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2 hours ago, Radix said:

OK, well, after going in mental circles about this for a few days, I've come to the conclusion that CT and Apech just may be onto something regarding the Ngondro. What I mean is that, when I posted my initial query, I'd been having a sense of being "blocked" for some time--both at the level of meditation and also in my etheric/subtle body. I wanted to find a way into more advanced meditation teaching: this was difficult because, a.) I live in a country (for work) where teachers are apparently unavailable; b.) I live in a country where Skype, the great technological blessing of isolated spiritual seekers, is blocked (!) The Mahamudra and Dzogchen teachings are accessible and available in written form (plenty of ebooks, YouTube videos, etc), but intimately bound up with the whole structure of Tibetan Buddhism, with its hierarchies, institutions, procedures, etc,  which due to past involvement in another large traditional system makes me more than a bit nervous. Still, I decided to give a shout out here to see if I could get some suggestions.

 

Now, CT and Apech advocated ngondro as a way of suitably "preparing the vessel" to receive and embody the higher teachings. At first, my instinct was to "run away! run away!" (as in Monty Python and the Holy Grail) but over the past few days their words have stuck with me.

Maybe I'm overthinking this?

 

After going back and reading through a few ngondro texts as a refresher, what I realized is that what is included in the ngondro is a powerful--nay, a mighty--program or inner purification and transformation. It's also high spiritual theurgy/magic! I mentioned that I was worried about my subtle body--well, the ngondro is a medicine for this, as is clear as day to see for anyone who has studied yoga (Patanjali) or alchemy. Also the guru yoga, as I know from previous experience with Naqshbandi sufism (which has an almost identical practice), is powerful and real. Last but not least, the practice of ngondro would enable me to actively cultivate bodhicitta every day, and this is extremely important to me.

 

I'm more comfortable with Western symbolism, but I'm a universalist at heart and as long as I wasn't required to actually "reject" anything that is important to me, I think this is something that may in fact be quite beneficial for me, worthwhile in itself and apart from any question of Dzogchen. Maybe if I just focus on the practice, work on myself and stay far away from any and all contentious debates on DW or elsewhere on the interwebs, things might just work out....

 

I still feel that probably any lama I approach with this would turn me away due to my lack of absolute devotion to Buddhism in itself as the sole possible route, but my better judgement told me that I should at least try--then I would know at least know, right? So I think what I will do now is to write to a lama and ask for his blessing to begin a ngondro text, and to be as completely open and transparent about my reservations, qualms, hangups, and motivations as possible, so as to give him every opportunity to turn me away if necessary. Then I will know where I stand. 

 

Anyway, I figure I will start with TWR and perhaps Ringu Tulku, of whom I am fond. It would have been nice to be able to receive the Dzogchen ngondro from ChNNR, but alas. If anyone has other suggestions, please let me know. (CT and Apech, which traditions do you guys follow?)

 

it's so beautiful to see someone express openness to alternative ideas.

The ability to truly listen to others and consider the possibility that their perspective is valid, as valid as your own, is huge!

In fact, I doubt there's any more important result from ngondro, not to mention spiritual practice in general, than genuine openness.

You're going to be fine no matter what direction you go. 

Just keep cultivating that ability to be open.

ūüôŹūüôŹūüôŹ

 

 

 

 

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On 8/21/2019 at 8:24 AM, Radix said:

I realized that Dzogchen offered more of a structure than I was able to find in books of Zen, Taoist medication (Golden Flower) or even apophatic prayer (Plotinus, Dionysus, Eckart, etc).  (Empahasis mine, ZYD)

 

I am assuming that by "Taoist medication (Golden Flower)" you mean The Secret of the Golden Flower and are apparently not familiar with:

 

Taoist Yoga: Alchemy & Immortality

(link to Amazon for convenience sake, get it where you can, search on the internet may lead to a PDF)

 

I became familiar with this book back in 1971 and read and reread it several times.  It became fundamental to my understanding of Daoist internal cultivation, and has guided all my thinking about the matter since then.  There is a discussion of the possible relation between Dzogchen and these Daoist techniques here:

 

Dzogchen Thogal: a Buddhist creative adaptation of a Daoist technique?

 

Unfortunately the OP, Wells has deleted his posts, which mars the discussion but does not destroy it, and there are many  interesting posts, including, I fancy, my own, which also open the subject up into a cross cultural discussion with my citations of both Agrippa and Plotinus.

 

I hope these references are helpful to you.

 

ZYD

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Posted (edited)

Hi Zongyongdaoist! What a coincidence! I was actually, as it happens, reading some of your posts last night (from way back in 2011, I think) regarding traditional magical theory vs. modern occultist "neomagick." So glad you're  still here! Let me tell you that it was so refreshing to come across your perspective: I reached a similar p.o.v. last year after realizing that Agrippa, Dee, Fludd, Plotinus, Iamblichus, etc were infinitely more profound than anything that has appeared since the "occult revival." I'm a HUGE Agrippa enthusiast. As one friend said to me, "There are cities within cities in Agrippa...."

But alas, as with Taoism, so much of this really hardcore Western esoteric tradion is hidden, lost. I'm sure that the monasteries would have been rife with many profound adepts in the past, but any secret tradition of initiation and instruction has seemingly been lost, fodder for the speculations of academics and neo-occultists who have (as you mentioned in one of your posts) given up on the entire cosmology of pre-Cartesian science. 

 

I do believe that there are instances where people are instructed by "hidden adepts" (Boehme and various alchemists via "Elias Artista") or angelic beings (Dee/Kelley), but these must surely be few and far between. Perhaps most of those who have been fortunate in this regard have wisely kept silence.

 

"Taoist medication": lol I meant "meditation." I am familiar with the Luk book, "Alchemy and Immortality." It's quite fascinating and it seems straightforward in some ways--but, like the Golden Flower, in other ways perplexing, and I'm still too diffident about my ability to figure out the correct techniques on my own. I'd be interested in hearing what you've been able to make of that text, if you ever feel inclined to share (I will also take a look at the thread you linked, with interest!)

_/\_ 

Edited by Radix
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I would suggest a touch of caution when reading about thodgal from any but the most authoritative sources. Most of what I read here and elsewhere is inaccurate.

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45 minutes ago, Radix said:

Hi Zongyongdaoist! What a coincidence! I was actually, as it happens, reading some of your posts last night (from way back in 2011, I think) regarding traditional magical theory vs. modern occultist "neomagick." So glad you're  still here! Let me tell you that it was so refreshing to come across your perspective: I reached a similar p.o.v. last year after realizing that Agrippa, Dee, Fludd, Plotinus, Iamblichus, etc were infinitely more profound than anything that has appeared since the "occult revival." I'm a HUGE Agrippa enthusiast. As one friend said to me, "There are cities within cities in Agrippa...."

But alas, as with Taoism, so much of this really hardcore Western esoteric tradion is hidden, lost. I'm sure that the monasteries would have been rife with many profound adepts in the past, but any secret tradition of initiation and instruction has seemingly been lost, fodder for the speculations of academics and neo-occultists who have (as you mentioned in one of your posts) given up on the entire cosmology of pre-Cartesian science. 

 

I do believe that there are instances where people are instructed by "hidden adepts" (Boehme and various alchemists via "Elias Artista") or angelic beings (Dee/Kelley), but these must surely be few and far between. Perhaps most of those who have been fortunate in this regard have wisely kept silence.

 

"Taoist medication": lol I meant "meditation." I am familiar with the Luk book, "Alchemy and Immortality." It's quite fascinating and it seems straightforward in some ways--but, like the Golden Flower, in other ways perplexing, and I'm still too diffident about my ability to figure out the correct techniques on my own. I'd be interested in hearing what you've been able to make of that text, if you ever feel inclined to share (I will also take a look at the thread you linked, with interest!)

_/\_ 

 

 

@Radix,

 

You seem agreeably eclectic and widely read - but you seem to have some self doubt in terms of practice - it is perfectly possible to 'get somewhere' without formal teachings or transmission.  The Golden Flower is nice because it has confirmatory signs and experiences - my only reservation is the translations which do not seem completely reliable.  Luk is good too.

 

If you are in a place where you cannot get transmission or instruction then maybe take it as a sign that the universe has confidence in you :)

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Your sincere aspiration and the level of determination shown in wanting to cultivate an authentic path to enlightenment is truly heartening, and humbling at the same time. May your endeavours be free of obstacles always. _/\_

 

I started out with a lineage from the Nyingma tradition, but have since stepped away from this group, and no longer feel drawn to any particular sangha or lineage in the past 6 or so years, although I continue to practice with the Dudjom Tersar Ngondro graciously passed down from the great Nyingma master HH Dudjom Rinpoche, who remains a vital figure among a host of enlightened beings to whom I go for refuge. And anyone who consciously and sincerely seek enlightenment will always be part of the precious sangha in that same field of  merit. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refuge_tree

 

The accumulations are crucial as these are the actual exercises that gradually and systematically purify the subtle body. Its important to give it time to mature and produce tangible results. This will take years to even begin to shift the ingrained psychophysical habits. Initially I was quite caught up in notching up the numbers (mandala offerings, mantras, prostrations, etc), but nowadays I don't keep score anymore - I just do them spontaneously as part of my daily rituals.

 

Over time, I have found that with heightened awareness, every liberated experience of body, speech and mind can be used as a spark to remain in equipoise, and each successful spark and the clarity of visualization that follows, when they engender the desired result (ie to remain undistracted, thereby pacifying grasping and aversion, which is basically what equipoise means) is an accumulation of merit and wisdom. With sufficient practice, confidence in the result will arise spontaneously. There really isn't any need to become overly conscious of wanting to achieve any particular goal, because that in itself is antiethical to Dzogchen, which we all know is about resting the awareness in an easeful yet alert and pervasive non-state. But even after so many years of practice, there are still countless instances in my daily life where arising experiences remain lost in distraction and unawareness; however, even noticing this is already a marked progression. It helps to gather the mind and bring it back to its fundamental nature. 

 

You may have heard of Dr. Alan Wallace. I have great respect for his teachings, esp those on Dzogchen. I believe he will be a wonderful source of knowledge for any and all of your queries relating to your practice going forward. This link hopefully puts you in touch with him: http://www.alanwallace.org/contact/

 

Another valuable Western Dzogchen teacher is Dr. Miles Neale. You can also try to get in touch here:

https://www.milesneale.com/

 

Thankfully, you will not find either of them expounding their vast practical wisdoms on DW. :P

 

This is a wonderfully presented Ngondro guide by Dr. Neale. 

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5a8e29ffcd39c3de866b5e14/t/5b52d83888251b4755ec7b53/1532155982075/Visualization.pdf

It may resonate with you more if you happen to connect and find affinity with this teacher. 

He has a number of teaching videos on youtube and elsewhere on the interweb. 

(late edit) I think its auspicious to want to get a blessing to begin Ngondro, but at the same time, dont let the lack of one prevent you from initiating practise. Its not a prerequisite. 

 

 

All the best, Radix. 

 

 

 

*Stay away from DW! lol Even sincere practitioners may end up losing their way there.

 

 

 

 

Edited by C T
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5 hours ago, Radix said:

Hi Zongyongdaoist! What a coincidence! I was actually, as it happens, reading some of your posts last night (from way back in 2011, I think) regarding traditional magical theory vs. modern occultist "neomagick." So glad you're  still here! Let me tell you that it was so refreshing to come across your perspective: I reached a similar p.o.v. last year after realizing that Agrippa, Dee, Fludd, Plotinus, Iamblichus, etc were infinitely more profound than anything that has appeared since the "occult revival." I'm a HUGE Agrippa enthusiast. As one friend said to me, "There are cities within cities in Agrippa...."

But alas, as with Taoism, so much of this really hardcore Western esoteric tradion is hidden, lost. I'm sure that the monasteries would have been rife with many profound adepts in the past, but any secret tradition of initiation and instruction has seemingly been lost, fodder for the speculations of academics and neo-occultists who have (as you mentioned in one of your posts) given up on the entire cosmology of pre-Cartesian science. 

 

I do believe that there are instances where people are instructed by "hidden adepts" (Boehme and various alchemists via "Elias Artista") or angelic beings (Dee/Kelley), but these must surely be few and far between. Perhaps most of those who have been fortunate in this regard have wisely kept silence.

 

"Taoist medication": lol I meant "meditation." I am familiar with the Luk book, "Alchemy and Immortality." It's quite fascinating and it seems straightforward in some ways--but, like the Golden Flower, in other ways perplexing, and I'm still too diffident about my ability to figure out the correct techniques on my own. I'd be interested in hearing what you've been able to make of that text, if you ever feel inclined to share (I will also take a look at the thread you linked, with interest!)

_/\_  (Emphasis mine, ZYD)

 

It may seem like "a coincidence", however it is neither accident nor synchronicity, but rather an example of how the forum works.  You like one of my posts and the Forum lets me know.  That you would like a post that is about obscure subjects to begin with, rather long and semi-technical and hidden in the bowls of "General Discussion" is worthy of note on my part, so I looked up your introductory post and saw that we had common interests.  I even have an interest in Buddhist practices and read a translation of Naropa's Six Yogas in Garma C. C. Chang's version when I was thirteen or so, and many more since then.

 

Actually Daoists would love your "Taoist medication", the whole point of Daoist self cultivation is to achieve optimal health and to cure the two diseases of senescence and mortality, and even in Western Alchemy the "philosopher's stone" was called "the medicine of metals" because it turned corruptible base metals such as lead, iron, and copper into incorruptible gold.

 

As for the notion that "so much of this really hardcore Western esoteric tradion is hidden, lost", a lot of it is "hidden" in plain sight as I make clear in such posts as:

 

Agrippa and Aristotle: the Aristotelian background of the Occult Philosophy

 

Agrippa's Doctrine of Occult Virtues, a core concept examined and explained

The so called "occult virtues" are only "hidden" from lazy occultists who wail and lament over the loss of things that they have never really gone looking for.  It doesn't even occur to them that the whole philosophical framework which gives context and thus meaning to everything that Agrippa says is not some hidden "esoteric" doctrine that was lost for ever, but good old Plato and Aristotle and their Hellenistic successors.  Any Renaissance schoolboy would have recognized where Agrippa was coming from, and the reason why is because Agrippa intended his work NOT to be an "esoteric revelation", but a powerful defense of magic, its theory and practice, as a careful reading of his prefatory letter addressed to the Abbot Trithemius makes clear, and thus it had to be in terms that any well educated person could understand and appreciate.

 

I don't have time to write more now, and really don't want to get too far off topic.  I hope you have found what I have written interesting.

 

ZYD

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but you seem to have some self doubt in terms of practice - it is perfectly possible to 'get somewhere' without formal teachings or transmission.  

 

Yes, I'm worried about the well-known phenomena of "polishing a brick," especially as I get older. Still, I am capable of going out on limbs, especially when there are no other options.

 

If you are in a place where you cannot get transmission or instruction then maybe take it as a sign that the universe has confidence in you :)

 

ūüôŹūüėä

 

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@CT:

Many thanks for your kind suggestions and best wishes. I am slightly familiar with Dr. Wallace, though not Dr. Neale. However, I looked through his ngondro commentary and the open-minded way that he explains things resonates with me for sure. ūüôŹ

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Thanks, Shagrath!

I have actually been listening to James Low the past few days on YouTube, and I like his presentation very much! 

ūüôŹ

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