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Not for Happiness: A Guide to the So-Called Preliminary Practices [Paperback]

Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse

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Book Description

Oct. 16 2012
Do you practise meditation because you want to feel good? Or to help you relax and be “happy”? Then frankly, according to Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse, you are far better off having a full-body massage than trying to practise the Dharma.

Genuine spiritual practice, not least the Ngöndro preliminaries, will not bring the kind of comfort and ease most worldly people crave. Quite the opposite, in fact. But if your ultimate goal is enlightenment, Ngöndro practice is a must, and Not for Happiness your perfect guide, as it contains everything an aspiring practitioner needs to get started, including advice about:

   • developing “renunciation mind”
   • discipline, meditation and wisdom
   • using your imagination in visualization practice
   • why you need a guru

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Review

Students’ Reactions to Not for Happiness:


“Having a map of the path that shows where each practice is headed helps me to see what each stage is preparing me for. Even the chapters that at first didn’t seem relevant to my current practice contained such great gems of teaching that they turned out to be extremely relevant and very helpful.”—Catherine Fordham

“To me, this book is like the world’s best kind of GPS! I feel that by following its guidance, even though I am not a skilful driver, I will have the confidence to drive through my Ngöndro practice—and may even end up feeling quite good about it!”—Helena Wang

About the Author

<p class="MsoNormal">Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse (Khyentse Norbu) is a Tibetan Buddhist lama who travels and teaches internationally and is also an award-winning filmmaker. He is the abbot of several monasteries in Asia and the spiritual director of meditation centers in Vancouver, San Francisco, Sydney, Hong Kong, and Taipei. He is also head of a Buddhist organization called Siddhartha’s Intent.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  44 reviews
53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lively, thought-provoking, and profound April 19 2012
By sobepeace - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche has accomplished quite a coup: a text on the Ngondro preliminaries that simultaneously brings the Ngondro overachiever down to earth, provides a swift quick in the bum for the Ngondro slacker, and fosters greater enthusiasm and understanding in those already in the thick of the practices. The book is strong on context and the visceral, lived experience of the practices, less so on the detail, which Rinpoche repeatedly suggests is best to obtain directly from a teacher. The practice descriptions present the Longchen Nyingthig preliminary practices of the Nyingma lineage, and are quite sufficient to lay out the mechanics, particularly if accompanied by more specific commentary for those who want to pin down intricate points. The context and background explanations, however, apply to any Ngondro--indeed to any Tibetan Buddhist practice.

More importantly, the text provides insight and straight-to-the-heart purpose for engaging in the practices themselves. Rinpoche speaks with one foot solidly grounded in the traditional theory and methodology of practice, another in an open and kind understanding of practical challenges modern practitioners face. He is a recognized incarnation of a great Tibetan master, yet is thoroughly modern in his approach and life (he is also well known as the film maker behind "The Cup" and "Travelers and Magicians.") The combination of tradition and modernity provides for a vivid description of the meaning behind the practices, and a lively approach to actively encountering it in our own experience. The English editing is superb--the language is elegant, fluid, and rich without getting in the way of the substance.

As a Kagyu practitioner who remains an active fan after having completed one Mahamudra Ngondro, I found much to carry into my ongoing practice at all levels. As a student and translator of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy in traditional monasteries in Nepal and India, I recognized the scholarly vein of the monastic training in Rinpoche's delivery. Rinpoche peppers the text with seminal and relevant quotes and advice from genuine teachers of Tibetan Buddhism, particularly the Nyingma and Kagyu schools emphasizing the Ngondro as a foundational practice. The result is a text inlaid with nuggets of practical wisdom available for the reader to mine, contemplate, and apply to their practice. Much food for thought on many levels, practical and profound. Rinpoche is particularly effective in demystifying the central role of devotion to all practice.

I would highly recommend this thoroughly engaging book to those who wish to bring their spiritual practice to life. Sound, pragmatic advice that will get you reflecting on your motivation and approach in positive ways throughout the day, and send you to the cushion with fresh and enlivening insight to fuel your practice of awakening. I, for one, foresee returning to its inspiring and grounding blessings again and again. May all beings develop and suffuse their mindstreams with genuine devotion and understanding, bringing it to the complete perfection of buddhahood for the sake of all that lives!
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An excellent resource with a couple of caveats April 13 2013
By Book&musiclover - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am enjoying the book, and also how the material is forthright and upfront. A lot of myths are disspelled, and as one reviewer said, this book is 'not for sissies.' You want to practice? here's how, and what to expect. No mumbo jumbo. And the reasoning behind all the visualizations is most helpful, especially to beginners, as is the explanation of bodhichitta. This would be a 5 star review but for one thing. Stating that "depression is laziness" is a disservice to those who have had to deal with it, those who are fighting it, a vast oversimplification, and moreover, a judgement hastily made. Depression is a combo of many things - brain chemistry, circumstance and history that a judgement of "laziness" dismisses and irresponsibly adds to suffering for those who may be experiencing and pick up this book. It is, moreover, a statement made in ignorance that perhaps the editors did a disservice in not catching. Otherwise, i have enjoyed the book and it has helped me view practice in new ways.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From aspiration to actualisation Oct. 1 2012
By nOne - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse is like a modern Padmasambhava ,
Everyone who's inspired to enter the Vajrayana path of Buddhism will benefit greatly by reading and contemplating of this amazing book.
The Ngondro practice is a must if one want to go beyond mere intellectualisation of the Buddhadharma , so if you are serious about your practice and if want to uproot old habits for good ; read this book it's worth every penny and time!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for all Western Vajrayana Students. Jan. 15 2013
By Whitney Pinneo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Written for Western students of the Vajrayana preliminary practices of Ngondro. Excellent for modern insight into an ancient and essential perspective into view, meditation, and action, of the Vajrayana Path.
39 of 55 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For true believers only Nov. 23 2012
By K. Knox - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm not sure how many stars to give this book. For an already-committed ngöndro practitioner who buys into that tradition fully (and knows little or nothing of other Buddhist traditions or modern scholarship) it's easily a four or five star book, but for those with a background in other traditions or decent training in modern scholarship it could be the kind of "one star" experience that makes them swear off of Tibetan Buddhism altogether - though that's certainly not Rinpoche's intention.

Dzongsar Rinpoche works hard at being provocative, and as young and thoroughly cross-cultural as he is there's really no excuse for some of the inaccuracies about other Buddhist traditions and the basic history of the religion that are repeated here as facts. The historical Buddha did not teach Mahayana let alone Vajrayana Buddhism - those sutras, tantras and commentaries were written centuries later by no doubt highly-realized practitioners, but they are not the words of the Buddha. The Buddha didn't teach "Bodhisattvayana," didn't do or recommend visualization or prostrations or deity worship of any kind, and never talked about guru yoga or devotion. These are simple matters of fact that were certainly not known to the first generation of Tibetan refugee lamas who knew nothing of Buddhism outside of Tibet, but there's really no excuse for a modern dharma teacher not distinguishing between party line and fact.

Other old canards repeated here are the portrayal of what the Buddha actually taught as preliminary teachings ("Shravakayana") and the citing of "lineage" as a means of assessing the authenticity of teachers and texts despite the fact that almost everything taught in the book was written by Indian and Tibetan masters who were at least eight centuries removed from the Buddha and whose teachings and practices, however profound and efficacious they may be, bear little resemblance to those of of the Buddha.

These criticisms notwithstanding there's a great deal of pithy dharma in this book. The quotations, doctrines and practices presented may not be those of the Buddha, but arguably they are those of living Buddhas from many centuries later. Who's to say that their levels of understanding and skillful means don't surpass those of the tradition's founder?
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