Sunday, December 22 during the Dakini's Whisper Celebration
Instructions on the first Ngondro - Prostrations
The ngondro is preparation and fuel to progress and sustain your journey towards freedom and awakening. Before our departure, we gather all the necessary materials for the time ahead. Along the way, we take breaks to prepare, re-stock, energize and recharge ourselves for proceeding on the journey. So, the ngondro practice is an essential part of the process and the necessary fuel to sustain our main practices. Its purpose is part of the process of supporting our spiritual practice daily, rather than something no longer required upon the completion of a certain number of accumulations. Ngondro practice sustains the spiritual journey daily.
There are so many benefits, general and specific, for each ngondro practice. One primary purpose is to accrue positive energy and purify negative forces. These include the negative mind of blockages and doubts on our spiritual journey transforming these into conducive conditions for growth and fruition.
There are different ways of doing ngondro practices: One can do as preparation at the start of Vajrayana practice, or as an enhancement along the way, or combine both styles.
In the Geluk tradition, ngondro practices are done latterly, along the way, not as a start for Vajrayana practice. The emphasis is on first learning and developing certain positive states of mind with bodhicitta motivation. On this solid foundation, adapt and engage ngondro practices, either according to the advice of one's teacher or under your initiative.
There are two stages of ngondro – "external" and "internal" in the Nyingma and "common" and "uncommon" in other traditions.
Common ngondo practices share both sutra and tantra practice. The common ngondro is foundation practice, basically "lam-rim' teaching in the Geluk, "the Four Thoughts that Turn Your Mind to the Dharma" in Kagyu, the external ngondo methods in Nyingma, and "the separation from the four clingings" in the Sakya tradition. All the traditions cover the same content in a somewhat different arrangement.
In terms of Uncommon Ngondro practices, we have nine in the Geluk tradition. Some ngondro methods can be combined. They are performed in the context of the prayer "Hundreds of Deities of Tushita (Ganden Lhagyama)."
In Dakini's Whisper community, notably the Cho Mastery Program, Year One has focused on the common ngondro or foundation practices. We haven't delved into the traditional ngondro accumulation, which is not a requirement for the program because of the reason above, it is instead, done on a daily basis.
However, some aspiring students in our community have expressed their inspiration to spend a bit more time and energy to go deeper in their practice. They have asked Khandro-la how to start uncommon ngondro practices according to the tradition. Khandro-la is very happy that this request has come from students' willingness and aspiration, not from her imposition. This mature approach prevents the practices from becoming mechanical and so brings genuine transformation into one's mind.
In the DW community, Khandro-la encourages those of you who are aspired to start doing the uncommon ngondro practices; here are her suggestions.
We will start with Prostration by taking refuge in the context of Ganden Lhaguama. If you are aspired to do traditionally, reciting the names of the 35 Confession Buddhas and 8 Medicine Buddhas while prostrating, can be done in that way. If one can accumulate 1000 prostrations over some months, it would be fantastic. If you spend some time doing short retreat, for example, a weekend retreat, it's a wonderful way to accumulate more and keep the momentum going. Then, continue to practice on a daily basis. Once a month, we will provide an opportunity to get together to practice online as a group. It would keep us inspired and momentum going. Once most of the accumulations of prostrations are done in our group,
Khandro-la will give the next ngondro instruction. Over the five year program, we'd like to complete 1000 at a minimum of each ngondro practice.On December 22nd, during Dakini's Whisper Celebration, the first instruction will be given. Below is the sequence of ngondro.
2) 3) Mandala Offering together with Refuge and Bodhicitta
4) Guru Yoga