GARAB DORJE’S THREE ESSENTIAL POINTS
(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