It has been almost one year since I seriously started considering to redefine my spiritual path. My religious root has been quite complicated. I was born Hindu but grew up in a Christian family. My uncle and his family had already been devout Christians when my father joined them in late 1990 after he suffered a stroke and became partially disabled. So with the hope of getting rid of his disability, he decided to turn to Jesus Christ for solace and blessings. When I joined them later, I was also persuaded to attend the church and join their congregation for prayers. I was told that I could regain my sight if I truly believed in the supernatural powers of Jesus Christ. So I also started going to the church and prayed with others. But the moment I was back in the school in Khaling, I forgot everything and attended the daily Buddhist prayers with the same kind of devotion and belief. So I think I should say that during the school days, I was a Buddhist and during the winter vacations, I was a Christian.
However since I had to stay in the school for nine months in a year, I got the opportunity to learn and understand Buddhist philosophies more than any other faith. The teachings of Lord Buddha prescribed in Dzongkha textbooks and discourses given by visiting religious figures from time to time gradually prepared me to become a Buddhist. By the time I completed high school, I realized I was a Buddhist because that was the faith I had understood the most over the years. But although I chanted Buddhist prayers regularly and visited temples from time to time to offer prayers, I still felt something was missing in my spiritual practice. I always felt incomplete. I knew what I was doing was not enough to help me attain Buddhahood.
It was almost a year ago when I first learned that some of my friends had joined Ngondro, the preliminary practice in Buddhism. I talked to some of them about it and I was told that it would be the best thing to do if I really needed to practice Buddhism. One of my friends had then created a WeChat group for those who were looking forward to joining the practice. The WeChat discussion forum provided me great insights into Ngondro practice, how to go about it and why it was important. I have learned that Ngondro is the first formal entry point to the practice of Buddha’s teachings. Without it, there is no way we could really practice Buddhism. I finally realized that without practicing Ngondro, I wouldn’t be able to call myself a real Buddhist. So I gave my word to my friend that I would love to join the Ngondro practice and he eventually introduced me to a Lama based in Paro who agreed to mentor me throughout this new spiritual journey.
I was not alone in the pursuit of this rare wisdom. There were four of us from Thimphu who went to see our Lama in Paro in mid-august to receive Thri (permission initiation) for Threma Ngondro. Our Lama warmly accepted us as his disciples, offered us Tashi Khadar and granted the Thri. We were briefed on the importance of Threma Ngondro practice and the procedures involved in the practice. We were also taught how to meditate and what to visualize during the meditation. It was a very insightful and mind-opening teaching. We were advised to start our practice from 26th August 2016 coinciding with the auspicious day in Buddhist calendar.
As advised by my root Lama, I started my practice on 26th August with 100 prostrations. Today, I have been able to prostrate 200 times at a time and I hope I would be able to increase my pace overtime. Although we are supposed to prostrate 100,000 times, I have decided to prostrate 10,000 times only for now in order to receive higher teachings fast. I have been told that we could come back later and do it as many times as we like.
Last weekend, we got the opportunity to attend the special oral transmission of Threchhen (lung) by venerable Lam Daopo in Paro. In November, we will also have the opportunity to receive Wangchen, a special blessing from His Eminence Garab Rinpoche in Paro and participate in the 3-day meditation in the jungle. So I feel I am really blest to be part of this great spiritual journey. By the grace and blessings of my root Lama, I am already beginning to feel some difference in the way I look at life and the world around me. Although I am on the first rung of the long staircase to enlightenment, I hope I would be able to recognize and understand my inner self better as I climb up with constant guidance from my root Lama. Although my wife is Hindu, I am now convinced that this will be the faith I shall be going to my grave with. May all the sentient beings be liberated from this Samsara soon!