The purpose of this weblog is to serve as a resource for those who are interested in the practice of dzogchen.  The particular standpoint of advocacy here is what could be referred to as freestanding dzogchen, but this is not the common context for such study, understanding and practice. This standpoint is not presented here as a contradiction or correction of other approaches. It is rather a view that attempts to draw out the real meaning of dzogchen knowledge as it particularly applies to the 21st-century individual. Since the 7th century,  the dzogchen teachings have been closely associated with Vajrayana Buddhism and the majority of available literary references concerning dzogchen are written from that perspective.  However, the dzogchen system of practice is in fact not at all dependent upon the tenants, precepts or philosophy of Vajrayana Buddhism.  Dzogchen represents the consummate culmination of Buddhist practice in that its praxis is entirely existential — as distinct from the transcendental approach of Buddhism.  According to Buddhist sources, dzogchen transmission among humanity originated in the land of Uddiyana which is now identified as the Swat region of present-day Pakistan. The original preceptor of dzogchen in our epoch was the master, Garab Dorje, whose principal disciples were apparently already masters of Vajrayana. However, dzogchen knowledge and teachings pre-date Garab Dorje by incalculable eons and are even said to be presently available in thirteen different “star-systems”.

Because of the radical nature of the dzogchen view, which “goes beyond the limitations of Cause and Effect”, these teachings were not promulgated publicly for reasons which will be explained. Centuries after Garab Dorje, the enigmatic master, Padma Sambhava, introduced dzogchen into Tibet. In both Uddiyana and Tibet, strong cultural and political convictions of that period prohibited, sometimes with very severe penalties, the open dissemination and practice of dzogchen. This is because dzogchen, in its radical and unequivocal expression, seems to present a kind of spiritual anarchy that conventional judgement can easily misinterpret. Particularly, dzogchen could be (and has been) erroneously viewed as an advocacy of secular anarchy.  Furthermore, the bluntly amoral symbolic language of dzogchen, conspicuous throughout its literature, presents a serious challenge to the intellectually and emotionally immature.  It is important to understand that the gradient-styled practices of Vajrayana Buddhism ultimately culminate in the realization of the dzogchen state. The Nyingma lineage in particular has served for centuries as a reliquary for dzogchen by maintaining the original dzogchen precepts as a secret teaching.  Nevertheless, due to the strong predominance of the Tantric perspective in Tibet, dzogchen has been routinely characterized as impractical unless significant attainment in Tantrism has been accomplished as a prerequisite.  This bias is really the result of Tibetan religio-political institutionalism more than genuine spiritual pragmatism.  In actuality, dzogchen is a complete and unique spiritual system unto itself with its own unique way of training and working with all the various levels of individual aspirants. There are no prerequisites in dzogchen besides genuine personal interest. Freestanding dzogchen therefore refers to the approach and practice of dzogchen in its own right.

Only very recently have the dzogchen teachings begun to be offered again openly as an independent spiritual system, unbeholding to any particular religious or philosophical tradition.  It is also important to understand that this freestanding approach to dzogchen does not contradict any religion or philosophy and can therefore be practiced by anyone, without the necessity to change one’s beliefs.  Nevertheless, through the practice of dzogchen, all beliefs will ultimately and naturally evaporate on their own as they become fully exposed to the knowledge and inconceivable solar-like brilliance of one’s own intrinsic awareness.

8 Responses to About

  1. gsngsng says:

    Your writing is excellent; I’d like to ask if it is due to having studied Latin (the Roman word for language) with the Catholics? Any painful memories put to rest? I Love You!

    • Yedruk says:

      Centurion: “What’s this, then? ‘People called Romanes they go the house?’”
      Brian: “It … it says, ‘Romans, go home.’”
      Centurion [thrashing him like a schoolboy]: “No, it doesn’t! … ‘Go home?’ This is motion towards. Isn’t it, boy?”
      Brian: “Ah … ah, dative, sir! Ahh! No, not dative! Not the dative, sir! No! Ah! Oh, the … accusative! Domum, sir! Ah! Oooh! Ah!”
      Centurion [pulling him by the ear]: Except that domum takes the …?”
      Brian: “The locative, sir!”

      Monty Python, “Life of Brian”

      … not just any Catholics, dearest, the Jesuits. Painful memories? Only one.

  2. Hluntkroop says:

    Will you please say something about helping everyone, comparing and contrasting this with helping “others” and “(our)selves” ? …
    Sincere thanks

  3. Tantradude says:

    If its is said that we are here to help others, then for what in heaven’s name are others here for ?

  4. “In actuality, dzogchen is a complete and unique spiritual system unto itself with its own unique way of training and working with all the various levels of individual aspirants. There are no prerequisites in dzogchen besides genuine personal interest. Radical Dzogchen therefore refers to the practice of dzogchen in its own right.” From the Vajrayana perspective the common teaching is that without the accumulation of a vast amount of merit (positive spiritual energy) and considerable wisdom (taken together, these are the “two accumulations”) it is simply not feasible to approach Dzogchen. To this is added a stricture that only those of keenest faculties are suited to Dzogchen. For others, the best thing is to develop and mature in one of the nine yanas of Nyingma, whichever is best suited to one’s nature. The Ngondro is presented as the necessary preliminary for Dzogchen by virtually all Vajrayana masters, even those of high attainment. So it would seem that “personal interest” is traditionally not considered to be an adequate starting point, that is, in Tibetan Buddhism. I’m not sure what the Radical Dzogchen rationale is for thinking otherwise. Could this be succinctly indicated?

    • Yedruk says:

      Euclidean math only works in very small patches. It doesn’t work astronomically because space is curved. The 3-D printer that they took to the international space station didn’t work properly in zero gravity. Similarly, the functional principle of Vajrayana is not the same as the principle of Dzogchen. Vajrayana uses the Mahayana Buddhist notion of two accumulations, relative merit and absolute merit. But to whom, exactly, does all this merit accrue? If you really solve this riddle then you got absolute merit. In Dzogchen, enlightenment is understood to be our default condition. It is inescapable and irresistible. So, nothing whatsoever needs to be set up ahead of time in order to begin the paradoxical practice of recognizing it. Vajrayana works “with” the erroneous notion that there is a discrete person that can progress through the various Bodhisattva levels. This is why Vajrayana is based on the principle of transformation. You transform your fictional being into real being. Oh yes, fictional beings do need lots of merit. Dzogchen, however, does not function on the principle of transformation. It uses the principle of primordial purity and autonomic optimization. When practicing Dzogchen (which means being and remaining in the actual current of the Guru’s transmission), one’s field of being certainly does move toward optimal. If this movement could be seen through the lens of Vajrayana it would be called accumulation of merit. But in Dzogchen it is not seen as accumulation – it is understood to be the natural goodness of Being. So, in Dzogchen, nothing whatsoever needs to be set up ahead of time. It is perpetually the perfect time to practice Dzogchen.

      • Kilaya says:

        In Hinduism, as I understand it, Dzogchen would be connected to the path of Jnana Yoga or self-inquiry. In Hinduism, jnana yoga is one of four paths to the highest state of liberation. Those 4 are: karma yoga, bhakti yoga, kriya yoga and jnana yoga.
        The Dzogchen tradition within Vajrayana buddhism would be considered a mixture of the 4 yogas because it stipulates the need for preparatory purifying practices (kriya), serving or bowing down before guru/tradition (bhakti), setting the intention to benefit others (karma) AND the pure practice of self-inquiry (jnana).
        Within Hinduism it is considered perfectly valid to practice pure jnana yoga. Usually, a spiritual aspirant gets naturally connected to a particular yoga due to inherent personality-based proclivities and abilities. Jnana yogis generally have a subtle facility with words and concepts (buddhi).
        Thanks for the really helpful elucidations you share concerning this magnificent age-old tradition!

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