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- This article is about the primordial state as considered in Tibetan Buddhism and Bon. For the monastery of the same name, please see Dzogchen Monastery.
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Our ultimate nature is said to be pure, self-existing, all-encompassing awareness. This 'intrinsic awareness' has no form of its own and yet is capable of perceiving, experiencing, reflecting, or expressing all form. It does so without being affected by those forms in any ultimate, permanent way. The analogy given by Dzogchen masters is that one's nature is like a mirror which reflects with complete openness but is not affected by the reflections, or a crystal ball which takes on the colour of the material on which it is placed without itself being changed. Other evocative phrases used by masters describe it as an 'effulgence', an 'all-pervading fullness' or as 'space that is aware'. When an individual is able to maintain the rdzogs chen state continually, he or she no longer experiences dukkha, i.e., feelings of discontent, tension and anxiety in everday life. (Compare with nirvana).
- 1 Definitions
- 2 Background
- 3 Concepts
- 4 The practice of Dzogchen
- 5 Uses and application for ordinary people
- 6 Reality vs dreams
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Definitions[edit | edit source]
"Dzogchen" has been translated variously as Great Perfection, Great Completeness, Total Completeness, Supercompleteness. These terms also convey the idea that our nature as intrinsic awareness has many qualities that make it 'perfect'. These include indestructibility, incorruptible purity, non-discriminating openness, flawless clarity, profound simplicity, all-pervading presence and equality within all beings (i.e., the quality, quantity and functionality of this awareness is exactly the same in every being in the universe). It is said that the impressive personal qualities of the fully-enlightened Buddha derived from the fact that he was fully 'aligned' with this already-existing primordial nature. Descriptions of the Buddha as omniscient and omnipresent refer to his ultimate nature as this awareness. The term "Dzogchen" is a Tibetan rendering of the Sanskrit term maha sandhi and its variants, and is also used to render the Sanskrit term ati yoga.
The homonymous term "Dzogchen" designates a meditation practice and body of teachings aimed at helping an individual to recognize the Dzogchen state, to become sure about it, and to develop the capacity to maintain the state continually.
The Dzogchen teachings are considered by some to be the pinnacle of the nine yana, (Tibetan theg pa, vehicle) of the Nyingma (Tib. rnying ma) school of Tibetan Buddhism and the Tibetan Bön (Tib. bon) tradition. The instructions that point to the Dzogchen state are sometimes described as a set of "inner" or "heart" (Tib. snying thig) teachings. Practicing Tibetan Buddhists consider that the state pointed to by these teachings is very difficult to describe, and can only be discovered through its transmission by an authentic Vajra Master. Some teachers also regard Dzogchen as a teaching completely in its own right, independent of Buddhism or Bon. They say that, as our primordial nature, Dzogchen has existed since the beginning of time and is pointed to by various masters throughout the universe.
Background[edit | edit source]
Indian originators[edit | edit source]
From Garab Dorje, the Dzogchen is said to have been passed down as listed below. Often, practitioners are said to have lived for hundreds of years, and there are inconsistencies in the lifespan dates given, making it impossible to construct a logical timeline.
- Prahevajra (Tib. Garab Dorje, Wylie: dga' rab rdo rje) 184 BCE to 57 CE
- Mañjuśrīmitra (Tib. Jampal Shenyen) dates unclear
- Sri Singha (Tib. name unknown) dates unclear
- Padmasambhava (Tib. Pema Jungne or Guru Rinpoche) dates unclear
- Vimalamitra (Tib. Drime Shenyen) dates unclear
- Vairotsana (Tib. Nampar Nangdze Lotsawa, Wylie: rnam par snang mdzad lo tsa ba ) dates unclear
In Tibet[edit | edit source]
Padmasambhava (Tib. padma 'byung gnas, gu ru rin po che) is the source of Dzogchen teachings in Tibet (Tib. bod), which are the heart of the Nyingma (Tib. rnying ma) tradition, with which they are primarily associated. Dzogchen has also been practiced in the Kagyu (Tib. bka' brgyud) lineage, beginning with Milarepa (Tib. mi la ras pa) and most notably by the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje (Tib. rang byung rdo rje). The Fifth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth (present) Dalai Lamas (Tib. ta la'i bla ma) are also noted Dzogchen masters, although their adoption of the practice of Dzogchen has been a source of controversy among more conservative members of the Geluk (Tib. dge lugs) tradition.
In the Bön religion, three separate Dzogchen traditions are attested and continue to be practiced: A-tri (Tib. a khrid), Dzogchen (Tib. rdzogs chen, here referring narrowly to the specific lineage within the Bön tradition), and Shang Shung Nyen Gyu (Tib. zhang zhung snyan rgyud). All are traced back to the mythical founder of Bön, Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche (Tib. ston pa gshen rab mi bo che).
Concepts[edit | edit source]
The essence of the Dzogchen teaching is the direct transmission of knowledge from master to disciple. Garab Dorje epitomized the Dzogchen teaching in three principles, known as the Three Statements of Garab Dorje:
- Direct introduction to one's own nature (Tib. ngo rang thog tu sprod pa)
- Not remaining in doubt concerning this unique state (Tib. thag gcig thog tu bcad pa)
- Continuing to remain in this state (Tib. gdeng grol thog tu bca' pa)
In accordance with these three statements, Garab Dorje's direct disciple Manjushrimitra (Tib. 'jam dpal bshes gnyen) classified all the Dzogchen teachings transmitted by his master into three series:
- Semde (Tib. sems sde), the series of Mind, that focuses on the introduction to one's own primordial state
- Longde (Tib. klong sde), the series of Space, that focuses on developing the capacity to gain familiarity with the state and remove doubts
- Men-ngak (Tib. man ngag sde, Sanskrit upadesha), the series of secret Oral Instructions, focusing on the practices in which one engages after gaining confidence in knowledge of the state
The Dzogchen teachings focus on three terms: View, Meditation, and Action. To see directly the absolute state of our mind is the View; the way of stabilizing that View and making it an unbroken experience is Meditation; and integrating that View into our daily life is what is meant by Action.
Dzogchen is one of several recognized approaches to Nondualism.
Three aspects of energy[edit | edit source]
Sentient beings have their energy manifested in 3 aspects:
- dang (Tib. gdangs)
- rolpa (Tib. rol pa)
- tsal (Tib. rtsal)
Energy of an individual on the dang level is essentially infinite and formless.
In the form of rolpa energy forms appear as though seen with 'the eye of the mind'. Many practices of thödgal and yangthig work on the basis of functioning of the rolpa aspect of individual's energy. It is also the original source of the deities visualized in Buddhist tantric transformational practices and of manifestations of one hundred peaceful and wrathful deities in bardo.
Tsal is the manifestation of the energy of the individual him or herself, as apparently 'external' world.
External world versus continuum[edit | edit source]
According to Dzogchen teachings, energy of an individual is essentially totally formless and free from any duality. However, karmic traces, contained in the individual's stream of consciousness give rise to two kinds of forms:
- forms that the individual experiences as his or her body, voice and mind and
- forms that the individual experiences as an external environment.
What appears as a world of apparently external phenomena, is the energy of the individual him or herself. There is nothing external or separate from the individual. Everything that manifests in the individual's field of experience is a continuum. This is the Great Perfection that is discovered in the Dzogchen practice.
Causality and interdependent origination[edit | edit source]
In Dzogchen teachings the interdependent origination and any kind of causality is considered illusory: '(One says), "all these (configurations of events and meanings) come about and disappear according to dependent origination." But, like a burnt seed, since a nonexistent (result) does not come about from a nonexistent (cause), cause and effect do not exist.
Being obsessed with entities, one's experiencing itself [sems, citta], which discriminates each cause and effect, appears as if it were cause and condition.' (from byang chub sems bsgom pa by Mañjusrîmitra. Primordial experience. An Introduction to rDzogs-chen Meditiation, pp. 60, 61)
This corresponds to the assertion in the Heart sutra (Prajñāpāramitā Hridaya Sūtra), that there is no karma, no law of cause and effect. The assertion was made by bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara in a teaching for the great arhat Shariputra, given before multitude of beings, on request of Buddha Shakyamuni. After the teaching Buddha Shakyamuni greatly praised the wisdom of Avalokiteshvara words and the beings present rejoyced.
Guardians[edit | edit source]
All teachings have energies that have special relationships with them. These energies are guardians of the teachings. The energies are iconographically depicted as they were perceived by yogis who had contact with them. The iconographic forms were shaped by perceptions and also by the culture of those who saw the original manifestation and by the development of the tradition. However the guardians are not merely symbols. The pictures show actual beings.
Dzogchen, well-being and health[edit | edit source]
The quality of our lives is best when the internal elements are balanced. The body is healthy when the elements are balanced. There is no better way to balance the elements than abide in the natural state. 
The practice of Dzogchen[edit | edit source]
In Dzogchen, self-liberation is achieved by discovering or recognizing one's own primordial mental state and remaining in that natural state of primordial awareness in which all phenomena are experienced without creating karma through reaction, attachment, or conceptual labelling.
Sogyal Rinpoche, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche and other teachers provide different practical sets of instructions for the practice of Dzogchen. The central practice of Dzogchen teaching is Dzogchen contemplation (Tib. ting nge 'dzin).
Silent and prolonged meditation (Tib. sgom pa) is also used to allow the obscurations of the mind to dissipate like clouds dissolving to reveal the empty, luminous sky. Through meditation, it is possible to remove the conditioning of our minds and to glimpse our true nature.
According to some teachers (in particular, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu), Dzogchen is a practice rather than a doctrine or religion. It does not require the practitioner to be anywhere special; in fact, to be normally active while in a state of primordial or natural awareness is the ultimate practice of Dzogchen.
The goal of Dzogchen practice is to remain in the clear, undeluded state of the nature of the mind, unconditioned by thoughts -- which is not the same thing as not having any thoughts, which is in any case impossible. At the beginning, a Dzogchen teacher introduces one directly (Tib. ngo sprod, introduce, point out) to the real nature of one's mind, even if only for a few seconds; being a Dzogchen practitioner thus implies that one must have a qualified Dzogchen teacher, one who has mastered the nature of the mind. Historically, Dzogchen teachers have been very selective in choosing initiates, but current lineage holders in the Nyingma and Bön traditions have made Dzogchen teachings available to a wider (Western) audience.
Sky gazing[edit | edit source]
Tregchöd and thödgal[edit | edit source]
Once the state of non-dual contemplation has been arrived at, one has to continue in it. This continuation has two levels of practice: tregchöd and thödgal. These are main practices presented in the Menngagde series (Oral Instruction Series) of the dzogchen teachings.
Uses and application for ordinary people[edit | edit source]
Anam Thubten Rinpoche of the Dharmata Foundation teaches that "being aware of one's awareness" is a simple method for people to follow in practicing Dzogchen moment to moment. Consistency is the key to this method.
Reality vs dreams[edit | edit source]
- See also: Lucid dreaming
According to contemporary teacher Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, in Dzogchen the perceived reality is considered to be unreal. All appearances perceived during the whole life of individual through all senses, including sounds, smells, tastes and tactile sensations in their totality are like a big dream. It is claimed that on careful examination the dream of life and regular nightly dreams are not very different, and that in their essential nature there is no difference between them.
The non-essential difference between our dreaming state and our ordinary waking experience is that the latter is more concrete and linked with our attachment; the dreaming is slightly detached.
Also according to this teaching, there is a correspondence between the states of sleep and dream and our experiences when we die. After experiences of intermediate state of bardo an individual comes out of it, a new karmic illusion is created and another existence begins. This is how transmigration happens.
One aim of dream practice is to realize during a dream that one is dreaming. One can then 'take control' of the dream and do all sorts of things, such as go to different places, talk to people, fly and so forth. It is also possible to do different yogic practices while dreaming (usually such yogic practices one does in waking state). In this way the yogi can have a very strong experience and with this comes understanding of the dream-like nature of daily life. This is very relevant to diminishing attachments, because they are based on strong beliefs that life's perceptions and objects are real and, as a consequence, important. If one really understands what Buddha Shakyamuni meant when he said that everything is unreal or of the nature of shunyata, then one can diminish attachments and tensions.
The teacher gives advice, that the realization that the life is only a big dream can help us finally liberate ourselves from the chains of emotions, attachments, and ego and then we have the possibility of ultimately becoming enlightened.
See also[edit | edit source]
- Lucid dreaming
- Lucid living
- Lozang Gyatso, 5th Dalai Lama
- Tsa lung
- Reality and Chakras in Bön
- Trul khor
Notes[edit | edit source]
- Norbu (1999)
- Norbu (1999), pp. 99, 100, 101
- Norbu (1999), pp. 99, 101
- Norbu (1999), p. 42
- Norbu (1999), p. 129
- Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche (2002), p. 21
- Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche (2002), p. 121
- Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche (2002), p. 130
- Tarthang Tulku (1977)
- Norbu (1999), p. 129
- Norbu (1992), pp. 42, 46, 48, 96, 105
References[edit | edit source]
- Capriles, Elías. Buddhism and Dzogchen. Part 1 - Buddhism: a Dzogchen Outlook. Published on the web at 
- Dudjom Rinpoche (1991). The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, Vol. 1. Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-087-8
- Norbu, Chögyal Namkhai (1999). The Crystal and The Way of Light: Sutra, Tantra and Dzogchen. Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 1-55939-135-9
- Norbu, Chögyal Namkhai (1992). Dream Yoga and the Practice Of Natural Light. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 1-55939-007-7
- Norbu, Chögyal Namkhai (2000). Dzogchen: The Self-perfected State. Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 1-55939-057-3
- Reynolds, John Myrdhin (1996). The Golden Letters: The Tibetan Teachings of Garab Dorje, First Dzogchen Master. Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 1-55939-050-6
- Reynolds, John Myrdhin (2005). The Oral Tradition from Zhang-Zhung: An Introduction to the Bonpo Dzogchen Teachings of the Oral Tradition from Zhang-Zhung Known as the Zhang-zhung snyan-rgyud. Vajra Publications. ISBN 99946-644-4-1
- Sogyal Rinpoche (1992). The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. Random House. ISBN 0-06-250793-1
- Tarthang Tulku (1977). Time, Space, and Knowledge: A New Vision of Reality. Berkeley, CA: Dharma Publishing. ISBN 0-913546-08-9
- Wangyal, Tenzin (Rinpoche) (2002). Healing with Form, Energy, and Light. Ithaca, New York: Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 1-55939-176-6
[edit | edit source]
- Ground, Path and Fruition, A summary of Dzogchen teachings
- Dzogchen Atiyoga, Info Page
- Dzogchen Institute, founded by Surya Das
- Tsegyalgar, International Dzogchen Community in America (founded by Chogyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche)
- Merigar, International Dzogchen Community in Europe (founded by Chogyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche)
- Dzogchen Lineage, website of international Sangha under the guidance of Dzogchen Khenpo Choga Rinpoche
- The Longchen Foundation, Formless Meditation/Dzogchen taught in Western-accessible style - UK and Germany.
- Nyingma Institute, Info Page
- Sogyal Rinpoche's Dzogchen Teachings
- Rimé Foundation A non-profit organization specializing in the translation of Tibetan literature, with a special focus on the Dzogchen tradition
- The Ligmincha Institute, founded by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche in 1992.
- Dharmata Foundation
- Dzogchen Atiling Centres in east coast, USA
- Material on the history and Practice of Dzogchen (by Alexander Berzin)