In meditation practice, you might experience a muddy, semiconscious, drifting state, like having a hood over your head: a dreamy dullness. This is really nothing more than a kind of blurred and mindless stagnation. How do you get out of this state? Alert yourself, straighten your back, breathe the stale air out of your lungs, and direct your awareness into clear space to freshen your mind. If you remain in this stagnant state you will not evolve, so whenever this setback arises, clear it again and again. It is important to be as watchful as possible, and to stay as vigilant as you can. ~Dudjom Rinpoche
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,
All phenomena of samsara and enlightenment do not exit
independently from deluded appearances.
The essence of the object that is grasped and grasping mind is empty.
If you recognize awareness Dharmakaya, free from elaborations,
that itself is the view of the Great Perfection.
༄། །འདི་ལྟར་འཁོར་འདས་ཆོས་ཀུན་འཁྲུལ་སྣང་ལས། །
A Concise Heart Advice of
His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche.