Yoga on Labor Day, Dennis Skipper and Keith Dowman

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Hey There,

Sorry for the late notice regarding the Labor Day Holiday schedule-

Both Morning and Evening times are unsupported and open. If you have the means feel free to practice at a time that suits you. I am practicing during the evening and if you require guidance or adjustment I will be happy to assist you. If the door at the street is locked enter “#2212” on the intercom and the door will unlock. If the studio is locked call me at 503-890-2212 for instructions on how to enter. Enjoy the final holiday of the summer and the last until Thanksgiving!

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Dennis will be introducing the basic precepts of ngondro on September 12th at 6pm. I asked him to do this so we could engage in simple preparations for the upcoming Keith Dowman seminar. The following are my thoughts about Keith. His website is www.keithdowman.net if you want to check out the texts he has translated and his personal essays.
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I attached the flier for the up coming Keith Dowman Dzokchen seminar and I’d like to offer my views on what he represents to me as a student of yoga and hopefully inspire one or a few of you to attend his workshop. Keep in mind that the workshop is happening at 40th and Hawthorn not at NEY. It costs $120 dollars but scholarships are available. The dates for the seminar are September 30th and October 1st and 2nd.

Since returning from India in 2008 my focus as a student of classical yoga along with Yoga Sutra has been directed toward Buddhism specifically Vajrayana and Tantra practices of the Tibetan yogis. My great friend and teacher Dennis “Lokanath” Skipper began to encourage the practice of Ngondro in 2006 and since May of 2008 I have made a diligent effort to practice it both formally and informally in my daily affairs.

Ngondro translates from Tibetan as “preliminary” and is the basic sadhana (practice) that monks and nuns undertake to prepare them for the subtler “pointing out instructions” that come from Lama’s and Rinpoche’s. Over time sitting with and reciting the ngondro I have been profoundly affected by the memory of the pristine concepts and not a moment goes by that I am not considering what I have learned from a few short pages and working at making it the seed of my actions. Ngondro is a difficult as it is rewarding. The breath work alone resulting from chanting has allowed me to retain accomplishments made from years of pranayama practice. My faults are greatly illuminated in the practice as well which has been hard to experience but all the same very rewarding since the practice offers resolution for them as well.

Before now I have been slow to write anything about ngondro for two reasons, one is that I don’t know enough about it and the other, stemming from that, I don’t want to accidentally turn people off to it by reflecting it with my limitations. I think we all are able to understand what it is if we allow it in and reflect upon it personally. I am here to encourage that. The written teachings of the yogis can accomplish far more than I can. That said, this year, under the counsel of Dennis who has years of experience and an encyclopedic knowledge of yoga teachings, I have shared the opening stages of the practice to a few people. Those who have taken it on as a practice will confirm it’s power and value in daily life. For this reflection I am greatly pleased and relieved. More than anything I hope to both share this method and support a sangha where the knowledge and benefit can be shared.

That is essentially the function of the initial stages of the ngondro- to encourage and support the generation of wisdom and merit via taking and offering refuge. This alone is a precious gem and a gem that can be perfectly duplicated. The process continues on from there but I will not spoil it by offering my feeble words. It’s not about my words anyway. We all have our lives to live and understand. Ngondro is by design very personal. A personal attempt to engage it will reveal personal insights. We all need that experience and which can only come from within.

What does this have to do with Keith Dowman? Keith is a translator of Tibetan Buddhist lineage teachings living in Nepal. He speaks a writes very clearly about these concepts but avoids the trappings that often distract and confuse the western student. In winter 2010 I had read a few of his translations and was blown away. He took the insights from my practice which I had no idea how or where to employ and set them on fire. I am not the only one. He is revered in the Buddhist community. I wrote him and invited him to Portland. Via a fluke of mutual association with Dennis and others he happened to have a old friend here in Portland and agreed to come teach.

You might be wondering if his teaching is for you. Considering that my goal is to continue to support yogis, the ngondro and develop in my own practice, the opportunity to have that for yourself is highly possible. This may be, as it was for me, a way to leverage some growth in both your asana and meditation practice and life for that matter, that in my view is unlimited. As mentioned before Dennis will be at Near East Yoga on September 12th to cover the basic precepts of ngondro. With that and some personal practice and reflection any of us will be well suited to make use the shelter of a wise knower like Keith Dowman. and…I feel duty bound to inform you that a great sage is coming and to take shelter with him.

With metta, Casey

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