ADVICE ON NGONDRO (Rio de Janeiro 2008) part 2/3 by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
Now, so this alone, this much alone will be good enough as a preliminary practice for, on the Shravakayana level. Now you want to be, you want to aim higher. You‟re not only longing for liberation for yourself but for all sentient beings, meaning you want to practice the „mahakaruna‟, compassion. Your attitude is, of course, not wants to dwell in samsara but also not interested in nirvana; then you‟ve a bigger agenda. That is yet another purpose of the ngondro – to develop that atmosphere. So that is what you need if you are practicing Mahayana level.
Now you REALLY want to liberate myself and all sentient beings and you want to do it quick. You can‟t; you are not that patient to go through the three, you know countless eons and so on and so forth. Okay, so what do you need? In this case, you need to practice the pure perception, you know. Then that needs to be developed.
So okay three things, right – the first, kind of revulsion towards the samsara; second, compassion to the sentient beings; third, pure perception. You, the purpose of the ngondro is to gather cause, condition, habit, culture, civilization, I don‟t know, attitude to make sure so that these three happen. Now ngondro has all of that. This is why I was telling you ngondro should not be referred as a ngondro because it has a complete path. It‟s because of this, Patrul Rinpoche say (Tibetan phrase) – preliminary practice is more important than the main practice.
Okay, summary – purpose of this practice of ngondro, to summarize – is basically to purify defilements and accumulate merit. Okay, now this is my suggestion or my; this is work, work in progress, huh. So here I want to clearly tell you those who are following a tradition, those who are already doing ngondro and happy with it, please continue with that. You do not follow what I‟m telling you here today. You have no commitment to follow what I‟m telling you.
But for those who are totally new, those who wish to practice, begin to practice, not necessarily; okay practice buddhadharma and then eventually practice the, you know, Vajrayana – then and if you think that what I‟m making maybe is making sense for you – you, you, you‟re always welcome to become the guinea pig, okay (laughter). And all these titles are just, you know made up because it‟s just work in progress; so we have some titles here. Now this primarily is or as, as I come up with this idea, I‟m coming up this idea based on someone who is quite new but I still think that even the oldest, old-seasoned practitioner, if they follow, I mean if they, if they can sort of pick up some of these ideas from here – might help.
So first – duration is six months – this is suggested only, huh. During these six months, I am encouraging people to think sceptically to the Buddha, his Dharma and all the system. Now I want to, you know, to authenticate my ideas. I, I also try to get the support of the Buddha‟s words. Buddha HIMSELF said – like gold you should not, you should first cast it, burn it, then CHECK whether it‟s a real gold or not. You can‟t just take it, anything that is yellowish, shine, shining as gold.
Likewise you must first analyse with critical mind, check; not only analyse the Buddha and Dharma but analyse also your own this curiosity. Suddenly you have this curiosity to become a practitioner – why, why is that? Am I looking for an escape? Am I really looking for enlightenment? Anyway what is enlightenment? Is it land with a lot of ice cream, stuff like that?
For you, I mean for yourself – am I looking for heavenly experience which is misunderstood as enlightenment? Do I really need this Buddhist enlightenment that is something to do with beyond space, beyond time? Do I really need the Buddhist enlightenment where if by accident I got that enlightenment, I will never be able to watch a detective movie because I will have no, I will have omniscience so I will know everything instantly; so there‟s no suspense. Do I really need a state where I will have no strangers and no friends, difference? Sounds very BORING!
As you become critical, you may also fall into sort of very negative critical, huh. Ah, I don‟t need this, I don‟t need the dharma, I don‟t need the Buddha. I don‟t need spiritual path. At that time, be critical to your own critic, critical reason because that‟s just another of your blindness. As sort of simple to do as it sounds, I think it‟s very important this, this. this period of six months is VERY IMPORTANT because here you will really test your motivation.
Actually it‟s not; it‟s not a waste of time. In fact already you are becoming a spiritual person because you are REALLY looking at it from different angle. During these six months, suggested readings. There is a good book called „What the Buddha taught‟ by Walpola Rahula, Theravadan. Don‟t worry about the titles, we can always; those who are interested, you know, they can send email to us. And I think Thich Nhat Hanh‟s book like „Old Path White Clouds‟ is good. And then to develop a critical mind, books such as „The End of Faith‟ by Sam Harris, „Feet of Clay‟ by Anthony Storr. „Feet of Clay‟ may be good to read just before the Guru Yoga.
This, this is to basically, you know; it is a bit like this. Okay suddenly you have this inspiration to practice the dharma, you understand. And then we just have to put some cold water, you know like be more rational. I thought it‟s also good to read something like „Tao Te Ching‟ by Lao-tzu because it might help you to get used to a certain logic.
During these six months, you might think – so are we supposed to be critical and read some books, is that it? You think six months is quite precious. You want to practice something. You want to do something already. So I‟m suggesting do this. You know I got this idea from the Zen teachings. In the Zen teachings, there‟s something called „shikantaza‟. Now the shikantaza is something that you can do from the day one. And you can still do even as you are dying, I think. It‟s endless. It‟s very profound.
So shikantaza actually means I think, that I was told – just sit – of course, no prayers, no mantras, but not even visualization; no breathing in and out. Whatever comes out from your mouth and nose, but no specific guided controlled breathing in and out. The word „just sit‟; the „just‟ is amazing word. It‟s endless word. What do we mean by „just‟? At this point, we are only concentrating on the sitting. Nothing, I am not giving you any instructions on mind. So while I‟m not encouraging you, I‟m also not saying that you should not, you should not go wild, having all kinds of fantasies. I am not saying that.
Just sit. Well, straight is good, anyway good for your bone. Hand gesture – either this or this; other than that as I said, nothing to, nothing special to think. Eyes can remain open if you are aiming to do Tantric practice in the future. If you are not practicing, if you are not aiming to do Tantric practice, do whatever you want. No yawning, no scratching, no responding to phones, ideas; remember just as we talked yesterday – just sitting.
Okay, now the number comes because my job is to encourage you to practice, isn‟t it? So I‟m suggesting fifty hours of sitting. How do we define the fifty, how do, how do we define proper fifty hours? Sit at the least five minutes, minimum five minutes at a time, adding up to fifty hours. Less than five minutes – not count; anything more than five, like six minutes, two six minutes is counted as twelve minutes, right? Like that, added up to fifty hours.
Okay, now there is one very important point here. Fifty hours can be done really; you know, technically you can do fifty hours of sitting within three days – three days and nights. I‟m not interested in that. So the point is not to finish the project fifty hours, okay. The point is to develop the consistency. So these six months you can divide within the six months. Divide up to you basically; maybe during the weekends you can do more, okay.
And then in my, the old manual, there is something called analytical meditation. I don‟t think it‟s necessary. As I said you know this is a work in progress. Just now I decided one is not necessary (laughter). Now that‟s meditation, huh. You already, see this is what I was telling before. The purpose of the ngondro is to develop that universe, that habit, that, that world, your circumstance. So you should also have both meditation practices during those six hours, six months. Both meditations at this point are very simple, straight-forward.
Do what you think that is good for yourself and others such as charity work. Get used to buying things like useless things like buddha‟s statue rather than useful things such as iPod (laughter). See the point is, as I was telling you, the purpose of the ngondro is to change your value system, remember? So right now, iPod is really, really important; buddha‟s statue – where should I put, you know, all of that? So you have to change that (laughter).
Also because you should get used to taking, disciplining yourself, take a vow like – I will not go to McDonald‟s every Tuesday (laughter) – very simple ones. This is your first ever spiritual vow by the way. And then even you know, I‟m trying to tell you, you know creating the atmosphere, creating the world of spiritual path. So instead of like I am not going to eat pasta anymore in a restaurant, just you know, with a completely depressing MOOD (laughter); make a big deal out of it. Wear a tuxedo or a tie and suit, invite several friends, make a big ceremony out of this and say here, you know, beat the champagne glass and say – I‟ve something to announce. You know like, today, from today on, every Tuesday no more McDonald‟s – like that (laughter).
So see, now this; you, you haven‟t yet become Buddhist, huh, still not yet. I call this stage „Joining Sacred and Mundane‟ because many times we divorce the sacredness and the mundane. When we realize that actually sacredness can be found in McDonald‟s by taking a vow not to eat. If no McDonald, there is no McDonald vow. Okay that‟s Part One. Two more parts, we will take a break and then…
To Be continued…..
Click Here: Part 3