ADVICE ON NGONDRO (Rio de Janeiro 2008) by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, transcribed from podcast http://www.

ADVICE ON NGONDRO (Rio de Janeiro 2008)...part 1/7 by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche.

This is still a work in progress. But I have to tell you this is not like a new idea of ngondro. What I’m trying to do is trying to maximize the benefit of the ngondro or the purpose of the ngondro. This is something that you can use; this is something you can use with all the ngondro texts, any kind, hmm. I have no, I have not written basically, I, I have not written a specific ngondro text here, if that’s what you are wondering.

Probably I’m wrong but when I observe, not only the dharma practitioners in the West, but today even in the traditional Buddhist countries; maybe I’m wron g but the way – I kind of observe that the intention of doing the ngondro is becoming almost like a ritual. The culprit is actually the East, the Tibetan lamas you know.

See when you, when you give treatment to people who have ailment, you treat them according to their ailment. And most of the traditional approach, not the ngondro itself, the APPROACH to the ngondro is one - It came first from India and then from, mainly from the Tibetans, so the approach, approach of the ngondro is very sort of Tibetan, sort of, the treatment is very eh, the Tibetan; there’s a lot of Tibetan thing, you know Tibetan attitude. I guess this is not only within the spiritual practice but it happens within many things, you know like appren, appren, apprenticeship.

For instance if you want to become a carpenter probably the master carpenter might tell within that culture or particularly with this person that he or she has to cook for him one year first. And then he can sharpen the knife for next, the next after that; and then he can only then touch the wood and so on and so forth. And this master carpenter may be having a specific reason. For instance, the master might want to see the seriousness, the commitment of the person. So therefore maybe suggest cooking for him for a year or something – how dedication kind of. Eh, master needs to know the motivation of this person wanting to become a carpenter, you know. And motivation, he’s, yeah motivation mainly.

Now if there’s somebody dress prettily, really wholeheartedly wishes to become a carpenter and this person doesn’t have much time; if after, if someone following this master’s tradition after hundred years huh, after hundred years somebody wishes to become, long after this master is gone, somebody wants to become a carpenter, really, really badly, desperately. And he or she doesn’t have much time, but this new master really insists on this cooking one year. Now I don’t know whether this is making sense.

On the other hand, maybe somebody comes to this master, this new, new master with not so much enthusiasm, sort of maybe as a hobby you know, or he or she happens to have lots of time. Then it is maybe wrong to ask this student to cook for only one year. Maybe this student needs to cook for seven years. This is a good example because also cooking really has, strictly speaking, nothing to do with the carpentering. So many times as a prerequisite practice, we are asked to do things that have nothing to do with what we are asking for, the dharma practice, let’s say.

Now of course, we are talking, you know, we also have to talk about the ideal situation. You know we are talking about REALLY an ideal master who really knows what he is doing. That’s difficult because the ideal; you know nowadays most of the masters, teachers - we can only follow the direction, you know we can only follow

certain you know like contents, you know like; there’s like a, like a cookbook, you know like first you put this, second you do this, third you do this. You just follow that, and it kind of work.

But a master chef doesn’t need to do this thing. Master chef do completely opposite things sometimes and still comes brilliant food. Indian classical music is very deep. It’s a very big study, I’ve, I have noticed. And there’s actually a case that a musician, a student diligently practicing music for many, many years. One day the master said as part of your practice, you have to get married and you’ve to have children. And many, many years later, you know like he got married, children; children grow up, he raised the family, never really have time for practicing the music. But many years later, when the musician now, you know a family person, plays the music - it’s like the perfect music because here maybe this musician is at last bringing some kind of emotion.

Now ngondro, the way I observe, I may be wrong here, is becoming a standard sort of prescription, sort of prerequisite. So you go to somebody, specially a Tibetan lama and then usually they say – Have you finished ngondro? Are you doing ngondro? Something like that. All these have sort of formed a new trend or tradition or assumption that something like a hundred thousand prostrations has to be, eh, we have to get that out of the way first. You know that’s the word – GET THE NGONDRO OUT OF THE WAY, you understand? That kind of attitude has sort of mushroomed.

In fact the word ‘ngondro’ itself is an unfortunate name. The label ‘ngondro’ is already itself is unfortunate label. It should not be referred as a ngondro. But these are all ‘catch-22’ situations because having said that, for, for the human beings it’s good to hear things like – okay you do this thing first, ngondro. So that’s why the word like ngondro, the label like ngondro is necessary. Not only that, numbers, they give you like hundred thousand this, hundred thousand that. For instance like the number, you know I have discussed with many people the purpose of the number. Why should we count, you know? People don’t like to count. People think it’s , you know ego, building sort of; it ends up making you more egoistic because you count, you collect, you know all that argument, we hear.

So one can develop quite a good argument – Numbers are not necessary you know. We Buddhists, we should not really be caring about the quantity; it’s the quality that counts. But then there is a challenge though; there is a problem here. Milarepa said (Tibetan phrase); Milarepa said – my religion is a religion of not deceiving oneself and not to be embarrassed to myself with myself. Now this is a very important point. If you don’t have counting and all of that, there is no index system, so to speak to measure your practice. So you could be sitting on a comfortable cushion, thinking about other kinds of index such as financial index for whole morning. And you can think that you have practised. Meanwhile you haven’t done anything. Now that is

even more dangerous. So this is why numbers and all these, in a way, is quite important also; because it brings you, it confines you.

You know, we talk about the power of ‘now’ – don’t dwell in the past, don’t think about the future, being in the present – that’s the quintessential practice of buddhadharma. That’s very well but whether you do it or not – there’s no machine that tells you. I wish iPhone makes a device that says, that sort of rings a bell every time you go to the past, every time you’re going to the future. Only you can tell. Only you can tell. So you could be sitting there until your butt swells and you could be dwelling in the past or dwelling in the future or completely be dull and think that you have practiced the dharma. This we don’t know. Only you or a very qualified master can tell.

Not only that things like, profound things like being in the present; but even kind of more easier thing like being kind. We can always say – oh, you know I can always practice kindness; I don’t need all this chanting and all that. But how much of our socalled kindness is manifested from selfishness. We don’t KNOW, very difficult to judge. So it looks like all these stages, you know different grades, numbers, are also looks like it’s kind of important. First you do the Refuge, then you do the Bodhicitta, all these kind of important.

ADVICE ON NGONDRO (Rio de Janeiro 2008)...part 2/7 by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche.

Now, there’re some challenges also. Time has changed even in the traditional Buddhist countries. In the ancient India, sadhus, practitioners begging food in the street, practicing the dharma, the ancient Indian looked at them as present-day’s cancer, cancer research doctor. Wow! These people are doing amazing job searching for the truth for the rest of the world. So they offered them food, shelter, paid homage, respect. Now these sadhus are shooed away from the homes, city banks and all that.

Many of the ngondro teachings, literature that we have are written different time and different place. I am not saying they’re irrelevant but they are written at a different time and for a different audience. Many of these instructions tell us – go to the

mountains, become homeless, go and you know, dwell in the forest. The modern world does not allow you to do that. You can get arrested.

The system of the world today everywhere is getting the, the noose of the materialism, noose of; you know. There’s a system is built you know like eh; the system like bill, system such as tax, it, it really; the noose of this system gets tighter and tighter in every situation.

You know like when I went to Bhutan this time – for the first time I hear from the Bhutanese – oh, I have to save some leave so that I can go to your teaching. This was not a, not a; this is a new phenomenon in Bhutan now. Saving leave – now this is a modern, modern problem, isn’t it? Before Bhutanese, they just walk out of the office ANYTIME they like, you know kind of thing. Now there’s something called ‘saving leave’.

Support for the dharma practitioner is almost non-existent because it’s not a profitmaking thing, you know. It, it, it will not; eh, practicing the dharma will not, nothing to do with the GN.., what is it, eh GNP; will not be. We don’t know where to put this, you know ‘practising the dharma’ into.

Places like London – even to go out of your house, you feel like there’s a tax just going out. When you come back, at least a little bit of money is gone; you know ten, twenty, thirty pounds already gone. Sometimes you, you come back empty-handed, no shopping bag in your hand, nothing; it’s already gone. Your wallet is half empty. It’s like a tax of breathing in and out.

Then there is another, there’s also another problem here. I am talking about the ngondro still now. This is a problem; most of the ngondros started in the East, you know ngondro, all this ngondro business. So the society, the value is different, the thinking is different also. The East maybe, they are more face-saving oriented; the West maybe more guilt-oriented – neither better nor, you know, both are equal, yeah; one is no better than the other. So for instance, when we teach Vajrasattva; in the Vajrasattva, one of the main components of the practice is guilt. If you don’t have guilt, then you don’t practice. But this guilt gets associated with ‘original sin’ in the West, which is totally non-existent in the East, I mean in certain Easterners. So that becomes very difficult.

Eh, East, in the East also there’s a problem. Easterners have this strange stupid loyalty. They have really stupid loyalty towards something, their leaders or you know national leaders, their country or something like that. Loyalty or patriotism – and this get mingled with the guru yoga devotion, you understand. At the same time, in the

West, individual rights are very important. What’s this guru business? I don’t want anybody telling what to do. Now the big point is - with all these challenges and problems do not mean that dharma needs to change - no, not at all.

Method of practicing the dharma may be needed to be altered here and there a little bit. First to become a dharma practitioner, it is really important to create the condition of the dharma practice. I am not talking about meditation cushion and you know like incense and all that. That, you know those are not that important but you can have it also, if you want. I am talking about creating the habit of dharma practice - so creating the world, creating the universe. Obviously we can’t go round and make the whole universe and the world physically Buddhist sort of dharma-friendly universe. No - that we can’t.

Culture also, dharma culture – we need to develop. And I think that’s one very important aspect of the ngondro – to create that. To create that atmosphere, dharma practice atmosphere, okay so keep that in your mind first. Okay we will visit this later.

Now what is ngondro for? What is the purpose of ngondro? Actually ngondro is a mm, the concept of ngondro is actually tantric thing. Most of the ngondro, so-called ngondro texts or ngondro practices happen to be Vajrayana. But this does not mean that Shravakayana and Mahayana do not have preliminary practice, no. Okay, first the purpose of ngondro. The purpose of ngondro is really, primarily changing your value system. If you are really, really, really hungry right now and then if I say - top of this mountain, there is a bag of gold, why don’t you walk up? Not that interested. Piece of bread is more valuable at the moment. Yeah, that kind of value I’m talking about.

So to begin with, the purpose of ngondro is to develop this, AT THE LEAST develop this, at the least, if not revulsion, at the least this mind of ‘okay enough, I have enough’. Not so important these samsaric things – power, position, friendship, attention – not so important; if I have it – fine; if I don’t have it – fine. That kind of attitude, we have to develop and on the other hand, longing for liberation like the piece of bread, yeah. Gold, if I have it, fine, but at the moment no need, right because I’m hungry - the food, piece of bread - really longing to develop that, THAT’S primary purpose of the ngondro.

ADVICE ON NGONDRO (Rio de Janeiro 2008)...part 3/7 by Dzongsar Jamyang 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 he re 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 Ant hony 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.

ADVICE ON NGONDRO (Rio de Janeiro 2008)...part 4/7 by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche.

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…

ADVICE ON NGONDRO (Rio de Janeiro 2008)...part 5/7 by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche

Again here, the actual ngondro practice detail, you’ll not find what I have gathered here. This is sort of supplementary, commentary or suggestion of; and ACTUALLY it’s not only for the ngondro – I should, I should have told you right from the beginning. This is, I’ve also gathered here to basically to follow the Buddhist practice in general. And another thing I should tell you, if you want to follow Shravakayana and the Mahayana only, I would still suggest ‘Joining the Sacred and the Mundane’ is necessary. But all the other and the next is ‘Following the Buddha’s Footsteps’ – even that is necessary, but after that, you don’t really need. Or you should follow a specific Theravadan or Mahayana tradition.

So the Stage One ‘Joining the Sacred...’ – I really, I consider this quite an important one because here you’re planting the seed of spiritual path. It is also here you will, you know, you will develop this eh, develop eh, non-satisfaction towards the worldly logic. It is also here that you are developing the ‘seeker’s’ mind’ – ‘searcher’, ‘searcher’s mind’. At this point, searching mind is much more difficult, eh much more important than mind of somebody who found something. This will, I think, enrich you. This will make you, of course, maybe sad and depressed with the worldly logic, worldly system. That is the PURPOSE.

If you are happy with worldly whatever, then no need to go into here. But that’s not really; you know there’s so many great past philosophers. They have chewed the end of the cigar, War Ballet, and thought deeply drinking thick coffee, and really getting depressed about the worldly situation. But they didn’t do anything to follow the path. You know I have a feeling that someone like Nietzsche; if you ask – well, why not take a, you know this ‘McDonald vow’? You know, he knows all of this is sort of pointless and all of that, but again no path – this is how I feel. And especially ‘McDonald vow’ sounds very childish.

And then here, you are just not reading you know existentialistic books and get so critical about everything. Here you are doing at least two things. You are medit..., you are sitting, you are just sitting and you have taken a vow of , I don’t know, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola’s, whatever, something like that. And my advice – don’t take too many vows. Don’t take complicated vows. Not eating pasta may be not the best idea (laughter) but not eating McDonald’s Tuesday, every Tuesday or Wednesday – much better.

Also don’t take a vow, thing that is completely, something that you even don’t do. You know, like I will take a vow I will not bungee jump, you know there’s no point (laughter). Take a vow that you have a temptation such as McDonald’s. This is what I mean by joining the sacred and mundane. To enhance this, I would suggest; let’s say if you have taken a vow of McDonald’s, I will suggest every Tuesday you go to McDonald’s. Yeah, you take a vow not to eat but you go there (laughter); not just to use the toilet but just watch your temptation or read the menu (laughter).

We are talking about building spiritual world; okay next stage is ‘Joining the Footstep’ – no; “Following the Buddha’s Footsteps”. Ah, here you take refuge. But this is not part of the ngondro if you’re thinking. This is still just; let’s say you want to become a Buddhist, you want do a little bit of practice. Purpose of this practice is to really make your spiritual path worthwhile. So the purpose is like bringing you from the wrong path to the right path. So your wrong path from the Buddhist point of view is some, something that believes in, a system that believes in extreme view.

Here it is good to receive a Refuge vow. This is your first Buddhist vow now, more than McDonald vow. You can take it from anybody who has received one actually, but someone who has done a lot of practice – monks, yogis, lamas would be good. Then reading materials; please contact us, we’ll...; you know, doesn’t really matter, basically history of Buddhism, Buddha and his stories; and this stage has no time period

But I have, I have a, I have wanted to encourage you something strongly. When you reach to this stage, I want to suggest you, encourage you really, implore you to read ‘Sutra of Fortunate Eons’. This Sutra, I have a reason to do this, several reasons, huh. One – we, the followers of the Buddha, tend to forget reading his own words. We are all reading shastras and commentaries. We only read maybe Heart Sutra, that’s it. We don’t read the, you know, His sutras, His teachings, and so on. I want people to read that. It’s the ultimate authority, His words; if you are a Muslim, Koran; mm, like that; if you a Buddhist – sutras, okay.

Another thing; when you read the sutras - I don’t want you to read it as if you are studying; I just want you to read. Doesn’t matter whether it’s your understanding or not, doesn’t matter; I want you to read just. Your mind is thinking about other things, doesn’t matter, just read. If you CAN think the meaning, that’s good but no stress, just read. If situation allows, read aloud. This is practice in many Buddhist countries. There’re several benefits in it.

One – whenever we read the Buddhist book, we that think we have to understand the meaning of it. It already makes you tired by not understanding so you close the

book. You understand; so you never end up reading the book. Remember we are trying to build the atmosphere, the circumstance of the dharma, dharma world; and this is one. For instance, if you’re, you know sometimes we play background music. Each word, we don’t have to listen but if it’s there, it creates the atmosphere . Like this, you just read.

Now meditation; those are reading lists but now the meditation PRACTICE. You have become a Buddhist now at this point. So, but you are not a ngondro practitioner, I suggest, I stress. Oh, by the way when you read the Buddha, Buddha’s sutra, you can even think that this is none other than the Buddha and you are reading the Buddha’s, okay. You have daily practice and it is good to have a daily practice – three times of reciting the Refuge vow. And I really stress the refuge so much because this is really the foundation of all the path. And then reciting the ‘Sutra of the Recollection of the Noble Three Jewels’; and a little bit of shamatha practice; dedicate the merit afterwards. All this will take a few minutes; but point is consistently doing it every day.

ADVICE ON NGONDRO (Rio de Janeiro 2008)...part 6/7 by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche.

Shamatha – is the usual shamatha here; we will have no time to explain, huh. Postmeditation practice - well, generally take, pay attention to the Refuge vows such as not harming other beings, such as respecting the representation of the Buddha, dharma and sangha like not to put the buddha statue, eh, you know underneath you, not to, you know walk over the statue, the dharma. Pay respect to the ordained sangha, and also; see all of these is a method of mindfulness. It's got nothing to do with; you know if you don't walk over a buddha's statue, you know if you do walk over a buddha's statue, the Buddha gets angry or something like that. Nothing to do with this; it's all mindfulness practice.

And it is also; here again you see we are talking about the practice. Again we have to talk about the discipline. I would suggest here at the least, you visit to a place or a shrine that has a buddha’s statue once a year and pay respect such as prostration, incense, flower or lamp. Observe, okay at least try to make an offering of either incense, flower or lamp or all three or two during one of the, eh, during, during the

four Buddha’s special days. See these are just to create mindfulness, again to create the atmosphere.

Now if your husband happens to be orthodox Jewish and if your father happens to be fanatical Christian and if your maid or the driver happens to be fundamental Muslim, meaning you can’t do all of these in, in your house. Go to a dharma centre and do this. And very simple again; just to burn one lamp and walk out. Never make the practice very complicated; you know hours and hours, you can’t do that. Now with that we have finished the general stages.

Now if you really want to pursue the spiritual path even more seriously and if you want to follow the tantric system, you go into ngondro. Now because it’s a tantric practice, lineage is important. So therefore I would suggest you do receive transmission, ‘lung’, of whatever ngondro you are going to practice – Longchen Nyingtik, Tersar Ngondro, Mahamudra, whatever.

At this point, it’s good to have – it’s only a suggestion, not must – to have a shrine. And again the shrine can as simple as a photo of the Buddha, nothing else. So do not over the board, buying all kinds of things and filling up all your space. Now if I’m talking to my own students, I am telling them not to put next to that shrine, next to the Buddha, not to put like if I happen to be their teacher, not to put my photo. But actually there’s a, there’s a good reason for this.

You know it’s really important; you see Buddhism at times suffers with being stigmatized as cult - which is absolutely unfair because from the philosophical point of view, Buddhism probably is the least cultish than ANY other religion. So I usually suggest to my friends or students, especially those who attract lots of visitors at home; you know when they see their sound and sober friend worshipping a human being, they have a strange idea about Buddhism. So in order to avoid that, because for them, for your non-Buddhist friends, non-practitioner friends, especially you know, for them they have no reason to NOT THINK this His Holiness this, His Holiness that as just another Jim Jones (laughter) - not think, huh. You know one who killed all himself and many students.

Also from the tantric point of view, ACTUALLY one is supposed to keep one’s deity, guru and the consort completely secret. Okay, only on the shrine, you can put in the

living room, kitchen, toilet, whatever; maybe not toilet - your Buddhist friends will condemn you (laughter).

Okay, reading lists; ‘Cutting through Spiritual Materialism’ by Chogyam Rinpoche, and then you can also read my book at this point, and then ‘Words of My Perfect Teacher’ by Patrul Rinpoche. Now this book ‘Kunzang Lame Shyalung’ - again like the Sutra you read earlier, you read it for the blessing, not necessarily as a study material. And I am suggesting until the Guru Yoga practice, you finish reading ‘Words of My Perfect Teacher’ three times. I’ve written here five times but I think it’ s a bit too much; three times.

At this point it’s good to have a teacher since you are a tantric practitioner. Teachers or a teacher; you can have as many as hundred and thirty. Both have advantage and disadvantage – I mean having one or many – both have advantage and disadvantage, okay.

What do you practice in here? Now this is really in the work in progress. I have suggested here five hundred hours. Maybe it’s a bit too much so I have reduced to three hundred hours – three hundred hours of four eh, ‘Contemplating the Four Thoughts’. You know, before the ngondro – precious human body, all that. It’s really important because these thoughts will train your mind. It sounds a lot but it’s REALLY important and this, the way to count the hours – similar to the last one.

Okay, now the actual Refuge practice – part of the ngondro, okay. So you have this traditional one hundred thousand prostrations with hundred thousand Refuge, what you call it – recitations. That you can do if you like. I’m not opposing that, but I’m suggesting two other options. Some of you who can’t do prostration, let’s say - five hundred thousand times of recitation only, no prostration – recitation of the Refuge, Supplication, whichever ngondro you’re based on, and remembering the Triple Gem thirty-three thousand times. Ah, this is, this is something I need to explain. Let me finish the, the first what, you know, my options.

The second option is combination of everything - fifty thousand prostrations, fifty thousand recitations, and sixteen thousand remembering the Triple Gem, okay. I think the prostration and recitation; you know what I’m talking about. Now what do I mean by remembering the Triple Gem?

Now this is one main point that is being lost again in the process of all this, you know Refuge; so let’s say you’re, let’s say right now, this moment we think about the Buddha, just the name – count one. When you are in the toilet, you think about His robes – count two. While you are eating or just before you’re eating, you think about Buddha, dharma and sangha – count three. As you put on your head on the pillow for a nap, you think about Buddha’s begging bowl – count four. So you add up to either thirty-three thousand or sixteen thousand.

Method of disciplining again because what I’m saying is, you know like all this time, you know many times we do, we just say, we just say the Refuge prayers, our mind going everywhere - much better to think of the Buddha one moment and count on that – that’s what I’m suggesting, okay.

ADVICE ON NGONDRO (Rio de Janeiro 2008)...part 7/7 by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche

Post-meditation; you also, you practice all the things that I’ve mentioned earlier during the earlier post-meditation, the standard Refuge. Here I’m suggesting you should go to one of the, at least one of the four places, physical place like Bodhgaya or Varanasi. I got the idea from Islam. And I think again this is important for creating that circumstance, because just by going to places like Varanasi, you will be physically, at the least some kind of closer or have some kind of influence.

And then if you REALLY can’t go to any of these places, I will suggest you do sponsor someone to go. That’s also something that’s used to practice, something that is sort of dying down. As part of the post, post-meditation, I’m now also bringing this thing called ‘karma yoga’. Now this I got from Hinduism - hundred hours of voluntary work for any kind of charity, Buddhist or non-Buddhist work. I think it’s good as part of the ngondro, right. You, you engage voluntarily work. Okay difference is this – earlier I ask you to do the voluntary work earlier; this time you are doing this as part of your ngondro practice. That way you are accumulating merit and purifying defilements.

Now something KIND of new – this is my suggestion of the next one. As a dharma practitioner, unless you are really, really, really wealthy and you have endless, endless wealth – I am suggesting to have, to open a new account in the BANK, okay actual bank, financial bank. And this is your practice fund. Make a vow, every time you make a little bit of money, put in some and you don’t withdraw out of this. And you, this money you will be ONLY using for the dharma purpose, dharma practice; not for iPod, not for anything else. You can use for retreat in the future, going for pilgrimage, making offerings to buddhas and bodhisattvas.

Also if somebody gives you a present of money or something like that, if you take a little bit in there, the person who is giving will also get some benefit. Therefore you will not be karmic-ly indebted, in debt. This one I got the idea, combination of Judaism, Islam and Christianity, you know together (laughter). Buddhists – just so useless with the financial management, you know. They okay, they all want to practice but they have no money, like that, you know; so I’m suggesting this.

And this, by the way; okay you have a separate account. You are now working. You are saving money and putting as much as you can in that account. That way, your mundane, worldly job has now become purposeful. So even you job is becoming part of the ngondro practice. Can you sense? – Because you are not saving the money to buy a Ferrari, you are saving so that you can practice the dharma. I’ve, this is sort of, probably you will not find in the classical ngondro text but I think for the timely it’s quite important. And also I think it’s good for your discipline.

Okay, next is bodhicitta. Here it would be good if you take a bodhisattva vow. Okay, reading materials – any book written by Dogen Zenji. Anyway, the book list again, you find it; if you are interested, you can find later. What is it?

Student A: You said that this would put the, eh, roster…

Rinpoche: Don’t take this seriously, huh; this is still work in progress. At this point it is good to receive teachings, Bodhicharyavatara, something like that, something to do with bodhi, bodhicitta. See as I said, the job is not finished because even earlier we should have practice of receiving teaching. Receiving teaching is very important. Receiving teaching itself can be a practice, can consider as a practice; and ideally received it from a person, if not listen to the tip from the MP3.

Then I have a suggestion of you know, the usual hundred thousand times of bodhisattva vow and I have included a few other options. Now for the first time, maybe I left. Oh, yeah even before that, I’m sorry; during the Refuge, alre ady you should get used to GROUP practice – it’s important. So I’m saying at the least, ten days of group practice. It doesn’t have to be in one go. You can collect, you can accumulate the days but at the least, ten days.

Eh, as a daily practice, now you should add Heart Sutra as your daily reading sutra practice, okay. Now the post-meditation; again several suggestions but one that is not simple is I thought it is good also to get used to the concept of offering; so at the least, ten thousand lamp offerings. It can be, you know what, butter, what you call it cup. This is during the bodhicitta.

Release at least ten thousand lives; it can be small worms all the way to oxen. If you can’t release lives due to circumstance, a circumstance during the bodhicitta practice, try to take a vow of at least becoming fifteen days of vegetarian per month, so meaning one day eat meat, one day no meat. Post-meditation; again several suggestions but one noticeable – hand copy a Diamond Sutra.

Next is Vajrasattva; reading lists again, several – such as the ‘Sutra of Wise and Foolish’ Lankavatara Sutra, Life of Milarepa and so on. And the , eh, for the meditation practice, I think you know we should do the hundred thousand eh, what do you call it? – Mantra. Now at this point, increase your group retreat, group practice up to twenty days. Again you don’t have to do it together, lump it altogether in one go. You know, you can accumulate.

Post-meditation; I have a few suggestions. Noticeable things are – at least three hundred times of exposing our fault to a friend. For instance, if you are jealous, you tell somebody – I am jealous, because of this; and then hundred tsa tsa, you know it’s a small stupa you can make. See all these traditions are very, very important in the sutras, but it’s dying. I’m trying to reintroduce that. And then fifty hours of voluntary work specially collecting garbage, you know like plastic and environmentally-related because I think it’s something to do with the, you know, Vajrasattva practice. Not fifty hours, hundred hours – sorry, okay.

And then Mandala; at this point, you have also bigger reading list. Again here I will still encourage you to do the hundred thousand mandala because it’s, it’s really important to do. Daily practice will now include Riwo Sangcho and water offering. Post-meditation practice will include at least thousand candles, thousand incense, thousand flowers, never at one go, huh, you accumulate. And at least hundred times offer food and drink to those, those whose life is dedicated to dharma practice. And at least twenty times of making, giving a gift to someone who will never know you, someone who doesn’t have your email address, someone who doesn’t know your name. And again karma yoga, voluntary for the dharma centres or something like that.

And at least ten dharma books you offer to someone, somebody, other people; ten hours of dharma discussion, not again, not in one go, ten hours of dharma discussion. These, these are ALL in the sutras by the way, in order to combat our meaningless gossiping. You know this is kind of easy. You can just gather a few friends and talk about the dharma.

Okay from here I haven’t finished it actually. The Guru Yoga bit is very difficult. Anyway all these things like tsa-tsa making, butter-lamp offering; all this is as I told you is to create that universe, your own universe of spiritual practice. Okay so I will now give you the transmission of Short Ngondro. (Rinpoche gives the transmission). Okay what I just give you is written by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo; very, very short ngondro practice. Oh, well that’s about it. Eh, I have to go soon now to catch the plane to the uncertainty (laughter). Those who wish to kind of follow this, please note this is still a work in progress, but you keep in touch and see what happens, okay? That’s it then, okay (applause).


ADVICE ON NGONDRO (Rio de Janeiro 2008) by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, transcribed from podcast

Dedication of Merit

ge war di yi nyur du dak Through this merit, may I quickly orgyen lama drub gyur ne Accomplish the level of the Oddiyana Lama and through that dro wa chik kyang ma lü pa May all beings, without exception, de yi sa la gö par shok Be established at that level.