Dzogchen practices – Awakening rigpa
Dzogchen (“Great Perfection” or “Great Completion”), also known as atiyoga (utmost yoga), is a tradition of teachings in Tibetan Buddhism aimed at discovering and continuing in the ultimate ground of existence.
Table of Contents
- 1 - The view of Dzogchen
- 2 - Dzogchen spiritual practices
The view of Dzogchen
The primordial ground is said to have the qualities of purity (i.e. emptiness), spontaneity (lhun grub, associated with luminous clarity) and compassion (thugs rje).
The goal of Dzogchen is knowledge of this basis, this knowledge is called rigpa (Skt. vidyā).
In this short video Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche explains in simple word what is the view of Dzogchen:
Dzogchen spiritual practices
There are numerous spiritual practices taught in the various Dzogchen systems for awakening rigpa.
This is a non-exhaustive list of Dzogchen spiritual practices.
In Dzogchen, rainbow body (Tibetan: འཇའ་ལུས་, Wylie: ‘ja’ lus , Jalü or Jalus) is a level of realization. This may or may not be accompanied by the ‘rainbow body phenomenon’. The rainbow body phenomenon is a religious topic which has been treated fairly seriously for centuries, including in the modern era. Other Vajrayana teachings also mention rainbow body phenomena.
Chöd, is a spiritual practice found primarily in the Nyingma and Kagyu schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Also known as “Cutting Through the Ego,”, the practices are based on the Prajñāpāramitā or “Perfection of Wisdom” sutras, which expound the “emptiness” concept of Buddhist philosophy.
Dream Yoga or Milam —the Yoga of the Dream State—is a suite of advanced tantric sadhana of the entwined Mantrayana lineages of Dzogchen. Dream Yoga are tantric processes and techniques within the trance Bardos of Dream and Sleep Six Yogas of Naropa. In the tradition of the tantra, Dream Yoga method is usually passed on by a qualified teacher to his/her students after necessary initiation. Various Tibetan lamas are unanimous that it is more of a passing of an enlightened experience rather than any textual information.
In Vajrayāna Buddhism, esoteric transmission is the transmission of certain teachings directly from teacher to student during an empowerment (abhiṣeka) in a ritual space containing the mandala of the deity. Many techniques are also commonly said to be secret, but some Vajrayana teachers have responded that secrecy itself is not important and only a side-effect of the reality that the techniques have no validity outside the teacher-student lineage.
Phowa is a Vajrayāna Buddhist meditation practice. It may be described as “the practice of conscious dying”, “transference of consciousness at the time of death”, “mindstream transference”, or “enlightenment without meditation”.
The pointing-out instruction is the direct introduction to the nature of mind in the Tibetan Buddhist lineages of Mahāmudrā and Dzogchen. In these traditions, a “root guru” gives the “pointing-out instruction” in such a way that the disciple successfully recognizes the “nature of mind.”
Dark retreat is a solo retreat in a space that is completely absent of light, which is an advanced practices in the Dzogchen lineages of the Nyingmapa, Bönpo, and other schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The time period dedicated to dark retreat varies from a few hours to decades. Dark retreat in the Himalayan tradition is a restricted practice only to be engaged by the senior spiritual practitioner under appropriate spiritual guidance. This practice is considered conducive for navigating the bardo at the time of death and for realising the rainbow body. The traditional dark retreat requires stability in the natural state and is only suitable for advanced practitioners. Ayu Khandro and Dilgo Khyentse are examples of modern, if not contemporary, practitioners of significant periods of dark retreat sadhana.
Longchen Nyingthig is a terma, revealed scripture, of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, which gives a systematic explanation of Dzogchen. It was revealed by Jigme Lingpa (1730-1798).
In Dzogchen, tögal literally means “crossing the peak.” It is sometimes translated as ‘leapover,’ ‘direct crossing,’ or ‘direct transcendence.’ Tögal is also called “the practice of vision,” or “the practice of the Clear Light” (od-gsal).
Tsa lung Trul khor, known in short as Trul khor “magical instrument” or “magic circle” is a Vajrayana discipline which includes pranayama and body postures (asanas). From the perspective of Dzogchen, the mind is merely vāyu “breath” in the body. Thus working with vāyu and the body is paramount, while meditation on the other hand is considered contrived and conceptual.
Namchö translates as the “sky/space dharma”, a terma cycle especially popular among the Palyul lineage of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. It was revealed by the tertön Namchö Migyur Dorje, transmitted to Kunzang Sherab and compiled by the Kagyu school master Karma Chagme.
Sky gazing (Dzogchen)
In both the Bön and Buddhist Dzogchen traditions, sky gazing is considered to be an important part of tregchöd. Detailed instructions on the practice are provided by the Nyingma teacher Tarthang Tulku.
Tapihritsa or Tapahritsa was a Bon practitioner who achieved the Dzogchen mastery of the rainbow body and consequently, as a fully realised trikaya Buddha, is invoked as an iṣṭadevatā by Dzogchen practitioners in both Bon and Tibetan Buddhism. He famously achieved the rainbow body achievement.
In Dzogchen, trekchö means “(spontaneous) cutting of tension” or “cutting through solidity.” The practice of trekchö reflects the earliest developments of Dzogchen, with its admonition against practice. In this practice one first identifies, and then sustains recognition of, one’s own innately pure, empty awareness. The main trekchö instructions in the Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo state “This instant freshness, unspoiled by the thoughts of the three times; You directly see in actuality by letting be in naturalness.”
In Tibetan Buddhism and Bön, Zhitro is the name referring to a cycle or mandala of 100 peaceful (zhi) and wrathful (khro) tantric deities and of a genre of scriptures and associated tantric practices which focus on those deities which represent the purified elements of the body and mind. These hundred peaceful and wrathful deities are believed to manifest to a deceased person following the dissolution of the body and consciousness in the intermediate state, or bardo, between death and rebirth. The best-known, though by no means only, example of this genre of texts and practices is commonly known as the Kar-ling Zhitro cycle after Karma Lingpa, the tertön who (re)discovered or revealed this collection of texts. The text which is well known in the west as “Tibetan Book of the Dead” forms one section of Karma Lingpa’s Zhitro cycle.