Nyoshul Lungtok, who later became one of the greatest Dzogchen masters of recent times, followed his teacher Patrul Rinpoche for about eighteen years. During all that time, they were almost inseparable. Nyoshul Lungtok studied and practiced extremely diligently, and accumulated a wealth of purification, merit, and practice; he was ready to recognize the Rigpa, but had not yet had the final introduction. Then, one famous evening, Patrul Rinpoche gave him the introduction. It happened when they were staying together in one of the hermitages high up in the mountains above Dzogchen Monastery. It was a very beautiful night. The dark blue sky was clear and the stars shone brilliantly. The sound of their solitude was heightened by the distant barking of a dog from the monastery below. Patrul Rinpoche was lying stretched out on the ground, doing a special Dzogchen practice. He called Nyoshul Lungtok over to him, saying: "Did you say you do not know the essence of the mind?" Nyoshul Lungtok guessed from his tone that this was a special moment and nodded expectantly.
"There's nothing to it really," Patrul Rinpoche said casually, and added, "My son, come and lie down over here: be like your old father." Nyoshul Lungtok stretched out by his side.
Then Patrul Rinpoche asked him, "Do you see the stars up there in the sky?"
"Do you hear the dogs barking in Dzogchen Monastery?"
"Do you hear what I'm saying to you?"
"Well, the nature of Dzogchen is this: simply this."
Nyoshul Lungtok tells us what happened then: "At that instant, I arrived at a certainty of realization from within. I had been liberated from the fetters of 'it is' and 'it is not.' I had realized the primordial wisdom, the naked union of emptiness and intrinsic awareness. I was introduced to this realization by his blessing, as the great Indian master Saraha said: He in whose heart the words of the master have entered, Sees the truth like a treasure in his own palm."
According to Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche, few contemporary disciples are capable of recognition, even when receiving pointing out instructions from superior masters:
Once I witnessed Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche give the pointing out instruction to a gathering of more than one thousand people in Taiwan. He still gave the real thing nakedly and directly, leaving nothing out. This must exemplify what they call the 'expression of compassionate capacity,' for he rose to the occasion out of the power of his realization. He said, 'The oral instruction is like a candle: you can see while you hold it, and when you give it away you have no more light. But since all of you have taken the trouble to come here, expecting to hear me speak, I feel that I cannot refuse giving you the pointing-out instruction.' Then he gave the instruction in coming face to face with your own nature. Even if the great Khyentse, Kongtrül or Longchenpa were doing so, it wouldn't surpass his instruction. Yet I later met only a few there who truly recognized their own nature. Even among Rinpoche's Western students there were some very close disciples who definitely should have recognized their buddha nature. They probably had some vague glimpse of recognition; yet they use empty words, and ignore the consequences of their actions. I have yet to meet one who has fully realized his teachings