LongChen Nyingthig Prelimaries
Longchen Nyingthig Preliminaries
In general the preliminary practices are divided into two sections or kinds: the first are the common or ordinary kind of preliminary practices, and the second are the special or extraordinary kind of preliminaries.
'Four preliminaries' or 'Four reminders' (Tibetan: thun mong ngon dro nam pa zhi; tun mong gi ngon dro shi)
The Namo Buddhist Glossary renders the "Four preliminaries" as the:
...four foundations of meditation (Tib. tun mong gi ngon dro shi) These are the four thoughts that turn the mind. They are reflection on precious human birth, impermanence and the inevitability of death, karma and its effects, and the pervasiveness of suffering in samsara.
...four ordinary foundations (Tib. tün mong gi ngon dro shi) This is meditation on the four thoughts that turn the mind towards dharma which are the precious human birth, impermanence, samsara, and karma.
...four thoughts that turn the mind (Tib. blo do nam shi) These are realizing the preciousness of human birth, the impermanence of life, the faults of samsara, and realizing that pleasure and suffering result from good and bad actions.
The common or ordinary preliminaries are often referred to as the "four thoughts which turn the mind towards Dharma". These consist of contemplations, reflections or meditations on:
the freedoms and advantages of precious human rebirth
the truth of impermanence and change
the workings of karma
the suffering of living beings within Samsara
NB: the Four Ordinary Foundations should not be conflated with the Satipatthana.
The special or extraordinary kind of preliminaries consist of :
a) taking of refuge in the three roots in conjunction with the performance of 100,000 prostrations (purifying pride) cultivation of bodhicitta (purifying jealousy). In some formulations this is included under 1.
b) 100,000 recitations of Vajrasattva's hundred-syllable mantra (purifying hatred/aversion)
c) 100,000 mandala offerings (purifying attachment)
d) 100,000 guru yoga practices (purifying delusion)
These practices purify negative deeds and accumulate merit. Traditionally ngöndro practice is done for the enlightenment of the spiritual aspirant and for the benefit of all sentient beings. That is, the merit of doing the practices is dedicated to all sentient beings. These practices can take 1,500 hours of work to accomplish once. Some practitioners do them multiple times.