Not for Happiness - A Guide to the So-Called Preliminary Practices

How much do I want to read more? 7/10

I like this very much. I could read this kind of stuff all day.
Yes, I remember I used to feel crazy and different, and was proud of it. Where is this person gone? Why did I hid it for conformity and security?


Before embarking on any new project, learning a new language for example, it helps to know without doubt why you are doing it and to be sure it is something you feel is worth seeing through to the end.
if the answer to the question “What do I do if I want to follow the path of dharma?” turns out to be shamatha meditation or the four foundations, you won’t go far wrong.

Each student’s needs are different, and one of the skills a teacher must develop is the ability to discern the method most appropriate to each person’s capacity.

How Useful Is Cultural Paraphernalia?

The “anjali mudra” of pressing the palms together as a sign of respect and greeting.
sitting with a straight back during meditation practise.

The crucial point here is that the aim of ngöndro is not merely the accumulation of numbers, but to penetrate our minds, ruffle the feathers of our pride and make a satisfying dent in our egos.

The Longchen Nyingtik Ngöndro

a “preliminary” practise, yet contains some of the most profound language in Buddhadharma. Words such as prana, bindu and nadi.
Devoted, diligent practitioners are likely to repeat such words daily for ten or perhaps twenty years before gradually discovering, with great joy, the profound meaning they represent.
the true meaning of bodhichitta will only emerge after many, many years of practise.

About This Book

This book has not been written for those who are completely new to Buddhism.

Ultimately, merely to hear and think about dharma is not enough; we must also practise it. So, hearing, contemplating and meditating on dharma are all vital to our spiritual path, with meditation lying at its very core.

Introduction - Adjust Your Mind

The Heart of Dharma Lies in Everyday Activities

We find ourselves wondering, “Is it really possible to uproot all my habits? Is it plausible to imagine that I will ever reach the point where every movement I make is a dharma practise?”
the heart of dharma practise does not lie in the quantity of mantras we chant or how long we spend in meditation, but in simple, everyday activities.

When he traveled to Tibet, Atisha kept the most infuriating person he knew close to him to make certain he had plenty of opportunities for practicing patience.
use the opportunity to take irritation as the object of our practise.
the state of our minds is inevitably reflected in our everyday reactions.
For example, how quickly does your mood change when your plans are frustrated?

even if you only manage to pull off that kind of penetration once in a hundred attempts, it is an achievement worthy of a medal.

Spiritual Practise Constantly Changes

Every day will bring a different experience.
What inspires us today will cast us down tomorrow;
The culprits for these mood swings are our aggregates (form, feeling, perception, formation, consciousness), which are entirely dependent on the elements (earth, water, fire, air, and so on), making our practise anything but consistent.

In the same way babies are generally given more than one toy to play with, it’s a good idea for practitioners not to limit themselves to just one method
Once you find the one or two practises that work best, concentrate on them. It’s a bit like moving to the city. At first you wander all over the place, trying the different routes between your home and your job, until eventually you find the most convenient way, and then stick to it.

Dharma Instructions

if you are only concerned about feeling good, you are far better off having a full body massage or listening to some uplifting or life-affirming music than receiving dharma teachings, which were definitely not designed to cheer you up.
On the contrary, the dharma was devised specifically to expose your failings and make you feel awful.

to feel depressed is not always a bad thing, especially when their most humiliating failing is exposed.
But isn’t it better to be painfully aware of a failing rather than utterly oblivious to it?
they will help uproot your shortcomings by dragging them into the open. This is what is meant by the phrase “dharma penetrating your mind,”
rather than the so-called good experiences too many of us hope for, such as good dreams, blissful sensations, ecstasy, clairvoyance or the enhancement of intuition.

If you have achieved your goal, you might stop practicing, or become puffed up and arrogant about your abilities.

The “Heart of Sadness”

Imagine one night you have a dream. Although it is a good dream, deep down you know that eventually you will have to wake up and it will be over. In life, too, sooner or later, whatever the state of our relationships, or our health, our jobs and every aspect of our lives, everything, absolutely everything, will change.
This reminding is what is called the “heart of sadness.”
This race-against-time kind of attitude is so important, especially when it comes to practise.

The Certainty of Death

It is such a mistake to assume that practicing dharma will help us calm down and lead an untroubled life;
Dharma is not a therapy. It is tailored specifically to turn your life upside down.
This is what distinguishes the dharma from New Age methods involving auras, relationships, communication, well-being, the Inner Child, being one with the universe and tree hugging. From the point of view of dharma, such interests are the toys of samsaric beings—toys that quickly bore us senseless.

Go Beyond Concept

A sincere wish to practise the dharma is not born of a desire for personal happiness or to be perceived as a “good” person, but neither do we practise because we want to be unhappy or become “bad” people. A genuine aspiration to practise dharma arises from the longing to attain enlightenment.

By and large, human beings tend to prefer to fit in to society by following accepted rules of etiquette and being gentle, polite and respectful. The irony is that this is also how most people imagine a spiritual person should behave.
to “fit in” is not what a genuine dharma practitioner strives for.
Tilopa, for example. He looked so outlandish that if he turned up on your doorstep today, odds are you would refuse to let him in. He would most probably be almost completely naked; his hair would never have been introduced to shampoo, and protruding from his mouth would quiver the tail of a live fish.

the point of spiritual practise, according to the vajrayana teachings, is to go beyond all our concepts, including those of morality.
We should pray that one day we will have the courage to be just as crazy by daring to go beyond the eight worldly dharmas and care not one jot about whether or not we are praised or criticized.
Sublime beings, though, couldn’t care less either way, and that is why, from our mundane point of view, they are considered crazy.

Part One - Why We Do Ngöndro Practise

1- What Is Dharma Good For?

Will Dharma Make Me Happy?