གཡུ་ཐོག་སྙིང་ཐིག་སྔོན་འགྲོ། YUTHOK NYINGTIG NGONDRO
The meaning of Ngöndro
Ngöndro means preliminary practice or preparation. By using the term ‘preliminary practice’ it may seem that it is something very basic and in some respect it is basic but at the same time, it is very important. We could call it a basic essential practice. We could compare it to the upbringing of a child; the family and early school education are both rudimentary yet important aspects for the child’s development. In a similar way the Yuthok Nyingthig Ngöndro practice is extremely useful and essential for beginners to Spiritual Practice.
If we imagine the building of a house, the foundations need to be very stable and strong. Likewise, if we want to develop our spiritual practice, we need our basic framework to be strong. Spiritual practice is like a building which can have one, two or more floors. Buddha mentioned there are ten levels or bumis and the higher our building or spiritual practice go, the stronger our foundation needs to be. By doing the Ngöndro we’re set up the foundation of our spiritual practice.
In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, Ngöndro practices are often very demanding and considerable time, effort and dedication is needed to accomplish them, for example at least 100,000 prostrations, recitations of refuge, bodhicitta etc need to be completed, but Yuthok Ngondro (uncommon) Practice is only seven days.
Typically in other Ngöndro practices there are two different stages referred to as Common Ngöndro and Uncommon Ngöndro, but the Yuthok Nyingthig Ngöndro has three main parts; Common Ngöndro, Uncommon Ngöndro and Routine Ngöndro;
1. Part 1 - Common Ngöndro (The Base) ཐུན་མོང་སྔོན་འགྲོ།
The base refers to the foundation of the Yuthok Nyingthig Ngöndro. The Common Ngöndro is simply for all common people so everyone is able to reflect on the meaning of life, to see the true nature of life. It has five important points and these can be practiced by thinking or meditating however if we’re able to realize these through our own life experiences, it is even more effective.
· The difficulty in achieving a precious human life
· The impermanence of life
· The natural law of cause and effect
· The consequence of living in Samsara, the worldly life
· The benefits of spiritual liberation
2. Part 2 - Uncommon Ngöndro (The Path) ཐུན་མིན་སྔོན་འགྲོ།
This is a special Buddhist concept which is different from our normal way of looking at our life. This is why it is known as the Uncommon practice. Dharma refers to the way or path, and everybody and every tradition has their own way of thinking and living according to it. Buddha’s way of thinking is called Buddha Dharma and in this case, Buddha’s style is called Uncommon to others. In the Yuthok Nyingthig tradition, there are seven aspects:
· Bodhicitta and the Four Immeasurables
· Mandala offering and Circumambulation
· Purification practice of Dorje Sempa
· Kusali practice
· Puja practice
3. Part 3 - Routine Ngöndro (Karma Yoga) རྒྱུན་སྤྱོད་སྔོན་འགྲོ།
Once we’ve completed the Uncommon Ngöndro we then need to establish a routine practice. Importantly this is something that can be practiced throughout our whole lives, whenever we can or when we desire to do something for the benefit of others, to help others and make others happy. We can achieve this through Karma Yoga.
In this way, daily life can be integrated into the practice ensuring mindfulness is part of everything we do. In the original text there are six important points:
· Be involved in charity projects especially those to help poor and sick people
· Find ways to save lives not just for your patients but for all people and animals. Always find ways to help others as much as possible
· Always strive to spread Yuthok’s teachings especially the Four Medical Tantras and the Yuthok Nyingthig
· Create a clinic or a centre where those who are in need can receive help
· Make donations or offer your time to help build things that will benefit many beings such as community centres or animal shelters. Or participate in projects in poorer countries where they need things like wells and bridges.
· Liberate animals & protect the environment.