Dzogchen: When are you ready for it?

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Dzogchen: When are you ready for it?

Postby Luke » Sat Oct 31, 2009 11:19 pm

I've noticed that "Dzogchen" has become the buzzword all over Buddhist forums. Many people seem to have leaped into attending Dzogchen seminars without having completed much preparation.

Although Dzogchen originated in the Nyingma and Bön schools, it seems that nowadays many practioners from all lineages also practice Dzogchen (like H.H. the Dalai Lama).

My question is "What is the traditional viewpoint about when a person is truly ready to practice Dzogchen?" My understanding is that in the Nyingma school, a person should have gained at least some accomplishment in the preceding 8 yanas. I'm not sure about when the Bönpo teach Dzogchen, but I believe that they have 9 yanas as well. I think the Kagyu only study Dzogchen after they have been practicing Mahamudra for a while. I would assume that the Sakyapa and Gelugpa would only seek out Dzogchen teachings only after they have received the advanced teachings of their lineages.

What do you all think about the spread of Dzogchen teachings in the west? Are too many people rushing into it without the necessary foundation? Are webcast empowerments enough?

A visiting lama once remarked that "a very tall house won't do you any good if you don't already have a ladder."
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Re: Dzogchen: When are you ready for it?

Postby tatpurusa » Sun Nov 01, 2009 2:07 am

This depends on the teacher and on the individual practiotioner.

Both Lopön Tenzin Namdak and Chögyal Namkhai Norbu accept seemingly anyone coming to them.
But this might be just an appearence. I remember ChNNR saying once that even today, Dzogchen is
the most secret teaching of all. Those not ready for it will just come to some teachings, stay without
understanding it and eventually stay away again.

There are many other Dzogchen masters who have a much more traditional attitude and teach only ngöndro
for years to the newcomers.
But even in this case it does not have to be all the 8 other vehicles. It depends all on the individual practitioner.

Both Lopön Tenzin Namdak and Norbu Rinpoche do teach specific other practices even to those who have recieved Dzogchen teachings in order to help eliminating certain specific obstacles.

Dzogchen is a completely different system, a nongradual way, it does not depend on the results of other vehicles.
But it depends on the capacity of the practitioner.

In Tibet the situation is very different. There young monks (still children) come to the monasteries without even having gone to school before, without even knowing to read and write. They have to learn all these things at first in the monasteries.
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Re: Dzogchen: When are you ready for it?

Postby heart » Mon Jan 11, 2010 11:31 am

tatpurusa wrote:Dzogchen is a completely different system, a nongradual way, it does not depend on the results of other vehicles.


I am not so sure about that. Dzogchen contain all the other eight yanas and their views make perfect sense from a Dzogchen perspective. And since that is the case how could Dzogchen be independent of the other yanas?

/magnus
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Re: Dzogchen: When are you ready for it?

Postby Josef » Mon Jan 11, 2010 10:33 pm

heart wrote:
tatpurusa wrote:Dzogchen is a completely different system, a nongradual way, it does not depend on the results of other vehicles.


I am not so sure about that. Dzogchen contain all the other eight yanas and their views make perfect sense from a Dzogchen perspective. And since that is the case how could Dzogchen be independent of the other yanas?

/magnus

Dzogchen contains methods that are independent from the other yana's.
Also, its not really non-gradual anymore. Dzogchen follows stages and paths of progression.
The works of Jigme Lingpa really redefined the simultaneous and gradual perspectives on Dzogchen practice.
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Re: Dzogchen: When are you ready for it?

Postby heart » Tue Jan 12, 2010 9:30 am

Nangwa wrote:
heart wrote:
tatpurusa wrote:Dzogchen is a completely different system, a nongradual way, it does not depend on the results of other vehicles.


I am not so sure about that. Dzogchen contain all the other eight yanas and their views make perfect sense from a Dzogchen perspective. And since that is the case how could Dzogchen be independent of the other yanas?

/magnus

Dzogchen contains methods that are independent from the other yana's.
Also, its not really non-gradual anymore. Dzogchen follows stages and paths of progression.
The works of Jigme Lingpa really redefined the simultaneous and gradual perspectives on Dzogchen practice.


All yanas contain methods that are independent of the other yanas.

/magnus
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Re: Dzogchen: When are you ready for it?

Postby Virgo » Sat Feb 06, 2010 4:07 am

Many things have changed.

Buddhism isn't practiced the way it was 1,000 years ago in Tibet any longer. Not only have the times changed, but the places has changed, the cultures, societies, and belief systems of the people practicing, and so on, have changed. From an astrological standpoint, we are actually in a completely different astrological age at this point than we were at that point, nevermind other more faster changing astrological aspects. The beings taking the teachings have also changed and the content and influence on their chitta are not the same as they once were. Therefore Dzogchen teachings are given to more people these days. In fact, there are actually Tibetan predictions which predict that this teaching will open up and become more widespread at this time.

Of course this does not mean that other approaches are no longer usueful or inferior in any way at all-- they are just as effective and usefull as ever. This is simply a time when Dzogchen is also practiced a lot.

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Re: Dzogchen: When are you ready for it?

Postby heart » Mon Feb 08, 2010 12:03 pm

Luke wrote:I've noticed that "Dzogchen" has become the buzzword all over Buddhist forums. Many people seem to have leaped into attending Dzogchen seminars without having completed much preparation.

Although Dzogchen originated in the Nyingma and Bön schools, it seems that nowadays many practioners from all lineages also practice Dzogchen (like H.H. the Dalai Lama).

My question is "What is the traditional viewpoint about when a person is truly ready to practice Dzogchen?" My understanding is that in the Nyingma school, a person should have gained at least some accomplishment in the preceding 8 yanas. I'm not sure about when the Bönpo teach Dzogchen, but I believe that they have 9 yanas as well. I think the Kagyu only study Dzogchen after they have been practicing Mahamudra for a while. I would assume that the Sakyapa and Gelugpa would only seek out Dzogchen teachings only after they have received the advanced teachings of their lineages.

What do you all think about the spread of Dzogchen teachings in the west? Are too many people rushing into it without the necessary foundation? Are webcast empowerments enough?

A visiting lama once remarked that "a very tall house won't do you any good if you don't already have a ladder."


You are ready when you meet and make a true connection to a qualified Dzogchen teacher. A true connection should be personal and include some real and lifelong dedication on the part of the student.

/magnus
"To reject practice by saying, 'it is conceptual!' is the path of fools. A tendency of the inexperienced and something to be avoided."
- Longchenpa
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Re: Dzogchen: When are you ready for it?

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Mon Feb 08, 2010 5:47 pm

I would agree with Magnus. And I feel this is true in regards to webcasts, though I am in no way giving advice. But a connection to a teacher is so important.

Kindly,
Laura
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Re: Dzogchen: When are you ready for it?

Postby Josef » Mon Feb 08, 2010 5:50 pm

Ngawang Drolma wrote:I would agree with Magnus. And I feel this is true in regards to webcasts, though I am in no way giving advice. But a connection to a teacher is so important.

Kindly,
Laura


The webcast empowerments are primarily associated with the practice of trekcho.
I think they are an excellent entry to the practice of Dzogchen.
Direct connection with a teacher is also essential in my personal experience.
I would be even more of an ass if it werent for my teachers.
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Re: Dzogchen: When are you ready for it?

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Mon Feb 08, 2010 6:20 pm

Nangwa wrote:
Ngawang Drolma wrote:I would agree with Magnus. And I feel this is true in regards to webcasts, though I am in no way giving advice. But a connection to a teacher is so important.

Kindly,
Laura


The webcast empowerments are primarily associated with the practice of trekcho.
I think they are an excellent entry to the practice of Dzogchen.
Direct connection with a teacher is also essential in my personal experience.
I would be even more of an ass if it werent for my teachers.


Thanks a lot for the clarification, Nangwa, I feel it's important for people who are unfamiliar but looking for the webcasts or thinking of engaging.

Your good humor is appreciated, too :)
I feel quite the same about my natural tendencies and my teachers.

Kind wishes,
Laura
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Re: Dzogchen: When are you ready for it?

Postby Josef » Mon Feb 08, 2010 6:31 pm

Ngawang Drolma wrote:
Nangwa wrote:
Ngawang Drolma wrote:I would agree with Magnus. And I feel this is true in regards to webcasts, though I am in no way giving advice. But a connection to a teacher is so important.

Kindly,
Laura


The webcast empowerments are primarily associated with the practice of trekcho.
I think they are an excellent entry to the practice of Dzogchen.
Direct connection with a teacher is also essential in my personal experience.
I would be even more of an ass if it werent for my teachers.


Thanks a lot for the clarification, Nangwa, I feel it's important for people who are unfamiliar but looking for the webcasts or thinking of engaging.

Your good humor is appreciated, too :)
I feel quite the same about my natural tendencies and my teachers.

Kind wishes,
Laura

you're very welcome.
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Re: Dzogchen: When are you ready for it?

Postby Buddhanataka » Wed Feb 10, 2010 2:16 am

When are you ready for Dzogchen Atiyoga?

In the ultimate sense there is no sense in being ready or not, becaue the fundamental bodhicitta is ever-present and you are already enlightened from primordial times;

However in the worldly sense, as is stated in the tantra (Kunbyed Gyalpo) one must not be shown the Atiyoga path as long as one clings to the doctrine of cause and effect. Because then one will disparage the Dzogchen Atiyoga teaching as being heretical and will abandon their own bodhi nature and miss enlightenment for a long time. Therefore it is said that one who is able to transcend the view of cause and effect can be introduced to the view of Dzogchen which is the direct revelation of the true nature of reality which transcends cause and effect in the three periods of time.

Of course, the Dzogcen lineage upholds all 9 vehicles of Buddhism from Hinayana monk (sravakayana) all the way up to the highest practice of Atiyoga. So it clearly cannot hurt to be familiar with many Buddhist scriptures of all the various vehicles, with a clear preference for the Mahayana sutras of the Bodhisattva vehicle and the outer and inner tantras of the Vajrayana.
Although in the final analysis the inner tantras (=Mahayoga, Anuyoga and Atiyoga Dzogchen) are the vehicles unique to Nyingma, so the focus falls squarely on these scriptures, with the Atiyoga of Dzogchen the final stage, with the twin practices of Cutting Through and Courageously Striding Over leading to the ultimate fruition of enlightenment in the true nature of mind which has always been present and is not an object of intellectual realization as such. In that sense, it is neither cause nor effect, and this is namely the view that one needs to adopt in order to be ready for Dogchen Atiyoga.

If you want a good, superb overview of the Nyingma approach you should study Dudjom Rinpoche's "The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism" where the doctrinal exegises is laid bare. You will find everything you need to know in his compassionate and lucid expose of the highest spiritual path.
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Re: Dzogchen: When are you ready for it?

Postby heart » Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:15 am

Buddhanataka wrote:When are you ready for Dzogchen Atiyoga?
However in the worldly sense, as is stated in the tantra (Kunbyed Gyalpo) one must not be shown the Atiyoga path as long as one clings to the doctrine of cause and effect. Because then one will disparage the Dzogchen Atiyoga teaching as being heretical and will abandon their own bodhi nature and miss enlightenment for a long time. Therefore it is said that one who is able to transcend the view of cause and effect can be introduced to the view of Dzogchen which is the direct revelation of the true nature of reality which transcends cause and effect in the three periods of time.


Just a reflection. For me it is obvious that the Kunjed Gyalpo have a very special group of practitioners in mind as the public for this tantra. Namely very seasoned tantric practitioners. The tantra is referring to many concepts that could only be known by someone with a lot of learning and a lot of experience in tantric practice and of course the whole Mahayana. So, all westerners that don't like cause and effect (or don't understand it) and just want to grasp for the highest teaching are not the intended public. Nor are they qualified for Dzogchen.

/magnus
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Re: Dzogchen: When are you ready for it?

Postby Buddhanataka » Wed Feb 10, 2010 7:27 pm

Just a reflection. For me it is obvious that the Kunjed Gyalpo have a very special group of practitioners in mind as the public for this tantra. Namely very seasoned tantric practitioners. The tantra is referring to many concepts that could only be known by someone with a lot of learning and a lot of experience in tantric practice and of course the whole Mahayana. So, all westerners that don't like cause and effect (or don't understand it) and just want to grasp for the highest teaching are not the intended public. Nor are they qualified for Dzogchen.

/magnus


That's true, you got the spirit of what I was saying. Then again, it's not about "Westerners" or "Easterners" - there are Tibetans who are equally unlearned in cause and effect and tantra as Americans, so this dividing of Americans and Tibetans is unnecessary.
Any case, Kunbyed Gyalpo is the most authoritative canonical scripture* available in the English-speaking world indicating the Dzogchen Atiyoga way and it clearly states when one is ready for the Dzogchen teaching, namely, one who not attached to the concept of cause and affect as the law governing the appearance of phenomena.

* i.e. included in the Nyingma rGryud 'bum as well as the Kangyur.
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Re: Dzogchen: When are you ready for it?

Postby heart » Wed Feb 10, 2010 8:14 pm

Buddhanataka wrote: Then again, it's not about "Westerners" or "Easterners" - there are Tibetans who are equally unlearned in cause and effect and tantra as Americans, so this dividing of Americans and Tibetans is unnecessary.


True. The reason is that I made this differentiation is that as Westerner myself I noticed a trend of referring to the Kunjed Gyalpo as a reason to don't study, practice or understand the other yanas. Might be true for Tibetans or Asians as well but I have no knowledge of this.

/magnus
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Re: Dzogchen: When are you ready for it?

Postby Buddhanataka » Wed Feb 10, 2010 10:27 pm

heart wrote:
Buddhanataka wrote: Then again, it's not about "Westerners" or "Easterners" - there are Tibetans who are equally unlearned in cause and effect and tantra as Americans, so this dividing of Americans and Tibetans is unnecessary.


True. The reason is that I made this differentiation is that as Westerner myself I noticed a trend of referring to the Kunjed Gyalpo as a reason to don't study, practice or understand the other yanas. Might be true for Tibetans or Asians as well but I have no knowledge of this.

/magnus


Well, the reason why Samantabhadra, in the form of "Kulayaraja" (kunjed gyalpo) states so explicitly that Atiyoga is different and superior to all other teachings is not to say one shouldn't study them, it is only because it's the fact of the matter; as he says, "If i were not to preach thus, all beings would cotinue to wander around samsara". I agree it is dumbfounding how forthrightly the underlying 8 yanas are swept away in this discourse, however that is no different from saying that gold is the supreme precious metal; although superior to silver, bronze etc, it doesn't mean that silver bronze etc are of no value.

On the subject of East vs West, I think the west is quite ready for the Ati level of Buddhism because consider the advances in knowledge in the West since the dawn of the so-called Enlightenment from the Mediaeval times. We have had the relative collapse of Christian-based politics and theology, replaced initially by the cold brutal empiricism of Kant which has over time gradually morphed via outspoken philosophers and intellectuals and writers like Neitzsche, Kafka, Camus, Satre into an existentialism not overly far removed from the direct experience of whatever constitutes a self in the Buddhist teachings of the highest yanas; then consider the later works of Huxley, also Leary, Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson etc stripping away the layers of conformitive delusion ecluding the direct experiece of nature; and the works of the Evans-Wentezes, the Conzes, the Thurmans, the Guenthers among other Western pioneers of introducing Vajrayana and Prajnaparamita-Madhyamaka to the West; in addition to the brave Tibetan lineage holders who have helped spread the precious dharma into our lives; and coupled with the relative politico-religio-spiritual freedm of modern capitalist democracies with afford free access and dissemination and practice of the way of the ancient wisdom of India and Tibet; more so in fact than in politically repressed states like China and by extension Tibet; and the West is in the enviable position where people can have access to enough resources to experience enlightenment for themselves if they are able to give themselves to the practice.
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Re: Dzogchen: When are you ready for it?

Postby Josef » Wed Feb 10, 2010 10:48 pm

Buddhanataka wrote:
heart wrote:
Buddhanataka wrote: Then again, it's not about "Westerners" or "Easterners" - there are Tibetans who are equally unlearned in cause and effect and tantra as Americans, so this dividing of Americans and Tibetans is unnecessary.


True. The reason is that I made this differentiation is that as Westerner myself I noticed a trend of referring to the Kunjed Gyalpo as a reason to don't study, practice or understand the other yanas. Might be true for Tibetans or Asians as well but I have no knowledge of this.

/magnus



On the subject of East vs West, I think the west is quite ready for the Ati level of Buddhism because consider the advances in knowledge in the West since the dawn of the so-called Enlightenment from the Mediaeval times.


I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one.
Most practitioners wont even come to an authentic realization of the preciousness of life and impermanence, let alone be prepared to fully and authentically engage in the practices of trekcho and togal.
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Re: Dzogchen: When are you ready for it?

Postby Mr. G » Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:07 pm

I agree. Then again I'm biased and think that practicing the two stages is more important, especially here in the U.S. Don't get me wrong, I believe there is a small percentage of people that Dzogchen is perfect for, but I think I've met more people who "think" they are part of that small percentage when they are not.

Nangwa wrote:
I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one.
Most practitioners wont even come to an authentic realization of the preciousness of life and impermanence, let alone be prepared to fully and authentically engage in the practices of trekcho and togal.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
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Re: Dzogchen: When are you ready for it?

Postby Buddhanataka » Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:27 pm

I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one.
Most practitioners wont even come to an authentic realization of the preciousness of life and impermanence, let alone be prepared to fully and authentically engage in the practices of trekcho and togal.


I'll elaborate.
Buddhism first came to the attention of the Western consciousness around the turn of the 19th century (1800AD). When missionaries, colonialists, merchants etc found India, Ceylon and so on. Initially the earliest European scholars mastered Pali and Sanskrit and translated the Theravada pitakas and some Mahayana sutras. Later came people like Max Muller who oversaw the mass translation of Sanskrit Buddhism (and Vedic Hinduism), and the Pali Text Society which oversaw the issuance of the entire Theravada tipitaka in English. In the early decades of the 20th century certain scholars and explorers reached Tibet and reported on the mysterious culture and religion they found; there arose the Theosophical movement, people like Blavatsky aligning themselves with the shamanistic/magiko-gnostic elements of Tibetan spirituality. Then we have figures like Jung engaging in comparitive investigation of Western psychology in relation to Buddhist ideas like the alaya consciousness, after-death experiences as outlined in the Tibetan Book of the Dead and so forth. With Huxley and Leary we have seen how conformitive consciousness is limited and the whole 1960s movement expanded the outlook on mind, together with the thinking of Camus, Satre, Hesse and so forth. Also in the 60s Conze translated the bulk of the Prajnaparamita literature and the first authentic Dzogchen communities sprung up in the West around the 1970s. The escalation of scholarly interest in the Mahayana since then has far outstripped the same in regard to Hinayana and today most of the most important Mahayana sutras are available in English, and many of the key tantras of the various levels, thanks to scholars like Vesna Wallace, David B. Gray, David Snellgrove, Alex Wayman, Gyurme Dorje and many others.
And now even many Dzogchen texts and commentaries by the original lineage holders of ancient times like Garab Dorje, Manjushrimitra, Jingpe Lingpa and Padmasambhava and Longchenpa and modern masters like Namkhai Norbu, Mipham, and Dudjom Rinpoche are readily available.
In addition, the relative politico-religious freedom and material prosperity in modern Western democracies means that these teachings can be taken up and disseminated freely and happily.
This is why the current age is an enviable one in the West where there is a unique and distinct opportunity for people to study the whole gamut of the Buddhist teaching and learn the highest way and realize enlightenment.
If people are missing all this like you say they are, then they were never going to get it anyway!
Anyway, there will always be nay-sayers in any era; there were at the time of Padmasambhava in Tibet, there were at the time of Tsongka pa; there were at the time of Nalanda and the time of the Buddha too, who say enlightenment is not a reality or the people are not ready for the teaching because of this or that.


To get back to original question, When is one ready for Dzogchen? The doctrinal standpoint is one is ready when one has understood and transcended the view of cause and effect, or pratityasamutpada, as being the definitive character of appearances.
The doctrine of cause and effect was taught by the Buddha to uproot mistaken notions about existence, and once he had done so the nirmanakayas like Garab Dorje and Padmasambhava came and explained the higher teaching which transcends cause and effect.
Last edited by Buddhanataka on Thu Feb 11, 2010 12:04 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Dzogchen: When are you ready for it?

Postby Virgo » Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:45 pm

On the subject of East vs West, I think the west is quite ready for the Ati level of Buddhism because consider the advances in knowledge in the West since the dawn of the so-called Enlightenment from the Mediaeval times.
I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one.
Most practitioners wont even come to an authentic realization of the preciousness of life and impermanence, let alone be prepared to fully and authentically engage in the practices of trekcho and togal.


I guess my Gurus such as Chogyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, Traga Rinpoche, and Lama Surya Das must be wrong then. They must also be wasting there time. Seeing that these lamas teach primarily Dzogchen to thousands of students and don't teach much tantra at all (with the exception of Traga Rinpoche who also gives non - Dzogchen teachings).

A major misconception about Dzogchen, I feel, is that people think that if you can't readily rest in rigpa, or if you are not already an Arya Bodhisattva, that you are not then ready for Dzogchen practice. This may have been true 100 years ago. But the times have changed. Many Vajra Masters have said so.

Thinking along the same lines: someone who cannot readily visualize themselves as a deity and then actually turn into it in real life is not ready to practice tantra.

There are many ways to progress along the Dzogchen path even though one cannot readily rest in rigpa from the beginning.

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