What is Dzogchen

Dzogchen (rdzogs chen), or “Total Perfection” or “Total Completeness'”, is a Teaching which reveals the original state of every individual, a condition which is presented as “perfect” because of its infinite potentiality to manifest in the variety of all phenomena of existence. Once directly awakened by the master, this perfection is experienced as one’s innermost nature, the Nature of Mind. Continuous awareness of this nature, then, is the fundamental practice that leads to the unveiling or manifestation of one’s primordial potentiality.

Dzogchen (Tibetan rdzogs pa chen po, Sanskrit Mahasandhi), as explained, means Total Perfection and refers to the condition of primordial potentiality of each individual. The method through which we enter into the knowledge of Dzogchen and discover our real condition is called Dzogchen Teaching.

The knowledge of Dzogchen goes back to ancient times, according to the the traditional religious view. Ιn our era it was first transmitted by Garab Dorje (184 BCE to 57 CE) a few centuries after Buddha Shakyamuni. Dzogchen has been transmitted for centuries in an unbroken lineage from master to disciple down to the present day.

The Mind’s Essential Nature is said in the Dzogchen Teachings to be like the nature of a mirror. A mirror’s essential nature is clear, pure, and limpid; if this was not the case no reflections could arise in it. In the same way the mind’s natural condition is one of clarity, purity and limpidity. A mirror will reflect whatever is placed in front of it, but the nature of the mirror is not stained by any reflection, no matter how ugly or terrible. In the same way, if an individual remains continually present in the contemplative state that is the inherent nature of the mind, no thought however beautiful or ugly, attractive or repulsive, can stain the mind’s fundamental purity, or distract or disturb the practitioner, who remains integrated in a state beyond the limits of the ego and the judging mind, experiencing the world as the play of his or her own energies.

This is the effortless state of “Dzogchen”, the “Great Perfection”, complete in itself, and lacking nothing. But when an individual is distracted, they are no longer in the state of the Nature of the Mind; they enter into the dualistic confusion of separating their experience into that of an observing subject who perceives a seemingly external world as an object. This is said to be like mistaking the unreal reflections arising in a mirror for reality itself. The Dzogchen Teachings exist to enable those who have entered into this dualistic condition, with all its inherent suffering, to return to the “Primordial State” which is the mind’s natural condition, the state of Dzogchen. This state is self-perfected and exists in every individual from the very beginning. It is only lost through the dualistic clinging of the ego-fixated mind. It does not have to be created, or constructed.

The practitioner of Dzogchen, having received Transmission of the Primordial State from a qualified master, experiences it for him or herself and no longer remains in any doubt as to what this state really is. He or she then tries to remain present, continuing in non-dual contemplation in each moment, without becoming distracted or allowing the mind to become caught up in the net of conceptualisation. Relaxing body, energy and mind in the state of pure presence or “rigpa”, he or she allows the dualistic clinging of the mind to “self-liberate”, without renouncing, purifying, or transforming anything. Thus the path of Dzogchen is called the “Path of Self-Liberation”.

On this path, all that arises in the practitioner’s field of experience is seen to be essentially no more real than a reflection in a mirror. Finding oneself, through transmission from the Master and through the various practices of the Path, in the Primordial State that is one’s inherent condition, one then continues in this state of contemplation, in which nothing can disturb the mind’s natural spontaneously manifesting clarity. One develops in this state until one reaches total realisation, in which the bonds of dualistic existence are completely untied. There are many methods and techniques in the Dzogchen Teachings which can be learned and applied to enable one to know and develop the primordial state; but to enter and remain in that contemplative state in one’s every moment is the essential practice of Dzogchen to which the symbol of the mirror points.

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