Schools & Systems › Dzogchen
Courtesy of Himalayan Art Resources
The following texts are available as part of our Dzogchen (rdzogs chen) or Great Perfection series:
Answers to a series of questions on the distinction between ordinary mind (sem) and pure awareness (rigpa), the dissolution of dualistic perception, mindfulness in Dzogchen, the phases of dissolution at death, and how to practise Dzogchen meditation.
This short text from Jigme Tenpe Nyima's Dzogchen corpus explains the distinction between the ordinary mind (sem) and pure awareness (rigpa), as well as the ways in which the Great Perfection is superior to other approaches.
The author makes a distinction between “instructions that apply more generally” and “teachings that are intended for specific individuals” in order to argue for a gradualist approach that culminates in Mahāmudrā or Dzogchen for all but those of the very sharpest faculties (who are able to proceed to the highest teachings directly).
Written at the request of Lhasé Sogyal, the king of Yönru in Lithang, this short text covers the key points of Trekchö, from the foundational prerequisites to the unique Dzogchen preliminary of 'demolishing the house of the ordinary mind' and the main meditation practice of Dzogchen itself.
This revelation, part of the Longchen Nyingtik, describes the pure awareness, or rigpa, that is the "natural state" (gnas lugs) of the mind, and how all the qualities of the path and fruition are complete within it. The text is considered a definitive statement on the topic, eliminating all doubts and need for further clarification.
- Precious Pointing-Out Instruction Given by Gyalwa Longchenpa in a Pure Vision by Khenchen Ngawang Palzang
- Naturally Liberating Whatever You Meet: A Concise Instruction for Realizing the Nature of Mind by Khenpo Gangshar
- Naturally Liberating Whatever You Meet: Instructions to Guide You along the Profound Path by Khenpo Gangshar
Perhaps Khenpo Gangshar's most famous work, this pithy guide to Dzogchen practice includes instructions on the uncommon preliminaries, the analytical meditations of a paṇḍita, and the main practice, which is the resting meditation of a kusulu, as well as how to integrate the practice.
Gangshar Wangpo tells us that he based these verses—which explain how to eliminate obstacles to practice and sustain realization of mind's essential nature—on scripture, the oral instructions of his guru, and his own experience.
- Vomiting Gold: A Pith Instruction in the Form of Advice for the Diligent Practitioner, the Excellent Atsang by Khenpo Gangshar
In this short instruction in verse, Khenpo Pema Vajra explains the key points of the path in general and of the Great Perfection in particular. His practical advice includes what to do in the intermediate state, or bardo.
Essential advice on every stage of the path from beginning to end. As Longchenpa puts it in the text itself: "Even if we were to meet in person, I would have no greater instruction to give you than this. So take it to heart, all the time, and in any situation."
- A Wish-Fulfilling Gem: Guidance on the Meaning of Being at Ease with Illusion, A Dzogchen Teaching by Longchen Rabjam
From the famed Trilogy of Finding Comfort and Ease (ngal gso skor sgsum), this brief guide to Finding Comfort and Ease in Illusion or Being at Ease with Illusion (sgyu ma ngal gso) explains how to meditate on the illusory or dream-like nature of all phenomena.
- From 'Finding Comfort and Ease in Meditation': A Guide to Locations for Cultivating Samādhi by Longchen Rabjam
The first chapter of Longchenpa's Finding Comfort and Ease in Meditation (samten ngalso), describing ideal environments and dwelling places for cultivating meditative concentration and insight throughout the year.
- A Lamp to Dispel Darkness: An Instruction that Points Directly to the Very Essence of Mind in the Tradition of ‘the Old Realized Ones’ by Mipham Rinpoche
Also known as the "instruction that points directly to the very essence of mind in the tradition of ‘the old realized ones’ (rtogs ldan rgan po)", this is a pithy guide to Dzogchen meditation written for 'village yogis' and other practitioners without a background in study. It includes three separate instructions, for: 1) cracking open the egg-shell of ignorance, 2) cutting the web of saṃsāric existence, and 3) remaining in space-like equalness.
Mipham Rinpoche boils the practice of Trekchö down to the three crucial points of knowing the essence of mind, sustaining that recognition in meditation and allowing thoughts to subside beyond benefit and harm.
In this short text, Mipham Rinpoche attempts—by his own admission—to express the inexpressible. Aware of the challenge and the apparent contradiction, he nevertheless offers various descriptions of mind's ineffable essence "for the sake of those fortunate individuals who seek to penetrate the profound meaning of dharmatā."
In this, one of his most popular Dzogchen instructions, Mipham Rinpoche explains how to go beyond the initial stage of the recognition (ngo shes) of the face of rigpa, or pure awareness, to the subsequent stages of perfecting the strength (rtsal rdzogs) and gaining stability (brtan pa thob).
This short verse-text sets out to clarify the term "self-awareness" (rang rig; svasaṃvedana), especially as it is used in Dzogchen, and challenges those who reject the notion. Mipham points out that self-awareness is something to be experienced firsthand, not debated or speculated about.
Taken from his collected songs (mgur 'bum) this spontaneous poem offers advice on the practice and its fruition, with Nyala Pema Dündul explaining that his view corresponds to Dzogchen, the Great Perfection, his meditation to Mahāmudrā, and his action to the Vinaya.
One of the better known instructions from the collection known as Responses to Questions, Advice from the Guru's Direct Instructions (bla ma dmar khrid kyi zhal gdams zhus lan skor), which is included in the Precious Treasury of Revelations (rin chen gter mdzod). The text contains simple advice from Guru Padmasambhava for his elderly disciple, Ngok Sherab Gyalpo.
Definitions of the five wisdoms (ye shes lnga), i.e., the wisdom of dharmadhātu, mirror-like wisdom, wisdom of equality, wisdom of discernment and all-accomplishing wisdom, according to the oral tradition of Khenpo Ngawang Palzang, aka Khenpo Ngakchung.
This short work in verse offers advice on the natural self-liberation (rang grol) of thoughts and emotions, which Patrul Rinpoche repeatedly identifies as the key to the view, meditation and conduct of the Great Perfection.
- Self-Liberating Meditation: A Profound Method for Attaining Enlightenment According to the Ultimate Great Perfection by Patrul Rinpoche
Sometimes known by its first four syllables as Eko Eko (translated as "Have you heard? Have you heard?") and sometimes as Self-Liberated Wisdom-Mind, this is a comprehensive and popular instruction on Dzogchen meditation. Although the emphasis is on remaining natural and unaltered (machöpa), the text also offers advice on how to integrate and adapt to the various experiences and circumstances a practitioner might face. The style is direct, eloquent and moving.
In this brief instruction, the celebrated Dzogchen master Tulku Tsullo explains how the nature of mind is the nature of everything and reveals the method for settling into an experience of that nature.
An explanation of the final words of the great Dzogchen master Orgyen Tendzin Norbu (1841–1900): "I am Guru Padmākara of Oḍḍiyāna, a buddha free from birth and death. Awakening mind is impartial and unbiased, beyond labels of the eight stages, the four pairs."
- The Precious Jewelled Key: A Synopsis of the Aspiration of the Great Perfection Mañjuśrī by Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö
- The Prayer of the Ground, Path & Fruition from the Heart-Essence of the Vast Expanse: by Khenpo Yönten Gyatso
In this brief commentary Gemang Khenpo Yönten Gyatso explains the meaning behind every word of Jigme Lingpa's famous revelation, The Prayer of the Ground, Path and Fruition (gzhi lam 'bras bu'i smon lam).
An explanation of The Vajra Verses on the Natural State, a revelation of Jigme Lingpa, which describes the pure awareness that is the natural state of the mind and how all the qualities of the path and fruition are complete within it.
A prayer to invoke the blessings of five key figures in the Heart Essence (snying thig) tradition of the Great Perfection: Vimalamitra, Melong Dorje, Kumārarāja (Kumaradza), Longchen Rabjam and Jigme Lingpa.
- Supplement to the Clouds of Blessings Homage to the Lineage of Lama Yangtik by Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö
- Prayer to the Lineage of the Great Heart-Essence, the Pith Instruction Section of the Great Perfection by Longchen Rabjam
This prayer to the lineage of the pith-instruction section, or Mengak Dé (man ngag sde), of Dzogchen teachings appears in the Vima Nyingtik and has been supplemented over the centuries by masters including Minling Terchen Gyurme Dorje, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö.
- Supplement to the Clouds of Blessings Homage to the Lineage of Lama Yangtik by Shechen Gyaltsab Gyurme Pema Namgyal
A discussion of the term for main practice in Tibetan—dngos gzhi which translates literally as 'actual basis'. In response to a question, Jigme Tenpe Nyima clarifies the explanations of the four permutations of 'actual' and 'basis' from Longchenpa's Treasury of the Supreme Vehicle (theg mchog mdzod) and Jigme Lingpa's Yeshe Lama.
Brief explanations of some of the most important terms used in the Great Perfection, including primordial purity (ka dag), spontaneous presence (lhun grub), rigpa, Thorough Cut (khregs chod) and Crossover (thod rgal).
- Brief Explanation of Clarification and Transcendental Resolution from the Oral Tradition of Nyala Sogyal by Yukhok Chatralwa Chöying Rangdrol
This brief explanation of the important Dzogchen notions of clarification (shan 'byed) and transcendental resolution (la blza ba) was composed by Tertön Sogyal and recorded in the collected writings of Yukhok Chatralwa Chöying Rangdrol.
- How Liberation and Delusion Develop Out of the Clear Light of the Ground, etc. by Yukhok Chatralwa Chöying Rangdrol
In these brief notes, Chöying Rangdrol explains what is meant by the 'youthful vase body', and outlines how liberation occurs in the intermediate state (bardo), and how delusion develops should we fail to recognise the nature of bardo appearances.
- Notes from the Oral Tradition on Ālaya, Ālaya Consciousness, etc. by Yukhok Chatralwa Chöying Rangdrol
These notes discuss the ālaya, or 'ground of all', as well as the ālaya-consciousness (ālaya-vijñāna) and other forms of consciousness from a practical, experiential perspective, rather than a scholastic or theoretical point of view. They drew upon the sayings and explanations of such masters as Adzom Drukpa, Tertön Sogyal and Dudjom Lingpa.
Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche composed this four-line prayer of aspiration spontaneously on the occasion of his first teaching of “Hitting the Essence in Three Words” in the West, to an assembly of thirteen students in Paris, 1976.
This short prayer invokes the figures of the Dzogchen lineage from Buddha Samantabhadra onwards, including the peaceful and wrathful deities, calling upon them all to grant their inspiration and blessing, so that the practitioner might perfect the four visions and attain the rainbow body.
- The Prayer of the Ground, Path & Fruition – From the Heart-Essence of the Vast Expanse by Jigme Lingpa
This invocation, drawn from the Khandro Yangtik collection, includes additional verses for some of the masters who followed Longchenpa in the lineage: Chökyi Drakpa, Nyima Özer, Kunga Gyaltsen, and Chöying Drakpa.
- The Pure Three Kāyas Ablaze in Perfect Splendour: A Prayer Based on the Meaning of the Great Perfection by Longchen Rabjam
This prayer invokes the blessings of all the three-kāya gurus, yidam deities, ḍākinīs and dharmapālas to inspire recognition of the ultimate nature of the Great Perfection (Dzogpachenpo), which Longchenpa describes in evocative detail.
- Self-Radiance of Indestructible Awareness and Emptiness: An Aspiration towards the Meaning of the Indivisible Ground, Path and Fruition of the Great Perfection Mañjuśrī by Mipham Rinpoche
Written using the language of the Great Perfection, this prayer, which Mipham wrote in 1886, is an aspiration to realize the nature of mind — indestructible awareness and emptiness — and the true meaning of Mañjuśrī.
Nyala Pema Dündul composed this prayer to himself at the request of his disciples. It is a plea to receive his inspiration and blessings in order to follow in his footsteps and perfect the practice of Dzogpachenpo.
- The Powerful Prayer of Aspiration from the Tantra of the Great Perfection that Reveals the All-Penetrating Wisdom Mind of Samantabhadra (Kunzang Mönlam) by Rigdzin Gödem
This famous prayer of aspiration of Buddha Samantabhadra (kun bzang smon lam), which is taken from the All-Penetrating Wisdom Mind (dgongs pa zang thal) revelation, is among the most popular texts of the Dzogchen tradition. Its recitation is especially recommended during solar and lunar eclipses, at the solstices and new year, as well as during earthquakes and other environmental anomalies.
- Direct Path to the Primordial: A Concise Liturgy and Visualization for the Preliminary Accumulations of the Mother and Child Cycles of Dzogpachenpo Vima Nyingtik, the Heart-Essence of Vimalamitra by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
This liturgy includes sections on taking refuge, generating bodhicitta, Vajrasattva meditation, maṇḍala offering, and guru yoga. Jamyang Khyentse drew on earlier sources to compose the text at Palpung Monastery.
This famous vajra song (rdo rje’i glu), named after its initial syllables "ema kiri", appears in the Tantra of the Union of the Sun and Moon (nyi zla kha sbyor). It consists of a series of arranged syllables which a practitioner should intone melodiously. The individual syllables and their arrangement as a mantra are considered particularly sacred since they are said to have been revealed by the primordial buddha Samantabhadra.
- The Final Testament of Yukhok Chatralwa as Transmitted to Lama Rigdzin Nyima by Yukhok Chatralwa Chöying Rangdrol