We should practice Ngondro before starting the yoga practices

Hungkar Dorje Rinpoche [1]

Morning 22.10.2023, Hanoi



A lot of people start practicing Tantrayana nowadays all over the world. Today this is a common things for everyone trying to learn and to have the karmic connection to Tantrayana. But also, there’s some necessary conditions to be able to practice Tantrayana. For example, the sharpness of the mind, mental faculty and faith, devotion to Tantrayana because the teachings of Tantrayana is very deep and not easy to understand. Therefore, we need to have a very sharp mind to be able to understand the meaning of Tantrayana. So it’s not very easy to be good Tantrayana practitioners, but as long as someone has the connection, has the interest in Tantrayana, there is always some condition. If there’s not enough conditions there’s no chance to meet and to have the interest in the tradition. So, if you have some interest in Tatrayana you are smart, and also you have a fortunate connection to the tradition. Buddha predicted how the tradition is established and spread in the world. Buddha said Tantrayana has to go to the land of snow, Tibet, and then slowly, gradually reaches the people in the world. So, this is a prediction from the Buddha Shakyamuni and it is what actually happens. If we try to look into the history of Tantrayana, how it came to the people in the world, it actually happens in accordance with that prediction by Buddha Shakyamuni.

The reason for Buddha to say that probably there is aways something to do with the nature – the nature of human beings, the people of land of snow. Because to receive this teaching the [receiver’s] nature has to be very pure. Usually, we talk about three things to be able to receive Tantrayana teachings. The first one is condition, and [then] capacity, and necessity. So, these three together makes an individual perfect for practicing Vajrayana. So, although the Tibetans, especially in the past, pretty wild somehow they have that nature so the great masters from India – they had some karmic connection and somehow they are able to teach them easier than probably teach other people, therefore, they want to establish that tradition in Tibet first.

Nature or the condition are the same. If we don’t have that condition to receive any teachings especially Tantrayana teachings, then [we are] not able to receive. Because we don’t have any faith, any understanding and any interest in this so we reject. This is happening a lot. Many people actually do not have enough conditions, do not believe in these things. For example, many people think Buddhism or religions, any religions are like a fake or a lie to lie, lie people for money. This and that and people misunderstand religions. People misunderstand Buddhism. Buddhism is something dangerous for their lives and maybe it takes away everything from you, so they have different ways of seeing the nature. We have nature different [from theirs]. Our nature is suitable to this tradition to be able to accept this tradition. So we have the first thing, we have this nature. And then Buddhism is a scientifically actually accepted as a good tradition, as a real and pure tradition. And also we have to have a good and pure wisdom to really understand the meaning of this religion. So mental capacity is very important, especially when learning Tantrayana. The teachings of Tantrayana is very profound and not easy to understand. Sometimes it’s beyond the mental capacity [of someone] but we have a karmic connection so we try, and try, and try. I think eventually we would be able to understand, have the realization of the profound teachings of Tantrayana.

The third one, it’s necessity to receive Tantrayana practices. Most many people do not see that they need this anymore. They have this and that practice. The necessity of Tantrayana [is that] it is very practical and very quick way and simple way so it has a unique aspect, a unique qualities than any other traditions, practices; but when one don’t have the wisdom to see that aspect one reject that. But the essence of mantras is it’s very skillsful way, very skillsful yana, so whoever has the mental sharpeness, mental power to receive, to practice then the path is simple and also very fast. So, to see that necessity, that aspect is very important and only to see that nature one is able to have the connection. When one doesn’t have this wisdom to see and does not connect to this tradition then they loses the chance to accept this quick and pure and skillful path. Tantrayana is often described as Mantrayana or “Upaya Paramita”. “Upaya Paramita” means skillful means. It’s provide many, many skillful methods even though very short, but very skillful because through this very short and very simple practice, one is able to reach Buddhahood. So therefore, it is a skillful means. So now the the condition is to be able to see, to be able to accept this skillful means. Because as I said earlier a lot of people do not have the condition, mental faculty, don’t see the necessities of this. So they reject and this is not something because they are very smart and very fortunate. We don’t believe it that way. We think maybe, one is more fortunate if one has the connection, one is able to receive this perfection of skillfulness of the Tantrayana tradition. So then the old tradition in Tibetan Buddhism, the Nyingma Trandition, we try to study the classification or the explanation of all the nine yanas, the ground and the path and the fruition of all the yanas. But then of course, it’s a very large to study all of them and especially to practice all of them is too much. There’s very profound and very easy way, for example the highest Yana: Atiyoga. And we usually try to practice [to see] the nature through the means of different yanas Maha, Ati, Anu yoga. The essence of all of these yanas is the Great Perfection, the Buddha nature. And they teach you the different ways to reach that nature. For example, Maha Yoga teaches through recitation of mantras and visualization of the Deities and visualization of the whole mantra and mandala to reach to the Buddha Nature. And the Anu yoga, it teaches through the practice the Yoga of nadis, prana and bindu, or channels and energies and essence, through this yoga to reach the nature. The Rigpa the other yoga is more directed and more straightforward and does not go through these steps, but directly teach how to be in that nature. So the essence of all the yanas, the reason for all for the Buddhas to teach this many teachings like 84,000 teachings is to see the Buddha nature, to show the path to the Buddha nature.

Although there are so many important teachings but if one tries to accomplish everything, to practice all of the yanas, the teachings given it’s not the best way. So, we have to bring all into a small package – small, easy, and practical way. And all of these teachings are based on renunciation taught in the first turning Dharma wheel and Boddhicitta in the Second Wheel of Dharma and Buddha nature mainly taught in the third wheel of Dharma. Then the instructions for us to really meditate on the nature, taught in the Tantrayana very clearly and very directly, so we need to be able to combine all of these things, to put them together as a practical Dharma practice. For example, ngondro practice is the best, the foundation for all of these teachings. We have the tradition in Tibet, when people do not have any fundamental practices, then they do not try to study these higher teachings, like Mahayoga, for example. Mahayoga is about visualization and to visualize oneself as a deity, and to recite the hearts mantra, to become the same as the deity, when one becomes like Manjushri, or Avalokisora. But the foundation of this practice is also ngondro! The preliminary practices taught in ngondro is foundation of all teachings.

General speaking, there are two stages of Tantrayna: the development stage and the completion stage. The three yogas: Mahayoga, Anuyoga, Atiyoga. It is said that these are the highest yogas in Nyingma traddition. But we try to accomplish the preliminary practices before practicing any of these three yogas. So, people try to accomplish the preliminary practices, the 500,000 practices before trying to practice the two stages – the yoga practice by means of the nandis and pranas, the wind and the channels, and also the Rigpa. So therefore, one has to understand the importance of how to build a foundation to be a good receiver of these profound teachings.


End of teaching excerpt on the morning of October 22, 2023


Transcribed by Rigzin Tara.

Rewritten by: Lotsawa.


[1] This is Hungkar Dorje Rinpoche’s teaching on October 22, in Vietnam. English transcript, Vietnamese translation and the title have been sent to Rinpoche for approval and blessing.