This was written as an introduction to the book, "The Practice of Dzogchen", by Tulku Thondup.
The true nature of the world and the true essence of the mind are the very same.
They are unborn and beyond sorrow.
Liberation will be attained by seeing the nature of the mind,
the true nature of all the existents.
Then there is no other peace to attain.
- Longchen Rabjam.[i]
If we perfect the realization of the true essence or the true nature of the mind, we perfect the realization of the true nature of everything and attain Buddhahood.
Every being is made of body and mind. The body is precious, but like a hotel, a temporary dwelling place, it is composed of gross elements, and it dissolves into the earth at the end. Mind is like a guest who remains with the body for a period of time, a stream of consciousness that grasps at the mental objects with the passion of emotions and enjoys them with various sensations. So, our true identity is the mind, not the body or material things.
If our mind remains in the awareness of peace, then whatever we do or feel becomes peaceful and we will become the sources of peace for others. At the time of death, mind will not disappear, but will take rebirth in another body. If we are enjoying a peaceful life now, that mental habit of peace will be reflected as a life and world of peace for our successive rebirths. So, our mind is who we are. It acts and enjoys the reactions as the fruits.
According to Buddhist teachings, such as Dzogchen - the Great Perfection - mind itself has two aspects, namely mind and the true nature of the mind. Mind originates from and functions with duality. It is enflamed by emotions and filled with sensations. It causes positive and negative deeds and enjoys pain and joy as their fruits due to the law of causation, as clouds of various colors and qualities cause the light and qualities of the sky to appear change.
The true nature or the intrinsic awareness (Tib., rig pa) of the mind is utmost peaceful, omniscient and fully enlightened, as the sky is always pure and clear. Every being possesses such a true nature, though most of us do not even have a clue of its presence in us.
If we wish to remain ordinary but to have a peaceful life and rebirth, we must train our mind in generating the habits of peaceful mind through various methods such as meditations and prayers. If we wish to become a fully enlightened one, a Buddha, we must realize the intrinsic awareness, the true nature of the mind, and perfect that realization. When that realization is perfected, the whole world becomes reflections of the true nature of the mind itself - a luminous union of appearances and openness. Such awareness embodies the three Buddha-bodies: Its space-like openness or emptiness essence is the Dharmakaya. Its ever-present sun and moonlight-like clarity nature is the Sambhogakaya. The infinite reflections of sun and moon in infinite water-vessels-like display of loving-kindness [power] is the Nirmanakaya.
In Dzogchen meditations - through the methods of preliminary exercises of common and extraordinary teachings, students can be introduced to a glimpse of the nature of the mind between the chain of thoughts, like seeing the clear deep blue sky through the cracks of the clouds. This is the wisdom of awareness that is totally calm, fully clear and absolutely boundless, in which there is not even a trace of subjective-objective boundaries and limitations, emotional afflictions and conflicts, or sensational waves and clashes. Having clearly distinguished the nature of the mind from mind, mediators relax in the glimpses of the nature without duality or wavering. Whenever mind is distracted, they keep bringing it back to the glimpses with the help of the watchful eyes of mindfulness until confidence in the realization is fully established and perfected and the conceptual mind has no chance to return. Jigme Lingpa writes:[ii]
(Realization of) the intrinsic awareness that transcends the mind
Is the unique teaching of Dzogpa Chenpo.
This book is mainly an anthology of some Dzogchen teachings composed by the Omniscient Longchen Rabjam, the greatest authority on Dzogchen. About 25 years ago, I compiled this book for those who say: Dzogchen is not part of the Buddhist view, path or goal. There is no need to pursue common Buddhist trainings for Dzogchen practitioners. In Dzogchen you just remain without any thought. There is no authentic books on Dzogchen to read in English.
Here, the words of Longchen Rabjam affirm that Dzogchen is not only part of Buddhism, but it is the essence and peak of all the Buddhist trainings and realizations. In order to practice high Dzogchen meditations, we must advance through the common stages of Buddhist trainings. And just sitting with no thoughts will only confine us in a neutral, sleeping-like state of mind and will never lead to the fully awakened state, the awareness wisdom.
When our mind is ready, the awakening of the true nature of the mind takes place instantly and directly. However, until we reach the possibility of realizing the true nature of the mind, we must employ various trainings such as the power of mindfulness and the forces of merits and knowledge. We always must start our meditation journey from where we truly are standing.
Since the true nature of the mind is the awakened state of the mind and that is what we are and our mind really is - when we enjoy glimpses of that nature, we must relax and remain in it. For meditators who know how to contemplate in the natural state, it is the easiest thing to do, but for others it is the hardest. Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche once told me, "The hardest thing about Dzogchen is - it is too easy." His words are profound and prophetic. The hardest thing for us is to let go of the thoughts of wanting and resistance and relax in the epicenter of all - the awareness of the ultimate openness without conceptualizing thoughts.
If we could perfect the Dzogchen trainings by earning merits and realizing wisdom, the true nature of the mind, we will wake up from the nightmare-like delusory thoughts and emotions of our mind, and the dream-like delusory appearances of the world that are fabricated by the mind itself will also be dissolved from the basis. The true nature of the mind and the ultimate sphere will unite and effortlessly radiate the Buddha-bodies with fivefold-wisdom and the Buddha pure lands and serve all spontaneously with boundless enlightened activities. Longchen Rabjam says,[iii]
Having perfected the skillful-means [merits] and wisdom,
You accomplish Buddha-bodies, wisdoms and actions.
Mind and mental events including the universal ground will dissolve.
You enter into the great peace - the ultimate sphere.
At that time, the ultimate sphere and primordial wisdom become
indivisibleand one taste.
The heart of this book is the 7th Chapter of Part II. Instead of trying with too much effort to comprehend the outer and inner meanings of the words, just remain in the innate awareness, the true nature of the mind itself, naturally. Then vocally or with mental voice, sing the lines as the natural flow of the roaring sounds and feelings of the ultimate openness pervading throughout the boundless sphere of the universe forever.
I am thankful to Karl Antz for translating this sacred book into German with prudent knowledge and meticulous care. I pray that whoever reads this book, may it cause them to awaken their own true nature of the mind - the innate peace, joy and omniscience - the Great Perfection.
March 20th, 2009
The Buddhayana Foundation, USA
[i] SR 4a/1
[ii] YTD 42b/4
[iii] SN 51b/5