Notes on Dzogchen according to Innermost Essence (Wylie. snying thig)

Etymology*

Dzogchen (Wyl. rdzogs chen) contains Wylie words “rdzogs” which means “complete” or “total”, and “chen” which means “great”. According to Tibetan Buddhism of the Ancient Tradition (Wyl. rnying ma) Dzogchen is “complete” because has one's own view with unique terminology and practice with the complete result. It is “great” because all Nine Yanas (“vehicles” to enlightenment) within Tibetan Buddhism are not “greater” but are steps to the realization of its “total” meaning.

The view is the primordial purity (Wyl. ka dak) of the Basis (Wyl. gzhi) and spontaneous accomplishment (Wyl. lhun grub) of the Appearances of the Basis (Wyl. gzhi snang) for Samsara and for Nirvana.

The practice is thoroughly cutting through (Wyl. khregs chod) the Mind (Wyl. sems) to reveal the view of primordial purity (Wyl. ka dak), remain in it without errors and directly cross over (Wyl. thod rgal) it bringing the realization of spontaneous accomplishment (Wyl. lhun grub).

The complete result is the return to Priomordial Buddha (Wyl. kun tu bzang po) with its Threefold Nature.

Terminology

The key terms of Dzogchen are the “Youthful Vase Body” (Wyl. gzhon nu bum sku) and Rigpa.

The “Youthful Vase Body” (Wyl. gzhon nu bum sku) is Rigpa which is dwelling at the Basis (Wyl. gzhi) as the Dharmakaya (Priomordial Buddha, Wyl. kun tu bzang po) with its Threefold Nature:
-primordially pure (Wyl. ka dak) Essence (Wyl. ngo bo) not established as phenomena (the emptiness),
-spontaneously accomplished (Wyl. lhun grub) Nature (Wyl. rang bzhin) (the clarity),
-omnipresent Power (Wyl. rtsal) of Compassion (Wyl. thugs rje).

Important is also a term the „Appearances of the Basis” (Wyl. gzhi snang).

Having broken” the “Youthful Vase Body” (Wyl. gzhon nu bum sku) because of the Nature (Wyl. rang bzhin) of Rigpa arise the Appearances of the Basis (Wyl. gzhi snang) with the Power (Wyl. rtsal) to recognize them. The Appearances of the Basis (Wyl. gzhi snang) cease in themselves into primordial purity (Wyl. ka dak) of Dharmakaya (Priomordial Buddha, Wyl. kun tu bzang po) or if they do not cease, they are spontaneously accomplished (Wyl. lhun grub) for Nirvana with the final return also to Dharmakaya (Priomordial Buddha, Wyl. kun tu bzang po).

If during the manifestation of the Appearances of the Basis (Wyl. gzhi snang) there will be threefold Unenlightenment (Wyl. ma rig pa) this causes the transformation of the Appearances of the Basis (Wyl. gzhi snang) for Samsara according to following scheme:

-not recognizing the Essence (Wyl. ngo bo) of the Appearances of the Basis, they are not ceased in themselves into primordial purity (Wyl. ka dak) of Dharmakaya (Priomordial Buddha, Wyl. kun tu bzang po) but the first Unenlightnement (Wyl. ma rig pa) takes place. It is made before the Bardo of Dharmata (Wyl. chos nyid bar do) starts to manifest;

-not recognizing the Nature (Wyl. rang bzhin) of the Appearances of the Basis, they are not spontaneously accomplished (Wyl. lhun grub) for Nirvana with the final return to Dharmakaya (Priomordial Buddha, Wyl. kun tu bzang po) but the second Unenlightenment (Wyl. ma rig pa) takes place. It is made during the manifestation of the Bardo of Dharmata (Wyl. chos nyid bar do);

-next arises the (dualistic) Mind (Wyl. sems) that apprehends the Appearances of the Basis (in forms of the five lights of five wisdoms and the buddha-bodies from the Bardo of Dharmata) as other than an apprehender with their final transformation into the five elements (space, wind, fire, water, earth) and the gross bodies of Samsara in the Bardo of Becoming (Wyl. srid pa'i bar do) until one takes a rebirth in one of the six realms of Samsara according to the process of 12 links of Dependent Origination. This third Unenlightenment (Wyl. ma rig pa) takes place by not recognizing by the Power (Wyl. rtsal) the spontaneous accomplishment (Wyl. lhun grub) of these Appearances of the Basis (Wyl. gzhi snang). The final return to Dharmakaya can be made during further manifestation of the Bardo of Becoming (Wyl. srid pa'i bar do) or during one's practice of Dzogchen after the rebirth in one of the six realms of Samsara.

There are the Eight Modes of Arising of Spontaneous Accomplishment (Wyl. lhun grub) for Nirvana (complete enlightenment) and for Samsara (rebirth in one of the six realms):
1) as the Power (Wyl. rtsal) with the compassion towards sentient beings,
2) as the five lights of the five wisdoms pervading all appearances,
3) as the five wisdoms in the state beyond thoughts,
4) as the peaceful and wrathful buddha-appearances pervading the space,
5) as the non-duality (Wyl. gnyis med) with no recognition as an apprehender and the apprehended,
6) as the liberatation from extremes (deviations from Madhyamaka) from the spontaneous accomplishment (Wyl. lhun grub),
7) as the door of Pristine Wisdom (Wyl. dag pa ye shes) of Nirvana with the originally pure appearances (of Nirvana) appearing above,
8) as the door of impure Samsara with the appearances of six realms and its sentient beings appearing below.
It is called the Great Simultaneous Arising of the Appearances of Samsara and Nirvana.

The terminology of Dzogchen differs from Cittamatra because the primordial purity (Wyl. ka dak) of the Basis (Wyl. gzhi) and the spontaneous accomplishment (Wyl. lhun grub) of the Appearances of the Basis
(Wyl. gzhi snang) transcend the Mind (Wyl. sems) and its mental events including the duality between the apprehender and the apprehended. The Mind (Wyl. sems) is associated only with the Eight Consciousnesses, which according to Cittamatra are the ālaya-consciousness, the direct consciousness and the six consciousnesses of senses. According to terminology of Dzogchen this Mind (Wyl. sems) arises only during the last third Unenlightenment (Wyl. ma rig pa) which took place only after not spontaneously accomplishing (Wyl. lhun grub) the Appearances of the Basis (Wyl. gzhi snang) because of the second Unenlightenment (Wyl. ma rig pa) and only after not recognizing the primordial purity (Wyl. ka dak) because of the first Unenlightenment (Wyl. ma rig pa).

Dzogchen terminology differs from Madhyamaka theories because the practice of Dzogchen realizes the primordial purity (Wyl. ka dak) of the Basis (Wyl. gzhi) and perfects the spontaneous accomplishment (Wyl. lhun grub) of the Appearances of the Basis (Wyl. gzhi snang) directly and empirically free from discrimination, conceptuality and all extremes of Nihilism and Eternalism.

Practice and Result

Whatever is the Mind (Wyl. sems) there is the Unenlightenment (Wyl. ma rig pa). When Rigpa becomes free from the Mind (Wyl. sems) it is used during the practice until the Perfect Enlightenment according to Dzogchen.

The practice of Trekchö (Wyl. khregs chod), after “thoroughly cutting through” the Mind (Wyl. sems) by the Introduction in Rigpa, reveals the view of primordial purity (Wyl. ka dak) beyond conceptual elaboration and because of a stability in it during the process of one's own death one attains dissolution into Dharmakaya (Priomordial Buddha, Wyl. kun tu bzang po), like many Dzogchen masters until the present who manifested the Rainbow Body (Wyl. 'ja lus) before the dissolution into Dharmakaya.

The practice of Tögal (Wyl. thod rgal ) after a stability in primordial purity (Wyl. ka dak) directly “crosses over” it by the realization of spontaneous accomplishment (Wyl. lhun grub) through the Four Visions (Wyl. snang ba bzhi) that accord with the Three Kayas (Nirmanakaya, Sambhogakaya, Dharmakaya) during one's own life or “crosses over” it after the process of one's own death during the Bardo of Dharmata (Wyl. chos nyid bar do) with a realization of Sambhogakaya. The perfect stability in spontaneous accomplishment (Wyl. lhun grub) leads to the attainment of the Body of Light (Wyl. a'od phung) in one's own life and it works as the Great Transference Body (Wyl. pho ba ch'en po) for the benefit of sentient beings. Padhmasambhava, Vimalamitra and tibetan master Chetsun Senge Wangchung because of attainment of the Body of Light (Wyl. a'od phung) through Tögal accomplished the Great Transference Body (Wyl. pho ba ch'en po) during one's own life.

Many practitioners of Dzogchen who not realized Dharmakaya through Trekchö during the process of one's own death or not realized Sambhogakaya through Tögal during the Bardo of Dharmata can attain Nirmanakaya during the Bardo of Becoming (Wyl. srid pa'i bar do) when they will reborn in the Pure Lands of Buddhas or can choose in the Bardo of Becoming the next rebirth in the world where they will practice Dzogchen.

There is need to the Three Authentics (Wyl. tshad ldan gsum) for the Introduction in Rigpa:
1) authentic empowerment of the genuine master (Wyl. bla ma byin rlabs tshad ldan),
2) authentic devotion (openness) of the genuine student (Wyl. slob ma mos gus tshad ldan),
3) authentic instructions of the genuine lineage (Wyl. brgyud pa'i gdams ngag tshad ldan).

Dzogchen is unique to the Highest Yoga Tantras because of practice of Tögal (Wyl. thod rgal ) where the Four Lamps (with the light channels, the light drops, the naturally occurring wisdom) are used for arising of realizations of the Four Visions with an experience similar to this after death in the Bardo of Dharmata (Wyl. chos nyid bar do, the first luminous intermediate state between one's own death and the next rebirth).

The Four Lamps (Wyl. sgron ma bzhi):
1) the far-reaching water lamp (Wyl. rgyang zhags chu yi sgron ma) as a gateway that causes the arising (the three other lamps) through the eyes (with the help of the light channels, Wyl. 'od rtsa),
2) the lamp of the basic space of Rigpa (Wyl. rig pa dbyings kyi sgron ma) as a ground for the arising of the external (a space of projection for the two following other lamps),
3) the lamp of empty vital essence spheres (Wyl. thig le stong pa'i sgron ma) as a support (the shape of coloured light-drops, Wyl. thigle, that join together or form groups and which comes forth inside the second lamp) that activates the arising,
4) the lamp of naturally occurring wisdom (Wyl. shes rab rang byung gi sgron ma) which is not actually “lighting up” but is the naturally occurring wisdom itself.

The Four Visions (Wyl. snang ba bzhi):
1) Direct realization of Dharmata itself (Wyl. chos nyid mngon sum) when direct perception of reality opens the doors of pure realms (the visions),
2) Increasing experience (Wyl. nyams gong ‘phel ba) of the visions which result in the Nirmanakaya,
3) Rigpa reaching full maturity (Wyl. rig pa tshad phebs) of the visions in the Sambhogakaya,
4) Consummation of Dharmata when even the fixation on reality will fall away and one will behold the visions in the Dharmakaya (Wyl. chos nyid du 'dzin pa tsam yang zad pa).

*Tony Duff „Differentiating non-distraction and so forth. An aspect of training in thorough cut”, Padma Karpo Translation Committee, Kathmandu, 2011, p. VI, ISBN 978-9937-9031-2-7, explains:
Great Completion is often called “Great Perfection” in English but that presents an incorrect understanding of the name. The final space of realization is not a state of perfection but one that contains both perfection and imperfection. The name is not intended to connect us with the idea of perfection but with the idea of the juncture of all things perfect and imperfect, to the idea of a state of realization in which all things are complete. There is also the unavoidable point that Longchen Rabjam’’s definitive explanations in his revered text The Dharmadhatu Treasury make it clear beyond a doubt that the meaning of the name is Great Completion and not Great Perfection. He mentions in several places that the point of the name is the inclusion - just as the original name from Uddiyana states „Mahasandhi” - of all dharmas within a single unique sphere of wisdom. Completion in the name means that all phenomena are included at once in a single space of realization. Great is used to distinguish something known by wisdom in direct perception from the same thing known by dualistic mind as a concept. Thus Great Completion is not the completion understood through the use of concept, but the greater version of that, the actual state of completion known through wisdom.”

Resources

1. Longchen Rabjam, Tulku Thondup: "The Practice of Dzogchen", Snow Lion Publications, 2002, ISBN 1559391790.
2. Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Tayé, Sarah Harding: "The Treasury of Knowledge: Book Eight, Esoteric Instructions, A Detailed Presentation of the Process of Meditation in Vajrayana", Snow Lion Publications, 2007, ISBN 1559392843.
3. Sogyal Rinpoche: "Tibetan Book of Living and Dying", HarperCollins Publishers, 1993, ISBN-13 9780062508348.

© Mariusz Mantur, 20.09.2010
mariusz_mantur@poczta.onet.pl

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