Buddhist practice of Karma Kagyu transmission lineage begins with the Preliminaries Practices (Tib. Chag Chen Ngondro, literally “preparation to the Great Seal”). They are often just called “ngondro”. The preliminaries consist of four general and four special practices.
By general practices are understood four basic thoughts, which help to strengthen the motivation and show the importance of the meditation not only for the practitioners themselves, but also for everyone who is connected with them and who they want to benefit.
These are the thoughts the way they appear in the meditation:
We recognize our precious opportunity in this life, that we can benefit countless beings through the methods of a Buddha. Few people ever meet Diamond Way teachings and even fewer are able to us them.
We remember the impermanence of everything composite. Only the unlimited clear space of mind is lasting, and it is uncertain how long conditions will remain for recognising it.
We understand causality, that it is up to us what will happen. Former thoughts, words and actions became our present state, and right now we are sowing the seeds for our future.
We see the reasons for working with mind. Enlightenment is timeless highest bliss, and we cannot benefit others while confused or disturbed ourselves.
Four special practices are the four meditations, which are commonly called ngondro, or Preliminary Practices. They develop deep understanding of the goal and the way; purify the mind from heavy imprints left as a result of former harmful actions; and create countless positive impressions, which make a basis for the practice of Mahamudra, or the Great Seal.
In each of the practices one should do 111,111 repetitions: taking the refuge and awakening of Enlightened attitude during prostrations; purification of painful impressions with the help of Diamond Mind meditation (Sanskrit Vajrasattva); development of generosity by means of mandala offering; Guru Yoga, meditation on the Lama.