The Practice of Four Foundations Ngondro

Ngondro is a set of basic meditative practices in current use by all Tibetan sects. The Torch of Certainty (Nges-don sgron-me) by Jamgong Kongtrul is an important text to read before asking the master for oral transmission and beginning the Ngondro preliminary practices.



Before starting with the first foundation, the practitioner should first contemplate on the four ordinary foundations, which are thoughts that turn the mind towards religion. These are reflecting on the preciousness of the human body, impermanence, karmic action, cause and results and shortcomings of Samsara.



The precious human body has eight opportunities and ten blessings, not being tortured by extreme heat or cold like the hell beings, not being constantly tormented by unsatisfied cravings like the hungry ghosts, not being ignorant and persecuted like the animals, not being unfortunate enough to be born in a country untouched by Dharma, not holding perverted views and having a natural dislike for the Dharma, being born in an age where a Buddha has come to teach the precious Dharma and not being deaf and mute and unable to understand Dharma in a world without language. The human body is however easily lost as we are constantly threatened by potentially fatal circumstances such as flood, fire, earthquakes, epidemics, tsunamis etc. yet we do not know when they would occur. It is certain that we would die yet when we would die is uncertain. We tend to accumulate negative karma instead of positive karma and hence it is difficult to gain the opportunity to be reborn with a precious human body. In the short time we have, we should make fullest use of our blessings by directing our practice towards achieving Buddhahood.



Impermanence affects all worldly conditions, all living beings and even material substances are eventually destroyed. While we are happy, we do not think of old age, death or losing our health or wealth. Yet they inevitably occur due to impermanence. Before we are affected by it, it is best to practice Dharma strenuously. After death all your worldly possessions will not follow you and only the results of your negative actions will find it. The holy Dharma and accumulation of positive karma are what will help you. We can accumulate positive karma by refraining from killing, stealing, lying, improper sexual intercourse, slander, idle or frivolous chatter, covet what someone else has, resent others or hold perverted views but instead do the opposite. In samsara, all sentient beings are affected by the three types of misery, the misery of change, misery of suffering and misery of conditioned existence. Samsaric happiness is like a bubble, it does not last. If we spend our time on clinging to such happiness, the true joy that is beyond all suffering which is found when we are liberated will be lost to us.



The first foundation involves taking of refuge by chanting a liturgy and doing prostrations at the same time and engendering the enlightened attitude 111,111 times. This is what is practiced during the weekly practice session in KKBC, but if there are questions to be asked about the second foundation (purifying of harmful deeds and removal of obstacles by chanting the 100-syllable mantra), the third foundation (accumulation of merit and awareness by the offering of the mandala) and the fourth foundation (guru yoga), they can be arranged to be answered by the resident lamas or by the leader of the practice.

Karma Kagyud Buddhist Centre                                                                             

No. 38, Lorong 22 Geylang,                                                                                             

Singapore 398695


Phone: +65 6749 1103

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