Is traditional Ngöndro training worth it?

AKD, modified 1 Month ago.

Is traditional Ngöndro training worth it?

Posts: 153 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
Has anyone here completed or taken part in traditional Ngöndro practice? 

I recently attended a dharma talk at a Tibetan Nyingma center in my state that teaches Dzogchen. The lama is a Ngagpa and I found his dharma talk to mesh well with much of my current understanding about practice and life - it was quite inspiring actually. 

Currently, I enjoy sitting in open awareness and have been drawn to more 'traditional' Zen (shikantaza) and Tibetan (Dzogchen/Rigpa) teachings that discuss the main sitting practice as such. Additionally, I am slowly working my way through Wake Up to Your Life by Ken McLeod and have just started to read Pith Instructions for A Khrid rDzogs Chen translated by Daniel P. Brown. 

The center that I went to is a bit of a drive from me (40ish minutes) and they don't take on students unless they regularly attend the dharma talks on weekends. Then, the student is expected to attend evening sits during the week once they have been authorized to receive teachings on shi-ne/shamatha and then eventually the teachings on Ngöndro. They didn't even mention Dzogchen teaching - I am assuming that comes during or after the Ngöndro training. They will not accommodate virtual sessions/teachings. 

I understand that Ngöndro practice takes years, so my interest may very well dry up before I even embark on that practice regime. It sounds about as labor intensive as getting a masters degree. I am trying to figure out for myself whether it is worth the time and effort to jump through all of these hoops just to get some instruction, so any personal experience would be great.

Thank you. 
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Noah D, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Is traditional Ngöndro training worth it?

Posts: 1155 Join Date: 9/1/16 Recent Posts
I've recently started a traditional ngondro & have already found it to be very rewarding.  I think it depends on where someone is in practice.  For me, I felt like I had somewhat saturated the methods available to me outside of a traditional context since 2013.  And I also feel very highly aligned with the Buddhist worldview as presented in conservative contexts.  Someone looking for insight progress alone might be better off doing mahasi noting or TWIM or whatever.  In some cases with Nyingma or Bon, more advanced teachings will be opened to those who either completed or are doing ngondro.  If your goal just to access Dzgorim or Dzogchen teachings though, the reality is (in our degenerate age) that this can faily readily be done online.  However, if you want to plug in to the blessings of a lineage, then by definition you need to follow the rulebook of that lineage.  

Edit: It's also worth mentioning the 3 yana scheme here, in that the methods I mentioned above are part of the sravaka theravada rather than from the mahayana or vajrayana (which tantric ngondro is a part of).   
AKD, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Is traditional Ngöndro training worth it?

Posts: 153 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
Thank you Noah! You raise a good point about insight progress vs. plugging into the more traditional side of things which is sort of why I am at a cross roads: I don't feel that I have made a whole lot of progress on the insight front yet, so maybe this consideration is just a reaction to compensate for 'lack of insight progress' in my case. Maybe I should wait a while to mature as a practitioner and as a human before revisiting this question since it seems rather daunting at this point.

Would you be able to let me know what ngöndro looks like in practice? What sorts of activities or practices are you engaged in during formal sitting? Is there anything else that you do off cushion that is part of it (morality/ethics/service, etc.)? Do you devote a lot of time to this aspect of your practice?

Thank you!
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Noah D, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Is traditional Ngöndro training worth it?

Posts: 1155 Join Date: 9/1/16 Recent Posts
The actual logistics & formal practices involved are pretty standard in many cases.  This article appears to be a good summary of them - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ng%C3%B6ndro.  For off cushion, I have made more of an effort to take ethics seriously.  I'm considering a changing jobs, I've been shifting my investments around to well-scrutanized ESG funds, watching my speech, changing my shopping habits, etc/  
AKD, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Is traditional Ngöndro training worth it?

Posts: 153 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
Thank you Noah, I appreciate it!

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