Reading suggestions about the history of Dzogchen

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Reading suggestions about the history of Dzogchen

Postby Bhusuku » Fri May 04, 2012 6:25 pm

Tashi deleg!

I'm currently in the process of trying to learn more about the history of Dzogchen and would appreciate very much any reading suggestions. So far I have read the following books and articles:

David Germano - Architecture and Absence in the Secret Tantric History of the Great Perfection

David Germano - The Funerary Transformation of the Great Perfection

Jean-Luc Achard - The Tibetan Tradition of the Great Perfection

Sam Van Schaik - The early days of the Great Perfection

Samten G. Karmay - The Great Perfection

John Myrdhin Reynolds - The Golden Letters (in particular Part Three: Historical Origins of Dzogchen)
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Re: Reading suggestions about the history of Dzogchen

Postby Josef » Fri May 04, 2012 6:33 pm

The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism by Dudjom Rinpoche

A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems by Nyoshul Khenpo (this is my favorite collection of lineage bios, it reads like the annals of Middle Earth or something and even has maps)
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Re: Reading suggestions about the history of Dzogchen

Postby Sönam » Fri May 04, 2012 7:37 pm

Dzogchen Teachings - Namhai Norbu Rinpoché

The Practice of Dzogchen - Longchen Rabjam


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By understanding everything you perceive from the perspective of the view, you are freed from the constraints of philosophical beliefs.
By understanding that any and all mental activity is meditation, you are freed from arbitrary divisions between formal sessions and postmeditation activity.
- Longchen Rabjam -
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Re: Reading suggestions about the history of Dzogchen

Postby arsent » Fri May 04, 2012 8:27 pm

Wellsprings of the Great Perfection: The Lives and Insights of the Early Masters by Erik Pema Kunsang
http://www.amazon.com/Wellsprings-Great-Perfection-Insights-Masters/product-reviews/9627341576/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1
This review is from: Wellsprings of the Great Perfection: The Lives and Insights of the Early Masters (Hardcover)
Erik Pema Kunzang, the master translator, once again bring us a fantastic book. This book feels like a natural complement to the late Nyoshul Khen Rinpoches giant work "A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems". It focus on the very early masters of the Dzogchen lineage and their life's. It is a magical quality in Erik's poetic and profound translation that is difficult to find among the many translations of Dzogchen that appear these days. It takes you right into the twilight zone of the root of these thousand's of year long lineages and does open up our hearts to the amazing quality's and possibility's of these profound lineages. On the top of all this Erik adds some Dzogchen teachings never before openly publicized and a handful of songs realizations from these early masters.
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Re: Reading suggestions about the history of Dzogchen

Postby Bhusuku » Fri May 04, 2012 9:46 pm

Thank you guys for the recommendations!

I suspect that the books by Nyoshul Khenpo & Erik Kunsang are collections of Namthars, right? I ask because I'm not really a big fan of these hagiographies as I find them to be rather boring, and I don't want to spend $160+ bucks for a book filled mostly with fancy and wondrous narrations about people born from lotuses or children procreated by swans pecking a woman's breast. Hence I'm curious about the actual information value of these books... Anyway, at this point I'm more interested in historical research on Dzogchen.
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Re: Reading suggestions about the history of Dzogchen

Postby pensum » Fri May 04, 2012 9:48 pm

I second Wellsprings of the Great Perfection which is not only full of traditional histories but lots of great teachings as well.
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Re: Reading suggestions about the history of Dzogchen

Postby arsent » Fri May 04, 2012 10:22 pm

Bhusuku wrote:Thank you guys for the recommendations!

I suspect that the books by Nyoshul Khenpo & Erik Kunsang are collections of Namthars, right? I ask because I'm not really a big fan of these hagiographies as I find them to be rather boring, and I don't want to spend $160+ bucks for a book filled mostly with fancy and wondrous narrations about people born from lotuses or children procreated by swans pecking a woman's breast. Hence I'm curious about the actual information value of these books... Anyway, at this point I'm more interested in historical research on Dzogchen.


Why I posted link to amazon webpage, because you can go and look inside the book there.. :thumbsup:
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Re: Reading suggestions about the history of Dzogchen

Postby Astus » Fri May 04, 2012 10:28 pm

It might sound strange, but the books you have listed at the start are practically all there is. Or, at least I could not find anything more, although I did not do a very thorough search. There are surely some essays here and there.

As for the book Wellsprings of the Great Perfection, it's a nice collection of legendary history, but that's all it is. Not many teachings in it either.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Reading suggestions about the history of Dzogchen

Postby conebeckham » Fri May 04, 2012 10:33 pm

Aren't you the chap who linked to that thesis on Anuyoga, in the thread dealing with the Anyoga transmission? There's quite a bit of interesting info about dzokchen doxography in that paper.......
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Re: Reading suggestions about the history of Dzogchen

Postby Josef » Fri May 04, 2012 10:33 pm

Bhusuku wrote:Thank you guys for the recommendations!

I suspect that the books by Nyoshul Khenpo & Erik Kunsang are collections of Namthars, right? I ask because I'm not really a big fan of these hagiographies as I find them to be rather boring, and I don't want to spend $160+ bucks for a book filled mostly with fancy and wondrous narrations about people born from lotuses or children procreated by swans pecking a woman's breast. Hence I'm curious about the actual information value of these books... Anyway, at this point I'm more interested in historical research on Dzogchen.

I agree that they are usually very boring.
Nyoshul Khenpo's collection is better in my opinion.
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Re: Reading suggestions about the history of Dzogchen

Postby Paul » Fri May 04, 2012 10:34 pm

http://earlytibet.com/ has several posts on the history of dzogchen - it may be worth checking out for more leads too.
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Re: Reading suggestions about the history of Dzogchen

Postby Bhusuku » Fri May 04, 2012 11:41 pm

conebeckham wrote:Aren't you the chap who linked to that thesis on Anuyoga, in the thread dealing with the Anyoga transmission? There's quite a bit of interesting info about dzokchen doxography in that paper.......

Yup, that was me - just forgot to mention Dalton's thesis in my list. Actually, reading this thesis boosted my interest in learning more about the history of Dzogchen. Anyway, if that's more or less really all that has been published on this topic, I guess I have to thank the guy who set up the website where I found Dalton's thesis, because most of the books I mentioned above I did find there.
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Re: Reading suggestions about the history of Dzogchen

Postby pensum » Sat May 05, 2012 4:15 pm

Astus wrote:As for the book Wellsprings of the Great Perfection, it's a nice collection of legendary history, but that's all it is. Not many teachings in it either.


I suggest you check the contents of Wellsprings yourself and make your own personal decision as to whether the contents are of interest to you or not: http://books.google.ca/books?id=_yo1BGZXODEC&pg=PA265&lpg=PA265&dq=wellsprings+of+the+great+perfection&source=bl&ots=gC24wRESnv&sig=oqsbDBtmTQhWrrTzDoF9ca6WNoo&hl=en&sa=X&ei=-UKlT7XaCIWV6AH_wYXABw&ved=0CHkQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q&f=false

personally i find it a valuable source book of the traditional history as well as fundamental texts, such as the Shri Singha's Heart Mirror and a large collection of songs of realization. all in all a fascinating and enjoyable read, it is a book i keep close at hand and return to again and again.
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Re: Reading suggestions about the history of Dzogchen

Postby Stewart » Sat May 05, 2012 8:19 pm

I agree with Nangwa, Nyoshul Khenpo's book is fantastic.... 'Wellsprings' is great too. Also 'Masters of Meditation and Miracles' by Tulku Thondup, I love that book.
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Re: Reading suggestions about the history of Dzogchen

Postby Astus » Sun May 06, 2012 9:13 pm

pensum wrote:I suggest you check the contents of Wellsprings yourself and make your own personal decision as to whether the contents are of interest to you or not


I have had it on my shelf for a while now. I usually don't talk about books that I have not looked at myself. But, as always, I present only my view of it.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Reading suggestions about the history of Dzogchen

Postby pensum » Sun May 06, 2012 10:38 pm

Astus wrote:
pensum wrote:I suggest you check the contents of Wellsprings yourself and make your own personal decision as to whether the contents are of interest to you or not


I have had it on my shelf for a while now. I usually don't talk about books that I have not looked at myself. But, as always, I present only my view of it.


Oh, sorry there Astus, i'm really familiar with forum protocol and formatting so i seem to have inadvertently made my comment appear to be addressed to you. I meant to suggest Bhusuku to check it out, simply because my view of the contents of Wellsprings appears to be quite different than yours. Hope you did enjoy it just the same though!
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ChNN: The Small Collection of Hidden Precepts

Postby Bhusuku » Mon May 07, 2012 2:37 am

Hey guys, thanks again for all your recommendations! It really looks like there isn't much available on this topic (at least not in english, german, french, italian or spanish)...

Anyway, I just came across a footnote in Achard's "Tibetan Tradition of the Great Perfection" where he mentions a book by ChNN entitled "The Small Collection of Hidden Precepts: A Study of an Ancient Manuscript on Dzogchen From Tun-huang". Amazon has this book listed, however, it seems it's nowhere available, not even through second hand bookshops. Even a Google search on this title brought up only around 250 results, and most of them are references to this work in other publications... Hence my question: Does anybody know where to get this book, either in hardcopy or scanned format?

Any help would be much appreciated!
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Re: Reading suggestions about the history of Dzogchen

Postby Greg » Mon May 07, 2012 4:27 am

There are other things worth reading, although some of them are only tangentially related to Dzogchen. In no particular order:

Germano, David Francis (1992). "Poetic thought, the intelligent Universe, and the mystery of self: The Tantric synthesis of rDzogs Chen in fourteenth century Tibet." The University of Wisconsin, Madison. Doctoral thesis. Source:

Dalton, Jacob (2005). "A Crisis of Doxography: How Tibetans Organized Tantra during the 8th-12th Centuries". Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 28:1: 115–181. http://www.scribd.com/doc/49504020/A-Crisis-of-Doxography-How-Tibetans-Organized-Tantra-during-the-8th-12th-Centuries

Dalton, Jacob "The Development of Perfection: The Interiorization of Buddhist Ritual in the Eight and Ninth Centuries." Journal of Indian Philosophy 32: 1–30, 2004.

Dalton, Jacob. 2004. “The Early Development of the Padmasambhava Legend in Tibet: A Study of IOL Tib J 644 and Pelliot tibétain 307 Journal of the American Oriental Society 124.4 (2004)

Mayer, Robert. "Caskets of Treasures and Visions of Buddhas: Indic antecedents qf the Tibetan gTer-rna Tradition" in Indian Insights: Buddhism, Brahmanism and Bhakti
http://www.scribd.com/doc/50876375/Indian-Insights-Buddhism-Brahmanism-and-Bhakti

Germano, David. "Dzogchen" by ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, 2nd ed.

Martin, Dan (1987). "Illusion Web: Locating the Guhyagarbha Tantra in Buddhist Intellectual History". In Beckwith, Christopher I. Silver on Lapis: Tibetan Literary Culture and History. Bloomington: The Tibet Society. pp. 175–220

Meinert, Carmen. 2007. “The Conjunction of Chinese Chan and Tibetan rDzogs chen Thought: Reflections on the Tibetan Dunhuang Manuscripts IOL Tib J 689-1 and PT 699″, in: Contributions to the Cultural History of Early Tibet Matthew T. Kapstein/Brandon Dotson (eds.), Leiden/Boston: Brill, 239-301.

Butters, Albion Moonlight, "The doxographical genius of Kun mkhyen kLong chen rab 'byams pa." by Ph.D. dissertation, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, 2006

Garson, Nathaniel DeWitt (2004) Penetrating the Secret Essence Tantra: Context and Philosophy in the Mahāyoga System of rNying-ma Tantra. PhD Thesis. Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia

Dorji, Wangchuk (2002). "An Eleventh-Century Defence of the Authenticity of the Guhyagarbha Tantra". In Eimer; Germano, David. The Many Canons of Tibetan Buddhism. Leiden: Brill

Van Schaik, Sam (2007). "In search of the Guhyagarbha tantra". EarlyTibet.com.

A. W. Hanson-Barber, The Life and Teachings of Vairocana, Phd disseration, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1984;

Janet Gyatso "The Logic of Legitimation in the Tibetan Treasure Tradition" History of Religions, Vol. 33, No. 2 (Nov., 1993), pp. 97-

Anspal, Sten (2005). The Space Section of the Great Perfection (rDzogs-chen klong-sde): a category of philosophical and meditative teachings in Tibetan Buddhism. MA Thesis. The University of Oslo.

Van Schaik, Sam “Where Chan and Tantra Meet: Buddhist Syncretism in Dunhuang” (with Jacob Dalton) in Susan Whitfield (ed), The Silk Road: Trade, Travel, War and Faith. London: British Library Press, 2004. 61–71.

Van Schaik, Sam “The Great Perfection and the Chinese Monk: rNying-ma-pa defences of Hwa-shang Mahāyāna in the Eighteenth Century” in Buddhist Studies Review 20.2 (2003): 189–204.

Van Schaik, Sam “The Resolution of the Simultaneous and Gradual Approaches to the Great Perfection in the Klong chen snying thig” in Religion and Secular Culture in Tibet (Proceedings of the Ninth Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Leiden 2000), ed. Henk Blezer. Leiden: EJ Brill, 2002: 309–320.

Jann M. Ronis, “Celibacy, Revelations, and Reincarnated Lamas: Contestation and Synthesis in the Growth of Monasticism at Katok Monastery from the 17th through 19th Centuries”
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Re: Reading suggestions about the history of Dzogchen

Postby Bhusuku » Mon May 07, 2012 4:59 pm

Hi Greg!

Thank you so much for this list, now I got a little bit more to read! :twothumbsup:

I'm particularly interested in Germano's "Dzogchen" by ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION. Is that this piece here? And if so, do you happen to know any other source to get it from (because frankly, $7.90 for a 6-page HTML file seems a little bit expensive to me...)
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Re: Reading suggestions about the history of Dzogchen

Postby Greg » Mon May 07, 2012 5:03 pm

Bhusuku wrote:Hi Greg!

Thank you so much for this list, now I got a little bit more to read! :twothumbsup:

I'm particularly interested in Germano's "Dzogchen" by ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION. Is that this piece here? And if so, do you happen to know any other source to get it from (because frankly, $7.90 for a 6-page HTML file seems a little bit expensive to me...)


Check you PM
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