If you give an explanation of Dzogchen
to a hundred people who are interestsed
this is not enough,
but if you give an explanation
to one person who is not interested,
this is too much.
– Garab Dorje
Dzogchen shouldn’t be regarded as a religion, and it doesn’t ask anyone to believe in anything. On the contrary, it suggests that the individual observe him or herself and discover for themselves what their actual condition is.
In the Dzogchen teachings, the individual is regarded as functioning at three independent levels, of body, voice or energy, and mind. …
The limits and problems of the body are clearly tangible. We feel cold and hunger, we suffer pain and loneliness, and we spend much of our lives in an attempt to overcome our physical suffering.
The level of energy, or voice, is not so easy to see, and not as widely understood. Even medical doctors in the West are largely ignorant of it, trying to cure all illnesses at a purely material level. But if the energy of an individual is disturbed, neither the body nor the mind of the individual will be well balanced. Certain illnesses, such as cancer, are caused by disturbances of the energy, and canot be cured simply surgery or medication. Similarly, many mental illnesses, and also some less severe mental problems, are caused by poor circulation of energy. Our minds are generally very complicated and confused, and even when we want to stay calm, we may find we can’t, because our nervous and agitated energy won’t allow us to.
So to deal with these problems of body, voice, and mind, the Dzogchen teachings present practices that work with each of these three levels of the individual, practices that can be integrated with the individual’s daily life and which can thus change our whole life experience from one of tensions and confusion to one of wisdom and true freedom. The teachings are not merely theoretical, they are practical; and though the Dzogchen teachings are extremely ancient, because the nature of the body, voice, and mind of the individual has not chnaged, these teachings remain as relevant to the human situation of today as they were to that of yesterday.
The Primordial State
The teaching of Dzogchen is in essence a teaching concerning the primordial state that is each individual’s own intrinsice nature from the very beginning. To enter this state is to experience oneself as one is, as the center of the universe though not in the ordinary ego state. The ordinary ego-centered consciousness is precisely the limited cage of dualistic vision that closes off the experience of one’s true nature, which is the space of the primordial state. To discover this primordial state is to understand the teaching of Dzogchen, and the function of the transmission of the teaching of Dzogchen is to communicate this state from one who has realized, or become established in it, to those who remain caught up in the dualistic condition. Even the name Dzogchen, which means “Great Perfection”, refers to the self-perfectedness of this state, fundamentally pure from the beginning, with nothing to reject or accept.
… The primordial state … is beyond intellect by its very nature. … The primordial state itself has no nationality and is omnipresent.
But it is also true that beings everywhere have enetered into the dualistic vision that veils the experience of the primordial state. And when realized beings have tried to communicate with them, they have only rarely been able to communicate the primordial state completely without words or symbols, so they have made use of whatever culture they found present, as a means of communication.
… Dzogchen was always a somewhat reserved teaching. But the Dzogchen teachings are the essence of all Tibetn teachings, so direct that they were always kept a little hidden, and people were often a little afraid of them. Furthermore, there existed a tradition of Dzogchen among the ancient Bon traditions, the indigenous and largely shamanic traditions of Tibet, that predate the arrival of Buddhism from India.
… Like a crystal at the heart of the culture, the clarity of the primordial state, as manifested in the minds of many masters, has radiated the forms of Tibetan art and iconography, medicine, and astrology, like brilliant rays, or sparkling reflections. So by coming to understand the nature of the crystal, we will be better able to make sense of the rays and reflections that emanage from it.