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Ngöndro Program -- Past Program (2001 - 2005)

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Importance of Ngöndro Practice TOP

For the benefit of all sentient beings, the most gracious Buddha Shakyamuni spoke the Dharma through the Sutras and Tantras. The five profound paths of Mahamudra and the six yogas of Naropa are the essence of the Buddha’s teachings which enable one to attain Enlightenment even in one lifetime. However, to practice the path of Mahamudra and the six yogas of Naropa, one must be fully convinced of the "four ways of turning the mind" or the four ordinary foundations – meditation on the rarity and preciousness of human life; the impermanence of all composite phenomena; the unceasing nature of the suffering of samsara, and the inexorable causality of all existence. The four ways of turning the mind are the basis for the successful practice of any of the Yanas. Then one practices the four extraordinary foundations, or the Vajrayana Ngöndro, to purify the negative karma and obscurations of the mind, speech and body and to develop virtues. Ngöndro consists of five practices of Vajrayana: Refuge, Vajrasattva, Mandala Offering, Guru Yoga, and Bodhicitta. The great twelfth century Tibetan saint, Lord Jigten Sumgon said, "Ngöndro is even more important than the higher practices. One must truly understand and practice the simple and yet profound foundational teachings before one begins the higher teachings."

 

Ngöndro Program TOP

Traditionally, one would complete the Ngöndro practices during a three-year retreat. This has not proven to be feasible for many people in the West. Our Center invites highly qualified masters to provide successive instructions on the Ngöndro practices, one by one. This will allow those who wish to do so to complete the quality practice at their own pace. Most Venerable Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche led the first Ngöndro practice in 2001, Refuge.  In 2003, HE Garchen Rinpoche bestowed the second part of the Ngöndro practice, Vajrasattva.  Last year, Ven. Khenchen Rinpoche returned and continued the third part of the Ngöndro practice, Mandala Offering. 

Many people have expressed wishes to join the program, to repeat some of the teachings, to raise questions concerning the practices and to get more inspiration for continuing the practice. Since neither Venerable Khenchen Rinpoche nor HE Garchen Rinpoche can come this year, it is our good fortune to have meditation and retreat master Drubpon Jampa Rigzin to lead and guide the retreat which concentrate on meditation of the four foundations and the first three parts of this vast and profound Ngöndro – Refuge, Vajrasattva and Mandala Offering – with significant supporting meditation materials chosen from the Jewel Ornament of Liberation.

 

Who should attend? TOP

Our Ngöndro retreats is open to anyone who is interested in studying and practicing the precious Dharma. This program is particularly for those who wish to start practicing Ngöndro as a daily meditation practice. In this way, one can increase mindfulness, diligence, wisdom and devotion day by day in our everyday life. For those who have already received the teachings earlier, this retreat serves as a precious reminder and to strengthen our practice. Those who have already completed all or some of the Ngöndro practice will find the retreat a valuable opportunity to accumulate merits. It is our good fortune to have meditation and retreat masters to teach and guide the retreat on the meditation of the four foundations and the practice of all five parts of this vast and profound Ngöndro – Refuge, Vajrasattva and Mandala Offering, Guru Yoga and Bodhicitta with significant supporting meditation materials chosen from the Jewel Ornament of Liberation.

 

Reading suggestion TOP

The Precious Garland of the Sublime Path by Gampopa
The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa
The Transformation of Suffering by Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche
The Jewel Treasury of Advice: A Hundred Teachings from the Heart by Drikung Bhande Dharmaradza
Prayer Flags by Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche
Garland of Mahamudra Practices by Khenchen  Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche
In Search of Stainless Ambrosia by Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche
Great Kagyu Masters by Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche
Ceaseless Echoes of The Great Silence, a commentary on The Heart Sutra Prajnaparamita by Khenpo Palden Sherab Rinpoche
The Life of Milarepa
The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa
37 Bodhisattva Practices by Togmay Sangpo (e.g. The Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas)
Suhrllekha by Nagarjuna   (e.g. Nagarjuna's Letter to King Gautamiputra)
Bodhicaryavatara by Shantideva (e.g. The Way of the Bodhisattva)
Bodhipathapradipa by Atisha (e.g. Atisha's Lamp for the Path of Enlightenment)
Abhidharmakosa by Vasubhandu
Uttaratantraby Maitreya   (e.g. The Changeless Nature, Buddha Nature)
Chenrezig, Lord of Love by Bokar Rinpoche
When Things Fall Apart:  Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön
Most of the books above can be purchased during retreat.

Description on the five Ngöndro practices TOP

Refuge in the Three Jewels (Buddha, Dharma and Sangha)

Taking refuge in the three Jewels – Buddha, Dharma and Sangha – orients us firmly on the path to Buddhahood and turns us away from cyclic existence. All sentient beings are permeated by Buddha-nature yet, failing to recognize that, they remain bewildered in samsara on the wheel of cause and suffering. The sufferings that an individual experiences are like the ocean waves, endlessly washing up one after another. As long as we remain in samsara, there is no complete peace and happiness. Even though we want to be free from samsara, we do not know how.  We have to rely on instructions and example from the one who has done it, who has already traveled the path to enlightenment.  Thus we go for refuge in the Three Jewels:  Buddha, the teacher; Dharma, his teachings; and Sangha, the spiritual community.  Refuge is based on the meditation on the four foundations or four ways of turning the mind away from samsara as mentioned above. Without these meditations, one's refuge is incomplete.  One needs to clearly understand the nature of samsara and then firmly orient oneself toward Enlightenment; in this way one draws near to the path.   By taking refuge sincerely, we plant the seed of liberation within ourselves. We distance ourselves from all non-virtues that we have accumulated and develop more and more positive actions. Ultimately, it will lead us to the state of Buddhahood. 

Vajrasattva Practice

Vajrasattva meditation is a special, powerful practice for the purification of the nonvirtuous causes we have created. With such a meditation, one can completely uproot all the negative karmas, just as Milarepa did. Generally speaking, virtuous and nonvirtuous acts depend on mind. Mind is the master, and the body and speech are the servants.  Because of the degree of the power of afflictive emotions, controlled by desire, hatred and so forth, we create nonvirtuous acts. It is nonvirtuous if we do them ourselves, we ask others to do them for us, or we rejoice when these deeds are done by others. Not only that, when the mind is under the control of desire, hatred and so forth, even if we hear, study and practice the precious Dharma, we create nonvirtue. These nonvirtues created by evil deeds will bring suffering and undesirable conditions. These nonvirtues are created through conquering our enemies; protecting our own body and accumulating wealth. But we leave these things behind when we face death. However, nonvirtue will follow us like a shadow, life after life, and become a source of all sufferings. Therefore, it is very wise to purify all the nonvirtues we create before they bring the result. This purification, if we use the four powers, can be very effective. The four powers are remorse, antidote, resolve, and reliance. In the Vajrasattva path, Vajrasattva meditation is a special practice for the purification of nonvirtuous causes, so with confidence and without hesitation, enter into the Vajrasattva practice. Have sincere remorse for evil deeds, confess them and resolve not to create more negative karma even at the risk of one’s life. Then take refuge, cultivate the mind of Enlightenment, recite the mantra and meditate on emptiness as the antidote and reliance.

 

Mandala Offering Practice

Mandala offering is a way of accumulating vast amount of merit, developing and sustaining wisdom (the realization of mahamudra) and compassion (the profound bodhicitta).  Feeling deeply the wish that oneself and all sentient beings may attain Enlightenment, we offer the mandala – which represents the entire universe – to the enlightened ones who have always been full of compassion and wisdom.   We give it all away, ourselves and everything.  This offering helps us cut our clinging and attachment to this life.  In addition, the merit one acquires through mandala offering gives one the strength to nurture the mind of bodhicitta.  Generally speaking, the mandala offering is a great method of using interdependence to establish the Buddhafield.

 

Guru Yoga

Guru Yoga bestows blessings. The teacher is the example, the model.  If we see the teacher as ordinary, our mind will remain in the ordinary state, but if we see him or her as Vajradhara, we will lift the state of our minds.  Viewing one's teacher as Vajradhara is a way of uniting one’s mind with the Enlightened Vajradhara state.   Through thinking of the teacher as Vajradhara, we receive the blessing empowering us to achieve that state ourselves.  When we view the teacher as compassionate and wise, the power of our devotion eliminates the hesitations in our minds; this we call the guru's blessing.  The teacher must indeed have good qualities and realizations; but the important energy in guru yoga is that of the practitioner- the student's admiration and gratitude.  When you really study and practice, some little bit of experience dawns in your mind, and with it an inexpressible confidence and joy.  When this occurs, you feel a true nonartificial devotion.  This is devotion not merely from faith in the teacher but from one's own experience, and it is the experience of true guru yoga.  Within this deep devotion one receives the four empowerments, which carry the special blessings enabling one to develop the four Buddha Bodies.

Bodhicitta

Bodhicitta practices are the cultivation of mind of Enlightenment, mind of universal loving kindness and compassion, mind wishing to achieve Enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings. All peace and happiness of samsara and all the excellent qualities of the Shravakas, Pratyeka Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and Buddhas are achieved through the practice of Bodhicitta.  Without this instrction, even if one practices the highest yoga tantras, one will not attain Buddhahood.  If one has this practice, one will achieve Buddhahood without choice.  since all constituent elements are mental formations, the hell realm is the result of the mental formation of hatred.  Boddhahood is the result of the mental formation of Bodhicitta.  So the study and practice of Bodhicitta is the essence of all the teachings of the Buddha.   This is the single most important path of Mahayana practice.  Therefore it is very important to understand and bring this practice into our mind.

Ngöndro Program 2001

Ngöndro Program 2003


Dedication

By the innate roots of virtues, may all sentient beings seek omniscience without ever retreating.
While being in the various realms of existence, may their minds be undisturbed.
May they be able to liberate all sentient beings.
May they never stained by compounded things.
May they never lose unimpeded knowledge.
May worldly things cannot change or move them.
May they fulfill the pure awareness of transcendence.
May they be able to accomplish all knowledge and power.
May their fulfillment of causes and conditions of enlightening beings' practices and stages be inexhaustible.
By the innate roots of virtues, may all sentient beings seek omniscience without ever retreating.
While being in the various realms of existence, may their minds be undisturbed.
May they be able to liberate all sentient beings.
May they never be stained by compounded things.
May they never lose unimpeded knowledge.
May their fulfillment of causes and conditions of enlightening beings' practices and stages be inexhaustible.
May worldly things not be able to change or move them.
May they fulfill the pure awareness of transcendence.
May they be able to accomplish all knowledge and power.

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Last updated on 2006-07-31.