How to Meditate with Confidence Part 4

By the request of the Vajrayana Foundation Ngondro Program, Thadral Tulku Rinpoche began a new monthly Ngondro Teaching Series on “How to Meditate with Confidence” which coincidently began in January 2023. Because the Annual Ngondro Retreat occurred in April, here is a brief review of the March 8th teaching to prepare us for the upcoming Monthly Ngondro Teaching on May 10th at 5 pm. If you are a Ngondro Program Participant, please watch your registered email for the YouTube link to join by livestream. You will find a list of the YouTube Teaching links from January to current at the end.

Omniscient Wisdom arises from the root of compassion.
It arises from the object of Bodhicitta.
And through skillful means it is perfected.

~ Shakyamuni Buddha

“Whether we are doing Ngondro Practice or whether we are doing some other Main Practice, all the practices we do have to encompass the view or be sealed with the view. First, we establish our understanding of the view through study and reflection and study that meaning. From this, I will begin the teaching on the stages of meditating on the view.

Whether we are trying to have the authentic view of our mind stream or whatever kind mediation, we must first begin with laying the foundation for Shamata or Vipassana Meditation. The ultimate goal is accomplishing perfect omniscience or state of complete and perfect Buddhahood, the way to accomplish what Buddha Shakyamuni taught in the sutras.

Whatever practice we are engaged in, before we begin, it is important for us to cultivate compassion, to cultivate the mind of Bodhicitta, set our motivation in that way.

Setting our motivation is indispensable and extremely important to do before whatever practice we do. With all the Mahayana practices that we, whether the practice is dharma or not, depends on bodhicitta.

We need to understand that all the worldly and transcendent virtues of the Buddhas are all the result of Shamata and Vipassana.

What things do we need to understand Shamata and Vipassana?
To be able to practice Shamata we need to distance from physical busyness and metal concepts. In order to have Vipassana arise in our mind stream, we must rely on sublime beings and study and reflect on the teachings.

What foundation do we need to study and reflect on the teachings? “
Thadrul Tulku Rinpoche takes us step by step in explaining:

  • The Five Faults and How to identify the Five Faults
  • The Eight Antidotes to Understand to Abandon the Five Faults
  • Familiarization of the Nine Methods to Still the Mind
  • The Six Powers to Meditate
  • Four Ways to Accomplish Meditative Concentration

If we practice in this way, the five samadhis will surely arise in our mind stream.

Our minds are like untamed wild horses. we must tie them up with the rope of mindfulness, put them in the pen of equanimity, and place the bit of diligence in their mouth.”

“It is rare to find people who practice according to these instructions, but it is so good to understand these instructions, it helps with learning about the dharma, to have some knowledge and understanding about the dharma and that is why I wanted to share this with you. Later when we get into the actual main part of the meditation practice, it will be easier to understand.”

Rinpoche notes:
This teaching has been based on Patural Rinpoche’s teaching.

Familiarize or refresh yourself by listening to this March 8th teaching:
How to Meditate with Confidence, Part 3

Here are the links from the beginning of the
How to Meditate with Confidence Series

How to Meditate with Confidence, Part 1, January 25, 2023

How to Meditate with Confidence, Part 2, February 8, 2023

How to Meditate with Confidence, Part 4, May 10th at 5pm

Dudjom Tersar Ngondro Program of the Vajrayana Foundation
partial transcript by Sonam 04-24-23

May Dudjom Ngondro Schedule



MAY 10th @ 5pm
Monthly Ngondro Teaching open to all
Livestream from Pema Osel Ling
How to Meditate with Confidence Part 4 with
Tulku Thadral Rinpoche

MAY 13th 11am
For Dudjom Tersar Ngondro Participants
Questions & Answers with Tulku Thadral Rinpoche

MAY 16th 10am 
For Troma Ngakmo Ngondro Participants
Questions & Answers with Tulku Thadral Rinpoche

MAY 21st 9am
For Dudjom Tersar Ngondro Participants
Ngondro Accumulation with Choying Wangmo

For Troma Ngondro Participants only with Helen:
Access to the 7am Pacific Daily Troma Ngondro Practice Session and the 8:pm Pacific Troma Four Feasts: Black, Red, Mixed & Red.

Note: Ngondro Participants, please see your registered email for access to the Ngondro Livestream Events. If you are a local Ngondro Participant please email your in-person request attendance to:


Faith & Devotion

Ivan Bercholz

We in the west have a very hard time with faith, we want to be self-sufficient, self-motivated, self, self, self, self. We are very self-oriented. Faith is viewed as a weakness, a pitfall of the ignorant. Many see faith as a form of ignorance in modernity, I assume that it’s partially because of those on the Christian Right ignoring common sense and making morally questionable decisions based on their “faith”. There’s also the idea that faith is a precursor to science. That science is where trust should be placed and that religious faith and devotion is a remnant of times past to deal with the unknown. Regardless of the reasoning, faith is seen as a path of ignorance. It’s also my experience that many Western Buddhist practitioners feel somewhat superior to the many Asian practitioners that have faith instilled at a young age without much understanding. Doing many things that westerners consider to be superstitious. I feel that this is a shame, because pure faith is a beautiful quality. It’s the gateway to the opening of spiritual qualities and accomplishment. It takes us out of our egocentric frame point of reality and opens us up to the possibility of egolessness. We’ll get more into the different kinds of faith later in the week, and why it’s actually a very logical skillful means in Vajrayana that does not make it a product of the two extremes.
When you look to the great scholar/saints of our tradition, they may all manifest very differently in their activity, but there is a very common thread in all of them: devotion. They all, no matter how high their realization, have immense and palpable devotion in their own teachers, in lineage of teachers that came before, in the Buddha, in the teachings and the efficacy of practice. If these great accomplished masters have and display such devotion, certainly we must try to emulate that as well. But faith can’t be manufactured, it’s not just a decision. Oh, I will now have devotion. done. 

It’s very much a quality and feeling that needs to be developed. But in order for it to develop, there needs to be an opening, a willingness. 
If a door is closed and locked, guests can’t enter a home. If our mind is closed to devotion, blessings cannot be received. While it’s most ideal for the doorway of devotion to already be open when one starts on the Vajrayana path, if there is a willingness, an crack of openness, then it is certainly a quality that can and will develop through the beautiful practice of Ngondro. 
One major difference in the western world, when it comes to how we relate to Dharma, is that the seed of devotion that was instilled from infancy in children from Buddhist countries in the past in Tibet, China, India, etc, mostly isn’t present here, even in Buddhist households. In modernity, most have faith in science and “common sense”, and veer toward the extreme of nihilism. Some others feel burned by their previous faith or their parents faith in a theistic tradition that just doesn’t feel right to them and want to get away from that way of thinking. For those coming from different spiritual backgrounds, at least there is a the seed of what it’s like to have faith, and for them the primary obstacle is getting beyond the extreme of eternalism. Rinpoche says very clearly in Cascading that the quality of faith, even if in an eternalist tradition, is much better than the extreme of nihilism because there is an opening there. 
So, in Vajrayana practice, where faith and devotion are paramount, many of us are somewhat starting at a disadvantage. But that’s fine and the good news is that it’s never too late. 
Developing devotion will look different for all of us according to our karma. Some can develop confidence in the teachers and teachings through analytical study, by learning the pitfalls of samsara and the skillful means of the Buddhist path to extricate beings from suffering. From that understanding faith and devotion can take root. For some it’s more intuitive. We may encounter a special being and be stopped by their presence and how they live the teachings fully. This was very much my path. 
Regardless, it will be subtly different for all of us and that’s okay. All that I’m trying to get across here is how paramount faith is on Vajrayana path, and hopefully you will keep an openness to the idea of it’s benefit if the door was previously closed. At the very least, we should not look down on it. 
If the seed is there, or openness to it, then we can be fertile ground for the practice of Ngondro to till our fields of awakening. If there is no seed, no glimmer of openness, then there is no chance for the bountiful crop of blessings to penetrate our hearts and the positive qualities of this wonderful practice to take root.
Ivan Bercholz of Shambhala Publications is the Executive Vice President and Publisher of Bala Kids. He is also a Faculty Member of the Vajrayana Foundation Dudjom Tersar Ngondro Program