The Fully Fledged Garuḍa

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Longchen Rabjam


The Fully Fledged Garuḍa

by Longchen Rabjam

Homage to the great suffusive dharmatā!

Genuine mind, groundless, without origin, and unchanging,
Unaltered, sovereign, resting freely as it is, released by itself,
Beyond all rejection, acceptance, halting, cultivating, hope and fear—
Homage to the dimension of mind’s nature, the perfect ground.

Utterly pure from the first, expanse beyond imagination’s scope,
The sovereign mind-as-such, the great perfection that is natural,
In which nothing at all is rejected and all has been transcended,
The nature wherein all dharmas have always been free. Listen!

Inexpressible, this already perfect, vast sky-like mind-as-such,
Requiring no action, effortless, beyond all thoughts and ideas,
Expanse of awareness, spontaneous field, unattached to what arises,
Left as it is, released by itself, seen directly, beyond the conceptual,
Is one’s natural situation: do not corrupt it through contrivance!

Any foolish person who surrenders this essential nature
Commits the genuine mind to a trap of their own making.
Contriving and contriving obscures the essential point;
It prevents freedom and brings only more confinement.

Someone who has a spacious and relaxed attitude
Knows that the nature itself requires no adjustment.
Noticed movement clears itself, unspoilt by remedy,
Untransformed by the rejected—Great Perfection.

Reality purified into unreality, existence opposed to non-existence,
A vast sky-like emptiness in which all that is real is eliminated—
Can one who seeks freedom through thus contriving and contriving
Truly be said to escape the extremes of eternalism and nihilism?

Groundless and without origin, it is Great Perfection from the outset,
Without meditation on the empty, appearing, existent or non-existent.
Wherever there is meditation there must also be view and conduct.
This implies conditioned existence and the sufferings of saṃsāra.
Where there is such Dharma, there are convictions held by vehicles.
This is the trap of the emotional afflictions, the means of binding us.

Without a ground, there is no path, and clinging to fruition fades away.
Not the slightest speck of assertion related to any vehicle remains,
And there is, therefore, no tarnish based on karma and its ripening,
No abiding in existence or quiescence, just freedom in a sky-like sphere.

Delight that comes through purifying the channels and winds,
Dispersing and gathering bindus, and through sexual union—
Joy, supreme joy, the joy of cessation and co-emergent joy—
Such forms of bliss and emptiness labelled causes of freedom
Cannot bring transcendence even from the realm of desire.
Contrived emptiness does not give rise to actual liberation.

Those who meditate on the clarity of mind or clear objective conditions,
Such as the colours of wind-energies perceptible through sensory doors,
And who thus contrive to bring about so-called non-conceptuality
Possess the confidence of focusing upon objects of apprehension,
Yet they are utterly bound by the ties of subject-object duality.
How could they possibly find freedom from the realm of form?

Even meditation in which there is no apparent focus or perceptible object,
Based on physical postures, silence, concentration, suppression of thought,
Will only bring repeated circling through the four types of formlessness—
Infinite space and the rest—and will never bring about actual liberation.

States related to the three realms—bliss, clarity and non-conceptuality—
Only cause one to circle through the desire, form and formless worlds
With no opportunity for freedom. Even tīrthikas have such approaches.
What is the difference between their minds and those of other beings?

Although you might claim that these involve a meditation on emptiness,
Whoever contrives and contrives in such ways to cultivate emptiness
Makes of a positive state of mind an antidote that only further binds.
Since it is not the natural state, how can such 'emptiness' be of benefit?
One idea inspires another, and having many thoughts, good and bad,
Serves only as a means to construct the citadel of saṃsāra once more.
Thinking positively leads to the two felicitous, superior realms.
Thinking negatively leads to the three types of vile destination.
Travelling to each in turn, one cannot escape saṃsāra’s course.

One who lacks the causes, both good and bad karma,
Does not experience the result they generate, saṃsāra.
As with space, how could such a person be obscured?

With the vessel of mind adrift on the river of sensory objects,
A person who strives for the effortless sailing of referentiality
Will only exhaust themselves circling the ocean of existence.
They will not be able to reach the distant shore of liberation.
As long as one strives and applies effort to cultivate
A mind of meditation that has an object of reference,
There will be no way to gain freedom from saṃsāra.

With the play of awareness soaring through the sky of the sensory domain,
A person for whom sovereign non-referentiality, free of grasping, dawns
Is spontaneously liberated from the conditioning of subject-object duality
And abides in an unmoving, changeless dimension through the three times.

Whoever’s heart has been seized by the poison of exertion
Will be struck by the falling rain of all the worlds’ sorrows.
Kingly inactivity, absence of exertion, brings contentment.
When equanimous assurance, kingly self-liberation, is found,
Discursivity of thought arises as the play of pristine wisdom.
One has arrived at the primordial state that is devoid of error,
The realization of great naturally arisen, spontaneous presence.

Whoever wishes to find such freedom within their mind
Should not corrupt the genuine mind through contrivance.

Contriving and contriving—that is only guaranteed to confine.
Kingly non-contrivance is key for spontaneously perfect rigpa.
Let mind rest naturally in whatever state it finds itself,
Without effort or application, just momentary openness.
There should be no trace of rejection or cultivation based on labelling,
Nor any ideas of avoidance or acceptance based on a failure to identify.
It is a dimension of free ground, free path and free fruition—
Kingly self-freedom, unmoving and changeless throughout the three times.
Inexpressible and inconceivable, the genuine space of the perfect ground.
There is no freedom, as there is no atom of foundation to what is freed.
There is nothing to look at, nothing to see, nothing to point out through signs.
It transcends the conceptual domain, and involves nothing to be imagined.

It is not existent or non-existent, not both or neither,
A vast expanse that transcends all four possibilities.
An unborn sky-expanse, naturally, spontaneously perfect.
A rich ocean-expanse, unfathomable in depth and breadth.
A solar and lunar expanse, empty yet luminous by nature.
An unelaborate kingly expanse, beyond joining and parting.

Causeless and unconditioned, with impressions purified in their own place,
Left as it is, unveiled and spontaneously freed—a key point of awareness.
Stirrings have ceased and sensory impressions are automatically freed.
"Freed" and "unfreed" are dream-like conventions.
What error can there be in a sourceless dimension?[1]
These are all nothing but conventional expressions.

Sovereign pure awareness brings the assurance of the clear, empty dharmakāya.
Primordially free naturalness brings the assurance of great timeless accomplishment.
Completeness without relinquishment brings the assurance of original purity.
Changeless spontaneous presence brings the assurance of rootless groundlessness.
Spontaneous freedom when leaving 'as is' brings the assurance of great self-arising.

Fresh and genuine, uncontrived and plain,
Ordinary awareness, naturally free, the way of the victorious,
Self-aware and self-liberated, with no need to apply a remedy,
Unborn, spontaneous and perfect, the expanse of awareness that is already free—
In this nature, in which any impression arises as an ally,
The source of deluded acceptance and rejection is exhausted.
Whatever arises—good or bad, happy or sorrowful—is the dimension of rigpa.
The nature of this rigpa is the dimension of the primordial wisdom play.
What a great wonder this exhaustion of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa’s delusory base!

One will liberate all, but all will not bring singular liberation—
Knowing this is the key to self-liberated awareness.
Primordial freedom means there is no ground for repetition in the original state.
Naked freedom means the lack of essential nature, emptiness of true existence.
Self-freedom refers to the absence of any antidote, the genuine nature of mind.
Freedom upon occurrence means purification in its own place is instantaneous.
Freedom upon arising means that this happens simultaneously not sequentially.

Do not deliberately fixate, but remain free of thematic focus.
Allow the natural process of self-arising to unfold automatically.
The natural process of self-dissolution transcends all identification.
Do not fabricate with the mind or block mental activity.
Without internal or external objects, a space-like dimension,
Always empty, devoid of mind within, an immense openness—
How joyous the exhaustion of mind within phenomenal exhaustion!

The nature of objects transcends the deficiencies of intellect.
Mind cannot tarnish the essential nature by objectifying it.
Do not reject or accept, suppress or indulge, hope or worry!

Not situated anywhere, beyond all bases of expression—
In the primordially free dharmatā, loose and uncontrived,
Modification through outer or inner remedies is pointless.

How the self-liberated king settles is the key to awareness:
In natural rest, free from concern, unspoilt by contrivance,
Spontaneous and vast, whatever arises to rigpa manifests in its domain.

Unsought natural rest and natural flow, the dimension of the All Good,
In which language and mind are exhausted, beyond the sensory realm,
There is nothing to view, nothing to cultivate, no "this" to be identified.
In inactivity, the one who retains the strength of a simpleton is at ease.

Primordial wisdom, impartial and unbiased, is pervasive
And beyond comparison in its stainless self-radiance.
It is not found by searching but naturally by letting be.
Self-manifest movement arises as dharmakāya’s play,
From its inception, unsullied by waxing and waning.
By the guru’s grace, let the reality of realization reign!

Not realized through the path of diverse philosophy,
And free from the intellect’s fanciful conceptions—
How wondrous this hidden rigpa, naturally present and free!

In the perfect ground, the dimension beyond imagining,
The font of thought soars gently through the sky of mind—[2]
Causeless and unconditioned, the passage of a single sphere.

Appearing by itself within the space of natural purity,
This planting of the great stake of changeless equality,
Transcending the four modes, neither apparent nor void,
Is an immense expanse, form that is empty in every aspect,
A vast natural expanse, self-freed and spontaneously present.

Through this explanation from within an infinite vast expanse[3]
Of the meaning of the fully-fledged garuḍa transcending four modes,
May all beings find perfection within the expanse of non-abandoning.

This concludes The Fully Fledged Garuḍa, composed by the yogin of the vast expanse of non-action, Longchen Rabjam, at the glorious retreat place of Chimphu. Let it be virtuous! Virtuous! Virtuous!

| Translated by Adam Pearcey with the generous support of the Tsadra Foundation, 2023.


Tibetan Edition

klong chen rab 'byams. "khyung chen gshog rdzogs" In snying thig ya bzhi. 13 vols. Delhi: Sherab Gyaltsen Lama, 1975. Vol. 12: 267–276 (4.5 folios)

Secondary Sources

Guenther, Herbert. The Full-Fledged Khyung-chen Bird: An Essay in Freedom as the Dynamics of Being. Tokyo: The International Institute for Buddhist Studies of the International College for Advanced Buddhist Studies, 1996.

Tulku Thondup. Buddha Mind. Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications, 1989. (Reissued as The Practice of Dzogchen, 2002).

Version: 1.0-20231230

  1. Reading tsa bral as rtsa bral.  ↩

  2. Guenther called this line "almost untranslatable," since English lacks the necessary vocabulary. It is also possible that there has been some corruption in the text. The meaning of dal in this context, for example, is unclear. Needless to say, the translation here is tentative.  ↩

  3. In this line Longchenpa plays upon the literal meaning of his name Longchen Rabjam (klong chen rab 'byams), the 'infinite vast expanse'.  ↩

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