Mahamudra and Dzogchen are perhaps the most profound teachings within all of Tibetan
Buddhism. The experience of
or "great symbol," is an overwhelming sense of extraordinary clarity,
totally open and nondualistic.
or ...

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Wild Awakening: The Heart of Mahamudra and Dzogchen

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Mahamudra and Dzogchen are perhaps the most profound teachings within all of Tibetan
Buddhism. The experience of
or "great symbol," is an overwhelming sense of extraordinary clarity,
totally open and nondualistic.
or "great perfection," is the ultimate teaching according to the
Nyingma tradition and also represents the pinnacle of spiritual development.
These are the two paths that provide practitioners with the most skillful means to experience the fully awakened state and directly taste the reality of our mind and environment. And yet these concepts are notoriously difficult to grasp and challenging to explain. In

Tibetan Buddhist master Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche presents these esoteric teachings in a style that reveals their surprising simplicity and great practical value, emphasizing that we can all experience our world more directly, with responsibility, freedom, and confidence. With a straightforward approach and informal style, he presents these essential teachings in a way that even those very new to Tibetan Buddhism can understand.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780834826991
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/19/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 870,940
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama is considered the foremost Buddhist leader of our time. The exiled spiritual head of the Tibetan people, he is a Nobel Peace Laureate, a Congressional Gold Medal recipient, and a remarkable teacher and scholar who has authored over one hundred books.

The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, is the spiritual head of one of the major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The 900-year-old lineage of Karmapas has included some of Tibet’s greatest spiritual masters. Born to nomadic parents in rural Tibet, he was identified while still a young child as the heir to this leadership position. In 2000, the Karmapa’s dramatic escape to India from Chinese-ruled Tibet at the age of fourteen propelled him onto the world stage. Since then, he has emerged as an international Buddhist leader and environmental activist, founding Khoryug, a region-wide environmental protection program. The Karmapa has been dubbed the “new face of Tibetan Buddhism,” and many Tibetans look to him for inspiration in their struggle to preserve their embattled culture. In 2008, he made his historic first visit to America. He currently resides at Gyuto Monastery, near Dharamsala, India.

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, born in 1965 in northeast India, was trained in the meditative and intellectual disciplines of Indian and Tibetan Buddhism under the guidance of many of the greatest masters from Tibet’s pre-exile generation. He is a widely celebrated teacher, known for his skill in making the full richness of Buddhist wisdom accessible to modern minds, and devotes much of his energy to developing a vision of a genuine Western Buddhism. For more information, go to rebelbuddha.com.

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Read an Excerpt

1: The Nature of the Path

Buddhism is a personal journey into the depths of one's heart and mind—an exploration of who we are and what we are. The teachings of the Buddha show us how to rediscover that essence and come to a full realization of that reality. Among all Buddhist paths, the lineages of Mahamudra and Dzogchen represent the heart essence of the Buddha's teachings. Undertaking the practices of either of these two paths opens the way to a profound journey. These are the lineages that provide us with the most skillful means to experience the fully awakened state and directly taste the reality of our mind and environment.

Yet the spiritual journey can be very tricky. It can start with great power,
energy, intellect, skepticism, and inquisitiveness. Nonetheless, it can ultimately result in nothing more than a kind of religion based completely on blind faith. That is the principal danger for Buddhist practitioners. It is easy to fall into this trap without really noticing it. We think we are being very skeptical and inquisitive. Then suddenly we find ourselves in a totally blind tradition of religious dogma. We find ourselves in the midst of a great darkness—still walking, but not knowing where we are going.

There is a tremendous need to reflect again and again on the nature of our spiritual path. What is our purpose in being here? What is the basic motivation that brought us to this path? Is it a genuine interest in awakening, in enlightenment, in freedom? Or do we have other reasons? Every now and then we have to remind ourselves of our purpose and motivation. We have to go back to the most basic questions: Do I really want to attain enlightenment? Am I really willing to achieve that? It is not a question of how difficult it is or how long it takes to become enlightened. The question is, Do I really want to wake up from this dream?

From the perspective of the Mahamudra and Dzogchen teachings, we can wake up right now. When we wake up from our confused state of mind, that is enlightenment.
There is no difference between this moment and enlightenment. The nature of our mind is fully awakened right from the beginning, and this awakened state is nothing other than our ordinary experience of emotions, thoughts, and perceptions. If we can genuinely see our emotions, senses, and thoughts just as they are, without trying to change them or improve our way of seeing them, then we can see the basic state of wakefulness. The state of fruition is simply the recognition of this nature of mind. That is what we call "nirvana,"
or "freedom from samsara." There is nothing more.

At the same time, there is a sense of making a journey, undergoing a gradual process of evolving our consciousness. This journey is the mutual effort of teacher and student. It is a process of developing the qualities of faith,
trust, and confidence in an atmosphere of total openness. Such a relationship can develop only when the student has thoroughly examined and processed the teachings and has developed a clear, precise foundation of knowledge. At some point, as practitioners of these lineages, we must go beyond the level of conceptual experience in order to open fully to our guru and the lineage. This is the experience of devotion, which is the intense and powerful experience of the naked reality of mind. The experience of devotion is not blind faith.
Rather, it is deeply rooted in wisdom and knowledge. Genuine devotion arises when we develop a firm ground of trust and confidence in our own enlightened heart. Ultimately, our commitment is to the nature of our own mind.

The science of mind

the path of Buddhist spirituality is not a religion per se. Rather, it is a genuine science of mind that uncovers the very nature of the mind and the phenomena that we experience. It is also a genuine philosophy of life—an approach to life that deals with its meaning and helps us understand how we can overcome the suffering of the world. To say that Buddhism is a science does not mean the dry science of analyzing material things. It is something much deeper.
It means going into the depths of the reality of our inner world, which is the most powerful world. The teachings of this tradition show us the pure reality of both our own mind and our environment.

There are parallels between the inner science of mind and the outer sciences. For example, in the outer sciences, we bring our concepts and ideas into the laboratory for testing. Those tests produce certain results, which are the fruition of our ideas. In a similar way, we might hear or read about a concept taught by Buddha. From a Buddhist perspective, we then examine this concept using the inner science of mind. We analyze it thoroughly in the lab of the mind. The result of our analysis is an experience of meditation that reveals to us whether the concept was accurate or not. We can say, "Yes, this is accurate" or "No, it is not true." Thus, as a science of mind,
the path utilizes the skillful means with which we explore the intrinsic, true nature of our mind or consciousness. Then, our ensuing understanding of mind itself brings us greater clarity about how to lead our lives effectively and meaningfully.

Buddhism is relatively new to the West, it is finding its place in the modern global cultures of the twenty-first century. However, when something becomes a part of popular culture, its form changes. To genuinely understand the teachings of Buddha, we have to go beyond any trappings of culture and language. This truth that Buddha taught, known as the Dharma, can be likened to pure water, which we are trying to pour into various cultural containers. We can pour this water into an elegant, beautifully crafted Indian pot, a decorative silver and gold Tibetan cup, a beautiful European crystal glass, or a North American paper cup. The water will adopt the shape and reflect the colors of its container, whether it is made of ceramic, gold, crystal, or paper. The reflections of colors in the water are similar to the languages and social forms of each culture. Although the water might come to taste and even smell a little bit like its new country, the pure essence of the water does not change.

When we reflect on this variety of containers, it is crucial for us to contemplate the nature of the pure essence of the water and not merely the container in which we find it. This essence is beyond all language and form. Moreover, the process of bringing this pure water from one culture and language into a new culture and language requires tremendous precision, mindfulness, compassion,
and patience. There is a tendency for the new culture to become obsessed with the old container—to become fascinated by its beauty, novelty, and freshness.
However, if we become trapped in an obsession with the cultural container, then our attachment to that form can become so strong that it blocks us from achieving any realization.

we should approach the path of spirituality with discrimination. Buddha said that people should examine his teachings like a merchant who wants to purchase genuine gold. When you purchase gold, you do not want to buy something that merely resembles gold. You want the real thing. In ancient India merchants had a process to determine whether or not a piece of gold was genuine. First, they would burn the gold, then cut it, and finally rub it. In a similar way, we should examine the Buddha's teachings thoroughly. Buddha said that, after this process, we should either accept the teachings, practicing them until we achieve full accomplishment, or leave them alone. He said that we should not accept these teachings solely because they were taught by a personage of high rank or wide acclaim, such as a prince or a buddha. We must analyze and examine them ourselves to find out if they are beneficial. It is up to us.

Buddhism teaches that there is no creator outside our mind. There is no external source of our suffering, our pain, our pleasure, and our happiness. The good, the bad,
and the ugly that we experience in our world are purely the creation of our minds. There is no outer force, energy, or supernatural entity that has power over us or controls us. Not even buddhas have the power to control our world.
It is entirely the creation of our individual and group karma. Therefore, there is a sense of total, individual responsibility and complete freedom and power on this path. This becomes the basis of our personal journey—our path of working with our mind and actions.

Because we are making this journey to discover who and what we are, we have to start where we are. On the Buddhist path, starting where we are involves a certain degree of courage and fearlessness. It takes fearlessness to look in the mirror and see one's own face. We might have to look in the mirror in the early morning when we first get up, before we have taken a shower; or we might have to look at ourselves after an accident. Nevertheless, we have to cut through any fear of looking at that reality. Whatever is reflected in the mirror,
whatever is reflected in our experience, we can be courageous enough to explore that reality further, accept it, and start the journey from that very spot. In
Buddhism, that is the beginning. We cut through all our conceptualizations,
expectations, projections, and fantasies, such as, "Oh, if I were that person, I could do much better on the path." This is not a healthy way to begin the journey. The main requirement is to be who we are and start where we are. That is the simplest way to begin our journey, and it is the most direct way to discover our mind and its nature.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama
Foreword by His Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwa Karmapa


Nature of the Path
The Science of Mind 5

Preparing for the Journey 7

Stages of Mahamudra and Dzogchen 10

Entering the Path 16


The Great Seal
Glacier Mountain 23

Lineage History 28

Classifications of Mahamudra 30

Perspectives on the Mahamudra Journey 35

Path That Brings Experience
Four Common Preliminaries: The Four Reminders 40

Four Uncommon Preliminaries 46

Four Special Preliminaries 47

Mahamudra: The Groundless Ground
Aspects of Ground: Emptiness and Ego 49

Breaking through Obstacles to Enlightenment 70

Perfect Mind 71

Inseparability of Samsara and Nirvana 75

Path of Instructions: Mahamudra Shamatha
Pointing-Out Instructions 81

Stages of Resting 86

Methods of Resting 88

Techniques of Shamatha Meditation 94

Nine Stages of Resting the Mind 100

Path of Instructions: Mahamudra Vipashyana

Vipashyana Pointing Out 111

Coemergent Mind: The Dharmakaya 113

Thought: The Display of Dharmakaya 113

Coemergent Appearance: The Light of Dharmakaya 116

Working with the Pointing-Out Instructions 117

Path to Enlightenment: The Four Yogas of Mahamudra

One-Pointedness 128

Nonfabrication 129

One Taste 130

Nonmeditation 131

Mahamudra: The Three Kayas
Reference Points 135

Wisdom of the Buddha 135

Three Kayas in Everyday Life 140


Names of the Secret Mantrayana 143

Shunyata and Sacred Outlook 146

Qualities and Marks of the Mantrayana Path 147

The Three Vajras 152

The Teacher-Student Relationship 154

Mahamudra: The Mind of Nowness

Wild Awakening 159

The Ground of Essence Mahamudra 161

The Path: Mahamudra Shamatha and Vipashyana 163

The Fruition: The Stainless Trikaya 169


The Nine-Yana Journey

The Great Exhaustion 178

The Lineage of Dzogchen 180

Not Losing the Way 182

The Nine Stages of the Path 183

Shravakayana and the Pratyekabuddhayana

The Shravakayana: Vehicle of the Hearers 186

The Three Stages of Meditation 188

The Four Noble Truths 193

Individual Salvation 199

Pratyekabuddhayana: Vehicle of the Solitary Realizers 200

Hinayana Journey 203


The Greater Vehicle 205

The Fence of "Mine" 207

Nurturing the Seed of Enlightenment 208

Relative and Ultimate Bodhichitta 209

The Six Paramitas 214

The Bodhisattva 217

The Two Main Streams of the Mahayana Lineage 223

The Emotions: Friends and Enemies 226

The Chittamatra and Madhyamaka Schools 228

The Ground of the Two Truths 231

Entering the Vajrayana

Taking Risks 237

Entering the Royal Banquet 238

View and Meditation 240

The Vehicle of Austerity and Awareness 240

Final Breakthrough

The Vehicle of Overpowering Means 247

The Guru in the Dzogchen Lineage 248

Maha Yoga 248

Anu Yoga 248

Ati Yoga 251

Up 255

About the Author

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