Yudron wrote:My lama's advice is not to race through a Dzogchen text, but read a small amount a day and really digest it.
That is very true. For a structural break down I think ChNN's Cryastal & the Way of Light, though not a huge book, is unmatched in it's complete scope & modern approach to subdivisions of areas within Dzogchen worldview. Then for details one can consult larger texts and/or teachers.
The main point of Dzogchen is being in the natural state which is beyond words, philosophy, concepts, religions, ideology, axioms, etc. However it is very good to learn the systematic presentation of Dzogchen so I think everyone should just as the OP enquires. However many confuse the ontological breakdown with the aim of Dzogchen as though it was limited to being just a philosophy or worldview or ideology. Dzogchen goes beyond these and many academics fall into that pitfall.
Back to the point I quoted which I think has been very helpful in my experience. Over the years I too have found that reading passages of Dzogchen texts, particularly those sourced from the purer dimension on Dzogchen specially terma more than tantra or even teachers' texts for me personally, that are relevant to one's stage on the path are very helpful. Specially effective if read very slowly every day or once every few days as felt like. Then contemplate on that short section when one feels like it. Often at a later or even sooner stage, sometimes immediately sometimes not, I might start re-reading that text or just sections with the timing I feel as apt, but usually a small section of the text again. Finally this passage by Nyushol Khen is very insightful IMO:
"Saraha, too, sang such a song, dancing wildly and waving his
arms, explaining that everything is "That." Saraha sang, "In the
ten directions, wherever I look, there is nothing besides this primordial
Buddha, which has no arms and no legs, is just one infinite,luminous sphere."
In the same song, Saraha sang, "Now that our work is completely
finished, we have nothing to do and time to do whatever
we want." That's the ultimate dance and song that we ourselves
need to sing. When spiritual practice is authentic, that can be your
song, your dance, and your reality-our reality.
What one needs is what we've already received, which can fit into the
palm of our hand. Please cherish it, keep it exactly where it is right now.
It is with you, whatever you aspire towards, want, and need; it is with
us, and is us. However many thousands of commentaries, scriptures,
and teachings may fill the airwaves with sound vibrations,
the essence of them all is the recognition of the true nature of one's
mind, and the practice or actualization of that.
The Christians have a big good book called the Bible, and within
the Bible there are two different Bibles, and moreover there are
libraries full of commentaries since the time when the Bible first
arose. Those two Bibles exist in Tibetan in an outdated nineteenth
century translation by some Jesuit missionaries. In Hinduism there
are the Vedas, Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and so on. So many
splendid scriptures and commentaries, many of which have been
translated very well into Tibetan over the last thousand years. The
Koran also has quite a few pages, and plenty of other writings
over the last thousand years are derived from that source.
And outside the religious and spiritual traditions of the world there are
so many books, philosophies, sciences, psychology, political notions,
and other interesting things to read and study and think
about, just like the infinite leaves in a wild forest.
But whether one knows all those things or not, if and when one
discovers and recognizes spontaneous innate awareness wisdom,
the true nature of all things-called Dzogpa Chenpo or innate
buddha-nature-that is the heart of the matter, which is all one
needs. That is the universal panacea, which cures all ills, resolves
all delusions and doubts, and which totally liberates and frees.
The seventeen Dzogchen tantras are like scriptures of the primordial
Buddha. The main one is called the Kunshi Gyalpo Gyu,
The Tantra of the Sovereign of all Activities. If one understands the
meaning of Dzogchen, just hearing the title of such a tantra explains
everything: that there is just one great sovereign, the master
of all activities-referring, of course, to rigpa or buddha-nature,
one's own original nature. The only import of practice is to understand,
recognize, and truly experience deeply the true nature of all things.
If you really want to study and hear about Dzogchen, there are
many writings: there is the famous enlightened trilogy by
Longchenpa, translated by Guenther as The Trilogy of Comfort and
Ease, and his other profound trilogy, the Rangdrol Korsum, as yet
untranslated; the Seven Treasures by Longchenpa; many vajra-songs
by Rigdzin Jigme Lingpa, including his exhaustive Yonten Dzod;
and many delightful writings by the enlightened turn-of-the-century
vagabond, Patrul Rinpoche, and his contemporary, Lama Mipham.
More recently, the late great Nyingma leader, H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche,
our beloved master, adorned this world with his numerous enlightened
poems, writings, and treasure-texts.
There's a whole universe of such things; we are very fortunate to
be connected to them. We are also fortunate in that we don't have to
read them all. Scriptures, teachings, and practices are not the ultimate way,
they are reflections of it. The true meaning of Dzogchen is your own
nature, not something you need to find outside. Truth is not really
found in books, it is only described in books. It is not like food,
which must be eaten and comes from outside. Dharma teachings
are not exactly like food, which can only temporarily satisfy hunger;
realizing the ultimate nature of reality within is the only truly
long-lasting fulfillment and utmost satisfaction.
Dzogchen itself is the three jewels. It is our own original nature
of body, speech, and mind: the three kayas or buddha-bodies. Let
that rest in natural great ease, carefree ease, at home and at peace
with all things. There's no need to focus one-pointedly on any
object, or to analyze and try to figure out and understand things.
Those are preliminary bases for beginners, in the light of this sort
of absolute, nondual practice. Once you have been introduced to
your true nature, and have recognized it, you can really begin to
practice Dzogchen. Therefore, remain in the innate great ease, open
to everything, aware of innate wakefulness itself, the natural state."
- from pp. 66-68: Natural Great Perfection -Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche
Dzogchen masters I know say: 1)Buddhist religion essence is Dzogchen 2)Religions are positive by intent/fruit 3)Any method's OK unless: breaking Dzogchen vows, mixed as syncretic (Milanese Soup) 4)Don't join mandalas of opponents of Dalai Lama/Padmasambhava: False Deity inventors by encouraging victims 5)Don't debate Ati with others 6)Don't discuss Ati practices online 7) A master told his old disciple: no one's to discuss his teaching with some others on a former forum nor mention him. Publicity's OK, questions are asked from masters/set teachers in person/email/non-public forums~Best wishes