaśyāna are not guru yoga. Nor is practicing the six perfections, nor do any of the three lower tantras have guru yoga. Guru yoga exists only in highest yoga tantra on up.

Meditating on the guru is held to be more effective than yidam practices, and so on.
Yes, but I want to go to my original point, which you did not answer too: If the Yidam and the Guru are seen as inseparable, then surely the one practice is as effective as the other?
What I am saying is that the guru is the ultimate yidam which is peerless and beyond compare.
If the Six Perfections are seen as the qualities of the perfect teacher, etc... Surely it is more a matter of view then it is a matter of specific practices?
There is no guru yoga in common Mahāyāna.
If the Guru is the source of all blessing (and no doubt the Guru is), then wouldn't any teaching bestowed by the Guru (including the "lowly" practices of śamatha and vipaśyāna) be on par with a "formal" Guru Yoga?
Why would they be? Guru yoga is a very specific practice with a very specific theory related to the vajra body and the indestructible bindu.


With the right view wouldn't all teachings be a Guru Yoga since the Guru is the source of those teachings?
For example, in Sakya they have a system where one can visualize oneself as a Hevajra, and practice it as a yidam. One can also practice Hevajra Guru yoga where one visualizes the guru as the mandala of Hevajra. But theory behind each practice is completely different. They are separate paths. The latter bypasses creation and completion stage completely.

In Nyingma they have many practices related to Guru Rinpoche. For example, in Dudjom Tersar it is common to practice Drollo as the Guru, Kilaya as the Yidam, and Troma as the Dakini, for blessings, siddhis, and activities respectively.

In Konchok Chidu, we have the outer, inner, and secret guru, Pema Obar, Guru Dragpo, and Simhamukha as guru deva and dakini.

But in the end, it is the practice of guru yoga that is most important in all schools. All a Nyingma practitioner really needs is Shower of Blessings by Mipham, or something similar.

The long Dudjom Tersar Ngondro states that it itself is enough, and that there is no need to do other creation or completion stage practices. Taking this as a basis, then one is given teachings on the three spaces and the text on rushan, and thogal.

But since people's karma is different, there are many practices of the three roots for people of various dispositions and karmas.

M
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that name does not exist."
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Re: who's ngondro is it anyway

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

Grigoris wrote:
dzogchungpa wrote:Personally, I really like prostrations. I just don't like the idea that I have to do 100,000 of them before I do something else.
Indeed, and that is what Daharma practice is all about , isn't it kiddies? Like or disliking, accepting or rejecting, ad nauseum... ;)
No, but there is something to be said for being honest with oneself on both ends of this conversation. Not avoiding things simply because one finds them unpleasant, but also not engaging in some sort of self-aggrandizing display of austerity (whether to impress others, or to impress oneself) in order to achieve a "goal". Sorry to say, I think the latter is just as common in Dharma as the former. I spent years on the "austerity and discipline" trip (which is what something like accumulations are in the minds of many, I think), for some people I'm sure it's just the medicine, for me, not so much.

Sometimes the way I see uncommon ngondro presented it reminds me of exercise, and the way it's viewed in my own culture, something people feel compelled do, make these detailed arguments for, but in the end there is not enough willpower to do it with gusto . As if something you just "should do", but there is no component of living it, nor going into the essence of what the practices are about, the focus is on repetition and accumulation. I don't say this is intentional of course, if anything i've seen teachers teach the opposite, practitioners on the other hand well....like I said it sounds very familiar, and reminds me of when people talk about their exercise programs.

My teachers have emphasized being self-aware, responsible, and invested in one's own practice, so for me, if I do something that is frustrating (not the good kind of frustrating) -and- feels hollow, I put it down. The exception to this would be if a teacher said "do it anyway, no matter your perception".
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

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Re: who's ngondro is it anyway

Post by dzogchungpa »

Johnny Dangerous wrote:Sometimes the way I see uncommon ngondro presented it reminds me of exercise...
Well, as my man DJKR says in regard to prostrations:
For worldly beings, though, to contemplate all the spiritual benefits of prostrations and the amount of merit they accumulate is not necessarily the most effective way of motivating ourselves. The fact that prostrations are good for our health, on the other hand, is often just the incentive we need to get started. It’s true, doing prostrations for the sake of taking healthy exercise is a worldly motivation, but not one I would ever discourage. In these degenerate times, absolutely anything that will inspire you to practise dharma has some value, so please go ahead and start your prostrations for the sake of the exercise. If you do, not only will you save money on your gym membership, you will build up muscle and a great deal of merit.
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Re: who's ngondro is it anyway

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dzogchungpa wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:Sometimes the way I see uncommon ngondro presented it reminds me of exercise...
Well, as my man DJKR says with regards to prostrations:
For worldly beings, though, to contemplate all the spiritual benefits of prostrations and the amount of merit they accumulate is not necessarily the most effective way of motivating ourselves. The fact that prostrations are good for our health, on the other hand, is often just the incentive we need to get started. It’s true, doing prostrations for the sake of taking healthy exercise is a worldly motivation, but not one I would ever discourage. In these degenerate times, absolutely anything that will inspire you to practise dharma has some value, so please go ahead and start your prostrations for the sake of the exercise. If you do, not only will you save money on your gym membership, you will build up muscle and a great deal of merit.

Yeah, well, lots of people talk a great game about exercise too;) But yeah, I like the way that DJKR frames ngondro.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

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Re: who's ngondro is it anyway

Post by Thomas Amundsen »

Malcolm wrote:Since we live in Kali Yuga, if it says 100, you now have to do 400. :twisted:
No, people need to do however many their guru tells them...
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Re: who's ngondro is it anyway

Post by Malcolm »

tomamundsen wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Since we live in Kali Yuga, if it says 100, you now have to do 400. :twisted:
No, people need to do however many their guru tells them...
I think you rather missed the point.
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Re: who's ngondro is it anyway

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Malcolm wrote:For example, in Sakya they have a system where one can visualize oneself as a Hevajra, and practice it as a yidam. One can also practice Hevajra Guru yoga where one visualizes the guru as the mandala of Hevajra. But theory behind each practice is completely different. They are separate paths. The latter bypasses creation and completion stage completely.
Is "bypass" the best choice of wording here? :shrug:

In the Kagyu tradition, I've encountered the view that guru yoga still has aspects of creation and completion, but differently understood. For example, this quote by Situ Tenpai Nyinje,
...meditation on the guru suffices as the generation stage. Familiarization with guru yoga causes all appearances and beings to arise as the guru's manifestations, which is a greater cessation of ordinary grasping than even in meditation on a yidam deity. Also, many tantric commentaries state that the guru is the union of all the Jewels and that meditation on the guru will accomplish all siddhis.

The [guru yoga] is also taught to be the completion stage, as it is the supreme path—free from all hindrance and error—which through the power of intense devotion, cultivates the experience of an objectless mind.

This kind of secret, essential meaning is the province of those with the highest faculties and will never satisfy academics, and therefore should be recognized as an extraordinary, profound secret.
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Re: who's ngondro is it anyway

Post by Malcolm »

anjali wrote:
Malcolm wrote:For example, in Sakya they have a system where one can visualize oneself as a Hevajra, and practice it as a yidam. One can also practice Hevajra Guru yoga where one visualizes the guru as the mandala of Hevajra. But theory behind each practice is completely different. They are separate paths. The latter bypasses creation and completion stage completely.
Is "bypass" the best choice of wording here? :shrug:
Bypass is apt.
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Re: who's ngondro is it anyway

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Malcolm wrote:
Grigoris wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Yes, śamatha and vipaśyāna are not guru yoga. Nor is practicing the six perfections, nor do any of the three lower tantras have guru yoga. Guru yoga exists only in highest yoga tantra on up.

Meditating on the guru is held to be more effective than yidam practices, and so on.
Yes, but I want to go to my original point, which you did not answer too: If the Yidam and the Guru are seen as inseparable, then surely the one practice is as effective as the other?
What I am saying is that the guru is the ultimate yidam which is peerless and beyond compare.
If the Six Perfections are seen as the qualities of the perfect teacher, etc... Surely it is more a matter of view then it is a matter of specific practices?
There is no guru yoga in common Mahāyāna.
If the Guru is the source of all blessing (and no doubt the Guru is), then wouldn't any teaching bestowed by the Guru (including the "lowly" practices of śamatha and vipaśyāna) be on par with a "formal" Guru Yoga?
Why would they be? Guru yoga is a very specific practice with a very specific theory related to the vajra body and the indestructible bindu.


With the right view wouldn't all teachings be a Guru Yoga since the Guru is the source of those teachings?
For example, in Sakya they have a system where one can visualize oneself as a Hevajra, and practice it as a yidam. One can also practice Hevajra Guru yoga where one visualizes the guru as the mandala of Hevajra. But theory behind each practice is completely different. They are separate paths. The latter bypasses creation and completion stage completely.

In Nyingma they have many practices related to Guru Rinpoche. For example, in Dudjom Tersar it is common to practice Drollo as the Guru, Kilaya as the Yidam, and Troma as the Dakini, for blessings, siddhis, and activities respectively.

In Konchok Chidu, we have the outer, inner, and secret guru, Pema Obar, Guru Dragpo, and Simhamukha as guru deva and dakini.

But in the end, it is the practice of guru yoga that is most important in all schools. All a Nyingma practitioner really needs is Shower of Blessings by Mipham, or something similar.

The long Dudjom Tersar Ngondro states that it itself is enough, and that there is no need to do other creation or completion stage practices. Taking this as a basis, then one is given teachings on the three spaces and the text on rushan, and thogal.

But since people's karma is different, there are many practices of the three roots for people of various dispositions and karmas.

M
Thanks for taking the time to answer in detail.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde
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