Ngondro as a complete path to enlightenment

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Schrödinger’s Yidam
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Re: Ngondro as a complete path to enlightenment

Post by Schrödinger’s Yidam »

And, it is not certain that Vajrasattva practice in Karma Kagyu is actually yoga tantra level.
That’s my understanding. It’s single figure with the legs in bodhisattva posture (like Green Tara). Furthermore my understanding is that you can start Vajrasattva without a specific Vajrasattva empowerment. Formal Refuge and one Vajrayana empowerment of any deity is enough to start—I think.

Dudjom branch of Nyingma is with consort. I think that’s higher.
Last edited by Schrödinger’s Yidam on Wed Dec 30, 2020 5:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)
tingdzin
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Re: Ngondro as a complete path to enlightenment

Post by tingdzin »

Danny wrote: Wed Dec 30, 2020 3:54 am
tingdzin wrote: Wed Dec 30, 2020 3:40 am
karmanyingpo wrote: Wed Dec 30, 2020 2:07 am can one simply stick with ngondro and a "light" practice such as Chenrezig if the lama approves?
Of course. It's all up to you in that respect.
I disagree with this sentiment. The intent of liberating sentient beings, the body is the path of the channels, the mind is the traveler Along the channels and the Speech is the reward or result of enlightened activity has to be absorbed by a guru, is why guru yoga is vital, the transmission of the gurus upadesha is critical. Otherwise doing what we feel like is again just pissing in the wind, distracted time wasting.
This is a rather absolutist view (if I am understanding the unclear way it is expressed ). Everybody is not going to attain enlightenment in one life. Few of us, in fact. Is all other Dharma practice a waste? Most people in the world never even encounter the Dharma, let alone its higher reaches. Accumulated merit and wisdom are never lost altogether.
Schrödinger’s Yidam
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Re: Ngondro as a complete path to enlightenment

Post by Schrödinger’s Yidam »

Of course. It's all up to you in that respect.
I disagree with this sentiment. The intent of liberating sentient beings, the body is the path of the channels, the mind is the traveler Along the channels and the Speech is the reward or result of enlightened activity has to be absorbed by a guru, is why guru yoga is vital, the transmission of the gurus upadesha is critical. Otherwise doing what we feel like is again just pissing in the wind, distracted time wasting.
This is a rather absolutist view (if I am understanding the unclear way it is expressed ). Everybody is not going to attain enlightenment in one life. Few of us, in fact. Is all other Dharma practice a waste? Most people in the world never even encounter the Dharma, let alone its higher reaches. Accumulated merit and wisdom are never lost altogether.
In the Nyingma system they talk about 9 yanas, or Paths to enlightenment. Each is suitable for different dispositions. All are good.
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)
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tobes
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Re: Ngondro as a complete path to enlightenment

Post by tobes »

Malcolm wrote: Tue Dec 29, 2020 7:37 pm
Lingpupa wrote: Tue Dec 29, 2020 3:30 pm
Or would it be more appropriate to say that the first time round was "real but a little thin" and that it should now be deepened through at least some continued practice?

It seems a bit harsh to say to such people that they were only being tested, and that their efforts were otherwise pointless.

PS Your implication that there was a woeful shortage of explanation is one with which I can wholeheartedly concur.
The gnosis aroused by guru yoga depends on the introduction of the fourth empowerment. Without it, the seed of that gnosis is not planted.

But those faithful students who persevered certainly received empowerments eventually, or at least they created a positive dharma link.

The fruit of guru yoga is the realization of the great perfection or mahāmudra. Without introduction or empowerment, I very much doubt the necessary ground has been prepared nor the seeds planted to result in either fruit.

I don't mean to be harsh, but for a tradition which holds up samaya all the time as being the foundation of the path, people seem to disregard it a lot based in this or that justification.
The ground may have been prepared in previous lives.
karmanyingpo
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Re: Ngondro as a complete path to enlightenment

Post by karmanyingpo »

Danny wrote: Wed Dec 30, 2020 3:28 am
karmanyingpo wrote: Wed Dec 30, 2020 2:07 am Did not know it was so ambiguous
Well, two things really. First is it’s up to folks to understand what it is, study, reflection, correct view etc, it might read as not that important,
But if we don’t have an understanding of what our particular individual situation is, why we are doing what we’re doing, then really we are just passing time in a way that is distracted. Even if we are engaged in rituals and practices, without a deeper understanding, were really just putting a band aid over our suffering by replacing it with something that brings us happiness. That is a temporary distraction. We can grab a soccer ball and go outside and play for a hour, will certainly seem like a good time that distracts us from what’s making us unhappy, but it’s not an actual cure.
Second, ngondro is actually an opportunity to really understand something concrete. There’s no cheat sheet or corner cutting here.
I’ll use myself as an example, I’ve already done ngondro, there’s a teaching I’m very interested in, but it requires a ngondro, so respectfully it means at my old age, I’ll have to do ngondro again. I could say, nah man I ain’t doing that again, but it is what it is, I have to do what is required, in other words, attitude and respect for the lineage and requirements for the teachings means I’m committed to doing that all over again. I’m 50 years old with bad knees.
The teaching is more important than my own discomfort, whether that means I have to travel 100’s of miles to obtain or I’ll break my body to have the opportunity to understand is something that’s more important.

Sometimes to obtain the teachings and understanding we have to go through real hardships. Hell, it might even break up a marriage.
Yet it seems that even with study, reflection, and attempting to get correct view there is still a level of ambiguity due to different teachers' expression of Dharma in different ways.
I am doing ngondro as best I can under current teacher's instructions etc. The questions I asked earlier in this thread IMO don't really seem to suggest that I am trying to cut corners?? I am not sure if you are insinuating that I am not trying hard enough or trying to cut corners/cheat, or maybe I am misreading you. I asked my questions based on apparant differences between what Malcolm and the tantras he cites say and what I seem to have been taught. That is all, not trying to find shortcuts.

KN
karmanyingpo
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Re: Ngondro as a complete path to enlightenment

Post by karmanyingpo »

Danny wrote: Wed Dec 30, 2020 3:54 am
tingdzin wrote: Wed Dec 30, 2020 3:40 am
karmanyingpo wrote: Wed Dec 30, 2020 2:07 am can one simply stick with ngondro and a "light" practice such as Chenrezig if the lama approves?
Of course. It's all up to you in that respect.
I disagree with this sentiment. The intent of liberating sentient beings, the body is the path of the channels, the mind is the traveler Along the channels and the Speech is the reward or result of enlightened activity has to be absorbed by a guru, is why guru yoga is vital, the transmission of the gurus upadesha is critical. Otherwise doing what we feel like is again just pissing in the wind, distracted time wasting.
Thanks for your reply. In this reply you seem to state that guru yoga is vital and guru upadesha transmission is vital. I don't know anything about guru upadesha... Is it not possible to cultivate the intent to liberate sentient beings AKA bodichitta and do guru yoga by just sticking with ngondro and a so-called non "heavy duty" practice such as Chenrezig or Tara? Not sure about the upadesha part because I don't know about that.

KN
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Re: Ngondro as a complete path to enlightenment

Post by karmanyingpo »

Schrödinger’s Yidam wrote: Wed Dec 30, 2020 5:06 am
And, it is not certain that Vajrasattva practice in Karma Kagyu is actually yoga tantra level.
That’s my understanding. It’s single figure with the legs in bodhisattva posture (like Green Tara). Furthermore my understanding is that you can start Vajrasattva without a specific Vajrasattva empowerment. Formal Refuge and one Vajrayana empowerment of any deity is enough to start—I think.

Dudjom branch of Nyingma is with consort. I think that’s higher.
Interestingly I have a Vajrasattva in yabyum in my ngondro and my teacher told us we can even self-visualize while doing the short mantra. I have no empowerment for Vajrasattva.

KN
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Re: Ngondro as a complete path to enlightenment

Post by Schrödinger’s Yidam »

Interestingly I have a Vajrasattva in yabyum in my ngondro and my teacher told us we can even self-visualize while doing the short mantra. I have no empowerment for Vajrasattva.

KN
I get lost in this stuff. I’ve never really been properly schooled on it. However I think it’s in Kongtrul’s ToK.
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)
karmanyingpo
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Re: Ngondro as a complete path to enlightenment

Post by karmanyingpo »

Schrödinger’s Yidam wrote: Wed Dec 30, 2020 6:36 am
Interestingly I have a Vajrasattva in yabyum in my ngondro and my teacher told us we can even self-visualize while doing the short mantra. I have no empowerment for Vajrasattva.

KN
I get lost in this stuff. I’ve never really been properly schooled on it. However I think it’s in Kongtrul’s ToK.
Neither have I, obviously :rolling: But I try to learn.
I'm unclear on what part of what I said you are refering to. What is in Kongtrul's Treasury of Knowledge? Yabyum Vajrasattva? Self-visualization without empowerment?

KN
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Re: Ngondro as a complete path to enlightenment

Post by Schrödinger’s Yidam »

I'm unclear on what part of what I said you are refering to. What is in Kongtrul's Treasury of Knowledge? Yabyum Vajrasattva? Self-visualization without empowerment?
How to tell the differences between Kriya, Carya, Yoga, and Highest Yoga Tantra (with its 3 subdivisions).
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)
Malcolm
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Re: Ngondro as a complete path to enlightenment

Post by Malcolm »

tobes wrote: Wed Dec 30, 2020 5:56 am
The ground may have been prepared in previous lives.
Empowerments taken in past lives are not a valid basis for practice in this one. Of the three vows, two are lost at death: personal liberation vows and samaya vows.

No empowerment, no guru; no guru, no samaya. Claiming one is doing Vajrayana practice when one has not received empowerment is like claiming one is bhikshu without having received ordination. Unfortunately, these days the latter will always be more strongly condemned than the former, even though former is a more serious problem.
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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Ngondro as a complete path to enlightenment

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karmanyingpo wrote: Wed Dec 30, 2020 6:04 am
Danny wrote: Wed Dec 30, 2020 3:54 am
tingdzin wrote: Wed Dec 30, 2020 3:40 am

Of course. It's all up to you in that respect.
I disagree with this sentiment. The intent of liberating sentient beings, the body is the path of the channels, the mind is the traveler Along the channels and the Speech is the reward or result of enlightened activity has to be absorbed by a guru, is why guru yoga is vital, the transmission of the gurus upadesha is critical. Otherwise doing what we feel like is again just pissing in the wind, distracted time wasting.
Thanks for your reply. In this reply you seem to state that guru yoga is vital and guru upadesha transmission is vital. I don't know anything about guru upadesha... Is it not possible to cultivate the intent to liberate sentient beings AKA bodichitta and do guru yoga by just sticking with ngondro and a so-called non "heavy duty" practice such as Chenrezig or Tara? Not sure about the upadesha part because I don't know about that.

KN


I think there's a real temptation to keep shopping for "higher empowerments", and I'm not sure it is always a good impulse. Any practice done should be taken seriously, if we are viewing it as "lower" and less worthy of our time than things we haven't received yet, the results will be predictably bad. I grant my situation is different because I am just not really much of a Tantrika, so like always we should do what ours teacher say to do, but honestly it is usually a better idea to go deeply into whatever practice we have now than to wish after an idealized future where we have "the practice to end all practices"...YMMV.
"...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: Ngondro as a complete path to enlightenment

Post by karmanyingpo »

Johnny Dangerous wrote: Wed Dec 30, 2020 7:50 pm
karmanyingpo wrote: Wed Dec 30, 2020 6:04 am
Danny wrote: Wed Dec 30, 2020 3:54 am

I disagree with this sentiment. The intent of liberating sentient beings, the body is the path of the channels, the mind is the traveler Along the channels and the Speech is the reward or result of enlightened activity has to be absorbed by a guru, is why guru yoga is vital, the transmission of the gurus upadesha is critical. Otherwise doing what we feel like is again just pissing in the wind, distracted time wasting.
Thanks for your reply. In this reply you seem to state that guru yoga is vital and guru upadesha transmission is vital. I don't know anything about guru upadesha... Is it not possible to cultivate the intent to liberate sentient beings AKA bodichitta and do guru yoga by just sticking with ngondro and a so-called non "heavy duty" practice such as Chenrezig or Tara? Not sure about the upadesha part because I don't know about that.

KN


I think there's a real temptation to keep shopping for "higher empowerments", and I'm not sure it is always a good impulse. Any practice done should be taken seriously, if we are viewing it as "lower" and less worthy of our time than things we haven't received yet, the results will be predictably bad. I grant my situation is different because I am just not really much of a Tantrika, so like always we should do what ours teacher say to do, but honestly it is usually a better idea to go deeply into whatever practice we have now than to wish after an idealized future where we have "the practice to end all practices"...YMMV.
Despite my ignorance and me being just a beginner my intuition leans toward agreeing with this which is why I asked about the necessity of taking on "heavier" practices in all cases. Certainly for some people it may be necessary or strongly recommended (and so their lama's advice would hopefully reflect that) but given how many practices are said to be a complete path I have doubt that all people need to take on "heavy duty" practices. Really I wonder if there are situations where a lama just tells a student to do for example, ngondro and one or two peaceful deity sadhanas and then that's all they need. Of course one should follow the advice of a qualified teacher and not prescribe this to oneself because that is not what Vajrayana is but I am just curious if there are many cases like that that happen between a teacher and student.


KN
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Re: Ngondro as a complete path to enlightenment

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I don’t know, plenty of teachers don’t really interact with their students that way. Even the teachers with whom I have direct relationship have never given me ‘here’s the perfect formula for you’ advice. Rather, they offered what they offered, answered questions in detail, and were happy to mention other teachers who might have a different method. Up to and including even inviting them to teach.

Not saying there is anything wrong with having a teacher who simply tells you exactly what you should be doing at a given time, but I don’t think it’s the gold standard either, just one approach.

While the advice (and transmission) is more than necessary, there is also no reason for us to expect hand holding or a daddy (or mommy) figure from my point of view. the best way to honor a teacher is to take the practices received and do our best, the boots on the ground work is the students responsibility. Respecting our karmic connections seems advisable.

I do wonder if sometimes students project onto Lamas and have expectations that don’t make sense. Expecting a pat on the head is a diversion. Work with the practices we have, cherish our Dharma relationships, and don’t constantly second guess ourselves, or assume a teacher can, will, or should answer all of our questions.

ChNN made a big deal about being responsible for ourselves as practitioners, to me it was one of his most important teachings, and hearing him talking about this in teachings was for me, kind of an "aha" moment in the often confusing world of Vajrayana, and Tibetan Buddhism as a whole. No matter what kind of relationship we have with teachers, I think it's good to separate what is the most skillful thing we can do at a given time with our practice, vs. fanciful notions of what it might be in the future, ymmv. Doing the skillful thing there, instead of just grasping the emotionally satisfying thing I have come to believe is one way to become a more mature practitioner.

Part of that is simply about viewing things from the point of view of deprivation, vs. a point of view of gratitude. We don't want to become hungry ghosts about Dharma, it defeats the whole purpose.
"...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: Ngondro as a complete path to enlightenment

Post by tobes »

Malcolm wrote: Wed Dec 30, 2020 12:53 pm
tobes wrote: Wed Dec 30, 2020 5:56 am
The ground may have been prepared in previous lives.
Empowerments taken in past lives are not a valid basis for practice in this one. Of the three vows, two are lost at death: personal liberation vows and samaya vows.

No empowerment, no guru; no guru, no samaya. Claiming one is doing Vajrayana practice when one has not received empowerment is like claiming one is bhikshu without having received ordination. Unfortunately, these days the latter will always be more strongly condemned than the former, even though former is a more serious problem.
What is at stake here is the question: how is gnosis accomplished through guru-yoga?

And the point is: if you have previously cultivated the ground, you may not need the 4th empowerment in order for realisations to ripen. It may be enough to simply meet (again). Samaya may be lost at death, but guru devotion is not.

The further point is: there is much more variability here than you are suggesting. It is as variable as all the different karmic dispositions in all the different disciples, on all the different stages of the path - from pure beginner to advanced bodhisattva.
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Re: Ngondro as a complete path to enlightenment

Post by Könchok Thrinley »

I would just like to ask. Okay, no guru no guru yoga, but does it not still generate merit?
“Observing samaya involves to remain inseparable from the union of wisdom and compassion at all times, to sustain mindfulness, and to put into practice the guru’s instructions”. Garchen Rinpoche

For those who do virtuous actions,
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For those who do non-virtuous actions,
that becomes suffering indeed.

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Re: Ngondro as a complete path to enlightenment

Post by Jangchup Donden »

Könchok Thrinley wrote: Thu Dec 31, 2020 1:01 am I would just like to ask. Okay, no guru no guru yoga, but does it not still generate merit?
How can you do guru yoga without a guru to generate devotion towards?

Or are you asking more along the lines of you have a guru yoga practice from a teacher you're associated with, but maybe not a direct introduction or particular empowerment yet? In that case I'd say if it's a teacher you want to stick around with, learn from and feel devotion towards, you're definitely generating a lot of merit.
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Re: Ngondro as a complete path to enlightenment

Post by Malcolm »

tobes wrote: Thu Dec 31, 2020 12:53 am
Malcolm wrote: Wed Dec 30, 2020 12:53 pm
tobes wrote: Wed Dec 30, 2020 5:56 am
The ground may have been prepared in previous lives.
Empowerments taken in past lives are not a valid basis for practice in this one. Of the three vows, two are lost at death: personal liberation vows and samaya vows.

No empowerment, no guru; no guru, no samaya. Claiming one is doing Vajrayana practice when one has not received empowerment is like claiming one is bhikshu without having received ordination. Unfortunately, these days the latter will always be more strongly condemned than the former, even though former is a more serious problem.
What is at stake here is the question: how is gnosis accomplished through guru-yoga?

And the point is: if you have previously cultivated the ground, you may not need the 4th empowerment in order for realisations to ripen.
Without empowerment, one does not have a guru in this life.
It may be enough to simply meet (again). Samaya may be lost at death, but guru devotion is not.
You don’t know who your guru was in your past life. So what do you do, guess? In any case, Mahayana does not have the practice of guru yoga.

The further point is: there is much more variability here than you are suggesting. It is as variable as all the different karmic dispositions in all the different disciples, on all the different stages of the path - from pure beginner to advanced bodhisattva.

You either have the karmic disposition for Vajrayana or you don’t. And if you don’t it takes two asamkhyakalpas to hit the eighth bhumi, and one more for buddhahood.

If you don’t receive Vajrayana empowerment there are no extraordinary means in sutra by which you might attain even the path of seeing in this life, and that is not related to guru devotion. There is no sutra that teaches guru devotion as a cause for rapid attainment of buddhahood, despite the encouragement to venerate teachers. It’s just part of general merit accumulation. So if you were a Vajrayani in a past life, but did not meet Vajrayana in this life (through lack of merit, since this is the only reason one would fail to meet Vajrayana again), there are no means by which you can “ride the fumes” of your past life practice of Vajrayana to realization in this life.
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Re: Ngondro as a complete path to enlightenment

Post by tobes »

Malcolm wrote: Thu Dec 31, 2020 2:33 am
tobes wrote: Thu Dec 31, 2020 12:53 am
Malcolm wrote: Wed Dec 30, 2020 12:53 pm

Empowerments taken in past lives are not a valid basis for practice in this one. Of the three vows, two are lost at death: personal liberation vows and samaya vows.

No empowerment, no guru; no guru, no samaya. Claiming one is doing Vajrayana practice when one has not received empowerment is like claiming one is bhikshu without having received ordination. Unfortunately, these days the latter will always be more strongly condemned than the former, even though former is a more serious problem.
What is at stake here is the question: how is gnosis accomplished through guru-yoga?

And the point is: if you have previously cultivated the ground, you may not need the 4th empowerment in order for realisations to ripen.
Without empowerment, one does not have a guru in this life.
It may be enough to simply meet (again). Samaya may be lost at death, but guru devotion is not.
You don’t know who your guru was in your past life. So what do you do, guess? In any case, Mahayana does not have the practice of guru yoga.

The further point is: there is much more variability here than you are suggesting. It is as variable as all the different karmic dispositions in all the different disciples, on all the different stages of the path - from pure beginner to advanced bodhisattva.

You either have the karmic disposition for Vajrayana or you don’t. And if you don’t it takes two asamkhyakalpas to hit the eighth bhumi, and one more for buddhahood.

If you don’t receive Vajrayana empowerment there are no extraordinary means in sutra by which you might attain even the path of seeing in this life, and that is not related to guru devotion. There is no sutra that teaches guru devotion as a cause for rapid attainment of buddhahood, despite the encouragement to venerate teachers. It’s just part of general merit accumulation. So if you were a Vajrayani in a past life, but did not meet Vajrayana in this life (through lack of merit, since this is the only reason one would fail to meet Vajrayana again), there are no means by which you can “ride the fumes” of your past life practice of Vajrayana to realization in this life.
Everyone on this thread needs to understand that this is a valid position one can take, but it is not the only valid position.

i.e. we're back in the old terrain of Mahamudra: can it be attained outside of Vajrayana?

Malcolm, following Sapan always says no.

Dagpo Kagyu says yes. Gelug says yes - the bulk of the 1st Panchen Lama's root text is devoted to this.
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Re: Ngondro as a complete path to enlightenment

Post by Malcolm »

tobes wrote: Thu Dec 31, 2020 4:05 am
Everyone on this thread needs to understand that this is a valid position one can take, but it is not the only valid position.

i.e. we're back in the old terrain of Mahamudra: can it be attained outside of Vajrayana?
No, actually, we are not.

If we are talking about cig car bas, they are as rare as stars in the daytime. And cig car bas don’t attain realization through devotion, they attain it through introduction.

The practical reality is that there isn’t a single person who attained mahamudra realization who wasn’t first a Vajrayana practitioner. You can’t name even one.
"Nonduality is merely a name;
that name does not exist."
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