I was in my mid-forties when my husband, our two very spirited children, moved to California from Ohio. It was a difficult move which left me upended on several fronts. During this turbulent time, I was given a book which addressed the meaning of life and the main tenants of Buddhist thought. It was so sensible and logical: there was nothing about, “having to take the teachings on faith”, which I heard many times in my Christian upbringing. Buddhism opened my mind to the vastness and beauty of a reality that I had no idea existed, and yet, was accessible. This gave me a path to follow in a difficult time.
Soon after I found a sangha and a teacher and became dedicated to pursuing the Dharma. As I progress on the path I started Ngondro. What an undertaking! My kids were needing more attention and between them, and a full time job, life was becoming more complicated. Even thought I set aside time in the morning for practice, it was rather hit or miss. Yet, reading the Ngondro liturgy and explanations on how to practice, gave me comfort and confidence in my life, and the hope, that one day I’d figure it out how to get more practice time in.
I was able to attend retreats over the years, which were so inspiring. I had the opportunity to receive teachings from some of the greatest masters alive. This gave me such an appreciation for the wisdom that has been preserved, and the hard work that was done by the lamas and lineage masters, for our benefit.
Then one day I “woke up” to find that I was 68 years old and realized I really had been just fooling around in my practice. Because of a serious situation in my sangha, my practice had become quite disrupted. I found myself a bit lost in the wilderness. Additionally, I had become more involved in the mundane world because of more demands at work. Despondency temporarily overcame me, when I realized by adding up, how much more I had to do to complete my Ngondro.
Soon after that, I went to a weekend teaching at Pema Osel Ling and found out about their Ngondro Program. I had heard a few online teachings from Lama Sonam Rinpoche and about 3 weeks later got to meet him at a Treasure Vase consecration. I was enamored by his joyful and humble presence and thought to myself, “this is the Lama for me.”
Because of Lama Sonam Rinpoche’s perfect teachings, the support of my mentor, and the Ngondro Program staff, and the monthly online accumulation meetings, I was able to create and maintain the disciplined practice I had been hoping for. Finally, at the age of 72, I completed all my accumulations. So, it’s never too late to invest in present and future lifetimes!
One bit of advice – try not to be intimidated by prostrations.
I was truly astounded by the flexibility and strength I acquired, and not spiritually. As Rinpoche said to a young frustrated student, during on of online Question and Answer sessions, “They’re better than plastic surgery.”
Thank you a million times over to Lama Sonam Rinpoche and the Ngondro Program (Regina, Stefan and Sonam) for sharing the teachings and your support and experience with this wonderful community of Ngondro practitioners that you have created.
Kristie Brady completed her Dudjom Tersar Ngondro just in time to enroll in the 2023 Rushen Retreat with Tulku Thadral Rinpoche given at the Vajrayana Foundation’s retreat center, Pema Osel Ling, located in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Though I am far from alone in having what I experience as a meandering and questioning path in life, I cannot understate the benefits of making efforts toward- as Lama Sonam says it- practicing nicely. Ngöndro is transformative and so real, though I am most definitely the least among the many examples of the miracle of experiencing the gifts of the Dudjom Tersar lineage in this life. I strive to never forget that I have so much to learn, and so much to grow on. The difference is that, with steady practice, all of this remains true for me – thinking, feeling, exploring, questioning – within the invitation to devotion, to staying committed to doing what we are taught.
Megan is an active participant in our Ngondro Program. We asked Megan to write a testimonial after reading what she wrote on her Registration. “I was so touched by her words.” ~Sonam
I’m reinstating my formal engagement with the program after taking a break to think about some things. Thank you, everyone for the opportunity to do so.
You find out more about The Vajrayana Foundation Dudjom Ngondro Program here. We support both the Dudjom Tersar Ngondro and
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