Guide to the basic practices of Tibetan Buddhism
Author: Yongey Mingyur Rimpoche
In Tibetan, the set of basic practices is called ngöndro, which means 'what comes first'. The ngöndro encompasses the essential principles shared by all Buddhist teachings, those relating to non-self, impermanence and suffering. It is a tool for transforming the concepts of compassion, karma and emptiness into direct experiences, which risk remaining interesting theories with no impact on daily life. It can change the way you think about yourself, understand your abilities, and relate to others. It presents possibilities so immense and profound that trying to understand it in its entirety can seem an overwhelming task. For this reason, it is important to remember that it must be practiced one step at a time. Divided into four common practices and four particular practices, ngöndro comprises the four thoughts that turn the mind to the Dharma (contemplations on precious human life, impermanence, karma and suffering), taking refuge, purification, the practice of the mandala (or accumulation of wisdom and merit), and finally the guru yoga. Mingyur Rinpoche outlines all sections of the ngöndro in great detail, focusing in particular on the doubts and difficulties that often arise for Western students.