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Tibetan name
Tibetan: རྫོགས་ཆེན་
Wylie transliteration: rdzogs chen
(rdzogs pa chen po)
pronunciation in IPA: [tsɔktɕʰẽ]
official transcription (PRC): Zogqên
THDL: Dzokchen
other transcriptions: Dzogchen
Chinese name
traditional: 大究竟、
simplified: 大究竟、
Pinyin: dàjiūjìng,

According to some schools of Tibetan Buddhism and Bön, Dzogchen is the natural, primordial state or natural condition of every sentient being, including every human being. Dzogchen, or "Great Perfection", is the central teaching of the Nyingma school and is considered by them to be the highest and most definitive path to enlightenment.[1] The Madhyamaka teachings on emptiness are fundamental to and thoroughly compatible with Dzogchen practices.[2]

Our ultimate nature is said to be pure, all-encompassing, primordial 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 like a crystal ball that takes on the colour of the material on which it is placed without itself being changed. Other evocative phrases used by masters[who?] describe it as an "effulgence", an "all-pervading fullness" or as "space that is aware". When an individual is able to maintain the dzogchen state continually, he or she no longer experiences dukkha, or feelings of discontent, tension and anxiety in everyday life. (Compare with nirvana).


[edit] Nomenclature, orthography and etymology

The word Dzogchen has been translated variously as Great Perfection, Great Completeness, Total Completeness, and 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 a buddha as omniscient and omnipresent refer to their ultimate nature as this awareness. The Tibetan term dzogchen is a sometimes said to be a rendering of the Sanskrit term mahasandhi,[3] and is also used to render the Sanskrit term ati yoga (highest yoga).[4].

A 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.

Pettit (1999: p.4) identifies the various contextual usages and implications of the term "Dzogchen" (Wylie: rdzogs chen) that are often conflated and mentions agama, siddhanta and darśana:

"Great Perfection" variously indicates the texts (āgama, lung) and oral instructions (upadeśa, man ngag) that indicate the nature of enlightened wisdom (rdzogs chen gyi gzhung dang man ngag), the verbal conventions of those texts (rdzogs chen gyi chos skad), the yogis who meditate according to those texts and instructions (rdzogs chen gyi rnal 'byor pa), a famous monastery where the Great Perfection was practiced by monks and yogis (rdzogs chen dgon sde), and the philosophical system (siddhānta, grub mtha') or vision (darśana, lta ba) of the Great Perfection."[5]

[edit] Maha Ati

Maha Ati is a term coined by Trungpa Rinpoche[citation needed], a master of the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages of Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism. He generally preferred to introduce Sanskrit rather than Tibetan terms to his students, and felt "Maha Ati" was an easy name for "Dzogpa Chenpo," although he acknowledged it was an unorthodox choice.

[edit] Transmission

The Dzogchen teachings are the highest of the nine yana, (Tibetan theg pa, vehicle) of the Nyingma (Wylie: rnying ma) school of Tibetan Buddhism and the Tibetan Bön (Wylie: bon) tradition. Many lamas, particularly of the Nyingma and Kagyu schools, regard them as the most profound teachings altogether.[6]

The instructions that point to the Dzogchen state are sometimes described as a set of "inner" or "heart" (Wylie: snying thig) teachings. Practicing Tibetan Buddhists[who?] 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.[citation needed] One Dzogchen teacher, Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, has offered transmission via webcast.[7]

Some teachers also regard Dzogchen as a teaching completely in its own right, independent of Buddhism or Bön. Namkhai Norbu says that, as our primordial nature, Dzogchen has existed since the beginning of time and is pointed to by various masters throughout the universe.[8]

[edit] Background

According to one tradition, the first master of the Buddhist Dzogchen lineage in our world was Garab Dorje (Wylie: dga' rab rdo rje, Sanskrit *prahevajra) from Uddiyana (Wylie:. o rgyan).

[edit] Indian originators

From Garab Dorje, Dzogchen is said to have been passed down as listed following. 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 sensible timeline.

  1. Prahevajra (Tib. Garab Dorje, Wylie: dga' rab rdo rje) 184 BCE to 57 CE
  2. Mañjuśrīmitra (Tib. Jampal Shenyen, Wylie: 'jam dpal bshes gnyen) 2nd century BCE (elder contemporary of Prahevajra)
  3. Śrī Siṃha (Tib. Palgyi Senge, Wylie: dpal gyi senge) 3rd century CE (500 years before Vimalamitra)[9]
  4. Padmasambhava (Tib. Pema Jungne or Guru Rinpoche) fl. mid-8th CE
  5. Vimalamitra (Tib. Drime Shenyen, Wylie: dri med bshes gnyen) fl. late 8th CE
  6. Vairotsana (Tib. Nampar Nangdze Lotsawa, Wylie: rnam par snang mdzad lo tsa ba ) fl. late 8th CE

[edit] In Tibet

Padmasambhava (Tib. Pema Jugne or Guru Rinpoche, Wylie: padma 'byung gnas, gu ru rin po che) is considered the source of the Buddhist Dzogchen teachings in Tibet (Tib. bod), which are the heart of the Nyingma (Wylie: rnying ma) tradition, with which they are primarily associated. Dzogchen has also been practiced in the Kagyu (Wylie: bka' brgyud) lineage, beginning with Milarepa (Wylie: mi la ras pa) and most notably by the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje (Wylie:. rang byung rdo rje). The Fifth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth (present) Dalai Lamas (Wylie: 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 Gelug (Wylie: dge lugs) tradition.

In the Bön religion, three separate Dzogchen traditions are attested and continue to be practiced: A-tri (Wylie: a khrid), Dzogchen (Wylie: rdzogs chen, here referring narrowly to the specific lineage within the Bön tradition), and Shang Shung Nyen Gyu (Wylie: zhang zhung snyan rgyud). All are traced back to the founder of Bön, Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche (Wylie: ston pa gshen rab mi bo che).

[edit] Concepts

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:

  1. Direct introduction to one's own nature (Tib. ngo rang thog tu sprod pa)
  2. Not remaining in doubt concerning this unique state (Tib. thag gcig thog tu bcad pa)
  3. 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:

  1. Semde (Wylie: sems sde; Skt: cittavarga), the series of Mind, that focuses on the introduction to one's own primordial state;
  2. Longde (Wylie: klong sde; Skt: abhyantaravarga), the series of Space, that focuses on developing the capacity to gain familiarity with the state and remove doubts; and
  3. Men-ngak (Wylie: man ngag sde, Skt: upadeshavarga), 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 approaches to nondualism.

This open awareness of Dzogchen, or rigpa (also comparable to the Buddha nature), is said to lie at the heart of all things and indeed of all Dzogchen practice and is nothing less than "... primordial wisdom's recognition of itself as unbounded wholeness .... the incorruptible mindnature." [10]. This reflexive awareness of Enlightenment is said to be inherent within all beings, but not to be attainable by thought [11] Klein and Wangyal comment:

" ... cause and effect, sentient beings and Buddhas, subjects and objects, path and goal are ultimately revealed to be of one taste: movement from one to the other is no movement at all, really, but a dynamic stillness." [12]

There can be found within Dzogchen a sense of Reality as limitless wholeness, a multiplicity which is yet all of one 'taste', which is a borderless wholeness. According to Lopon Tenzin Namdak, it is unconditioned and permanent, changeless, not originated from causes and conditions, blissful, and the base or support of numerous exalted qualities.[13]. 'It is at once base, path, and fruit' [14]. 'That reality, unbounded wholeness, is naturally complete.' [14] Also: '... the essence and base of self-arisen wisdom is the allbase, that primordial open awareness is the base, and that recognition of this base is not separate from the primordial wisdom itself. ... that open awareness is itself authentic and its authenticity is a function of it being aware of, or recognizing itself as, the base. ... The reflexively self-aware primordial wisdom is itself open awareness (rigpa),inalienably one with unbounded wholeness.' [15]

[edit] Opposing views

The views of the Dzogchen school are not endorsed by all Tibetan Buddhists. In fact, Bonpo Lopon Tenzin Namdak contrasts his own view that primordial wisdom does not arise from causes with that of Tsongkhapa, who states that without consciousness, there is no understanding.[16] Some critics claim that the views of the Dzogchen school of philosophy conflict with those of Madhyamaka and to the views of other prominent Buddhist thinkers such as the logician Dharmakirti.[17] However, Longchenpa and Mipham argue that the views of the Dzogchen school are in fact in accord with the view of Madhyamaka.[18][clarification needed] Dzogchen meditative techniques are, however, consistent with Madhyamaka.[19]

[edit] Three aspects of energy

Sentient beings have their energy manifested in 3 aspects:

  1. 'dang' (Wylie: gDangs)
  2. 'rolpa' (Wylie: Rol-pa)
  3. 'tsal' (Wylie: 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 sambhogakaya 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 an 'external' world.[20] The mind of a sentient being is also tsal energy when it is 'contaminated' by the karmic 'winds' (Tibetan: rlung).[citation needed] Certain practices stop the karmic winds of the body and therefore allow the energy of tsal to be experienced by itself.

The interplay of these energies explain the 'thoughtform' or 'tulpa' (Tibetan: sprul pa) phenomenon, the logistics of the Trikaya doctrine, the yidam sadhana, bardo visions, Clear Light (Tibetan: 'od gsal), emergence and the logistics of the doctrine of Pratītyasamutpāda, they also explain the 'play' (Sanskrit: lila; Tibetan: kun tu rtse) of the Five Pure Lights (Tibetan: 'od lnga) and the arising of a 'Creation' without a Creator deity or a Prime Cause that is the particular 'view' (Tibetan: lta ba) and hallmark of Buddhism.

[edit] External world versus continuum

According to Dzogchen teachings, energy of an individual is essentially totally formless and free from any duality. However, karmic traces, contained in the storehouse consciousness of the individual's mindstream (Sanskrit: citta santana; Tibetan: sems rgyud) 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.

It is maintained that there is nothing external or separate from the individual. What appears as a world of apparently external phenomena, is the energy of the individual himself/herself. Everything that manifests in the individual's field of experience is a continuum (Sanskrit: santana; Tibetan: rgyud). This is the Great Perfection that is discovered in the Dzogchen practice.[21]

[edit] Causality and interdependent origination

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 [Wylie: sems, Sanskrit: 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 Meditation, pp. 60, 61)

This corresponds to the assertion in the Heart Sutra (Sanskrit: 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's words and the beings present rejoiced.[22]

[edit] Guardians

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 dharmapala most associated with Dzogchen is Ekajati. 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.[23]

[edit] Well-being and health

Dzogchen teachings maintain that the quality of lives of people is best when the internal elements are balanced.[24] The body is healthy when the elements are balanced.[25] They see the best way to balance the elements as abiding in the natural state. [26]

[edit] Practice

In Dzogchen, self-liberation is achieved by discovering or recognizing one's own primordial mindstream 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 (Sanskrit: sadhana) for the practice of Dzogchen. The central practice of Dzogchen teaching is Dzogchen 'contemplation' (Tib. ting nge 'dzin) which is rendered in English as "The View". "The View" when stabilized or unbroken, is the nondual perception of the Dzogchenpa, or Dzogchen practitioner. That is, a continuous 'contemplation' through all activity, waking and sleeping as a lived experience. According to some Dzogchenpa (in particular, Namkhai Norbu), Dzogchen is a 'practice', rather than a 'doctrine' or 'religion', and does not require the practitioner (Sanskrit: sadhaka) 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.

Silent and prolonged meditation (Tib. sgom pa) is also used to allow the obscurations (Sanskrit: kleśa) 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 bodymind (Sanskrit: namarupa) and to glimpse and work to stabilize our true nature (Tibetan: Rigpa; Sanskrit: vidya).

The goal of Dzogchen practice is to remain in the clear, undeluded state of the nature of the bodymind, unconditioned by thoughts -- which is not the same thing as not having any thoughts. At the beginning, a Dzogchen teacher introduces one directly (Tib. ngo sprod, introduce, point out) to the real nature of one's bodymind, 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 mindstream. 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.

[edit] Sky gazing

In both the Bön and Buddhist Dzogchen traditions, sky gazing is considered to be an important practice.[27] Detailed instructions on the practice are provided by the Nyingma teacher Tarthang Tulku.[28]

[edit] Tregchöd and thödgal

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.[23]

[edit] Body of Light

Tibetan letter "A", the symbol of body of light

When an advanced practitioner successfully completes practices of Longde or Menngagde, he or she realizes the Body of Light also know as rainbow body (Wylie 'ja' lus, pronounced Jalü.) When such an individual dies, from the point of view of an external observer, the following happens: the corpse does not start to decompose, but starts to shrink until it disappears. Usually fingernails, toenails and hair are left behind[29] (see e.g. Togden Urgyen Tendzin, Ayu Khandro, Changchub Dorje.)

Some exceptional practitioners such as Padmasambhava and Vimalamitra are held to have realized the Great Transferrence (Wylie 'pho ba chen po, pronounced Phowa Chenpo). This is an advanced Phowa practice. The individual does not die at all but his or her physical body gradually disappears for an external observer.[30]

[edit] Dzogchenpa samaya: a practiceless practice of abiding or contemplation

Capriles (2003: p.180) openly quotes Dzogchenpa Namkhai Norbu in the subtle but very important distinction of the activity of meditation from the effortless abiding of Dzogchen contemplation:

Chögyäl Namkhai Norbu relates that once someone asked the famous Dzogchen Master, Yungtön Dorje Pel, what his practice consisted of, and he replied with the negative “mepa” or “there isn’t.” Then his startled questioner asked again, “Then you don’t meditate?,” to which the Master replied, “And when am I ever distracted?” This is the essence of samaya in Dzogchen teaching: not to meditate or to practice something with the mind and yet never to be distracted, for one remains uninterruptedly in the self-perfection of the single state of rigpa or Truth.[31]

In this denotation, dzogchen is a verb, and denotes the perfect process in the grammatical sense or alternately an infinitive verb, wherein the great continuum of 'one taste' (Wylie: ro gcig) or as Capriles renders it "single state" is the effortless 'contemplating' or abiding in the view of non-distraction from rigpa.

[edit] Apperception

Apperception (Sanskrit: svasaṃvedana/svasaṃvitti; Wylie: rang rig)[32]

[edit] Reality vs dreams

The real sky is (knowing) that samsara and nirvana are merely an illusory display.

Mipham Rinpoche, Quintessential Instructions of Mind, p. 117

According to contemporary teacher Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, in Dzogchen the perceived reality is considered to be unreal. All appearances perceived during the whole life of an 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 dream with lucidity 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.[33]

[edit] Dzogchen leaders

[edit] See also

[edit] Footnotes

  1. ^ Keown, Damien. (2003). A Dictionary of Buddhism, p. 82. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-860560-9.
  2. ^ B. Alan Wallace, Genuine Happiness. John Wiley and Sons, 2005, page 203.
  3. ^ Dzogchen: The Heart Essence of the Great Perfection by the [14th] Dalai Lama, Snow Lion, 2004. ISBN: 1559392193. pg 208
  4. ^ Keown, Damien. (2003). A Dictionary of Buddhism, p. 24. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-860560-9.
  5. ^ Pettit, John Whitney (1999). Mipham's beacon of certainty: illuminating the view of Dzogchen, the Great Perfection. Somerville, MA, USA: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-157-2 (alk. paper) p.4
  6. ^ Dzogchen: The Heart Essence of the Great Perfection by the Dalai Lama, trans. by Thupten Jinpa & Richard Barron, fore. by Sogyal Rinpoche, ed. by Patrick Gaffney. Snow Lion. 1559392193
  8. ^ Norbu (1999)
  9. ^ The Tantra that Reveals the Intrinsic Buddha Mind, translated in :- Erik Pema Kunsang (translator) : Wellsprings of the Great Perfection. Rangjung Yeshe Publications, Hong Kong, 2006. p. 215
  10. ^ Klein, Wangyal, Unbounded Wholeness, Oxford University Press, 2006, p. v
  11. ^ Klein and Wangyal, 2006, p. vi.
  12. ^ Klein and Wangyal, 2006, p. 48
  13. ^ Klein, Wangyal, 2006, pp. 68-69
  14. ^ a b Klein and Wangyal, 2006, p. 118
  15. ^ Klein and Wangyal, 2006, p.109
  16. ^ Klein and Wangyal, page 107.
  17. ^ Klein and Wangyal, page 45, see also page 135.
  18. ^ Mipham's Beacon of Certainty: Illuminating the View of Dzogchen, the Great Perfection Studies in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism
  19. ^ B. Alan Wallace, Genuine Happiness. John Wiley and Sons, 2005, page 203.
  20. ^ Norbu (1999), pp. 99, 100, 101
  21. ^ Norbu (1999), pp. 99, 101
  22. ^ Norbu (1999), p. 42
  23. ^ a b Norbu (1999), p. 129
  24. ^ Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche (2002), p. 21
  25. ^ THDL Medicine Collections
  26. ^ Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche (2002), p. 121
  27. ^ Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche (2002), p. 130
  28. ^ Tarthang Tulku (1977)
  29. ^ Norbu (1999), pp. 158-161
  30. ^ Norbu (1999), p. 162
  31. ^ Capriles, Elías (2003). Buddhism and Dzogchen: The Doctrine of the Buddha and the Supreme Vehicle of Tibetan Buddhism. Part One Buddhism: A Dzogchen Outlook. Source: [1] (accessed: Saturday, August 23, 2008) p.180
  32. ^ Williams, Paul (1998, 2000). The Reflexive Nature of Awareness: A Tibetan Madhyamaka Defence. Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. ISBN 978-0700710300, p.xi
  33. ^ Norbu (1992), pp. 42, 46, 48, 96, 105

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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