10 April 2021

Practice that is Informed by Dzogchen Theory - Ngakma Nor'dzin & Ngakpa 'ö-Dzin


In this video from February 2010, Ngakpa ’ö-Dzin explains how practice within the Aro gTér Lineage is informed by Dzogchen theory so that practices from Sutra, Tantra, or Dzogchen may be appropriate to the individual. 



Ngakpa ’ö-Dzin: One way of looking at the style of practice in this lineage is that it's informed by Dzogchen theory. From the viewpoint of Dzogchen everyone is already realised, and most of the time⎯possibly all of the time⎯we don’t know that. Realisation is something that is very close, very immediate. It’s described as being too close – that we don’t realise that the difference between us⎯as we find ourselves⎯and the realised us, is actually very small indeed.

So from that perspective, the methods and practices that a person would be instructed in, or introduced to, are the methods and practices that are appropriate to their particular condition.

These might be Dzogchen practices, or they could be Tantric practices, or they could be Sutric practices. It is really a question of whatever is appropriate to that person.

In order to see what is appropriate, or to define what is appropriate – then you need a teacher who can guide you, because otherwise, if we are left to our own devices, we pick what we think is appropriate to us without necessarily any idea of what’s actually going to work. So there’s a fair chance that we might actually reinforce our own neuroses.

The process of finding a teacher is a gradual one, where we might feel drawn to a person and the style of teaching. Then it’s the case of developing confidence, finding out that this particular style is for you. It’s not that suddenly you embrace the idea that this person is your teacher and then you do everything they say. This would be madness. It’s a gradual process where you gain confidence in the teachings, and you gain confidence in the practices, and then from within that confidence you’re able to take instruction and direction in terms of the practices you engage in. Because it’s based in the Dzogchen view, the practices that we undertake could be from a Dzogchen basis, or Tantric or Sutric basis.

08 April 2021

Human realm beings have a great capacity for generosity and indiscriminate compassion - Spacious Passion


Human realm beings discriminate about what is desirable and actively engage with their objects of desire. However they are fickle and can easily change direction – moving on to a new hobby, a new yearning to own a particular thing, a new philosophy of who they are and what is important. Human realm beings have a great capacity for generosity and indiscriminate compassion. They can be spontaneously kind and actively work to help others. The compulsive energy of desire can be transformed into the nondual energy of active compassion. This is the great potential of the human realm.

Spacious Passion, Ngakma Nor’dzin, Aro books worldwide,2006, ISBN 978-0-9653948-4-0,chapter 4 coming up for air, p80

01 April 2021

The Good, the Bad and the Neutral - Battlecry of Freedom


From the classification of whatever is perceived by the mind three habitual responses arise. These responses are described as poisons because they arise from classification, rather than from direct experience. Through Mind Training it is possible to discover direct, clear perception, and thereby transform the three poisons into the roots of goodness.

All phenomena are perceived in relation to personal identity. They are classified as good, bad, or neutral; or as friend, enemy, or stranger; or as supportive, threatening, or irrelevant. These are the three objects.

Classification leads to response. The good, friendly, or supportive gives rise to attraction. The bad, antagonistic, or threatening are met with aversion. The neutral, unfamiliar, or irrelevant are greeted with indifference. These three responses are described as poisons[...]. They poison direct perception because they filter perception through classification.  

Battlecry of Freedom by Ngakma Nor’dzin, Aro Books worldwide, 2019, ISBN 978-1-898185-46-8 Part II - the slogans, p64


27 March 2021

Apprenticeship and the Vajra Master - Ngakma Nor'dzin and Ngakpa 'ö-Dzin


In this video from February 2010, Ngakma Nor’dzin and Ngakpa ’ö-Dzin explain what it means to be an apprentice within the Aro gTér Lineage in terms of the rôles of Spiritual Friend and Vajra Master.


Ngakma Nor’dzin: Apprenticeship holds an interesting place in regards the relationship with the Lama, because it’s a little bit more than the Spiritual Friend but it isn’t the Vajra Master. So when one becomes an apprentice you are not making a commitment at the level of the Vajra Master – that you will commit to anything they ask you, you will undertake any instruction they give you. There is still this feeling of them being a spiritual friend but with the potential of them being the Vajra Master.

Apprenticeship is perhaps a little bit unusual there, in that it treads this line between the two. A Spiritual Friend is somebody who offers you general advice from the perspective of the teachings. They don’t teach so much with personality – the qualities of personality don’t come into that so much. It's not so individuated. The teaching stems from the teachings themselves. This is the Sutrayana approach.

For instance: a Sutric teacher may have hundreds and hundreds of students and this functions perfectly from the point of view of a Spiritual Friend because the teachings themselves are the relationship and you don’t individuate the teachings per person – you just teach in a general sense.

Now the Tantric teacher, the Vajra Master, teaches almost entirely individually. Even though they’re teaching general Tantric teachings, the relationship of the individual apprentice with those teachings will be quite personal and will be personally overseen by the Vajra Master. But as I say, apprenticeship is somewhere between those. There is the quality of personal relationship there but it’s not so extreme that one takes the presence, personality and life circumstances display of the Lama as one’s path. This happens later when one takes ordination.

25 March 2021

Vajrayana has to be tasted with an open heart and an open mind - Illusory Advice


The purpose of apprenticeship is to taste a unique depth of experience and involvement in a Vajrayana tradition without taking lifelong commitments. You can leap, but with the lifebelt of your probationary apprentice status. ….

You cannot know whether you are going to really like a cake unless you taste it. If you look at it and feel uncertain, or smell it and think that it doesn’t seem so good, but never actually taste it – you will never know what it tastes like. Vajrayana has to be tasted. So we would encourage you to use the probationary period to taste Vajrayana through this Lineage as thoroughly as possible. Taste with an open heart and an open mind. 

Illusory Advice, Ngakma Nor’dzin & Ngakpa ’ö-Dzin, Aro Books Worldwide, 2016, ISBN: 978-1-898185-37-6, pp22-23


18 March 2021

Relax and make a loud sound - Relaxing into Meditation


It is important to let the voice flow naturally – to be open and relaxed, and to allow the voice its natural boldness and freedom. It is actually more difficult to sing quietly than to sing loudly, so relax and allow yourself to make a loud sound.

Relaxing into Meditation, Ngakma Nor’dzin, Aro Books worldwide, 2010, ISBN: 978-1-898185-17-8, p23


13 March 2021

Technical Language and Practice - Ngakma Nor'dzin & Ngakpa 'ö-Dzin


sPyan ras gZigs

In this video from February 2010, Ngakma Nor’dzin and Ngakpa ’ö-Dzin explain why there is technical language in Buddhism.



Ngakpa ’ö-Dzin: I think Buddhism can become complicated and can appear to go beyond what anyone would want to engage with. But it’s almost like any discipline: it will have its specialised language that from an outsider’s point of view you think, ‘Do i really need to know that?’ And then it’s really a case of how keen you are on doing that thing. So if we want to learn to play the guitar, your guitar teacher could talk in terms of technicalities that are absurd for the beginner, whereas all you want to know is that if you put your fingers by there, and you run your other fingers down there, you get a sound. You do that a few times and you start to get something that almost sounds like the song. So when you begin anything that’s what you want. Your riding teacher says, ‘Sit on the horse.’ They won’t necessarily engage with the names of all the different belts, buckles, straps and bindings that exist on the horse – they’re just getting you started. Then, if you become an enthusiast in that, you’ll want to learn more.

Ngakpa Nor’dzin: I remember when I first started reading Buddhist books on Tibetan Buddhism, I couldn’t believe that they really said these words like ...

Ngakpa ’ö-Dzin: ... like ‘Spyanraszigs’...

Ngakma Nor’dzin: ... for Chenrezig. I thought, ‘Nobody could possibly speak like this’, and I used to just skim over all those words. It’s probably why my Tibetan’s so bad! It doesn’t have to be that complicated. Silent sitting is very simple, very basic, very easy to understand the principal and function of that practice.

Ngakpa ’ö-Dzin: And then anything else, if any other areas of exploration particularly take your fancy, you can go into them. I think it’s actually quite liberating to know that Buddhism is far too big for one person to master it all. Once you know that the scope of Buddhism is so huge you’re not going to master it all, you then understand that it’s a set of methods, a set of practices. It’s an environment of practice where you do what is appropriate, and if you have a teacher you act within your teacher’s guidance and instruction, to use the methods that you need rather than trying to master an entire field of possibilities.