The Dzogchen Primer: Embracing the Spiritual Path According to the Great Perfection

The Dzogchen Primer: Embracing the Spiritual Path According to the Great Perfection

by Marcia Schmidt
     
 

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The
Tibetan Buddhist meditation practice known as
Dzogchen
(pronounced ZOG-chen) is a practical method for accessing the pristine, clear awareness that lies beneath the chatter and confusion of our daily thoughts.
The
Dzogchen Primer

provides the keys for understanding Dzogchen and putting it into

…  See more details below

Overview

The
Tibetan Buddhist meditation practice known as
Dzogchen
(pronounced ZOG-chen) is a practical method for accessing the pristine, clear awareness that lies beneath the chatter and confusion of our daily thoughts.
The
Dzogchen Primer

provides the keys for understanding Dzogchen and putting it into practice.

Marcia
Schmidt, a long-time Buddhist practitioner, has gathered here the most accessible, down-to-earth writings published on this subject and has organized them into a study guide for the serious beginner on the Buddhist path. The collection includes writings from such well-known and venerable masters as
Milarepa, Padmasambhava, Shantideva, Chögyam Trungpa, and Tulku Urgyen.

The concept of Dzogchen is said to lie beyond the confines of our beliefs, our intellectual constructs, our ordinary understanding. A Dzogchen master writes,
"We need to dismantle our fixation on the permanence of what we experience. A normal person clings to his experiences as being 'real,'
concrete, and permanent. But if we look closely at what happens, experience is simply experience, and it is not made out of anything. It has no form, no sound, no color, no taste, no texture; it is simply empty cognizance."

The
Dzogchen Primer

includes an informative editor's preface as well as two forewords by prominent
Tibetan masters that provide fundamental background information that will be helpful to readers new to this subject. The book also includes short,
descriptive guiding notes intended to assist both independent students and teachers leading workshops.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780834823877
Publisher:
Shambhala Publications, Inc.
Publication date:
11/19/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
389 KB

Read an Excerpt

From
the Preface

The
Dzogchen Primer
offers a joyful way to access the traditional principles of Tibetan Buddhism. It is a guidebook on how to study, contemplate, and meditate in a supportive environment abundant in rich material and practices. Here is a definitive map showing where practitioners of this path are going and how to get there.
The
Primer
includes the basics for proper understanding and practice—a source anyone on this path can turn to for guidance.

These days there is a strong interest in the Vajrayana, especially the Dzogchen and
Mahamudra teachings. As Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche says, "During this age, the
Vajrayana teachings blaze like the flames of a wildfire. Just as the flames of negative emotions flare up, so do the teachings. During the Age of Strife, it seems as though people are seldom amiable; rather, they are always trying to outdo one another. This fundamental competitiveness has given rise to the name
Age of Strife. But this is exactly the reason that Vajrayana is so applicable to the present era. The stronger and more forceful the disturbing emotions are,
the greater the potential for recognizing our original wakefulness. Thus, the vast amount of conflict in the world today is precisely why the Vajrayana teachings will spread like wildfire."


The Primer
provides a much-needed corrective to the many misconceptions and wrong views being promoted about Dzogchen—and there are many. One of the most serious obstacles that can confront practitioners is the entertainment of wrong views. Unless we study, we will not know how to differentiate between what is correct and what is incorrect. Study does not have to mean the extensive program of a Tibetan
shedra.
Here,
study is presented in the
kusulu
fashion,
the style of a simple meditator.

"The causal and resultant vehicles—Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana—differ in what they regard as path. In particular, to actually apply Vajrayana in practice, there are three different approaches: taking the ground as path,
taking the path as path, and taking the fruition as path. These three approaches can be understood by using the analogy of a gardener or farmer.
Taking the ground or cause as path is like tilling soil and sowing seeds.
Taking the path as path is like weeding, watering, fertilizing, and coaxing crops forth. Taking the fruition as path is the attitude of simply picking the ripened fruit or the fully bloomed flowers. To do this, to take the complete result, the state of enlightenment itself, as the path, is the approach of
Dzogchen. This summarizes the intent of the Great Perfection."

So,
here we are, practitioners in the Age of Strife, replete with inner and outer conflicts, who are described further as being extremely sharp but extremely lazy. It is only natural that we, materialistic seekers of objects of high quality, would be drawn to the pinnacle of vehicles. Lacking in diligence, we are attracted to what is the least complex and most unelaborated.

Unfortunately,
gaining the right understanding is not that easy. It is extremely important not to oversimplify and lose sight of the true meaning. Although Padmasambhava gave us these custom-made teachings, designated for our particular times and temperament (the beauty of Hidden Treasures), we need the proper conditions to connect with them. These include the presence of a fully realized teacher and qualified lineage holder, as well as our own circumstances of being born at the right time and place with the right frame of mind.

The right frame of mind means that we trust and appreciate the teachings and the teachers and have devotion and pure perception. Likewise, it is fundamental that we aspire to put these teachings into practice for the benefit of the countless other less fortunate beings of the dark age who lack the opportunity to meet the teachers and the teachings. The Dharma needs to be practiced.
Teachings—no matter how high or lofty—have little value for the individual who does not apply them.

As
Sogyal Rinpoche states, "Whichever way the training is tailored, from the traditional point of view, there must be a solid grounding in the basic Dharma teaching. The main points, the heart of the teaching, must be instilled in the student's mind so that he or she will never forget them. For example:
refraining from harm, the crux of the Fundamental Vehicle; developing Good
Heart, the essence of the Mahayana; and pure perception, the heart of the
Vajrayana."

The
Dzogchen Primer
offers a way to acquire the correct grounding as well as the confidence that we can continue on the path to enlightenment. Not only do we need to study; we need to integrate the teachings into our beings. This integration is twofold. It is important not to separate the spiritual, or absolute truth, from our ordinary mundane experiences, or relative truth. We need to bring all circumstances onto the path and maintain our dharmic perspective as much as possible. Also, it is crucial to be truly convinced that we can eventually benefit beings and reach accomplishment. Unless we gain certainty in our own inherent nature, we might not trust that we can reach realization. Like enlightened beings, we embody the basic material for buddhahood, the buddha nature. We need to cut the net of doubts that surrounds us. Yes, we are in a compromised state now; we are obscured, but this is only temporary. We can purify our obscurations through the various practices. These teachings show us how to unfold the view
"from the top" while ascending the path from below.
The
Primer
thus allows readers to share in this profound approach at any point on the Vajrayana path. All the pieces in this book are pith instructions from qualified masters.



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Meet the Author

Marcia Binder Schmidt has been an editor and publisher of books on Vajrayana Buddhism for over fifteen years. With her husband, author and translator Erik Pema Kungsang, she founded and currently runs Rangjung Yeshe Publications, an independent publisher of Buddhist texts in English.

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