GARAB DORJE’S THREE ESSENTIAL POINTS
Download a Handout with the Quotations from this Lecture
(The notes below are from A. H. Almaas’s overview of this lecture.)
This lecture is not me teaching Dzogchen. Even though I have studied it and practiced it some, and know experientially its realization, I am not a teacher of Dzogchen.
I wanted to give some observations of how Dzogchen got to be practiced in the West, and how it is similar or different from how it was done in Tibet. My intention is to help those interested in it or practicing it in understanding how it can work effectively, as it had done for the great masters of Tibet.
And I am going to use the source instructions for Dzogchen, what are called Garab Dorje three essential points or statements. They are actually a very clear instruction of how this path works, and the main stages of practice and realization.
I remember going to a talk by Norbu Rinpoche when he first came to the US. It was in San Francisco, and he was basically indicating that Dzogchen in Tibet is taught as the last of nine vehicles of the Nymapa lineage, the most ancient in Tibet which was started by Padmasamphava. In that talk and later in his teachings, he was spearheading teaching Dzogchen in the West in a different way. He believed that since Dzogchen is about pure awareness not related to culture or ritual, it can be taught directly in the West without having to go through the lower yanas or having to do the preliminary practices, the Ngodro. And in his teaching, he kept talking about how there are three levels of students: those with lower intelligence those with average intelligence and those with great intelligence. And that Dzogchen is for those with great intelligence.
This was emphasized not only by Norbu but also by the other lamas who were coming to the West and giving transmissions or weekends or longer retreats. This is actually part of the tradition of Dzogchen. So many of the intellectuals in the West who felt they were intelligent got interested and followed this teaching in the last quarter of the twentieth century. From what I have observed, since I knew many of the individuals who followed Dzogchen teachings, many got the transmission, called Direct Introduction in Dzogchen, and went to retreats. However, it is rare to find one who really learnt it to the point of realization.
In other words, I see that the way Norbu introduced the teaching, which became the main way Dzogchen is taught in the West, did not work as well as he expected. He actually recognized that himself at some point, for many years later he decided that his students should do the Ngondro, the preliminary practices that included things like countless prostrations. That was standard in Tibet.
I have some observations and comments about why this approach did not work as well, and how one can practice this teaching in a way that can work the way it did in Tibet. And to do this I will use Garab Dorje three essential points, which all practitioners of Dzogchen know.
GARAB DORJE THREE ESSENTIAL POINTS
1. DIRECT INTRODUCTION to the primordial state is transmitted straight away by the master to the disciple. The master always remains in the primordial state, and the presence of the state communicates itself to the disciple in whatever situation or activity they may share.
2. The DISCIPLE enters into non-dual contemplation and, experiencing the primordial state, NO LONGER REMAINS IN ANY DOUBT as to what it is.
3. THE DISCIPLE CONTINUES IN THE STATE of non-dual contemplation, the primordial state, bringing contemplation into every action, until that which is every individual’s true condition from the beginning (the Dharmakaya), but which remains obscured by dualistic vision, is made real, or realized. One continues right up to Total Realization
34 thoughts on “DZOGCHEN IN THE WEST”
How do I become in a personal and independent experience and now allow the ego to come in? I have a propensity to create meaning and unsure if this is a function of ego.
It is not an easy thing to have a totally independent experience of yourself. Especially if it is an aloneness that is even independent from your own mind.
It requires a great deal of practice, meditation and contemplation. And most likely, requires the guidance of a good teacher.
the main thing is to be able to experience presence on your own, and recognize it that it is your own presence, that it is the presence of your own awareness.
This is the meaning of the second essential point of Garab Dorje. And I discussed in the lecture that it is not easy to get to this 2nd point. First you need the first point, which is to experience presence by being in the presence of a teacher who can transmit it.
I hope this is helpful feedback or you
Hello and thank you for this valuable lecture.
You wrote: “I have some observations and comments about why this approach did not work as well, and how one can practice this teaching in a way that can work the way it did in Tibet.”
But what I understood from your lecture was that this simply does not seem possible given the Western way of life, the lack of support for the practice here, and perhaps the level of attainment of teachers in the West.
Did I understand your view correctly?
Yes, you understood me correctly, but not completely. I did not mean that it is not possible to practice Dzogchen in the West. It is being practiced by many. And there are qualified teachers who teach it. They are not in the caliber of the great teachers like Dudjom Rinpoche. But some of them are able to give the transmission.
My point is that you need to prepare yourself if you are following Dzogchen. Ask your teacher for supporting practices that develop your consciousness so that you will have the capacity to receive the transmission.. And then learn the meditations that Dzogchen gives and practice them assiduously to be able to get to the second essential point, of independent realization and certainty.
I agree with you it is more difficult to do in the present situation, especially that we do not have the support to practice the way the Tibetan Lamas did in Tibet.
But you don’t need to become like the great masters. You simply need to recognize the presence of awareness and stabilize in it. With a good Dzogchen teacher and dedicated practice, I think this is possible.
I didn’t get the chance to ask this question during today’s talk but wanted to leave it here. I remember reading a book on Dzogchen a few years ago and being struck by many Dzogchen masters having their physical body shrink and disappear at death during the attainment of the “rainbow body.” Apparently, some exceptional practitioners can attain this state even prior to death.
I’ve never heard of this state in any other tradition. Do you have any experience of this state in our school or any other traditions that you’ve studied?
Experiencing the body of light is known by other traditions. The body turning to light at death seems to be the specialty of Dzogchen. But it requires a great deal of practice of some of the very advanced meditation techniques, especially what is called Togal.
So it is not simply depth or breadth of realization. It requires the practice of specific meditation techniques, that Dzogchen has as part of its methodology.
There were reports of masters turning their body to light and hence not dying. These stories exist in both east and west.
Thank you for the lecture Hameed. I was wondering if you would comment on any connection and similarity between the third point of Garab Dorje’s Dzogchen “The Disciple Continues in the State…” and the practice of Taoism,
I don’t know Taoist teachings as well as Dzogchen. But I know that Taoism does teach nondual realization.
I think you will find similarity in Taosm to all the three essential points of Garab Dorje, not only the third one. The direct introduction or transmission is not seen by Taoism to be as important as Dzogchen sees it . But they do have transmission, like many of the other traditions. .
I often wonder about the influence of Taoism on all the religious and spiritual thinking and practices that came during and after Taoist teachings. I am a bit of a student of “The Way of Life according to Lao Tzu” and find the thinking, experiencing and practice very helpful to my work as I journey along the Diamond Path.
In your lecture you sated that the level of realisation once attained by representatives of the Dzogchen tradition was greater or more advanced than it is in the present time. Could you specify what you mean by this? I wonder if you are aware of or have any comment on the work of Daniel. P. Brown? In recent years he has translated a body of traditional teachings (including Pith Instructions) from the Dzogchen and Bon traditions. Although his reason for translating these texts seems to be concern for them dying out, it does seem there is some life and attainment in his lineage.
Thank goodness there is some life left in this tradition. it is such a beautiful. and deep teaching.
I have never thought there is no life in it at all. I am saying it seems it is in a process of decline. So there are teachers and students, but the situation and supports are not as good as they used to be. So there will be Dzogchen, but for the near future it does not seem it will produce great teachers like the ones I had known in the last century.
There are many involved in translating and preserving the Dzogchen texts. And Vajrayana teachings in general. Dudjen Rimpoche dedicated his life in this function of preserving The Nyingma teachings, by finding the sources and writing many volumes of teachings.
This is mostly because the Tibetans lost Tibet where they had their spiritual infra structure that they built for centuries.
Hi Hameed, I have a question.
After your talk I listened to Dudjom Rinpoche. There is something on youtube. It was like I could feel his Presence, I felt a strong transmission. Is this possible although he already died?
Thank you for your answer, Rosalia, EU-4
It is great that there are some video recordings of some of the great masters. I know few for Dudjom Rinpoche, and some for the 16th Karmapa.
They do contain their transmission, for ones who have the capacity to receive it.
It is possible to receive a transmission from a video. Even from books written by realized masters.
It strikes me as interesting that Dzogchen is referred to as “the heart essence”. I understand it can be simply read as a figure of speech of course: the pinnacle of the Vajrayāna tradition.
Experiences of emptiness, the true nature of the mind, and the direct introduction of Rigpa, seem to be head centred.
Yet I wonder about the importance of the student-teacher relationship in Dzogchen and how, if at all, the heart center is involved in the direct introduction.
It appears to me that the meeting of fully open and empty hearts is an important part of the direct introduction too. And how this meeting of minds and hearts, also creates a particular relationship between the student and teacher, even if (in contrast with Tibetan tradition) they do not see each other ever again after that.
I’m curious what your thoughts are on these various points..
With gratitude and deep appreciation for this series,
Good questions, Lysan,
In some of the Tibetan teachings the expression “heart essence” is used. I don’t think the point is that it is the essence of the heart. It is more like the Sufi expression “Kernel of the kernel.” It is an attempt at referring to the depth or essence of the essence.
The way Dzogchen is taught does sound to be head centered. And I think it is mostly head centered, the way we understand this term.
But I know. that some students and Masters had. a deep heart connection. I think the heart is important in Vajrayana in general, but mostly seen as compassion. But I do know that there is frequently deep love between teacher and student. I am sure this makes the relationship much more fruitful.
I think the Tibetan or Dzogchen teachers won’t disagree with you that both hearts and minds are important in the receptivity and expression of the teaching. The tradition does not conceptualize consciousness as heart mind and body, as some of the Western teachings do. But there is some of that in the literature. In Buddhism in general they use the word mind to mean the total consciousness. So there is not much emphasis on the distinction between mind and heart.
Thank you very much for your series of talks.
I’m curious if there are references to experiences of what the Buddha in the Pali canon called “cessation of perception and feeling” within the Dzogchen teachings…. In my limited exposure to Dzogchen there seems to be a lot of references to the luminosity and clarity aspects of experience but little mention of experiences of cessation… to the “darkness so far above light” in the words of Christian mystic Pseudo-Dionysius.
Could this be a limitation of the teachings and what are the implications of such an limitation? Many thanks.
The only references I am aware of regarding cessation in Dzogchen is the warning that it is not the real thing. In other words, Dzogchen tends to downplay the cessation that the Buddha talked about.
The idea is that it is a passing experience, but Riga awareness is the eternal ground that is always there and it is the enlightenment.
I agree with Dzogchen that awakening as pure awareness is enlightenment, but don’t agree with their dismissal of cessation. It is true it is not a final realization, but it certainly making such realization more likely or more. possible.
It is a point that I see in many nondual teachings. Because of the recognition that in nondual awareness all experiences and phenomena are equal the view tends to dismiss the truth that some experiences are useful for attaining the nondual goal.
thank you for the Dzogchen lecture.
Being a close student of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche for 30 years (now, 3 years after the passing of Rinpoche, Rinpoches Dzogchen Community is quite alive and has around 10.000 members around the world. The Santi Maha Sangha study program is a core of Rinpoches teaching for engaged students and deepens mainly understanding and experience of Dzogchen Semde, Longde and Upadesha practises since 30 years).
I´m studying Longchenpas writings and the Kunyed Gyalpo. As a psychotherapist, I became also interested in your rich books and teaching. There is a deep knowledge of Dzogchen scriptures shining through (f.e. same symbols like in Dzogchen, the Vajra, the crystal, the diamond and a similar language for the description of the non-dual states and true nature).
Often I´m reflecting about the personal essence of true nature. Superficially it seems that in Dzogchen the personal does not appear at all, and the non-dual view is the only important. But – isn´t the total integration of the human body into the essence of the elements and the realization of the rainbowbody, one main realization in Dzogchen, something absolutely personal?
In the ancient texts a personal quality of true nature appears rarely, but it does. It seems like an hidden aspect. Or a manifestation which opens up just naturally more and more, depending the depth of practise. In ancient times Dzogchen practitioners were people who lived far from the world, in a cave or as hermits, unkown – so, probably, in these conditions personal essence opens up spontanously.
Hameed, here is one essential question. Amongst others you developed deep knowledge and integration of the personal essence in the inner realization process – something mankind need (specially in the Western world).
Dzogchen realization is complete. Like the Vajra. Nothing is missing. Realization is an ongoing process, self-arising wisdom in Dzogchen is endless as the appearences are, states of realization countless until total self-liberation and freedom.
If I understood right, you said, in your teaching there are „other“ realizations possible … which are not „included“ in Dzogchen…. ? Which are these and – why is it necessary to make this difference/separation?
Following the great Master Longchenpa the Dzogchen view encloses all realizations, whatever arises…
If all is perfect as it is, as the Dzogchen view asserts, then every manifestation of teaching is exactly right in the period of its appearance on earth. Every teaching works as it is needed. All is fine. Somehow we could say every teaching elaborates exactly the aspects of true nature which are necessary for that time and place. And may be in 300 years another new teaching-facet of true nature deepens our human spiritual knowledge and realization further and further in a still inconceivable way. Isn´t it marvellous?
Some notes to points of the lecture:
Hameed: And in his teaching (Rinpoche), he kept talking about how there are three levels of students: those with lower intelligence those with average intelligence and those with great intelligence. And that Dzogchen is for those with great intelligence.
Ai: In the ancient Dzogchen texts we often find the differentiation between low, middle and high capacity (In the last 30 years Rinpoche used this alternative word in comparison to „intelligence“) for special kinds of practises and there effects and signs. By that is meant not to make a comparison of „who is more or less intelligent“ but it is a kind of scale for a honest self-recognition, how well this special practise is integrated within the practitioner. Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche often explained this.
Hameed: In other words, I see that the way Norbu introduced the teaching, which became the main way Dzogchen is taught in the West, did not work as well as he expected.
Ai: I´m not agree that how Namhkai Norbu Rinpoche teached Dzogchen became the main way in the West. Every Dzogchen teacher cames from his own point of socialization and the ways of teachings are difficult to compare. Until today I do not know another Dzogchen Master who teached so precise and clear Semde, Longde and Mennagde series as Rinpoche did.
There are authentic Dzogchen Masters, focusing on Dzogchen and integrate very well with there education of Tibetan Buddhism. There are teachers of Tibetan Buddhism, who pretend also to be Dzogchen Masters, but in fact teach only superficially Dzogchen, to attract students. And there are teachers of Tibetan Buddhism who are teaching Vajrajana but not Dzogchen. Dzogchen is not a religion, Vajrayana teaching belongs to Tibetan Buddhism.
So in fact there are not so many serious Dzogchen Masters transmitting Dzogchen teachings in depth. A real Dzogchen Master is to be find by the student examining the Master as the Master examines the student.
Hameed: He (Rinpoche) actually recognized that himself at some point, for many years later he decided that his students should do the Ngondro, the preliminary practices that included things like countless prostrations. That was standard in Tibet.
Ai: As I´m a close student of Rinpoche since 30 years I can tell you that I never did a single prostration or traditional Ngondro in my life. This is not the way in the International Dzogchen Community of Rinpoche. Also in the Santi Maha Sangha study program He did not decide to do so.
And honestly spoken: I would have prefered that you won´t have used Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche as this kind of example in your lecture because it does not fit. Moreover it creates a misimpression. And if I would have a wish – than this: I hope that this lecture will not go openly on the Youtube channel.
I´m sorry for these long remarks in my poor English. Please: you decide if you want to publish my words or not. Warmhearted greetings, Heike Ai
Thanks, for your comments, Heike
I had heard that Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche wanted his students to do the ngondro. But maybe it was for those in some kind of training. I will find out. But thanks for this tip.
I did not intend to use Norbu Rinpoche as the example for Dzogchen. I wanted to point out his pioneering introduction of it in the West. I am glad he used the word capacity instead of intelligence in his teaching.. I had heard the word intelligence from some of his initial students and from him himself in one of his talks. I think “capacity” makes more sense regardless of what the old texts said.
I also agree with you that other. lamas taught Dzogchen differently, for I am quite. aware of the various Dzogchen lineages. My impression of Dudjom is quite different from Norbu, and I have learnt different things from them.
I also like Longhenpa, as you do. I see him as having the function Ibn Arabi had for the Sufis. .
I don’t think of Dzogchen as a teaching for a particular time. I think it is for all times. My view of teachings is a little different. I see that there are many teachings. They are different from each other, but they are all true and valid. The idea is that reality has many ways of showing itself.. These ways can be different, even contradictory. yet they are all true. But I agree with you that. there will arise more teachings. And they will reveal truths that non of the present teachings encompass, including Dzogchen and the Diamond Approach.,
Because of this I don’t see any teaching as complete. As a teaching, Dzogchen is not complete. The Dzogchen state is complete, for each true awakened states is complete. But there are many of these awakened states. So no teaching can be complete in the sense of encompassing all the possible ways reality shows itself to us.
Dzogchen emphasizes Rigpa or empty awareness as the final condition. This means it is the only final condition. But there are other teachings that recognize different final conditions.
I can experience my being as complete.. But this does not mean it exhausts all of reality..
This view does not make Dzogchen realization not complete, but I think it will be a mistake to take it as the only realization that is complete.
We will see in the next lecture about Dogen how he taught realizations that are quite different from Dzogchen. But they are still enlightenment.
I just got this from one of my sources close to Norbu”s teaching, Heike:
“He wanted to have a lot of new people exposed to introducing them to Dzogchen teaching and transmitting/experiencing the primordial state. Thus, in the later years this was his focus, not teachings for his older student development.
Thus, if a student was further interested, he developed a nine part level teaching program called Santi Maha Sangha. To take the base level exam and subsequent tiered programs required a student to increase their capacity by practicing Ngondro practices while keeping one’s sight always on Guru Yoga. Guru Yoga was always the main practice”
This corresponds to .my understanding how Vajrayana in general works to develop the capacity or maturity of the student… However, because there is controversy about what Norbu did regarding the Ngondro I will delete this part of the talk from the video before it goes on Youtube.
Thanks for bringing this up, for I don’t want to put out something not true about anybody.
You still don’t appear to understand the distorted and second-hand nature of your assertions and the hubris you exhibit.
The problem is that the seeming basis for your talk – that somehow ChNNR’s teaching approach failed and he admitted it to himself and then relented and taught ngondro with prostrations is complete nonsense. This makes your talk nonsense. You should admit that you say things without knowing what you are talking about and take the whole thing down and learn some humility. I say this not out of wish to suppress or censor criticism of my teacher but because your premise is flawed and your assertions are false and that destroys the credibility of the talk.
ChNNR’s ngondro had no prostrations or mandala offerings. Nit in the beginning of his teaching career or at the end. Tantric ngondro is for tantra. His ngondro contained traditional “mind changings” and special dzogchen preliminaries – ie “ngnondro”.
You’re just wrong. Not on a single “controversial point” but on your starting point and assumptions.
Another note, Heike
I did not respond to your discussion about personalness in Dzogchen. From what I see, nondual teachings in general, not only Dzogchen, don’t say much about being a person. There is no mention or emphasis of realization of personhood.
Realization of the personal is not an important component of nondual teachings. The emphasis is usually on the transcendent ultimate. But I always think that some of the masters must. have encountered such manifestation of true nature,. It is not the ground, but still as real.
I do think that many of the Dzogchen masters have developed personableness, but not included it in their teaching. But expressed it in their lives.
I think there is some kind of of appreciation of the individual in Dzogchen. I see it in the conceptualization of the son clear light and the mother clear light. And I agree that in the realization of the rainbow body there is an individual being who has such realization. This does not make it personal, but individual. I do think Dzogchen has this more clearly than in other nondual teachings.
thank you for your answer. In fact it seems we are reflecting about different views, like mine in a state of Dzogchen oneness and yours in a state out of multiplicity. For me it is fine, no limitations. Only I wish that Chögyal Namkhai Norbu is well understood.
I realized that my English often isn´t precise enough.
Hameed: But I agree with you that there will arise more teachings. And they will reveal truths that non of the present teachings encompass…
Ai: In the view of self-perfected Dzogchen all facets of crystal-like wisdom can be revealed otherwise it won´t be self-perfected..
With the words of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu:
The path of self-liberation
… First we must understand what Dzogchen means. Dzogchen means our real nature, our real condition. The word Dzogchen means total perfection because our real nature is primordially pure and self-perfected with all qualities from the beginning. There are many teachings, instructions, and methods for understanding and discovering this, and for integrating everything in this state.
All these instructions and methods are called the Dzogchen teachings. By making a clear distinction between the state of Dzogchen and the teachings of Dzogchen, we can understand that although only a limited number of people are interested in applying the teachings of Dzogchen, the real nature of all sentient beings is always Dzogchen. Even the nature of a small ant is Dzogchen.
p. 162, The light of the sun, Commentary on Longchenpa´s Precious Mala of the four Dharmas, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, 2014
Dzogchen, then, must be understood as the state of self-liberation beyond all limitations, and thus cannot be defined as a philosophical system. … Furthermore, it cannot be restricted exclusively to the various Tibetan Buddhist schools and the Bön tradition, because the authentic Dzogchen teaching can arise in anyone, regardless whether they follow another religion such as Hinduism, Christianity or Islam, or are materialists or believe in nothing.
The reason is that Dzogpa Chenpo, in simple terms, is a state that enables evolution of the individual´s consciousness. …
p. 46, Dzogchen, Our real condition. Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, 2020
Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche about Ngöndro:
If Garab Dorje had believed it was always necessary to do ngöndro, he would have given four statements: first to do ngöndro, then receive the direct introduction and so on. … So when teachers criticize me for teaching Dzogchen to people who have not done ngöndro, I tell them to argue with Garab Dorje.
p.168, The light oft he sun, Commentary on Longchenpa´s Precious Mala oft he four Dharmas, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, 2014
Hameed: Dzogchen emphasizes Rigpa or empty awareness as the final condition. This means it is the only final condition. But there are other teachings that recognize different final conditions.
Words of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu:
Our nature is not mere emptiness. If it were mere emptiness, there would be no problem; we would just remain perpetually in emptiness. But our real nature also has infinite potential that manifests continously.
At present, when this potential arises with all its infinite characteristics we stray from our nature… (p. 71f)
… The supreme state of instant presence is the crucial key. … The first confidence is in primordial purity (kadag), the second confidence is in self-perfection (lhundrub), both principles of the Dzogchen teachings. Primordial purity implies emptiness but emptiness endowed with infinite potential. Emptiness devoid of infinite (self-arising) potential has no meaning at all…. (p. 90f).
… Primordial purity (kadag) is emptiness (shunyata). However, emptiness does not encompass the whole state of Dzogchen that, perfect in itself, is also endowed with infinite potential. … the base has three primordial wisdoms: essence, nature and energy. It also has three primordial potentials: sound, light and rays. These potentials are related to movement, and movement is not just emptiness. … (p. 153)
from: The vision of clear light. Patrul Rinpoche. An oral explanation by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu. 2013.
Friendly and relaxed greetings, Ai
I appreciate you staying with the blog. I also appreciate and respect you staying with Dzogchen for 30 years, and staying with your lama this long. I think it is such dedication that is required to really realize and integrate the teaching.
This is actually my main point in the lecture. That there needs to be deep and committed long term practice for Dzogchen teaching to bear fruits. That is why I gave the example of Dilgo Khentze Rinpoche who practiced in a cave for nine years before the realization truly dawned.
One point I made in the lecture is that one needs maturity, which is similar to capacity, to be able to receive the direct introduction and benefit from it. And that capacity or maturity requires practice and experience. In Tibet, Dzogchen is the ninth yana of Nyingma school, and most lamas are taught the first eight as preparation for Dzogchen. The talkus, like Norbu Rincpoche, are prepared from childhood, which does not happen for Western students.
Here is a quote from Tulku Urgen Rincpoche, about the traditional way of receiving Dzogchen teaching: “The traditional way of receiving the instruction on how to realize the nature of mind involves first going through the training of the preliminary practices of the ‘four times hundred thousand.’ After that, you would carry out the yidam practice, staying in retreat and completing the set number of recitations. Finally, after all this, this teaching would be given.” [Page 75 in As It IS, Tulku Urgyen Rincpoche]
It seems to me that Norbu Rinpoche broke with tradition by giving Dzogchen teachings directly, and he might be the first to do so in the West. Others had followed suite, and it might be the way of the future for Dzogchen. I remember hearing him say that he believed that Dzogchen can be given directly because it is free of the cultural trappings that the traditional way has.
But my observation is that most Western students of Dzogchen have not done that great in attaining to Dzogchen realization. I don’t see examples like Norbu, Dilgo Khentze, Dudjom, Urgey Rinpoche. Maybe you know some who have attained the primordial state as realization. Hopefully, you have benefited much.
Not even the new Tibetan lamas are like these great masters, and I think because they do not go through the traditional rigorous. training. They spend few years in practice and are then sent to teach in the West. Only time will tell, of course.
I appreciate you giving quotations about Dzogchen from Norbu and other lamas.
I think you and I come from different views, but not in the way you wrote above. You come from the Dzogchen view, which is understandable. This is the teaching you have been practicing for decades.
View is important in Dzogchen, and the view is not separate from the primordial state. Dzogchen takes its view as complete, and as you say it encompasses all that is potential in true nature.
I do recognize and experience the Dzogchen state of primordial awareness as true nature.. And it is complete in the sense that nothing else is needed for liberation. And I have seen it in masters like Dilgo Khentze, Dudjom Rinpoche, The Penor Rinpoche and others. There are differences in each lama but it is the same state that is introduced by them, and they embody. I appreciate such realization immensely, and it is beautiful.
I understand that Rigpa is not simply emptiness but also luminosity and energy that give it great potential. But it continues to be the pure expanse of transparent empty awareness. It is nondual in all ways.
At the same time, I have had realizations that are also true nature, but have nothing to do with realizing pure primordial awareness. Such realizations cannot be said to be nondual. or dual. The question of duality or non duality are not relevant for such realizations.
I don’t see Dzogchen including such realizations. And I don’t see such realizations as iterations or variations on nondual pure awareness or rigpa. In this sense, I don’t see Dzogchen teaching is complete. Maybe some Dzogchen masters know or experience such realizations. But I have not heard or read references to them in the literature. And I studied Dzogchen literature a great deal.
For me this does not make Dzogchen any less of a great teaching. It just shows that there are other possible realizations not included in the view of Dzogchen. True Nature can appear in many ways, and some seem to be contradictory to others. And there seems to appear that each has its view, just as Dzogchen Rigpa has its view.
If you are interested in knowing my understanding about this matter more, you can find in the blog page of our website an article I wrote few years ago: Which Ultimate is Ultimate. I basically write that we can experience true nature in many ways, each can be experienced as the ultimate and final state of enlightenment. And I refer to some other traditions besides Dzogchen that have their ultimates. For instance, Advaita Vedanta have their ultimate as Nirguna Brahman. And it is not Rigpa.
I have. a more complete discussion of this matter in my book: Runaway Realization.
I appreciate the discussion, and I welcome you writing more that might illuminate more things about Dzogchen.
here are some glimpses of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu
(because it is a long video, start listening for example from one hour and 20 minutes, 1.20)
The three statements of Garab Dorje are complexe and also the explanations.
About the 3 statements of Garab Dorje
1 Directly discover your own state,
2 Remain without any doubt,
3 Acquire confidence in natural liberation.
According to Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, Manjusrimitra, on the basis of this threefold testament, classified the teachings transmitted by Garab Dorje in the three series of Dzogchen or Atiyoga, namely, the Mind series, the Vast Spaces series, and the Secret Instruction or Upadesha series. … (p. 6)
First, the testament´s opening line, „directly discover your own state“, indicates that direct introduction is needed in which the master introduces the mind essence to the disciple… The instructions explaining the meaning of the mind essence and revealing the yogic contemplations that enable its recognition are emphasized mainly in the Mind series.
Subsequent to the discovery of the mind essence as one´s own primordial state, such recognition is made an unwavering certainty, as indicated in the second line of the testament, „Remain without doubt“, by developing the capacity to remain in a state of pure awareness that is one´s primordial state. This is achieved through the contemplative methods presented in the Vast Space series.
Finally, the testament´s third line, „Acquire confidence in natural liberation,“ indicates that it is necessary to make natural liberation permeate all aspects of one´s existence until, through crucial body postures, ways of gazing, and breathing techniques of the direct crossing practice of the Secret Instruction series, deceptive vision is ended in one´s own ground of being.
Although the three series represent a progression, it would be incorrect to think that the achievement of the final result of Dzogchen practise necessarily requires following the three in a gradual manner, or that only the Secret Instruction series is considered important. In fact, each series represents a path of total realization, fully complete in itself. (p. 8)
(The Marvelous Primordial State, A fundamental scripture of Dzogchen Semde, 2013)
– About realization in Dzogchen –
The Marvelous Primordial State, A fundamental scripture of Dzogchen Semde, 2013, p. 12:
Mind essence here is not a mere emptiness devoid of energy as conceived by most followers of the Sutra path, but is rather the mind essence that is the source of all that exists. Its creative energy is all that manifests as the outer world and as living beings, yet, like the sky, it encompasses everything without itself being anything in particular.
THE SUPREME SOURCE, The Fundamental Tantra of the Dzogchen Semde KUNJED GYALPO, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu & Adriano Clemente, 1999, p. 88:
The Dzogchen practitioner seeks to understand this state of presence through diverse experiences: of emptiness, of clarity, of sensations of pleasure, and so on. The true path of the Dzogchen practitioner, however, is contemplation. In fact, it is only when we are in contemplation that all the tensions of body, voice and mind are finally effortlessly released…
Let us now turn to the third and final aspect of the Dzogchen teaching, the fruit or „result“ of practise: realization. … The sun, for example, naturally has light and rays, but when the sky is cloudy, we do not see them…
This is the characteristic principle of Dzogchen. Not understanding this may lead one to think that Dzogchen is the same as Zen or Ch´an. At heart, Zen, which without any doubt is a high and direct Buddhist teaching, is based ob the principle of emptiness as explained in sutras… the particularity of Dzogchen lies in the direct introduction to the primordial state not as „pure emptiness“ but rather as endowed with all the aspects of the self-perfection of energy. … (p. 88)…. When we see clouds, we think: „Here are some clouds covering the sky,“ because we are convinced that the sky streches behind the clouds. But in fact, sky and clouds are the same thing: what is the sky is also cloud, what is cloud is also sky. (p. 129)
The Marvelous Primordial State, A fundamental scripture of Dzogchen Semde, 2013, p. 62f:
This goal is one´s own primordial state, that, seen from different angles, comprises the various dimensions or kayas of enlightenment. Among these dimensions, it is from the changeless and empty nature of reality (dharmakaya, the aspect of primordial purity) that the light of wisdom or clarity (sambhogakaya, the aspect of self-perfection) manifests as the entire universe and its infinite beings. The whole universe is an inconceivable mass of light pervaded by emptiness through which we can realize our primordial state, much in the way that the nature of a mirror can be understood through its reflections.
In my experience this Dzogchen explanation has the same wonderful taste as you write in „Runaway realization“ (p. 210):
Another thing that we begin to see through in the featurelessness of our true nature is the relationship between stillness and dynamism…. From the perspective of this nondual dimension of creative dynamism, everything is created anew every single moment and everything simply appears and disappears instantaneously. This is the recognition that reality is in constant flow and and that this flow is how things happen….
The experience of featureless reality is quite ordinary; everything is simple. Life goes on as usual, except there is no fixation on or stuckness in one view or another – existence or non-existence, self or no self, dual or nondual, happening or not happening. (P. 212)
The Marvelous Primordial State, A fundamental scripture of Dzogchen Semde, 2013, p. 98f:
The entire billion world systems of the universe are my domain, my abode, and my celestial palace.
They are all my Body, my Voice, and my Mind.
The entire billion world systems of the universe are the total perfection that is the level of enlightenment.
They are perfected in (the state of) total enlightement,
They are the total bliss of the buddhafields,
The level of enlightenment,
The marvelous primordial state,
The essence of all.
They are the marvelous Body,
The marvelous Voice,
The marvelous Mind,
The marvelous quality,
The marvelous secret,
The marvelous manifestation of energy,
The marvelous activity,
The marvelous miraculous display;
They are this marvelous primordial state itself.
The paper I referred it in my last comment is called. Is there an Ultimate: https://online.diamondapproach.org/is-there-an-ultimate-reality-part-1/
thank you for our discussion. I appreciate that. In fact I find me in a strange situation. This isn´t my way – to argue with somebody. Even more with the founder of the Ridhwan school which I value. And more: Arguing through a public medium. How strange.
We figured out several topics of the lecture and also in the blog comments concerning Chögyal Namkhai Norbu and Dzogchen. Some misunderstandings came up. I try to make a summary.
Lecture minute 5 to 11, minute 29
1) The „intelligence“ vs. „capacity“ question
2) The ngöndro question
3) You wrote: „Dzogchen emphasizes Rigpa or empty awareness as the final condition. This means it is the only final condition. But there are other teachings that recognize different final conditions.“
Did you ever practise Thögal or Yangti? Then you could have experienced that Dzogchen realization is much more than emptiness. Dzogchen works with the three gates, body, energy and mind or Nirmanakaya, Samboghakaya and Dharmakaya. The integration of the three Kayas is an essential point. With the three main experiences of sensation (bliss), clarity (vision) and emptiness and much more. (cave: Clarity in Dzogchen is not the same as in Zen, where you have also emptiness and clarity)
4) The citation of your „source“: „Chögyal Namkhai Norbu teached for attracting new people but not in depth older students (?).“
Your source brings up the Santi Maha Sangha training: „Thus, in the later years, this was his focus, not teachings for his older student development (?). Thus, if a student was further interested, he developed a nine part level teaching program called Santi Maha Sangha. To take the base level exam and subsequent tiered programs required a student to increase their capacity by practicing Ngondro practices (?) while keeping one’s sight always on Guru Yoga.“
I wrote you about the Santi Maha Sangha training in my first comment, october 15th, that include mainly the three Dzogchen series Semde, Longde and Upadesha, and students pass individual exams with Rinpoche – based on their experience and understanding.
I guess your source is an intellectual source from outside and not part of the Dzogchen Community and of sure not part of Rinpoches Santi Maha Sangha training – I´m a vivid source from inside, even if my realization is tiny. How can your „source“ judge intellectually about Rinpoches teaching for students, if he did not participate?
6) You repeated several times in the lecture, there are no more Dzogchen Lamas/practitioners with a deeper realization like the older ones (minute 8: „It is rare to find one in the West who really learned it to the point of full realization“; also minutes 9-10; minute 29: „Norbu himself realized it didn´t work (?)“; minute 30: „It is not known that there are truly realized Western persons realized in the Dzogchen condition“; minute 38: „and not many get to the second stage of the path“; minute 40: „I don´t know actually anybody in the Western world who actually get to this realization. May be there are some I don´t know but I haven´t heared of them“; minute 41: „by the way we don´t have at the present time masters like Dilgo Kyentse or Dudjom or the 16th Karmapa… the great masters have either died or are dying…“; minute 51: „I´m not aware of any Western student practising in this stage of Dzogchen, pure presence in every day life…“).
Which is the purpose to repeat this again and again? How can you say that? Or can you say you know all Dzogchen practitioners on earth? Do you know their realization?
Imagine this: You will die, may be, in 10 years, and 3 years after your passing somebody who did met you almost 40 years ago, will hold a lecture about the Ridhwan founder Hameed Ali. Somebody who never participated in your school, somebody who doesn´t know your teachers and students, did never experience with which love, knowledge and compassion you worked with your students and dedicated your life to the path. This somebody will have opinions about you. May be, because there is a „source“ and because he did read some books of you. This somebody does not know your way and never experienced your realization in the last 30 years. But he will speak about you in the public and on Youtube. Without knowing you in depth he think he can speak and judge about you and your school and your committed students and their realizations. SO, what would you think about?
Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche told at the end of his precious life, he doesn´t care about himself and his body. He didn´t care what people were thinking about him. But he, he always did care until the very end of his earth life for us, his students, and he came back for dying near us and not in the hospital, around 800 students were near with him in Merigar, Italy, during the days and weeks of his passing process, 800 people practised continously with him and were blessed in his incredible fragrant presence.
We can continue discussing the above mentioned topics to figure out the precise meaning. No problem, I can try.
Or we honor a human being, an incredible master, who went his own way, teaching new and old students in a very special way. Not hierarchically, like in the Ridhwan school. In your school you have to study at least more than 6-7 years and still students have no access to the retreats of Asilomar. This is your way, it will have a sense. Namkhai Norbus way was different.
Rinpoches way was totally open and free and illimited compassioned in sharing his teachings with students in a very democratic and low hierarchical manner. Everybody had access to the most profond teachings, for example Thögal and Yangti in retreats with around 1000 people in the last 10 years, new and old students because „new“ or „old“ was very relative to Chögyal Namkhai Norbu.
When somebody followed Rinpoches teaching a little, he can unterstand how he cared about „new“ and „old“ students. Even this can be a concept – what means „new“ and „old“? A new student could have an immediate deep understanding and an old student could have many difficulties to understand. Viceversa for somebody who wants to study and practise with him as Master in depth, students follow the Santi Maha training. I feel new and old at the same time. The Dzogchen path requires a lot of responsability of the student.
Everybody who asked could recieve the Email of the Master and Rinpoche did respond some hours every day to Emails. He gave himself totally.
He was living his own saying:
Realization is not knowledge about the universe but the living experience of the nature of the universe. Until we have such living experience we remain dependent on examples and subject to their limits.
With love and deep respect, Heike Ai, a simple Dzogchen vagabond
(on the day of the anniversary of Adzom Drugpa)
I don’t think you need to defend Dzogchen or your teacher, Norbu Rinpoche. I have no trouble appreciating and admiring both. I recognize Dzogchen as one of the great jewels that Vajrayana has offered to humanity.
Dzogchen is a great teaching and path. I understand some about it, but probably not as much as you do. I did not spend 30 years practicing it. But I understand the teaching and its realization enough to know that it requires a great deal of practice and dedication. I am glad you wrote about the various parts of the teaching and practices for the three stages. In my lecture, I was saying the same. In fact it was my main point. I said: that it is not enough to simply receive the transmission, one has to dedicate oneself to the path. You have, and you love it. Wonderful.
I wish many more are dedicated like you. I am sure there are some, but I know and have known many who believed getting the introduction and doing some workshops is enough. I was speaking to those, to wake them up to the truth that you are saying. Just because Garab Dorje essential points are simple, the path has still to be traversed.
I don’t know why you feel you need to defend Norbu Rinpoche. I did not say anything negative about him; Maybe I said something not accurate about him, and for this I am sorry. I said he was the first, or maybe one of the first to introduce Dzogchen in the West, while dispensing with the traditional preliminaries. I did not mean this to be saying he did wrong. His way might be the way Dzogchen can succeed in the West, And he is to be lauded for it.
I wrote about him as a pioneer and a champion. He obviously cared deeply about transmitting Dzogchen and teaching his students.
The lecture was not about that, and it was not about him. The lecture was intended to encourage those who want to engage the path of Dzogchen to dedicate themselves to the path and the practices. You write about the practices relevant for working with each of the three essential points. This is great. I thank you for t. It helps me in my intention in this lecture. And I am sure many who will read what you wrote will appreciate it.
You actually fill in the specific practices that help with the three points or stages. I understand they are not exactly stages, but they are mentioned in a succession. Anyway, you seem here to agree with me that a lot of practice is needed for all the three: that was my point, and directed towards those who do not understand the need for preparation and practice.
We seem in agreement that even though the essential points are short and simple, there is a lot that goes in realizing them. And that for most people simply receiving the transmission is not enough.
I also used Garab Dorje three essential points because it does not only give Dzogchen in a succinct way, but also because the three are essential for any genuine spiritual teaching. In each teaching, there is first the realization of the truth of the teaching. Then this realization needs to become established. In Sufi terminology; the first is called a state, the second is called a station.
Then the established realization needs be lived, actualized in all situations and activities.
The three essential points are such a wonderful succinct presentation of the three essential stages of any genuine path.
And I wanted to stress the need for preparation and practice. I did the same in the lecture before the Dzogchen lecture, the one on Advaita Vedanta. Many think going to satsangs will do it, instead of recognizing there is a path that requires commitment, dedication and practice..
My intention in these lectures is to be useful. To offer some understanding and pointing that will help in the inner journey of liberation. They are not intended to slight or idealize any one teacher or teaching. And I never thought I can do it perfectly.
since many years I appreciate your precise work in your books – that´s why the lecture about Dzogchen surprised me so much.
Dzogchen or Chögyal Namkhai Norbu don´t need me to be defended. They manifest anyway, I´m not worry about.
I need precise differentiation (f.e. you write: „Dzogchen emphasizes Rigpa or empty awareness as the final condition. This means it is the only final condition.“ As I already commented with citations, this is not only not precise – it is a fundamental misunderstanding.).
If something about Dzogchen and a Dzogchen Master (the same for other paths) is on a public medium there is a need for precision and brilliancy born out of love for the truth.
You write „the lecture was intended to encourage those who want to engage the path of Dzogchen to dedicate themselves to the path and the practices“. Meanwhile I listened the lecture several times. And always the same question is coming up. What kind of encouragement is it, to repeat several times that there are no more Dzogchen masters („only 2. generation“) or Dzogchen practitioners, who realized the second (and third) statement of Garab Dorje.
That would mean, not even the Dalai Lama (or Tarthang Tulku, Jetsün Khandro, Lopön Tendzin Namdak/Kenpo Thenpa Yungdrun or Namchak Sangak Tenzin Rinpoche – to mention only some of the wellknown Dzogchen Masters), who are giving Dzogchen teachings, realized their own teaching… ?? And knowing the explanation of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, which I posted last time, every statement can be seen as a complete path in itself – this gives a different perspective to the 3 statements.
The lecture gives the impression, Dzogchen is like a wonderful spaceship but nobody can fly it anymore. And nobody, who integrated totally the teaching, is living on earth who can support a student on the Dzogchen path. What do you mean with encouragement?
Every spiritual path is a never ending path for a human being – like Epiktet said: No great thing is created suddenly.
That´s while listening to the shortened version of the lecture I still think it shouldn ´t go on Youtube or any other public medium. And the few minutes which were cut out of the lecture are still in the written text on the school website (see. A. H. Almaas’s overview of this lecture).
Sincerely – my suggestion is – to delete all my comments on this blog together with your lecture.
The lecture about Dogen last saturday was quite interesting. I enjoyed it. And I wished in the Dzogchen lecture you would have spoken also about some of the multifaceted realizations of Dzogchen like
Inclusivity (I add some citations about it to give a taste)
All the very best, Ai
One of the great beauties of Dzogchen is the stupidity that is all good, another is the ignorance that is all good, another the passion that is all good, and the best is the nerd-like intellectual fixation that is all good….
When passion is all good, we are free of the guilt and shame…
… we admit that all belief systems are likewise included in the All-Good, and we can let go with a deep sigh of relief….
Accepting that nothing-whatsoever is excluded in the definition of the universe as „container and contents“, everything has the same value….
In the Dzogchen view, ultimate experience of any faith – religious or secular – involves the essence of mind and whatsever arises out of that essence is spontaneously perfect and that spontaneous perfection embraces the entire universe, animate and inanimate, material and spiritual, in experience of it.
On the apex path no distinction is made between formal and informal contemplation and this lack of distinction allows the inclusion of everything that is experienced in every 24 hour period in the Dzogchen mandala. This mandala is called the „great assemblage“, which can be interpreted as the entire universe assembled as an offering, or the entire universe, manifest and in potential, animate and inanimate, material and spiritual, contents and container, chalice and elixir, recognized as the plenum of experience…. In practise this inclusivity invites every experience whatsoever into the nature of mind…
Just as all sunlight is considered the nature of the sun,
So all experience is the nature of luminous mind.
Identify the spaciousness of the support and location of whatever arises,
Including the entire pure, delusory universe, manifest or potential,
And everything is suffused by baseless mind and released in the now ….
(p. 70ff; Spaciousness – Longchenpa´s Precious Treasury of the Dharmadatu, 2014)
Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche (p. 492ff, Knowledge of Time and Space, 1990)
… the path that opens to Knowledge becomes
the path that Knowledge opens to us. We become partners with Knowledge, and learn to communicate with it.
Our voice becomes the voice of Knowledge, our actions the activity of Knowledge, and our being the embodiment of Knowledge.
Love is the expression of the full unfolding of Knowledge, and the Love of Knowledge is the Love that Knowledge
extends toward us. In extending Love, Knowledge expresses its own continuity and growth, its perfect availability.
The Love of Knowledge reveals ‘why’ Knowledge is available. Knowledge presents itself to knowledge to
manifest Knowledge. The Love of Knowledge is the activity of the Body of Knowledge, disclosing Being as
Great Knowledge emerges in partnership with Great Space and Great Time. We can almost imagine the three
in conversation: “I can do anything!“ says Time with great animation. Space agrees, smiling broadly, “Yes,
that is so. I offer you room.“ Knowledge has been listening, and now nods knowingly: “Yes, both of you are right.
I give you full permission – you are free.“
Whether or not our experience is released in the now,
Whether or not our way of being is pure in its nature,
Whether or not the nature of mind is discursively elaborated,
Whether or not we bathe in the genuine authentic disposition,
It is all the same.
No matter what occurs, even if the sky and the earth exchange places,
We are wide open, hanging loosely, authentic in groundlessness…
(p. 96ff.; Spaciousness – Longchenpa´s Precious Treasury of the Dharmadatu, 2014)
I appreciate all these examples from Dzogchen masters,, Heiki
I was not trying to teach Dzogchen or present it in my lecture. It is a wonderful teaching, just as you say.
I was trying to correct some of what I observe to be wide spread misunderstandings of some of the basics. I used Garab Dorje’s three essential points to make my comments. Basically what I said is that direct introduction by itself is not enough for realization. That there needs to be a great deal of practice and preparation to benefit from the transmission. And that one needs to realize Rigpa on their own, in their alone mind, for them to ascertain it is their nature. And that to live such realization is a long process of living life from this place.
This is true for any teaching, but I discussed it in Dzogchen perspective. I have known many involved in Dzogchen who had such misunderstanding, and I see it in writings and videos.
You give an example from Tarthang Tulku, who was one of my teachers. Last time I talked with him he told me that all the translations of Dzogchen are wrong. He expressed the view that many who write and teach have the wrong understanding of Dzogchen. I was surprised, but he meant it.
You have been involved in Norbu’s community, and you seem to be happy there. Great. But there are many other communities and teachers, both Western and Tibetan, who don’t have that much understanding of Dzogchen. I am directing my comments to them.
I was not making statements about Dzochen in general. I am sorry if I spoke in a way that gave you such impression.
it´s not as black or white as you asserted already several times (e.g. in your talk: no practitioner and teacher of Dzogchen realized even the second statement…). This claim is based on assumptions on your part. You do not know what realisation all Dzogchen practitioners do have.
Another example of your (polarized) thinking shows when you write that Tarthang Tulku said in your last personal talk „all Dzogchen translations are wrong“. If Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche would know all Dzogchen translations he could say this at a specific moment. But when did the talk happen? In 2021 or 20 years earlier?
It is right that ancient Dzogchen texts are not easy to translate. But: in the last 20 years very important texts were retranslated with great carefulness. For example: under the supervision of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu a diligent study group of translators and Tibetologists was formed.
No true Dzogchen teacher would say „if you have direct introduction, you will be realized“. All know that direct introduction is a starting point for the student. In Dzogchen you have multiple practices which give you a clear experience and understanding of the true nature. A student is self-responsible and can make precise experiences with Dzogchen practices to integrate his/her true nature with their body, speech and mind.
Why do you write that you are sorry? For what? If you feel sorry, you can speak and act differently.
Such as you can delete the wrong claims about Chögyal Namkhai Norbu in your introduction to the „Dzogchen lecture“ and the generalizations about Dzogchen practitioners and teachers on the Ridhwan website and in the lecture (see „The notes below are from A. H. Almaas’s overview of this lecture“). Moreover you can delete the lecture on Youtube.
You are not helping anyone with this out-dated thinking and claims inherent in the lecture.
(please note: my name is Heike or Ai, not Heiki)
I talked with Tarthang Tulku few years ago, when he was disheartened by what he knew of the translations. This does not mean I take his view. I was just relating something I heard him say.. He has himself been engaged in translating the Tibetan Canon for many years.
I don’t think I said that no Dzogchen practioners realized the second statement. I said I did not know any in the Western students. There might be some who have, but I don’t know them. I was stressing how difficult it is to realize such condition. But definitely, there have been and are still great realized teachers in the Dzogchen tradition.
I am fine with what I have talked about. You can have your opinion. I don’t agree with your assessment of the talk.
I think it will be useful for many Western students who approach Dzogchen.
Thank you Hameed we enjoy your lectures immensely–a favorite aspect is one of experiencing spiritual silent transmission from you! All the entitling wordplay and aggressive demands above, just fall to the wayside– Perhaps a better example of what the loving presence of Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche really wished to impart.