Ngondro is a preliminary practice of purification conducted by all four of the Tibetan Buddhist lineages. The purpose is to clear karmic debris from previous unskillful actions and enrich our minds, allowing our practice to progress smoothly and our heart to become the path to enlightenment.
I have taken up the practice this year after years of swimming in Mahayana Buddhism and 5 years ago when I transitioned to the Vajrayana practice of the Tibetan Buddhism. Vajrayana practice or diamond vehicle is the extension of Mahayana Buddhist and said to be the highest practice in Buddhist tradition. It is said to be the direct path towards enlightenment and liberation. In the past five years, I have taken my time to understand the outer practices of Ngondro: 1) the precious human life; 2) impermanence; 3) samsara/ suffering; 4) the true meaning of cause and effect: karma.
It has taken me all these time to understand those concepts not only from an intellectual mind but also experientially through observations and meditation planting those understanding deeper to the heart and soul levels. Of course the process continue, but at the same time, I am ready to progress to the inner Ngondro.
In May 2015, I started the first step to the inner practices of Ngondro. There are 4 steps to the inner practices: 1 &2) refuge and prostration; 3)100 syllables of vajrastva mantra 4) mandala offering and 5) guru yoga
A practitioner must complete 111,111 repetition of each step before moving on to the next one. It is intense and definitely not for the faint of heart. The number is supposed to give oneself a goal to work towards and sense of accomplishment once reach but it had been really difficult for me not to get into the ‘business oriented’ (must be the part percentage of the Chinese DNA in me) meaning always calculating how many I have done in whatever length of time, trying to ‘make it’ more economical, as if that is even possible. So far for me, the key is a constant steady progress, doing what I can in a possible length of time I could do, every single day. It is like the work we have to put in a relationship, every single day, steady, constant and with devotion.
Sounds elaborate and advance for a preliminary practice? Well, it is a call to ask a practitioner’s conviction at a deeper level, a practitioner is challenged to learn and explore to look into one’s mind really deeply. There were doubts, resistance, obstacle that arise and these are the very things need to be purify.
I started the process thinking, this should not be taxing on my body, I practice yoga and meditate regularly, I work on myself intensely on so many level of my Neurosis. It took to the first 1000 prostrations when the hole nine yards of old memories, dysfunctional emotional patterns, old issues surfaced.
of 40 shades of karmic mess came exploding. It was overwhelming and felt like I was swimming in spin cycle of dirty water. By the time I got to the first 10.000, the whole 40 shades of karmic mess surfaced intensified by 10.000 times, I literally had all over body pain.
All of these and my ‘economical mind’ were my obstacles but they didn’t and they wont scare me. The very essence of purification process is to work directly with the obstacles and plunge into the fire of transformation; to go deep into our ‘dark side’ entangles the karmic knots to make peace with them and bring them to light.
Although the journey still long, I am more ready as I understood better what is asked of me in this inner Ngondro practice. I learnt more things about myself: good and bad =) of course. A dear friend of mine asked ‘how long will it take?’ I know some people who had completed all in 8 years, some in 10 years; but for me, I don’t know how long it will take me but I know that I am committed to it for the rest of my life.
So to the journey ahead, the magic of alchemizing pain to blessing, the magic of surrendering pride to humility, anger to forgiveness…
‘Until I reach the essence of realization, I take refuge in all Buddhas, in the Dharma and likewise, I take refuge in the Bodhisattvas’ Assembly. As like the Tathagatas of the previous times, developed the endlightened mind and progressed gradually in the Bodhisattvas’ training; thus for the benefit of all being, I will develop the enlightened mind and likewise, progress gradually in the Boddhisatva’s training’ – Bodhichitta Aspirations Prayers