Saturday, 16 September 2017
THE PRACTICES (TALKING ABOUT 3 YEAR RETREAT, #1)
Our lives are mostly invisible, and deeply connected, but somehow our lives seem bereft of this knowledge.
So the first year consists of practices (the “ngondros”) to purify this impoverishment: expressing one's commitment and openness to the (invisible, present, surrounding) buddhas through recitation of prayers, visualisation of buddha lands, prostrations, etc. Confession and purification of one’s negative karma accrued since beginningless time. Offering visualised Mandala universes to the buddhas on behalf of all wandering beings. Expression of one’s commitment to become a buddha as the best way to repay the kindness of all mother-like sentient beings throughout all those lives.
Then begins a cycle of practices to stabilise, concentrate and open the mind through more meditative practices (the ngondros themselves are quite meditative and focussing, but they are primarily energising and cleansing). These include practices aimed at transcending one’s deeply ingrained delusional tendency to see oneself and the world as ordinary.
The final year is quite specialised tantric work whose aim is to accelerate the attainment of buddhahood: working on the subtle body, dream yoga, emptiness meditations, techniques to transfer consciousness to a pure land at death, to remain conscious during the dying and post-death state, among other things.
I’ll unpack some of this in greater detail over the coming months. And if there are any specific questions, just ask. I’m happy to talk about it.