A radical guide to the ngondro, or preliminary practices of Tibetan Buddhism, in particular the Longchen Nyingthig Ngondro.Do you practice meditation because you want to feel good? Or to help you relax and be "happy"? Then frankly, says Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, you are far better off having a full body massage than trying to practice Dharma.
Rinpoche shows that genuine spiritual practice, not least the Ngondro preliminary practices, will not bring the kind of comfort and ease most worldly people crave. Quite the opposite in fact. But if your ultimate goal is enlightenment, Ngondro practice is a must, and Not for Happiness a perfect guide, containing advice for the aspiring practitioner getting started, including instruction on developing the mind of renunciation, discipline, meditation and wisdom, using your imagination in visualization practice, and why we need a guru.
"One of the problems we are faced with today is that ngondro practice is increasingly perceived as a kind of custom. It's not a new phenomenon. Customs and traditions have always grown up around spiritual methods. But today, almost the moment an aspiring vajrayana student ventures into a teaching, (he or) she is told that before anything else, she must complete the ngondro. Yet, the intention behind all Buddha's teaching is to transcend man made customs and culture...As your studies deepen, you will come to realize that ngondro is the most distinctive element of the vajrayana. Sadly, though, it is fashionable these days to try to get it out of the way as quickly as possible. New vajrayana students are learning to view ngondro as a hurdle they are required to overcome before being allowed to receive higher teachings. It is such a big mistake! And a potentially dangerous one, because it is virtually impossible to refute. Yet many hold this view, and the consequences are beginning to mushroom out of control. For example, in Buddhist circles where a kind of spiritual political correctness operates, even the gentlest suggestion that not everyone has to accumulate one hundred thousand prostrations is extremely unwelcome. The more people who think like this, the greater the risk that this precious practice will be reduced to meaningless ritual...Just because many time honoured Eastern traditions seem a little old fashinioned in today's changing world, we should not jump to the conclusion that they are now obsolete...Certainly, the customs and traditions connected with ngondro accumulations are still relevant for today's practitioners...The crucial point here is that the aim of ngondro is not merely the accumulation of numbers, but to penetrate our minds, ruffle the feathers of our pride and make a satifying dent in our egos." Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche.