NGONDRO RETREAT (2)


(Continued…)




PRELIMINARY PRACTICES (NGONDRO) OF
THE PROFOUND FIVE-FOLD PATH OF MAHAMUDRA 
WITH KHENPO SAMDUP RINPOCHE





Khenpo Samdup Rinpoche gave the transmission and instructions for the Preliminary Practices (Ngondro) of the Five-fold Mahamudra. Engaging in this series of practices purifies the mind of negativity and gathers the accumulations of merit and wisdom. This purification process creates receptivity to the more subtle methods of Mahamudra and Dzogchen.






Ngondro Retreat Jan 20, 2024 with Khenpo Samdup Rinpoche

Ngondro Retreat Jan 21, 2024 with Khenpo Samdup Rinpoche




*Please always treat any Dharma text with respect. This is good practice. Thank you.


Transcription of teachings below.
All rights reserved (copyright) to Khenpo Samdup Rinpoche.





ADDITIONAL SECTION

General Presentation True Suffering or Problems (The Four Noble Truths)

There are three types of true sufferings:

  • the suffering of suffering (unhappiness),
  • the suffering of change (tainted ordinary happiness),
  • the all-pervasive suffering (khyab-par ‘du-byed-kyi sdug-bsngal) of uncontrollably recurring rebirth (samsara) with the five aggregate factors that make up each moment of the experience of these rebirths and that serve as the basis for the first two types of suffering.

True Causes

The true cause of all sufferings is unawareness (ma-rigs-pa, Skt. avidya; ignorance) of how we, others and all phenomena exist, namely grasping for an impossibly existing “soul” of persons or of all phenomena (gang-zag-gi bdag-‘dzin and chos-kyi bdag-‘dzin). That would be a “soul” (bdag, Skt. atman) inside things that by its own power establishes the existence of the person or phenomenon and, in a sense, “animates” a body or an object, making it be alive or exist.

“Grasping” (‘dzin-pa, Skt. graha) has two meanings:

  • cognizing an appearance of something as if it had truly established existence and believing that this manner of appearances corresponds to the item’s actual manner of existing,
  • merely cognizing an appearance of truly established existence.

“Grasping” in the first sense of the term brings on the sufferings of samsara. “Grasping” in its second sense prevents omniscience.

Based on that unawareness and grasping in the first sense of the term, disturbing emotions and attitudes (nyon-mongs, Skt. klesha) arise. The disturbing emotions bring on and accompany karma.

  • In general, karma refers to the compulsive aspect of our acting, speaking and thinking.
  • Despite the fact that the Tibetan word for “karma,” “lay” (las), is the colloquial word for “actions,” karma does not refer to actions themselves; otherwise the absurd conclusion would follow that all we needed to do was to stop doing anything and we would be free of suffering.

The karmic aftermath of this compulsive behavior brings about uncontrollably recurring rebirth via the mechanism of the twelve links of dependent arising. The tainted (zag-bcas; contaminated) body and mind of each samsaric rebirth serve as the bases for experiencing the sufferings of unhappiness and of tainted ordinary happiness during that rebirth.

  • In general, a “tainted” phenomenon is one that derives from a disturbing emotion or attitude and which perpetuates further disturbing emotions or attitudes.

[See: Tainted and Untainted Phenomena]


Reference: Study Buddhism by Berzin Archives







[Continuation of the transcription of the teaching from ‘Ngondro Retreat with Khenpo Samdup Rinpoche (1)’ page on this website].


Text: ‘The Excellent Path to Enlightenment: A Practice of the Preliminaries of the Fivefold Mahamudra

The First Uncommon Preliminary Taking Refuge [p. 23 -27]

[p.22]. On page 22, you can see this amazing thangka image, in the centre of which, is Buddha Vajradhara. This [object] is a Lineage Refuge Tree. The Lineage Refuge Tree (or mandala), is the object we use when we practice. So this is called mandala, and also the stupa is called mandala. All of this precious object, is within this stupa together, (different layers). So the main point is, this is an Enlightened mandala. [It represents] the chakras in the body, (from the navel to the crown). [The esoteric traditions in Buddhism generally teach four chakras. In some early Buddhist sources, these chakras are identified as: manipura (navel), anahata (heart), vishuddha (throat) and ushnisha kamala (crown)].







ADDITIONAL SECTION



Subtle body (a very brief overview)

A key element is an understanding of certain subtle energetic aspects of the human body. The human body contains certain subtle elements, mainly the three channels (nadis, left, right and central), the vital winds (lung, prana), the four drops (bindus), and six chakras. These elements function in a cyclical fashion, similar to how cosmological elements also have their cyclical movements.

Some texts that contain detailed descriptions of these subtle body elements refer to, the six chakras that lie along the central channel [in the body] as follows:

  1. The Crown Chakra
  2. Forehead Chakra
  3. Throat Chakra
  4. Heart Chakra
  5. Navel Chakra
  6. Secret Place Chakra

In certain systems of meditation practice these subtle elements are used in the attainment of a buddha body, by means of the empty form body, which is used to attain immutable bliss, the mind of a buddha. This differs from other systems, in which the buddha body is attained by transforming the extremely subtle primordial energy into the illusory body.


[Reference: enwikipedia.org]



The Four Drops (bindus)

The 21,600 winds of karma course each day through the main right and left side-channels (ro-ma and rkyang-ma) and pass through the two sets of subtle creative-energy drops of the four occasions (gnas-skabs rigs-bzhi skyed-pa’i thig-le). These two sets of four drops are in the main chakras (rtsa-‘khor, subtle energy-nodes) of the subtle body.

  • The drops (thig-le, Skt. bindu) are in the center of the central channel (dhu-ti) at these chakras. The right and left side-channels loop around the central channel at each of the chakras, and so in some way the winds pass through the drops at the cross-points where the side-channels embrace the central one like two arms embracing a body.

Correlating to the 21,600 winds of karma each day, there are 21,600 breaths each day. The words for “winds” (or “energy-winds”) and “breath” are the same – in Tibetan “lung” (rlung), in Sanskrit “prana” – and so we may understand these 21,600 breaths to be either a grosser level of the 21,600 winds of karma or the carriers of the winds of karma.

There are twelve shifts (‘pho-ba) of the breath each day. With each shift, the energy-winds/breaths switch from passing through one of the two side-channels and corresponding nostril during one shift to passing through the other side-channel and nostril during the next. During the transition from one shift to the next, 56 ¼ deep awareness winds/breaths (ye-shes-kyi rlung) pass through the central channel and both nostrils, making 675 deep awareness winds/breaths in a day.

Each day, the 675 deep awareness winds/breaths of that day destroy one pair of the 72,000 channels of the subtle body, one on the left side and one on the right. In that way, with the passage of time, at the end of 100 years, this cycle of twelve shifts per day destroys all 72,000 channels and that brings death from aging. In this way, time plus throwing karma (‘phen-byed-kyi las) activated at the time of death bring about uncontrollably recurring rebirth.

[…]



True Stopping

As with the general Buddhist explanation, a true stopping of karma so that it never arises again means eliminating forever that which activates the karmic aftermath (karmic potentials and karmic tendencies) on our mental continuums. What activates them are the eighth and ninth links of dependent arising: craving (sred-pa, Skt. trshna) and an obtainer emotion or attitude (nyer-len, Skt. upadana).

[…]

A true stopping of the winds of karma means stopping them from coursing through the left and right side-channels during the course of the twelve shifts of the energy-winds/breaths per day. This is often referred to in the literature as a true stopping of the constant habits for the shifts (‘pho-ba’i bag-chags).

[…]

The true stoppings, then, are most frequently explained in terms of the total eradication of these obscurations of the four drops. This manner of assertion derives from the explanation that these four creative-energy drops are the bases infected with the habits (bag-chags bsgo-ba’i gzhi).

[…]

On the basis level, the four drops are infected (bsgos-pa) or tainted with the obscurations of the four drops. This means that they are infected with the tendencies and constant habits of the emotional and cognitive obscurations, as well as of the karmic obscurations. These “infections” imbue (sim-pa) them, like water into soft wood. In such a case, the creative facets of them give rise, in turn, to four types of appearance…

[…]

… if some of these subtle winds of karma stop going through and imbuing the four creative-energy drops, but are made instead to enter, abide and dissolve (zhugs-gnas-thim) in the central channel, then the creative facets of the drops are involved with the arising of:

  • devoid forms (stong-gzugs),
  • indestructible sound (gzhom-med-kyi sgra),
  • non-conceptual deep awareness,
  • unchanging blissful awareness.

On the resultant level, if all these winds of karma are stopped completely, through their total dissolution at the heart chakra in the central channel, then the creative facets of the four drops are involved with the arising of the four Corpuses of a Buddha (four Buddha Bodies) and disappear in the process:

  • Corpus of Emanations (sprul-sku, Skt. nirmanakaya),
  • Corpus of Full Use (longs-spyod rdzogs-pa’i sku, Skt. sambhogakaya), referring to both a Buddha’s enlightening speech and a Buddha’s subtle appearances to highly realized (arya) bodhisattvas,
  • Corpus of Deep Awareness Encompassing Everything (ye-shes chos-sku, Skt. jnanadharmakaya),
  • Corpus of Great Bliss (bde-ba chen-po’i sku, Skt. mahasukhakaya) or Corpus of Essential Nature (ngo-bo-nyid sku, Skt. svabhavakaya), referring to the blissful awareness nature of a Corpus of Deep Awareness Encompassing Everything.



*[Bodhicitta practices]


[Reference: studybuddhism.com, Study Buddhism by Berzin Archives]





OUTER, INNER & SECRET LEVEL PRACTICES


[…] The samsaric chakra is the Secret-Place Chakra, (lowest chakra), you have experience (in that level), it is impure experience, (samsaric experience). To move to the upper chakras, is not that easy, […] (it is not easy to open to upper levels). So, in this mandala, (Lineage Refuge Tree), [the image shows, from the navel up to the crown in the body, (like the trunk growing up from the roots, branching to the topmost part of the tree)], the Buddhas, (Enlightened beings), found in each part, (of opened upper chakras, in our body). Then, on this outer level we create the stupas, (it is all this symbolized meaning). Object is all the mandalas, (different layers), that is the main point of the Refuge Tree. Then this one, [the object], when we share teaching, is dependent on which level we are going to share the teaching, [outer, inner, secret levels]. Outer level, we don’t talk about the inner levels of the mandala and chakras. Outer level always refers to front visualization, (you use the object, and do prostrations). Use the object, chant the Vajrasattva mantra, chant the Refuge Prayer, and do the Mandala Offerings, (so all this practice), and Supplicating to the Gurus, [which represent Realised nature (rigpa)], asking for blessing, (so this is all outer level practice). And then inner level is within ourselves, (going inside).

Today, this sadhana is focusing on the outer level, because it is first, basic level stages. It is not going to talk about the subtle energy body system. As you practice, you have your own experience. And, one day, you have your own experience of this [subtle energy body] practice, and you feel all these deities are within your body, (not somewhere else). And when you have that experience, [it cuts through all the doubts], you realise the truth of the Dharma, (what it is teaching you). [You truly believe in the Dharma practice in your life]. [You] truly believe your path. You are not creating this somewhere else, [it is realisation within, (inner realisation)]. It is all your Enlightened qualities. The positive qualities, (the spiritual, Enlightened qualities), opening within yourself. So, we have these two energies, running within ourselves. You have negative energy, you have positive energy. If negative energy runs over us, the feeling is of dullness, ignorance, and emotion arises, impure perception, attachments, desires, (all this, is samsaric perception), [this is strong, (due to strong habituation to samsaric perception)]. [The samsaric perception] is, then you feel more negativity, and then going to the spiritual, (talking about the spiritual), it doesn’t make sense. (‘You know… I don’t know, I don’t need’). So that is, – negative energy is strong. Do you understand?



CONNECTING TO DHARMA


With positive energies moving within yourself, first you open outer level connections, and you have more connection to the Dharma. […] You go and learn more about spiritual practice. Or, you go and receive teachings from teachers, (so you have more connection to the Dharma). When there is an event taking place, [spiritual teachings and so forth], you go there. So that means you have good connections, (outer level conditions are rising). Someone who has very strong negative karma, they don’t have the outer level dharma conditions. So [for example], there are opportunities to go on pilgrimage, to receive empowerments, or join events, (but you do not have conditions to do those). So that is when negative energies are running over you. When negative energy is strong, you are not in connection with the Dharma, (wherever you are, doesn’t matter). Even if Buddha is in front of you, (you have no connections), so that is due to negative energy. When spiritual energy is rising, first there are the outer level conditions, you have an open mind, and you want to go, and do [these activities]. […] And then one day the inner level conditions come, (then that becomes totally different). You have certainty, [from within] yourself, (that you are on the right path). You are not doing something, that does not make sense. Do you understand? So, then you really recognise Buddha’s wisdom, compassion. You feel that energy within yourself, (at that time, you are in the right path). So then, this Refuge Tree image, first we use on the outer level, then it becomes inner level, (at that time, then it is a very strong [connection], powerful [practice]).

So, this is using the object. And then the top part of the image, (of the thangka), is Buddha Vajradhara, and Tilopa, Naropa [and so forth], (all the lineage gurus and teachers). So why we create this Refuge Tree, is because, the lineage gurus are the highest level, (so you receive very strong, deeper level [connections] to the Dharma). Realising at higher levels, then you feel inseparable with the gurus. So that is why [the Refuge Tree is used], (guru is highest level). And then at that time [of deep connection], you recognise guru’s kindness, (it is due to guru’s blessing that we can reach to that level). Without gurus, we have no opportunity to realise at that level. So that is why the [lineage] gurus are in the top level [of the thangka image]. [Using the body as a diagram], this area (connection), is located at the top part of the head. True guru is non-duality. Then, the main figure in the centre is Buddha Vajradhara, (the heart centre). The heart centre has many different branches. So, all the other lineage gurus, (different lineages). Another section is Buddha Shakyamuni and Nagarjuna, (all the Buddhist wisdom teaching lineages [of bodhicitta]). Another side is Buddha Shakyamuni, Buddha Maitreya, Asanga, all the method [practice] lineages, (of the love, compassion, bodhicitta lineages). In the front is the Yidam Deity Chakrasamvara, and all the deities. And then the bottom part is all the Dharma Protectors, Achi Chokyi Drolma, Mahakala, all these Dharma Protectors. So that is in this Refuge Tree. Then go to page 25.



THE FIRST UNCOMMON PRELIMINARY – TAKING REFUGE [p. 23-27]


[p.23]

Of the four uncommon preliminaries, first, in order to be taken under the protection of the Three Jewels, go for refuge. With respect to the purpose of taking refuge, it is taught that taking refuge is the entrance door to Buddhism. The benefits of taking refuge in the Three Jewels with full confidence, free from doubts, are inconceivable. The Condensed Perfection of Wisdom says, “If the merit of taking refuge had material form, even the three worlds would be too small to contain it.” The White Lotus Sutra says, “Lay or ordained, those who have entered my teachings will, in this very Excellent Eon, attain complete nirvana without residue.”

[p.24]

Then, intending to take refuge in the Three Jewels in order to protect all sentient beings, limitless as space, from samsara—the ocean of suffering—first, visualize the places of refuge:


DÜN DU TSO Ü PAG SAM JÖN SHING JI/ Ü SU RIN CHEN TRI
DANG PE DEY TENG/ RIG KÜN KHYAB DAG LA MA DOR JE
CHANG/ KA GYÜ DRUB THOB GYA TSÖ TSOG KYI KOR/
DÜN DU CHOM DEN KHOR LO DOM PA LA/ GYÜ DE ZHI DRUG
YI DAM LHA TSOG CHE/ YE SU DÜ SUM SANG GYE TSEN PEY
GYEN/ KAL ZANG SANG GYE TONG DANG LHEN CHIG ZHUG/
GYAB TU YUM CHEN SHE RAB PHAR CHIN DANG/ DO GYÜ
SUNG RAB CHÖ KYI RANG DRA DROG/ YÖN DU GYAL SE RIG
SUM GON PO LA/ THEG SUM PHAG PEY GEN DÜN KHOR GYI
KOR/ THA KOR KA DÖ DAM CHEN GYAM TSO CHE/
TRIN PHUNG TIB PA TAB BUR SAL WAR GYUR


[p.25]

Before you, appearing in the form of Vajradhara, the lord who pervades all buddha families, the guru is seated upon a cushion of lotus and moon, on a precious throne in the center of a wish-granting tree that emerges from a lake. He is surrounded by the ocean-like assembly of Kagyu masters. In front is the Bhagavan Chakrasamvara together with a host of yidam deities of the four or six classes of tantra. To his right are the buddhas of the three times, endowed with the major and minor marks, together with the thousand buddhas of this Excellent Eon. Behind is the Great Mother Prajnaparamita and the discourses of the sutras and tantras, which naturally resound the Dharma. To his left are the bodhisattva-protectors of the three families surrounded by the assembly of the Three Vehicles’ noble sangha. Surrounding everything is an oceanic host of oath-bound protectors, gathering like billowing clouds.



[Teaching (commentary) on section above]

“Before you, appearing in the form of Vajradhara,…, ” so appearing in front of us, we visualise Buddha Vajradhara. “… the lord who pervades all buddha families,…”. So all gurus are inseparable. The three times Buddhas inseparable form is Buddha Vajradhara, [dharmadhatu nature]. Within the Buddha Vajradhara form, [the body of Vajradhara, the dharmadhatu nature], all the five Buddhas, and five female Buddhas, (all Buddhas) are inseparable. [Form is emptiness and emptiness is form, (Heart Sutra)]. “… the guru is seated upon a cushion of lotus and moon,…” [on the thangka], the guru is seated, (above the main, central figure of Buddha Vajradhara. “… on a precious throne in the center of a wish-granting tree that emerges from a lake”. The tree emerges from a lake. “He is surrounded by the ocean-like assembly of Kagyu masters”. All the Kagyu lineage masters. “In front is the Bhagavan Chakrasamvara,…” so in front is Chakrasamvara yidam deity. “… together with a host of yidam deities of the four, or six classes of tantra”. The four, and six tantras means, that within Chakrasamvara [tantra] all the Vajrayana yidam deities are inseparable there. “To his right are the buddhas of the three times,…” to Chakrasamvara’s right side are the Buddhas of the three times. [The buddhas of the three periods, past (Kaśyapa, but often in iconography Dīpaṃkara), present (Śākyamuni, i.e. Siddhartha, Gotama), and future (Maitreya)]. So previous Buddha, present Buddha, future Buddha. “… endowed with the major and minor marks, together with the thousand buddhas of this Excellent Eon”. This Excellent Eon, is the coming of a 1000 Buddhas. Buddha Shakyamuni is the fourth Buddha. “Behind is the Great Mother Prajnaparamita and the discourses of the sutras and tantras, which naturally resound the Dharma”. From these come all the resonant sounds of the Dharma. “To his left are the bodhisattva-protectors of the three families surrounded by the assembly of the Three Vehicles’ noble sangha. Surrounding everything is an oceanic host of oath-bound protectors, gathering like billowing clouds”. We visualise [the merit field], all gathering in space, (like billowing clouds).

So that is called the Buddha Refuge Tree. You use this Refuge Tree when you are going to practice Ngondro, (this sadhana). You use a thangka, or print this image and put it on your altar. So it is very hard to visualise, (to keep this visualisation), so when you are ready (to do that), look to this image, and then practice. So the main point, is to focus upon visualising Buddha Vajradhara, [dharmadhatu nature], and then you think, all these Buddhas are inseparable within that. Or, if it is easier, [you can visualise] Buddha Shakyamuni’s form body, that is also possible too. So just visualise Buddha Shakyamuni’s form [body], and think about all this Refuge Tree, [what is represented here]. Everything is inseparable with Buddha’s form body, [all Buddhas form bodies]. So we are doing this practice in front of all this, [the Holy object, the Holy Fields of Refuge], and that is a Special Object we need. Then go to the second page, so that is page 26.



STARTING NGONDRO PRACTICE


So someone who is going to be starting Ngondro, today I am sharing this with you, and you can be starting your Ngondro practice. I am also going to give the transmission of this Ngondro. First the basic Preliminary Practices, starting with, cultivating the i) Reflection on the Difficulty of Finding a Precious Human Body, ii) Reflection on Death and Impermanence, iii) Reflection on Karma – Cause and Effect, iv) Reflection on the Shortcomings of Samsara, (Defects of Samsara). So reflect on these, as you chant this prayer here. [The practices are for the purpose of training the mind], let yourself feel, [the truth of these teachings] in your mind. [The teachings are for transforming mind in practice, (cutting through dualistic self-grasping attachment to mere concept in the mind, (which until this mistakenness is identified, uprooted and liberated), is the reason we remain bound, and continue in cyclic existence, (cycling in samsara)]. So, reflect on, how I am so lucky, I have found these good connections, conditions. I have this human beings body, [that is so hard to find. I am not going to waste it. If I don’t use it well, why would I find it again]. Generate the joyful experience inside, that arises from cultivating this deep gratitude within, allowing yourself to feel that. (Recognize the happy feeling that arises within yourself from repeatedly doing that practice).

Recognise ‘Death and Impermanence,’ [connecting to the truth of that, on the inner level, so that you really want to practice, and engage in the practices]. So [allow] yourself to feel that in the mind. [These practices are for the mind, for establishing a deeper heart connection, beyond delusion, to realisation of the true nature of reality. We have to make effort, to continue to connect to these practices in the mind, (until they become habitual), that is why we are cultivating The Four Preliminary Practices, which are the first practices (foundations) to beginning Ngondro. Then using that [cultivation of the foundations), – to go into the Refuge here, [Refuge is in the Realised, Enlightened state, (that is always there within us, the true nature of mind, the guru mind) – the Buddha, Dharma (teachings) and Sangha (practicing community)], this is the Uncommon Preliminary practice, and is the main point of this section of the text. Uncommon Preliminary Practice requires of us, to go into a higher level (state) of practice, (a deeper level practice), [into the spiritual practice, beyond the preoccupation with the mundane concerns of existence, (even whilst, we see to what is needed in our lives]. So that is why, someone who wants to liberate their mind from samsara, – achieve the state of Enlightenment, [cultivates these practices]. Enlightenment means, that on the inner level, (at the level of our consciousness, brain level), this is now fully opened, (liberated into the true nature). [The dualistic attachment is cut], so that you are no longer coming back down again, into the lower chakras, (the latter arises through self-grasping attachment to mere concepts, when the nondual nature has not been realised within the mental continuum)].



TAKING REFUGE IN THE HIGHER LEVEL CHAKRAS PRACTICES (OF TRAINING THE MIND)


If you are going up into those higher level chakras, first we have to take care of the lower chakras, (samsaric chakras). If you stay attached to those, (have fixation to those), the mind cannot journey to the upper chakras. You are stuck there. [The following analogy if often given, where ignorance, is represented by an elephant]. So, like the elephants stuck in the mud. (They cannot [get out], walk free). Because elephants are stuck in the mud, (they become further stuck, more and more deeply in), and they are going to die there in the mud, (they cannot get out). So in the same way, as long as there is strong fixation, attachment to samsaric chakras, you cannot get out from there. So that is why we have to recognise that, (that samsaric chakras are suffering), and ‘I want to get out from that level’. So that is this Four Thoughts Meditation. [So we recognize that, and cultivate], ‘I want to go to the upper chakras, taking refuge in the upper chakras,’ [realisation]. So that is, your mind is going in the right direction, (it’s turning in a different direction, [you are turning the mind to Dharma], that is refuge). So you say, ‘I am going to leave these lower chakras, I’m going to take refuge to the upper chakras. I want to be a citizen there, part of the upper chakras, [Enlightened beings citizen]’. So that is you, shifting direction, that is you taking refuge. So Taking Refuge, starts here.

“Namo, until attaining Enlightenment, I take refuge in the [empty] essence, which is the dharmakaya, the guru, and the Buddha. I take refuge in the [clear] nature, which is the sambhogakaya, the yidam, and the Dharma. I take refuge in [all-pervasive] compassion which is the nirmanakaya, the dakini, and the Sangha”.

So this refuge is very profound. Taking refuge has different levels, outer level, inner level and secret refuge. In this Ngondro sadhana, it is inner level refuge. Outer level refuge is, we see the Buddha, and say, ‘I can take refuge to Buddha Shakyamuni’. Inner level refuge (given here) is, ‘I am going to take refuge in the empty essence, which is the dharmakaya’. We take refuge to the true nature, (not fake, not deluded). […] We are going to take refuge in the nature of rigpa, which is the dharmakaya. So, right now we are deluded. So what is dharmakaya nature? (Not deluded). The true reality, is called dharmakaya. The clouds, rain, thunder, wind, that is the same as delusion. (We don’t want that). There’s a beautiful, clear blue sky, (so that is dharmakaya), that is the true nature, (the nature of the space). Space is not clouds, rain thunders, [though they may cross, across it. This example can be used, to also illustrate the relationship, and difference, between relative reality, and ultimate truth. Relative truth, is like the clouds, rain, and thunders, ultimate reality is like space, the sky]. Space is clear, empty, vivid, that is the ultimate truth, (the true reality). So dharmakaya means the true reality. And what is truth? Our nature is truth. We take refuge to our true nature, (and the true nature is the guru, it is the Buddha).



TAKING REFUGE IN THE CLEAR NATURE


“I take refuge in the [clear] nature, which is the sambhogakaya, the yidam, and the Dharma”. Space is emptiness, but within emptiness, – sun rises, moon can be shining, stars are all shining. So within emptiness, all this is shining, (when it is clear, everything is shining). So, that is called sambhogakaya, and within emptiness, (dharmakaya nature states), is arising all these Buddha forms. So when you have delusion, emotions, thoughts, the Buddha [nature] cannot shine, (because when (you have clouds), you cannot see the sun). When you have thunders, you cannot see the stars. You cannot see the moon. And all this sambhogakaya form, is arising from the clear nature. Clear… it appears in the nature states, “… which is the sambhogakaya, the yidam, and the Dharma”. So that is called the yidam deity. Yidam deity means, we have this [rigpa] nature, (our own true nature, that is the dharmakaya). Then, we have shining [there]. We have wisdom shining, we can be shining our own power [enlightened qualities], we can be shining our love, compassion. We are shining our own healings. We are shining, free from the diseases, [attachment to deluded self-grasping concept in the mind, which manifests in the body]. And, free from the sickness. We can shine, free from anger, attachment. We are shining free from, our stinginess, (free from that), – that is all called yidam deities. Buddhas, (the Buddha nature [pervading]), means the [enlightened] qualities are rising. Do you understand? So that is called sambhogakaya. (These prayers are amazing).

So, I take refuge in the yidam, and the dharma, and in (all-pervasive) compassion… so that is within ourself, (all-pervasive). So long as you have clear space, then sun is shining, moon is shining, stars are shining. Do you understand? If the space is filled with clouds, nothing is shining, everything is dark. So, when we have these (negativities), negative emotions, negative karma, everything is dark. Nothing is shining, you don’t see anything, (like when the weather is terrible), someone says, ‘Moon is in there, sun is in there’. You say, ‘No, no, there is no moon, no sun’. They say, ‘No’. (Everything is, ‘No, no’). So right now, I say, ‘You have Buddha-nature,’ you say, ‘No’. […]. I say, ‘You are yidam deity,’ you say, ‘No’. I say, ‘You are guru,’ you say, ‘No’. It is like that, because we don’t have that, right now, (we don’t see that). So, when you clear your mind, we have this true nature, (delusion is gone), then everything is shining. So, that is called the Enlightened beings. Enlightened beings are inseparable, within us. You cannot reach to Enlightenment with your disease. As long as you have sickness, disease, you cannot reach Enlightenment, (because you still have that karma). Enlightened, you have healing. You are free from disease. So that quality is called Healing Buddha.



RELEASING KARMIC DEBT INTO ITS TRUE NATURE


And you cannot be Enlightened, [until you have cut through the karmic debt]. We have birth suffering, old age suffering, we have sickness suffering and death suffering, it is the continuation of karmic debt, until we release that, (the attachment to self-grasping at mere concept (of self and other, all phenomena), and liberate that into its true nature (dharmakaya). Buddha means free from death, free from old age, free from sickness, free from all these sufferings. So on attaining Enlightenment we have these qualities. So, when I reach Enlightenment, I am Manjushri, my knowledge, wisdom is inseparable with Manjushri. When I reach Enlightenment I can say, I am Chenrezig, because my love and compassion, has become inseparable with Chenrezig. So I can not reach Enlightenment without love and compassion. I can not reach Enlightenment without wisdom. And when I reach Enlightenment, I am an embodiment of Chenrezig, I am an embodiment of Manjushri. When I reach Enlightenment, I am inseparable with Vajrapani. Enlightened beings have the power of these qualities. So, right now, until we achieve that realised state, our qualities are not inseparable with the Enlightened beings, [we are still on the path]. […] One day, when we [are Enlightened], we are inseparable with all the buddhas, these Yidam Deities, then we are shining these qualities, (at that time we realise we are inseparable with the Yidam Deity).

“I take refuge in [all-pervasive] compassion, which is the nirmanakaya, the dakini, and the Sangha”. So, we are going to take refuge in the all-pervasive compassion, which is the nirmanakaya. So then compassion is shining, all these Enlightened qualities are shining. Then through the power of compassion, (bodhicitta), – this is coming into the impure realms [to benefit beings]. (The Enlightened beings come into the impure realms to benefit others). So that is called nirmanakaya. According to Vajrayana teaching, Buddha Shakyamuni was already Enlightened many aeons before, he took nirmanakaya form, and came back [into the world], through his compassion, [in order to benefit beings, still trapped in samsara]. So, where do the three Buddha bodies come from? Where does nirmanakaya form come from? Through compassion. Where does sambhogakaya come from? Our enlightened qualities shining. Where is dharmakaya. Our true nature. So the three kayas are all within us, truly. But right now, separate, [due to body, speech and mind obstacles], because we don’t have that quality yet, [a realised embodiment of the Enlightened qualities shining]. Enlightened, we are inseparable, with the Enlightened qualities, and their emanations. So then, what we are doing is, we are taking refuge to the Absolute (Ultimate) Truth dharmakaya, Absolute Truth sambhogakaya, Absolute Truth nirmanakaya, (the three kayas).


[p.26]


Then, take refuge thinking that you and all infinite sentient beings take refuge and prostrate with respectful body, speech, and mind, to the places of refuge visualized before you from now onwards until attaining awakening.

NA MO / NGO WO LA MA CHÖ KU SANG GYE DANG /
RANG ZHIN LONG KU YI DAM DAM PEY CHÖ /
THUG JE TRÜL KU KHAN DRO GEN DÜN LA /
JANG CHUB MA THOB BAR DU KYAB SU CHI


Namo, until attaining Enlightenment, I take refuge in the [empty] essence, which is the dharmakaya, the guru, and the Buddha. I take refuge in the [clear] nature, which is the sambhogakaya, the yidam, and the Dharma. I take refuge in [all-pervasive] compassion which is the nirmanakaya, the dakini, and the Sangha.

Deeply immersing your mind in the practice, offer prostration while reciting the refuge prayer.



Next is another supplication, this called ‘The Four Dharmas of Gampopa’.

[p.27]

DAG DANG DRO WA NAM KHEY THA DANG NYAM PEY SEM
CHEN THAM CHE / LO CHÖ SU DRO WAR JIN GYI LAB TU SÖL /
CHÖ LAM DU DRO WAR JIN GYI LAB TU SÖL / LAM TRÜL PA SEL
WAR JIN GYI LAB TU SÖL / TRÜL NANG YE SHE SU CHAR WAR
JIN GYI LAB TU SÖL


Grant your blessing so that the minds of myself and all sentient beings, limitless as space, follow the Dharma.
Grant your blessing so that the Dharma leads to the path.
Grant your blessing so that the path may clear away confusion.
Grant your blessing so that confusion may transform into wisdom.



The Four Dharmas of Gampopa

I have a commentary on The Four Dharmas of Gampopa, also. The first line is, “Grant your blessing so that the minds of myself and all sentient beings, limitless as space, follow the Dharma”. So, we are supplicating to this Yidam Deity, to grant your blessings. “… so that the minds of myself and all sentient beings, limitless as space, follow the Dharma”. What does it mean, follow the Dharma? Follow the Dharma means, as long as we have these Four Thoughts meditation. [*The Four Thoughts—the four general preparations—allow us to develop this freedom, as we reflect in turn upon i. the precious human birth, ii. death and impermanence, iii. karma – cause and effect, and the iv. defects (sufferings) of samsara. These are referring to the preciousness of a human existence, which is very difficult to obtain]. […] You have these four thoughts arising in your mind, then you are following the dharma. “Grant your blessing so that the Dharma leads to the path”. So what is, “dharma leads to the path?” The love, compassion arises in our mind, then Dharma leads to the path. Then that is the unmistaken path, (it is true path).

Many people say, ‘I want to be free from samsara,’ but then they can go in the wrong directions. They pick up the wrong path. [The practice of Tibetan Buddhism is, freedom from the two extremes of either nihilism, or eternalism, (anti-nihilism). Eternalism and nihilism are the simplest, and most extreme, stances toward meaningness. Eternalism says that everything has a definite, true meaning. Nihilism says that nothing really means anything]. […] So what is the right path, (true path)? Love and compassion. Something you use, (and then your love and compassion is increasing, and it is not going to be decreasing), it is increasing, then your path is the right path. So that means, Dharma leads to the right path. Dharma means love and compassion. “Grant your blessing so that the path may clear away confusion”. So, then we have love, compassion [bodhicitta], so that is the right path. But you want to reach the state of non-duality, (the highest level chakra in the body, go to the highest level), [progress on the path of realisation], then what do we need? We need clarity. What we have to clear away is confusion. On following a more deeper level path, many confusions can arise, because there are many similarities [with other unrealised states].





Additional section

[Abbrev].

Another reason for studying the classic philosophical texts, is that they provide a firm criterion of doctrinal authenticity.

There is a story that once when Atisha was in Tibet, he received news of the death of the master Maitripa. He was deeply grieved, and on being questioned about the reasons for his sorrow, he replied that Buddhism was in decline in India and that everywhere there was syncretism and confusion.

Until then, Atisha continued, there had been only two masters in the whole of India, Maitripa and himself, capable of discerning the correct teaching from the doctrines and practices of the reviving Hindu schools.

The time is sure to come, [authentic Buddhist masters have] commented, and perhaps it is here already, when there will be an analogous situation in the West. Only the correct establishment of the view will enable one to find one’s way through the religious confusion of the modern West and to distinguish authentic Buddhism from the New Age “self help” version that are already taking hold.

Furthermore, a correct understanding of Madhyamika provides an excellent foundation and brings into focus the entire range of Mahayana practice. The view is none other than the absolute aspect of bodhicitta, indissociable from compassion, its relative aspect.

The one cannot be perfected without the other. Compassion can never be mastered without the view of emptiness; wisdom can never be brought to completion without the perfection of compassion.

[Buddhist Masters] have remarked significantly that just as the practice of guru yoga is said to be the life of the Vajrayana, lojong, the mind training, is the heart of Madhyamaka.


From “Introduction to the Middle Way by Wulstan Fletcher





PURE LINEAGES OF THE BUDDHA’S TEACHINGS & THE STAGES ON THE PATH TO ENLIGHTENMENT


So, [unrealised], and realised [true], there are similarities. We rely on the Realised masters (gurus), upholding the pure lineages, (teachings of the Buddha), the teachers of the lineage, to avoid misunderstandings, (where you can take the wrong path). So, that is why Buddha shares the Buddhist philosophy in the teachings, [to help guide beings on the correct path, (love, compassion, bodhicitta, and perfection of bodhicitta)]. So, that we are going to take the right path, and are not going to get in the wrong path, [decreasing our love, compassion, bodhicitta]. If you have, [practice] love and compassion, (you can go to the highest level in samsara), but to go beyond samsara, you have to go beyond love and compassion, [and realise emptiness]. [“Form is emptiness, emptiness is form. Form is none other than emptiness. Emptiness is none other than form”. ~ The Heart Sutra of The Perfection of Transcendental Wisdom]. To move beyond samsara, we must have the Mahamudra practice. This Heart Sutra or Mahamudra, knowing the true nature [nature of rigpa, dharmakaya]. So, on the path to realising the true nature, there are so many obstacles, because there are many similarities between (unrealised) and real, that is why we need Guru’s blessing. So that is why we need to practice these foundations, and make them very strong. And that is why practicing Ngondro, is a required practice.

Sometimes you think, I don’t need to do that, I can realise what I want, but that is a big misunderstanding. [It is necessary to clear the obstacles on the path to Enlightenment [nondual state], or already we would be realised beings]. Just as without the stairs, [the instructions, (turnings of the wheel of Dharma), Stages of the Path, (a proven, unmistaken path guiding countless beings to liberation, past, present, future], how are you going to go to the upper level? […] You have to move through that process. Without that, (just one step, or two steps), you cannot get up there. […] So without the process, you can not get upstairs. […] Without the basic foundation level, you can not attain the upper (higher level). This Ngondro practice is also not the first level, there is a level before this one. This Ngondro practice is actually the second level. […] Without the ground floor, or basement [first level], you cannot have this second level. [Ethical principles are guidelines for personal/spiritual practices across the three main branches of Buddhism, the three yanas (vehicles): Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana]. So without this basis, [the ethical principles], you cannot have the first one [yana]. You can have all three [yanas] together (completed), all this is connected together. This stupa, this is the ‘Three Yanas’. The first floor, (ground level) is basic level yana. And this [second level], is Mahayana. The upper level is Vajrayana, (so three layers, the Three Yanas). Do you understand? Then this stupa is all completed, it has three floors together, it is called the Three Yanas.



THE FOUNDATIONAL PRACTICES


So without the ground floor, basement [first level, of the stupa], there is no support for the other levels, [of the stupa] and they will collapse, (fall down). The ground floor holds this one, [the second floor]. And this second floor, holds the upper level. In the same way, the Ngondro practice, [second floor, (Mahayana)], holds the next level, (the upper floor, Vajrayana practice, (the nonduality states)). You cannot reach and abide in these non-duality states, without Ngondro practice. It is like you are going to travel to another country, [nondual states], you need a ticket, you need a passport, [this is Ngondro practice]. Do you understand? So without that [practice], you cannot go [and stay there], (without this first level, Ngondro practice, you cannot reach to the upper floor, (and abide there)). So then, you are going to the other country, (you need passport and tickets), how much, how expensive (that is), it is dependent, (we don’t know). Everything is dependent right? Ngondro practice has different levels. Even if you are doing one hour of your practice, you need basic level Ngondro [for that]. And then, [from basic level Ngondro], you go through the stages, higher and higher up. And then, within one hour practice, all that is done together, do you understand? You have to complete it together. And when we chant these prayers, it is from beginning to end. It is like, first, second, third, (all the layers together), are inside there. (All is completed there together).

In the Tibetan tradition, Tibetan masters, in another way are really very direct, very wrathful. I can say, direct. They need to be direct with the students, or they cannot help the students. And that is why they put the student through so much work, they make them work hard. [It is cutting through the accumulation of negative karma, (ignorance), obstacles]. […] So you may do one hundred thousand prostrations, and the teacher says, ‘No, no, not enough. Not even close enough, do another one hundred thousand prostrations,’ so that is the traditional way of this practice, (of this preliminary practice). You do one hundred thousand prostrations, whether that is enough, or not enough, is dependent, we don’t know. Maybe you do […] less prostrations, it could be enough. If you do one million prostrations, it could be that it is not enough. It is dependent, according to the individual, we don’t know. […]



TRADITIONAL NGONDRO PRACTICE


In the tradition, the minimum for starting Ngondro is one hundred thousand prostrations, and the Refuge Prayer, is also done one hundred thousand times. […] The traditional [method] is the students do that, and then the teacher, shares the teaching. And then, the other students do the same. But whether that is enough, or not enough, we don’t know. Someone does millions, but still not enough. Someone does a hundred prostrations, it could be enough. So, we need the number, as a [basic] guideline for people. Without a number, there is no [basic] guideline for people to use. So people always ask, ‘How many do I have to do?’ So I offer some guidance. […] In the monastery the minimum is one hundred thousand. The monks joining the monastery, (as is the custom, tradition), do one hundred thousand prostrations, one hundred thousand Refuge Prayer (cultivating bodhicitta), one hundred thousand, Vajrasattva accumulations, one hundred thousand mandala offerings, one hundred thousand guru yoga practice. This follows the tradition of Ngondro practice.

Some people do two hundred thousand, three hundred thousand, some people do five hundred thousand each. Some people do one million of each, so it is dependent on individual effort. You do more, you accumulate more merit. So endless, you can do endless, unlimited [accumulations]. If you do more, you practice more, you put more effort, when you reach Enlightenment you have more power to benefit others. If you do less, still you [may] get good conditions, you reach Enlightenment, but your benefit for others is less. Do you understand? So in this Ngondro practice, who puts more effort, doing more, they can become a very powerful king, they can be a very powerful spiritual person, they can be a very powerful person in the world, because they have a good accumulation of merit. It can be that all this karma is ripening in this world, (within this samsara). However, without Mahamudra [practice], you cannot become Enlightened, this is why we practice this Ngondro, with Mahamudra together. […] Our goal is not some benefit within samsara, our goal is to reach Enlightenment. Do you understand?


ACCUMULATION OF MERIT FROM BASIC NGONDRO PRACTICE


So, someone is a very powerful, spiritual person, (so many followers), maybe that person is not Realised. Why does he have so many followers? Why is he able to do so much, to benefit others? Because he has his basic practice, [he follows that], and does, (and creates) so much activity of merit [for others]. So that is the reason, the person can do that, [a cause and effect universe]. So we rejoice in that, (we don’t criticize that). Something which benefits others, it doesn’t matter which tradition, […], it is from. So, think instead, he has created so much accumulation of merit, we rejoice in that. When you rejoice in that, you share in, and receive that merit […]. Do you understand? [You might make all sorts of judgements], you might think, ‘He has so much going on at this time. He is doing so much to benefit others, I don’t know what he has, yeah’… and then criticism comes in. Criticism is not going to make an obstacle for that person, [doing the action, that is accumulating the merit], the criticism (you make), that creates an obstacle for you. Your [negativity] criticism, creates an obstacle for you, [and hinders your own development]. But then, one day you reach a very high level, and are benefiting others, then due to others karma, (people criticise you). Do you understand? [This is the nature of samsara, where beings are captured by their own negativity, and wrong view. It is the reason, (if you are not yet realised), that you have not liberated your mind from samsara, (into the nondual states)). And this is why we need to practice loving kindness, compassion bodhicitta, (and not create further problems for ourselves and others). Instead, accumulate merit, seek to benefit others as much as we can. Accomplish the practices and realise the unmistaken view, (dharmakaya) within our own mindstreams].

So that is why, don’t criticize people, [you never know, who beings are. We are spiritual beings undergoing different states of existence, and awareness realisation]. Don’t criticize spiritual people’s activities. Even if your think, ‘Oh they are not a Realiser, not like something great,’ but never criticize. If you criticize, you carry that karma. [You create that negativity, it becomes part of the formation of your perceptual experience in the mind, (until it is liberated into its true nature). The negativity, (attachment to your own wrong perception/thinking), is a block in your mindstream, to coming into contact with, and realising, the Enlightened nature (of self, and all other phenomena)]. So then, there are some very high Realisers, (the realisation is very high), but they are not benefiting others that much. Sometimes people don’t like that person, which is because they don’t create that much basic accumulation of merit, (that we see very clearly in the monastery). We have some very high practitioners, (deep-level practitioners), go into the meditation states, but in the community, people don’t like that person so much. They don’t respect that person so much. Do you understand? The reason is, they have created different causes, (so the result appears there). And then, someone has very good, high level Mahamudra Realisation, (they are an Enlightened being), but we don’t feel that energy, (we don’t receive that), the reason is, the person doesn’t create that much accumulation of merit.

And in the monastery, we can not say, that the highest level teachers, are more realised than regular monks and nuns. (We don’t know, who has more realisation). But who has more accumulation of merit, they are leaders, (they attract people), they bring people together and share teaching, due to their accumulation of merit, they benefit more people. So this is all due to, accumulation of Ngondro, (the preliminary practices).


The Four Dharmas of Gampopa (continued)

Grant your blessing so that the minds of myself and all sentient beings, limitless as space, follow the Dharma.
Grant your blessing so that the Dharma leads to the path.
Grant your blessing so that the path may clear away confusion.
Grant your blessing so that confusion may transform into wisdom.

“Grant your blessing so that the minds of myself and all sentient beings, limitless as space, follow the Dharma. Grant your blessing so that the Dharma leads to the path. Grant your blessing so that the path may clear away confusion”. So we need to acquire more understanding of Dharma. “Grant your blessing so that confusion may transform into wisdom”. So that is called Mahamudra. All this confusion (delusion) is transformed into wisdom. Our afflictive emotion is transformed into wisdom, that is Gampopa’s aspiration.


By supplicating thus with intense devotion, the field of accumulation melts into its nature of five-colored lights, which then dissolve into you. Thus, imagine that blessings enter your mind-stream and rest for a while in the natural state without any reference point.




[Practices on p. 23 -27]. So, use the Refuge Tree on p 22, and in front of that picture, visualize, follow the information on p.25. (All the information for Refuge practice is on p.25). In front of the Refuge Tree, chant this [Refuge] prayer on p. 26.

Then, take refuge thinking that you and all infinite sentient beings take refuge and prostrate with respectful body, speech, and mind, to the places of refuge visualized before you from now onwards until attaining awakening.

NA MO / NGO WO LA MA CHÖ KU SANG GYE DANG /
RANG ZHIN LONG KU YI DAM DAM PEY CHÖ /
THUG JE TRÜL KU KHAN DRO GEN DÜN LA /
JANG CHUB MA THOB BAR DU KYAB SU CHI


Namo, until attaining Enlightenment, I take refuge in the [empty] essence, which is the dharmakaya, the guru, and the Buddha. I take refuge in the [clear] nature, which is the sambhogakaya, the yidam, and the Dharma. I take refuge in [all-pervasive] compassion which is the nirmanakaya, the dakini, and the Sangha.

Deeply immersing your mind in the practice, offer prostration while reciting the refuge prayer.

So that [Refuge Prayer] is chanted one hundred thousand times. Traditionally, not only are we physically doing the prostrations, but we are chanting this Refuge prayer at the same time, as doing that.



Additional section – Prostrations


[In Ngondro practice we do the long prostrations, the very extensive ones. While we are doing the physical prostrations, we chant the refuge prayer and do the visualization meditation at the same time.

The way in which the ngondro practices prepare us for our spiritual journey is that they build up positive force or energy and wear away negative force or potential. After all, with no beginning, we have built up the habit of thinking and acting on the basis of ignorance and unawareness of reality. This has built up an enormous strength of negative force that unconsciously drives us to continue compulsively acting in the same way. It will take an enormous effort to override and eventually wipe out these inborn pathways and build up positive ones. The hundreds of thousands of repetitions we do with the ngondro practices are a good way to start. Although 100,000 repetitions of something positive is miniscule in comparison to beginningless lifetimes repeating negative patterns, still the ngondro practices start to build up new neural pathways in our minds.

[Reference: Study Buddhism by Berzin Archives]

prostration (Pali: panipāta, Skt.: namas-kara, Ch.: 禮拜, lǐbài, Jp.: raihai) is a gesture used in Buddhist practice to show reverence to the Triple Gem (comprising the Buddha, his teachings, and the spiritual community) and other objects of veneration.

Prostrations are done for several reasons, including:

[…]


Vajrayana Buddhism [abridged]

In Vajrayana Buddhism, prostrations are often performed before meditation or teachings, [and also] form a separate practice by itself. Prostrations are seen as a means of purifying one’s body, speech and mind of karmic defilements, especially pride.[13] Prostrations are used in tandem with visualization and can be used to express reverence to our gurus and others.

For example, in the context of offering homage, prostrations are performed as follows:

…Bring your hands together in the ‘lotus bud’ mudra (the base of the palm and the fingertips together, and thumbs slightly tucked in) and place them on the crown of the head, then to the throat and heart. As you place your hands on your crown, you offer homage to the Guru’s enlightened body, purify defilements and obscurations incurred through the avenue of your body, and establish the potential to realize nirmanakaya. At your throat, you offer homage to his enlightened speech, and establish the potential to realized sambhogakaya. Bringing your hands to your heart, you offer homage to his enlightened mind, purify your mind’s obscurations, and establish the potential to realize dharmakaya. The actual prostration is performed by dropping the body forward and stretching it full length on the floor, the arms outstretched in front…. Again, with hands in the lotus bud mudra, bend your arms back and touch your hands to the top of your head, a gesture that acknowledges the blessing flowing from the Guru. Then stretch your arms out once more and push yourself up…. Bring your hands into the lotus bud mudra for the third time and touch your heart in a gesture of reverence. Then, with a smooth motion, bring your hands to your crown and perform the next prostration….[15]

[Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/]



So the (one hundred thousand) prostrations, and the (one hundred thousand accumulations) of the Refuge prayer are done together, (started and finished together). Sometimes the prostrations are done more quickly, than the accumulations of the Refuge Prayer. If you chant the Tibetan, it is easier than the English, but when you chant this prayer you have to feel that. (So for this reason, chant in the language, where you are understanding the meaning of the words as you say them, there is more connection that way).


Refuge Prayer [p.26]

Namo, until attaining Enlightenment, I take refuge in the [empty] essence, which is the dharmakaya, the guru, and the Buddha. I take refuge in the [clear] nature, which is the sambhogakaya, the yidam, and the Dharma. I take refuge in [all-pervasive] compassion which is the nirmanakaya, the dakini, and the Sangha.

There are many different versions of this Refuge Prayer. You can also use the first refuge prayer, that we chant every day, (in our daily practice).

SANGYE CHO DANG TSOK KI CHOK NAM LA/
CHANG CHUB BARDU DAK NI KAB SU CHI/
DAK GI JIN SOK GYI PE SONAM KYI/
DRO LA PHEN CHIR SANGYE DRUB PAR SHOK

In the Buddha, the Dharma and the Supreme Assembly,
I take refuge until I attain enlightenment.
Through the merit of practicing generosity and so on,
may I attain buddhahood for the benefit of all beings.

So, you can change the Refuge Prayer, to this one [above], either works. There are many different kinds of Refuge Prayer. Whichever you find works well, if you have already memorized this one [above], as you are chanting it every day, then chant that one. If you have more connections, then you can do it very easily. So chanting the prayers, and doing the prostrations together. (The full body prostration is required). So, the hands cupped (in the lotus bud mudra) at the level of the head, represents purifying body karma, (and bringing Buddha’s Enlightened body form). Then, hands cupped (in the lotus bud mudra) at the level of the throat, represents purifying speech karma. The hands cupped (in the lotus bud mudra), at the level of the heart, represents purifying mind karma. Your two hands, forehead and two knees, touch the ground, and then, when you arise, you bring you hands up, bringing all the Enlightened qualities of body, speech and mind to you. The two hands, forehead and two knees, are subduing the five afflictive emotions. So using the Five Point or (Five Limb) prostration. [The two hands (palms), the two knees and the forehead—these five—[brought down], touching the ground, and prostrating, is the one called “prostration of the five limbs brought down to the ground”. [The five poisons are brought down, (ignorance, desire/ attachment, hatred/aversion, pride, and jealously), in the purification of doing the prostration. On arising, the realizations, of the corresponding five wisdoms, (Wisdom of Absolute Space, free from elaborations (Dharmakaya), Discriminating (Awareness) Wisdom, Mirrorlike Wisdom, Wisdom of Equality, and Wisdom of All Accomplishing Actions)].

So all this goes together, with chanting this Refuge Prayer. Someone, wanting to start Ngondro, then you can do these together. Then, also in the Tibetan tradition, it is very easy to do prayers, that is why we have many prayers. These prayers can be done very fast, it doesn’t take too long. According to practitioners in Western countries, (English speaker, or maybe Chinese speaker), the prayers take a long time to do. If a prayer [sequence] takes too long for you to do, (and you are not going to finish it, in the time you have available), you can use a shortened version of the prayers. So, in this Ngondro text, The Excellent Path to Enlightenment: A Practice of The Preliminaries of the Fivefold Mahamudra, there are some sections you must chant, [and others, when you have time]. So you can skip over the first part, and start on p.17 First, The Four Common Outer Preliminaries. So then starting on p. 17, you chant through, and finish on p.27. And there is only about 2-3 pages of chanting, (in this ten page section). So, page 17 is the Basic Preliminary Practice, (you must chant this prayer), and then, through to p.26. Then the Refuge Prayer on p.26 is chanted many times. (Or this Refuge Prayer, can be switched, with the Refuge prayer that we use in the daily practice, (the first prayer), as already mentioned above). So, you can accumulate the Refuge Prayer and do prostrations, (the whole day if you can), then on finishing that practice chant p.27 [The Four Dharmas of Gampopa]. Followed by p. 63.
[*NB. If you are doing accumulation of Refuge prayers and prostrations, (check with Khenpo Samdup Rinpoche), that after p.27, you go straight to p.63, (or, that you also go through the section p.29-61 of the text)].

[p.63]

Sanskrit Alphabet Mantra

OM A AH AI AIH AU AUH RI RIH LI LIH AE AEH O OH ANG AH/
KA KHA GA GHA NGA/ TSA TSHA DZA DZHA NYA/
TA THA DA DHA NA/ TA THA DA DHA NA/ PA PHA BA BHA MA/
YA RA LA WA/ SHA KHA SA HA KHYA SVA HA/ (repeat 3 times)

The Mantra Of Interdependant Origination

OM YEDHARMA HETU PRABHAWA HETUNTEKHAN
TATHAGATO HYAWADATA/ TEKHANTSA YO NIRODHA
EWAMWADI MAHASHRAMANAYE SVAHA/ (repeat 3 times)

You can finish here, (at the end of The Mantra Of Interdependant Origination), or conclude with the Dedication Prayers on p. 70-80. Or the Dedications Prayers p. 70-p.72.



DEDICATIONS [p. 70-72]

SOE NAM DI YI TAM JE SIG BA NYI/ TOB NE NYE BE DRA NAM
PAM SE DE/ JE GA NA CHI BA LONG TRUG BA YI/
SI BE TSO LE DRO WA DROL WAR SHOG/

By this virtue, may I achieve the all knowing state and, by defeating all enemies-confusion, the cause of suffering, may all who travel on the waves of birth, old age, sickness and death, cross the ocean of samsara.


JAM PAL PA WO JI TAR KHYEN PA DANG/ KUN TU ZANG PO DE
YANG DE ZHIN TE/ DE DAK KUN GYI JE SU DAK LOP CHING/
GE WA DI DAK TAM CHE RAP TU NGO/ SANG GYE KU SUM
NYE PAY JYIN LAB DANG/ CHO NYI MI GYUR DEN PAY JYIN LAB
DANG/ GE DUN MI CHE DU PAY JYIN LAB KYI/ JI TAR NGO SHIN
MON LAM DRUB PAR SHOG/


In order to train just like the hero Manjushri who knows reality as it is.
And just like Samantabhadra as well, I completely dedicate all this goodness,
just as they did. By the blessing of the Buddha who attained the three kayas;
by the blessing of the truth of the unchanging Changeless nature, by the
blessing of the indivisible assembly of the sangha, may these prayers be
accomplished as I have dedicated.

DAK DANG KHOR DAY THAM CHAY KYI/ DU SUM DU SAG PA
DANG/ YO PAY GE WAY TSA WA DI/ DAG DANG SEM CHEN THAM
CHAY NYUR DU LA NA ME PA/ YANG DAG PAR DZOG PAY CHANG
CHUB RIN PO CHE THOB PAR GYUR CHIG/

By the virtuous accumulations of the three times, of myself and all beings in
samsara and nirvana. And by this root of virtue, may I and all sentient beings
swiftly attain, unsurpassed, perfect complete, precious Enlightenment.


& then followed by the Dedication Prayers to the Holy Gurus [p.73-80]

So this Ngondro Prayer text, you can chant the whole thing, or you can use specific sections, (that is also possible too). It is up to the individual chanting the prayers, (the practice that they are doing). Today we are finishing at this point. I have shared what Ngondro means, Ngondro means Preliminary Practices. We have looked at the Refuge Tree and I have spoken about that. We use the Refuge Tree, when we are chanting the Refuge prayer, and accumulating prostrations, (they are used together). You can use the Refuge Tree, (the same object), when you are doing Mandala Offerings, and for Guru Yoga. The Vajrasattva practice is different, for Vajrasattva practice, you only visualize Vajrasattva’s form body. You don’t have to use the Refuge Tree.

Tomorrow, we are starting from Vajrasattva practice, [through to the end of the text], and finish the teaching, (the whole thing), and then I am going to give the transmission [of the text]. This is tomorrow’s program schedule. So today I talked in greater detail, to explain why the Ngondro sadhana practice is important, that is why I have shared more explanation with you. Now, we are going to finish with the Dedication section, ‘The Kagyu Lineage Dedication Prayer’.


(Continued on ‘Ngondro Retreat (3)’ on this website…)




Any errors are the transcriber’s own.
Immeasurable thanks for these precious teachings.