From Faith to Devotion

Congratulations to Seth Roberts on the completion of his Ngondro Accumulation.  We asked Seth to share his experience with us. The following is the unfolding and transformation of his life through his Ngondro Practice.

I felt a great draw to the Vajrayana traditions pretty quickly after starting a daily meditation practice and doing some study and research into Buddhism.  When I learned about the value of doing a ngondro I was immediately interested in undertaking one.  I was very fortunate to have the guidance of someone who is connected to Pema Osel Ling and who had ngondro experience, and so I found the Ngondro Program on the web and reached out.  It wasn’t long after that that I visited Pema Osel Ling and was fortunate to be able to get the lung from Lama Sonam Rinpoche to start the practice.

One of the biggest blessings for me once I started the ngondro was how it realigned my life to put the Dharma into the center of my experience.  Even though I had a regular daily practice before starting the ngondro, I realized that the biggest obstacle for me would be finding the required time each day to complete it. So from the beginning I made a commitment to never miss a day of practice, no matter how brief the session might be, and I made a commitment to organize my time to put it more and more to the center of things.  Making my practice the center of my day pretty quickly began to change how I moved in the rest of my life.  I found myself becoming drawn more and more into study and contemplation of the Buddhadharma and more and more eager and able to apply these teachings into my everyday life.   

I definitely experienced the blessings of the lineage in supporting my practice, and my devotion and commitment as a practitioner have expanded tremendously in undertaking and completing the ngondro. I think part of the transformative power of the ngondro is the sheer size of it.  It is something of a mountain to climb, and it can be intimidating to contemplate. There were many times when it was a challenge to consider how much more I had left to complete.  But there was a commensurate power in the willingness and faith of the dedication to keep going, and just remembering, again and again, to return to the present experience of the practice; just one practice session, one prostration, one mandala and one mantra recitation at a time.  I think the value is there in both finding the fullest possible dedication in each accumulation, and in finding the willingness to continue on through the length of the whole experience.  Both levels of dedication feel enriching and maturing.
So it feels empowering to have embarked on the ngondro and seen it all the way through.  There are so many gifts from this practice.  As a result of the ngondro I feel that in all aspects of my life that my heart is more spacious and open, I connect more deeply to a grounded sense of humility, simplicity and gratitude and I feel that my devotion to this path and to all sentient beings has taken a deep root within me in a way I couldn’t have predicted or understood when I began.  

I also realize that this is literally just the beginning.  But I feel with all my heart that what the ngondro has offered me is an immeasurably valuable gift to try to make meaningful use of this precious human life.

I don’t have any advice for anyone doing the ngondro, but I would like to offer encouragement to continue on with your full faith that it is a meaningful and valuable undertaking.  You can do it!  No matter how much more there is left to complete, each session of practice is filled with blessings.  The further I progressed the more my faith transformed into devotion, and I think that is part of the magic of this beautiful practice.

Your Dharma friend,
Seth Roberts
Houston, TX

A PURE LAND IN COPPER-COLORED WOODS

IN PRAISE OF PEMA OSEL LING

Though it is said that there are Buddhas and pure lands everywhere, we may
not see them due to obscurations and habits. But every now and then – ever
so rarely –, due to the kindness of enlightened teachers and the merit of
fortunate beings who have a connection with them, pure lands manifest in
more apparent forms, so that they can be experienced by people who have
the capacity and inclination, rather easily. For some others, it will be a place to learn how to behave, how to love, and how to view phenomena. Andperhaps for some others, it will just be an oasis to relax and rejuvenate – but a unique one nonetheless. What a comfort that there are such places on this continent!
One of these rare lands is in the midst of copper-colored woods, like a
hidden valley nestled in a mountainous region . Continue reading…

 

 

Practicing Dudjom Tersar Ngondro

Charlette and her son

I first became acquainted with Tibetan Buddhism in 2013 when my son brought me to Pema Osel Ling to visit the Joyful Lotus Stupa Mandala. Six  months later, he invited me to the Vajrayana Foundation Annual Drupchen Retreat, which I attended and a month later,  I took refuge and bodhicitta vows and received the lung for the Dudjom Tersar Ngondro.

Armed with Lama Tharchin Rinpoche’s commentary on the concise Ngondro, I began to practice. I didn’t have a goal of completing the Ngondro and moving on to some other practice. I was looking for understanding. For me, at that point in time, simply reading the Ngondro and then Rinpoche’s explanations of each step in the practice was invaluable. Rinpoche’s commentary had such clarity and simplicity, that I began to understand.

Over the next three years, I attended three Ngondro Retreats at Pemo Osel Ling and continued to practice. Like many Westerners, I am impatient and terrible at keeping track of what I do. My Ngondro advisor, Stefan Graves, gave me great advice, which was to count everything I did.

Overtime, I have become able to do so. I’ve found it keeps me honest in my practice. Each aspect of the accumulations seemed to open me a bit more, and I am intensely grateful.  There were many times I got tired, busy, sick, angry, whatever, but the practice would draw me back eventually, and I developed a discipline based on my growing understanding.

I have been very fortunate to receive other teachings and empowerments over the past four years. They are all incredibly beautiful and powerful.  I now have other practices which I do daily, but I continue to practice the Dujom Tersar Nogondro, including accumulations, because the blessings from it never end.  
 
None of my experiences would have been possible without the lineage lamas, who embody the dharma; who have compassion and work tirelessly practicing, teaching, and preserving the tradition. I remain in awe of such profound commitment and pray that my own commitment continues to grow.
 
Enjoy your Ngondro !