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A Thesis of Buddhist Studies

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This thesis prepared by Mr. Dhurba Raj Rai entitled, “The Concept of RIGPA in Dzogchen Tradition” has been approved as partial fulfillment of the requirement of 5th paper group ‘B’ section for Post Graduate Diploma in Buddhist Studies.

Approval Committee

Dr. Naresh Man Bajracharya

Head of Department

External Examiner

Min Bahadur Shakya Supervisor


This research work wouldn’t have been completed without constant encouragement and assistance of the teachers as well as other informants for this thesis.

I want to express my heartiest thanks to all informants listed below for their cordial and sincere support for collecting the information on The Concept of RIGPA in Dzogchen Tradition.

Harka Tamang

Binaya Rana and others.

I am really indebted to my supervisor Min Bahadur Shakya and Dr. Naresh Man Bajracharya, Head of Department for their encouragement and constant support in the preparation of this dissertation.

Lastly, I would like to thank Mr. Suresh Pradhan and Rabindra Maharjan of University Computer Service, Nayabazar Kirtipur for Computer typing, setting and printing.

Letter of Recommendation i
letter of Approval ii
Acknowledgment iii
Table of Contents iv


1.1 Introduction and Statement of the problem 1
1.2 Review of literature 1
1.2.1 The Tibetan Book of living and dying (1992) by Sogyal rinpoche 1
1.2.2 The Dzog chen Innermost Essence (1982) 2
1.2.3 Rainbow Painting (1995) 2
1.2.4 The words of my perfect teacher (1996) 3
1.2.5 Luminous Mind by Kalu rinpoche-1997 3
1.3 Research Methodology 3
1.4 Objectives 4


2.1 A brief introduction to Buddhism in Tibet 5

3.1 Origin of Nyingma Lineage or Tradition 8
3.2 Guru Rinpoche and Nyingma Tradition 13
3.3 Nine Yanas 15
3.3.1 Kriya Tantra 17
3.3.2 Carya Tantra 18
3.3.3 Yoga Tantra 18
3.3.4 Mahayoga 19
3.3.5 Anuyoga 19
3.3.6 Atiyoga 20

4.1 Meaning and Definition of Rigpa 21
4.2 Practice of Dzogchen 23
4.3 Impact of Dzogchen on Tibetan Buddhism 25
4.4 Terma texts in Nyingma literature 27





1.1 Introduction and Statement of the problem

The present thesis on the Study on "the concept Rigpa Awareness in Dzogchen tradition" is undertaken with a view to present scholarly world, a practice which is said to be one of the highest forms of Buddhist practice.

Considering its high importance among Buddhists a proper understanding of this concept needs to be developed, studied and practiced. The concept must be clarified because a parallel account of Dzogchen in Bon tradition also exists.

Since there is no any texts' describing the difference between the concept of Rigpa between Nyingma and Bonpo tradition, however an attempt has been made here to describe the Buddhist view of Rigpa awareness.

1.2 Review of literature

1.2.1 The Tibetan Book of living and dying (1992) by Sogyal rinpoche

The Tibetan book of living and dying written by Sogyal Rinpoche was first published in 1992. It deals with the fundamental Buddhist view on living and dying aspects of life. The book gives a guideline on how to help a dying person spiritually. It elaborates the teaching of Padmasambhava on Bardo Thodol. Rinpoche describes the Rigpa State of mind in the chapters of mind, the innermost essence and intrinsic radiance. This book is very popular in the West and it has been translated into German, French Spanish, Portuguese, and other languages.

1.2.2 The Dzog chen Innermost Essence (1982)

The original text was written by Jigme Lingpa (1729-1798AD) in Tibetan. It was translated into English by Ven.Tulku thondup and edited by Brian Beresford in 1982AD. The original text was written in poetic style.

The entire work has been divided into three main sections:

a. Preliminary practice of Dzogchen

b. The summary of practice

c. A guide to the approaches to enlightenment.

This book is based on actual meditation practice of Nyingma Dzogchen tradition. This book deals with how rigpa awareness can be realized. It is considered an essential text in Nyingma tradition.

1.2.3 Rainbow Painting (1995)

A collection of miscellaneous aspects on of development and completion stages was written by Tulku Urgyen rinpoche in Tibetan and was translated by Erik Pema Kunsang and published in 1995 by Rang jung Yeshe Publications.

This book deals with Dzog chen teachings. Rinpoche instructs how to practice in a completely unmistaken manner.
The text consists of subject on the view and nine vehicles, the vital point and application, and instruction on the rigpa state of mind. It focuses on the advice to the practitioner for diligent practice in order to accomplish Siddhahood in Dzogchen. Rinpoche himself was an accomplished Dzogchen master.

1.2.4 The words of my perfect teacher (1996)

The words of my perfect teacher by Paltrul Rinpoche was translated by the Padmakara Translation Group and first published by Harper Collins, San Francisco in 1994.

This book is classical in style. Its teachings is based on practical guidance and oral transmission of an authentic meditation master like Paltrul rinpoche.The text also includes a brief introduction on Atiyoga and importance of qualified master.

1.2.5 Luminous Mind by Kalu rinpoche-1997
It was translated into English by Maria Montenegro in 1997 and published by Wisdom Publications, Boston. This book deals with the nature of mind and describes the Atiyoga comparing with other traditions. It is said that Atiyoga is the faster approach to complete enlightenment

1.3 Research Methodology
In this present thesis an approach of analysis of secondary sources is taken because there are numerous translations and commentaries written by modern authors. Since the subject matter deals with abstract practice here the author's approach is only scholastic.
1.4 Objectives

The purpose of the study is:

1. To give an account of clear explanation of the concept of Rigpa awareness in Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism
2. To give a brief history on the origin and development of Nyingma tradition
3. To trace the lineage of Dzogchen masters lineage
4. to elaborate the impact of the practice of Rigpa awareness on Tibetan Budhism



2.1 A brief introduction to Buddhism in Tibet

According to Mahayana Buddhist tradition, it is believed that one thousand Buddhas will appear in this fortunate Kalpa. Four Buddhas have already appeared namely Krakuchhanda, Kanakmuni, Kashyapa and the Sakyamuni. The Teaching of the Buddha Sakyamuni is still in practice now. Another Buddha will appear when the teaching of the Buddha Sakyamuni disappears on the Earth. So Buddhism means the teaching of Buddha Sakyamuni who was born in Lumbini, the Southern part of Nepal.

Buddhism founded by Sakyamuni more than 2500 years ago is classified mainly in two major groups: Theravada and Mahayana.
Buddhism in Tibet is the part of Mahayana school called Vajrayana. Buddhism did not enter in Tibet during the time when it was already flourished in Asia and Indian Subcontinents. It was only in 3rd century that Buddhism started entering in Tibet. Lha-Tho-Tho ri, the king of Tibet, obtained some Buddhist scriptures and sacred objects from Nepal in 233 A.D. Then Buddhist journey gradually started in Tibet . Later on,

 during the reign of king Srong-Tsen-Gampo in the 7th century Buddhist texts were begun to translated into Tibetan. The king sent a team of scholars to India to learn Sanskrit. In the 8th century, King Trisong Detsen, the grandson of Srong-Tsen-Gampo, invited Buddhist tantric Master Padma Sambhava, the scholar Monk Shanta Raksita, Vimalamitra, Shantigarbha, Kamalashila etc. from India in order to propagate Buddhism in Tibet.
Buddhism met a fierce resistance from the Shamans of the Bon religion of Zhang-zhung. Zhang-zhung was conquered by Yarlung (Central Tibet) in

645 AD. The Yarlung Emperor Songtsen-gampo (Srong-btsan sgam-po) had wives not only from the Chinese and Nepali royal families (both of whom brought a few Buddhist texts and statues), but also from the royal family of Zhang-zhung. The court adopted Zhang-zhung (Bon) burial rituals and animal sacrifice; although Bon says that animal sacrifice was native to Tibet, not a Bon custom. The Emperor built thirteen Buddhist temples around Tibet and Bhutan, but did not found any monasteries.

This pre-Nyingma phase of Buddhism in Central Tibet did not have dzogchen teachings. In fact, it is difficult to ascertain what level of Buddhist teachings and practice were introduced. It was undoubtedly very limited, as would have been the case with the Zhang-zhung rites.
The Patronage of the king; however, enabled the Buddhists gradually to establish themselves. And, under king Ral-Pa-Chen, they reached the

height of their influence. During the end of 8th century, king Trisong-Detsen succeeded in making the first Monastery at Samye. Soon after establishing the monastery of Samye, first seven monks were ordained by Abbot Bodhisattva Shantaraksita. The first Monastery played an important role in the diffusion of Buddhist religion and to enhance Buddhist culture.

Again a period of confusion started in Tibet in 9th century AD. There was a temporary suppression of Buddhism. And then again Buddhism reemerged.

During the century that followed, different traditions of Buddhism were gradually propagated all over India and further a field, until Buddhism had extended its influence through much of central, Eastern and Southern Asia. Some traditions were lost entirely, others merged into newer

forms of Buddhism. The arrival of Islam and their invasion in India and political changes had driven the Buddhism from the land of origin. It was in other countries that the teachings were preserved like Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, China, Japan, Korea etc.

Vajrayana, an important part of Mahayana school preserved mainly in Tibet. Tibet was fortunate to flourish the full range of teachings . Over the centuries, the Buddha’s teachings have been handed down from Guru (Master) to student in the numerous lineages which comprise the four schools or traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.

History changed in Tibet after nineteen fifties as a result of China, Tibet political turmoil. But qualified teachers were able to preserve the teachings in the abroad.


3.1 Origin of Nyingma Lineage or Tradition

There are many different methods of teaching or the Dharma expounded by the Buddha. The accomplished Siddhas who followed after him in India, Tibet and other Asian countries and different methods of teaching are for the benefit of disciples of different capabilities. In Tibet, Buddhism flourished with four major schools. It was because many Indian scholars or Siddhas went there and developed their lineage traditions. The schools or traditions differ in their monastic organization, in their dress, in the tutelary deities in the methods of meditation they prefer. But these schools or traditions were not sectarians. They have interacted on one another and much mutual borrowing took place. The 4 major schools are:


Dzogchen Teaching is one of the main teachings in Nyingma-Pa School. The Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism traces its origin to the Indian adept, Guru Padmasambhava, who came to Tibet in 747 C.E. at the invitation of King Trisong Deutsan (742-797) in order to subdue the evil forces then impeding the spread of Buddhism. In collaboration with the great Bodhisattva Abbot Shantarakshita, Guru Rinpoche then built Samyey

monastery, which became a principal centre of learning and the site where many of the texts that would make up Tibet's vast Buddhist literature were first translated into Tibetan. Guru Rinpoche also gave widespread teachings from the highest classes of tantra and in particular to his twenty-five principal disciples. These first Tibetan adepts are renowned for their spiritual accomplishments, for example, Namkhai Nyingpo for

his feat of travelling on beams of light, Khandro Yeshe Tsogyal for reviving the dead, Vairochana for his intuition, Nanam Yeshe for soaring in the sky, Kawa Peltseg for reading others thought and Jnana Kumara for his miraculous powers.According to the history of the origin of tantras there are three lineages: The Lineage of Buddha's Intention, which refers to the teachings of the Truth Body originating from the primordial Buddha Samantabhadra, who is said to have taught tantras to an assembly of completely enlightened beings emanated from the Truth Body itself. Therefore, this level of teaching is considered as being completely beyond the reach of ordinary human beings.

The Lineage of the Knowledge Holders corresponds to the teachings of the Enjoyment Body originating from Vajrasattva and Vajrapani, whose human lineage begins with Garab Dorje of the Ögyan Dakini land. From him the lineage passed to Manjushrimitra, Shrisimha and then to Guru Rinpochey, Jnanasutra, Vimalamitra and Vairochana who disseminated it in Tibet. Lastly, the Human Whispered Lineage corresponds to the teachings of the

Emanation Body, originating from the Five Buddha Families. They were passed on to Shrisimha, who transmitted them to Guru Rinpochey, who in giving them to Vimalamitra started the lineage which has continued in Tibet until the present day. This last mode of transmission is most commonly employed for ordinary people. However, the former two lineages may still exist amongst the highly realized Dzogchen masters.

Nyingmapas did not become institutionalized until much later in their history. From the 15th century onwards, great monastic universities were built, such as Mindroling, founded in 1676 by Rigzin Terdag Lingpa, otherwise known as Minling Terchen Gyurmed Dorje (1646-1714) and Dorje Drag founded in 1659 by Rigzin Ngagi Wangpo in central Tibet; and Palyul established by Rigzin Kunsang Sherab in 1665; Dzogchen built by Dzogchen Pema Rigzin in 1685 and Zhechen established by Zhechen Rabjampa in 1735, all in Kham province. Dodrupchen and Darthang monasteries were established in Amdo. Un- broken lineage holders in Dzogchen Atiyoga are as follows:

Adi-Buddha Kun-tu bzang-po
rDo-rje chang
Vajra pani
dGa’-rab-r Do-rje
Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche)
Nyang Ting-nge dzin bzang-po
L Dang-Ma Seng-ge b Bang-phyung
Guru Juber
Khrul-zhig seng-ge rgyal-pa
S Grub-chen-melong rDo-rje
Rig-dzing chen-po ku-ma-ra-dza
Klong-chen rab byam-pa
Khyab-brdal Lhun-grub
Sangs rgyas-dbon-po
g Dung-tshob zla-pa-gras-pa
Kun-bzang rDorje
r Gyal-Mchan p Pal-bzang
Phrin-Las Lhun-grub
O-rgyan gTer-bdag-gling-pa

3.2 Guru Rinpoche and Nyingma Tradition

Before studying Nyingma tradition in Tibet, we must talk about Guru Rinpoche, Padma Sambhava. He was the most venerated guru who established Nyingma tradition in Tibet.

The next major figure, Emperor Tri Songdetsen (Khri-srong sde-btsan), was cautious of the Chinese and paranoid of Zhang-zhung, most likely because his pro-Chinese father had been assassinated by the xenophobic, conservative Zhang-zhung political faction in the imperial court. In 761, he invited the Indian Buddhist abbot Shantarakshita to Tibet. There was a smallpox epidemic. The Zhang-zhung faction in court blamed Shantarakshita and deported him from the land. On the abbot's advice, the Emperor then invited Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) from Swat (northwestern Pakistan), who drove out the demons who had caused the smallpox. The Emperor then reinvited Shantarakshita. Guru Rinpoche left in 774, without having completed the full transmission of dzogchen. Seeing that the times were not ripe, he buried some texts as buried treasure texts (gter-ma, "terma"). They were exclusively texts on dzogchen

The name Padma Sambhava is derived from Sanskrit word. EtymologicallyPadma’ means lotus flower and Sambhava means 'born from'. So Padma Shambhava means the lotus-born. Padma Sambhava has different names like pema Jungney, padmakara and Guru Rinpoche. Nyingma tradition believes that he had been born spontaneously from lotus flower.

Padma Sambhava was foretold by Buddha Sakyamani himself in many Sutras and Tantras such as Immaculate Goddess Sutra, Sutra of inconceivable secret and the Tantra of the ocean of Ferocious Activity

He was not an ordinary person according to Mahayana tradition. Nyingma School believes that he was the Embodiment of all the Buddhas of ten directions, appearing as a Nirmankaya to tame the beings of the Dark Age. As a supreme Nirmanakaya, all his enlightened qualities appear different to people within the confines of conceptual thinking. The inconsistencies and dissimilarities in his life stories are because of different perception of people .

Historically, it is difficulty to prove the all of his enlightened qualities. This paper is not a historical thesis so it does not go through its historical details.

However, historically speaking, Guru Rinpoche went to Tibet during the reign of King Trisong Detsen in eighth century. The king invited him to Tibet on the recommendation of Abbot Shantarakshita. Without Padma Sambhava, they were not able to build the Samye Monastery because of a fierce resistance from Bonpo and hostile local deities. When Padma Sambhava reached there, Samye Monastery was built because he was able to control and subdue all hostile forces. This was not only his contribution, because he contributed a great deal by teaching Vajrayana practice and

subsequently Buddhism, especially tantric Vajrayana. Therefore he is venerated by all Tibetan schools. His position in Tibetan Buddhist societies is the highest. It is said that without Padma Sambhava, , Buddhism would not have survived there.

The birthplace of Padma Sambhava was in UDIYANA. Udiyana is now in Afghanistan region. According to the life story of Padma Sambhava, king Indrabodhi adopted him to be his successor. But he did not become the successor but become a great Buddhist master to benefit beings.

Lotus born Padma Sambhava and other great masters are responsible for establishing the Nyngma school in Tibet. Nyingma School thus starts from their time. This is why it is called old school as well. The old school of the early translations is known as Nyingma. Nyingma lineage is continuing with its unbroken transmission. Padma Sambhava concealed TERMA treasures throughout Tibet , Nepal and other Himalayan districts for

the sake of future generation. Since his time right up until the present day, a continual revelation or discoveries of terma is taking place. It is through discoveries of new terms Nyingma lineage are keeping up. Northern Nepal is influenced by Nyingma tradition. Of course, there are other traditions as well but Nyingma influence is higher. In Boudhanath , Kathmandu valley there are monasteries belonging to four schools of Tibetan Buddhism. China-Tibet political problems caused Buddhism deteriorates in Tibet after 1959 AD. But Tibetan Buddhist Community succeeded in keeping up the lamp of Dharma abroad.

3.3 Nine Yanas

According to Buddhist sutras there are 84000 types of dharmaskandhas to eliminate corresponding desire, hatred and ignorance. The teaching given by Buddha Shakyamuni was the remedy of all these 84000 mental poisons. These mental poisons block or obscure the true nature of mind that is the enlightened mind. The teachings of Buddha are different suitable to a particular mental capacity because people are of different capacity. Buddha’s all teachings are excellent. The teachings appear different only because people are different in their intellectual level and understanding level. It is because of these reasons the teachings were skillfully given to the individual person. The Buddha Shakyamuni, being omniscient, knew the appropriate level of teaching required by whoever came to him and gave it in whatever way was required .
As a result, according to Nyingma classification Buddhism was divided into nine vehicles. So Buddhism must be seen through broader and wider views. The Nine Yanas are as follows:

I. Shravaka Yana
II. Pratyekabuddha Yana
III. Boddhisattva Yana
IV. Kriya Tantra
V. Charya Tantra
VI. Yoga Tantra
VII. Mahayoga Tantra
VIII. Anuyoga Tantra
IX. Atiyoga (Dzogchen) Tantra

Each yana maintains that its particular view and way to implement is the genuine and authentic way. Some of them are fast and some slow in their speed towards enlightenment.

Six resultant yanas are faster approaches comparing to other 3 yanas. These six yanas utilize skillful means suitable to the psychological capacity.

The Three Common Vehicles comprising the Hearer, Solitary Realizer, and Bodhisattva vehicles dealing with those categories of teachings included in the sutras taught by Buddha Shakyamuni.The goal of shravaka and Pratyeka Buddha vehicles are the wish to attain peace and happiness and attain liberation for oneself whereas the objective of Bodhisattva vehicle is to attain the full enlightenment for the benefit of others. They practice the six perfections of giving, morality, patience, diligence, meditation and wisdom as well as four qualities for attracting disciples such as giving, pleasant speech, practicing according to dharma and equanimity.

3.3.1 Kriya Tantra

Kriya Tantra which places greater emphasis on practicing proper external behaviour, physical and verbal conduct aimed at purification and simple visualization practice. It mainly involves the performance of ritual actions of the body and speech such as washing and cleaning oneself and one's abode. It also involves a lot of details concerning proper and improper foods.
In practice, generally the sadhaka visualizes before himself the deity, and invites it to be present as a servant would a lord by making offerings and singing praises.

He then concentrates on visualizing the deity's body, speech and mind, the celestial palaces, the expanding and contracting of rays of light from the deity and thereby receives the blessings of the deity through supplication, recitation and meditative stability.

3.3.2 Carya Tantra

Upa Tantra or Carya tantra which lays more emphasis on developing both external and internal faculties with the goal of achieving a deeper affinity with the meditation deity.The deity is visualized in front of oneself, and the sadhaka also visualizes himself as divine, so that the relationship is similar to that of a brother of a friend.

There are two kinds of meditation, the yoga with signs and the yoga without. That with signs involves stabilization of mind by concentrating one pointedly on the deity, the letters of the mantra in the heart, the gestures or mudras and the form perceived in visualization.
The sign less yoga avoids the concentration on such signs and involves leaving the mind to remain the mind in the state of ultimate truth.

3.3.3 Yoga Tantra

Yoga Tantra, which is mainly aimed at developing the strength of inner psychophysical vitality as taught by Vajrasattva.
In this tantra the sadhaka looks upon external activities such as cleaning and eating specific foods such as merely the support for the practice and mainly concentrates on practising for the benefit of others by dwelling in the deity yoga.

3.3.4 Mahayoga

These are also known as the Father Tantras and center primarily on elaborate visualizations and various other activities of somewhat secondary importance.

This practice is primarily for an individual who has a greater predominance of anger or aggression and discriminatuing thoughts.
The practice of the father tantras involves utilizing skillful means, and without attachment to anything, the objects throughout cyclic existence, enjoying them and utilizing them in the practice without rejection or accepting anything including such objects such as five meats and nectars.

3.3.5 Anuyoga

The Anu Yogatantra is also known as the mother tantra .The practice thus emphasizes the cultivation of the discriminating wisdom which cognizes emptiness. This is done by means of the yoga of radiant clarity, and the method of integrating skilful means is to utilize the bliss attained through sexual yoga.

The Anuyoga, emphasizes the Completion Stage practice in which the vajra body is used as a serviceable means to actualize primordial awareness.
From the four actions of tantra path namely that of pacification, expansion, power and wrathfulness, here the emphasis is mainly on that of power. This tantra is directed more to an individual who has a predominance of desire and who likes the mind to be stabilized and who also has the ability to engage in the physical practices.

3.3.6 Atiyoga

This is also known as the Great completion or Mahasandhi and is known as great primordial wisdom of the equality of purity, the naturally arisen primordial wisdom free from assumptions and projections, the final nature of all things and the summit of all vehicles.
The Atiyoga, in which all emphasis is directed towards full activation of the generation and completion stage practices, enabling the yogi to transcend all ordinary time, activity and experience, as taught by Samantabhadra Buddha.



4.1 Meaning and Definition of Rigpa

“There is the very nature of mind, its innermost essence, which is absolutely and always untouched by change or death. At present it is hidden within our own mind, our mind, enveloped and obscured by the mental scurry of our thoughts and emotions. Just as clouds can be shifted by strong gust of wind to reveal the shining sun and wide-open sky, so, under certain special circumstances, some inspiration may uncover for us glimpses of the nature of mind. These glimpses have many depths and degrees, but each of them will bring some light of understanding, meaning and freedom.

This is because the nature of mind is the very root itself of understanding. In Tibetan we call RIGPA, a primordial, pure, pristine awareness that is at once, intelligent, cognizant radiant, and always awake. It could be said to be the knowledge of knowledge itself.”

“Whatever perceptions arise, you should be like a little child going into a beautiful decorated temple; he looks, but grasping does not enter his perception at all. So you leave everything fresh, natural, vivid and unspoiled. When you leave each thing in its own state, then its shape doesn’t change, its color doesn’t fade, and its glow does not disappear. Whatever appears is unstained by any grasping, so then all that you perceive arises as the naked wisdom of RIGPA, which is the indivisibility of luminosity and emptiness” .

“The delusion can be cut with fierce and direct thoroughness. Essentially delusion is cut through with the irresistible force of the view of Rigpa” .

“One first perceives the meaning of the bare perception of pure awareness, then enhances it, which will lead to the arrival at an understanding of the true state of being, until finally all delusory appearances of everything are exhausted or purified into the vast expanse of reality. Upon reaching this stage one will attain the four confidences, namely confidence of no fear of hell, no expectation of results, no expectation of attainment and purifying happiness and enjoyment in the essential sameness is RIGPA vision.

To sum up above definitions, RIGPA Means as follows:

Rigpa is the nature of mind. Its innermost essence is absolutely and always untouched by change or death. A Completely awakened mind from ignorance and potential of wisdom is Rigpa state of mind.

Rigpa awareness is the direct realization of the nature of mind. It is omnipresent and all-penetrating. Rigpa awareness penetrates the true nature of mind. Rigpa is beyond illusory consciousness that causes us to experience mind as a ‘me’ possessing characteristics that we habitually attribute to ourselves. Rigpa has non-dual state of awareness with cognizant quality. In RIGPA we are free from any conceptual formulations. The mind is free from any fixation in Rigpa state of awareness. Conceptual mind cannot realize Rigpa awareness.

As long as there is conceptual mind, the Rigpa awareness is not ultimate. So Rigpa is always beyond concepts and intellectual thoughts.
Awakened mind is the unity of Shamatha and Vipashyana. It is recognized through Shamatha and Vipashyana meditation and this awakened mind itself is Rigpa. Rigpa awareness is the goal of Dzogchen tradition.

4.2 Practice of Dzogchen

There are nine yanas that describe different levels of the teachings of the Buddha Dharma. Within Nyingma tradition, all nine yanas are synthesized. Among them Atiyoga, Dzogchen is the supreme, and others are considered as the tools or adjuncts to this. The teaching and practices of Atiyoga are the quintessence of the Dharma. The experience of non-duality, the realization of emptiness and the fundamental nature of mind are the accomplishment in Atiyoga Dzogchen. Atiyoga removes all the veils that obscure mind’s nature, the Buddha nature. Full realization of Atiyoga liberates us from all ignorance, assumptions and projections.

Atiyoga is the part of tantric path. The approach of Dzogchen has following point:

View: The practitioner concludes that everything within the realm of both cyclic existence and the state beyond sorrow, samsara and Nirvana, is in the nature of the great primordial wisdom of the spontaneously arising Dharmakaya or perfect body of truth” . All things are only appearances in the mind. All things within the world are of the same nature without any discrimination. The empty nature of mind is the Dharmakaya. Cognizant quality of mind is Sambhogkaya and the unimpeded universal compassion of the mind is the Nirmanakaya .

Practice: To perceive all that appears as activities of truth itself or Dharma essence. Dharmata is the Dharma essence. But the secret practices of Atiyoga cannot be provided for scholastic purpose. Only initiates have access to them.

Due to the slightly different approaches of various lineages in presenting Dzogchen three sub-schools have developed:

a. The Mind School (Sems-sde) is attributed to Shrisimha and Vairochana's lineage; it is for revealing the essential nature of the self-awareness of the Dharmakaya.

b. The Centeredness School (kLong-sde) is attributed to Longde Dorje Zampa, and Shrisimha and Vairochana's lineage.It centers on showing meditation of abiding effortlessly in the state of reality itself or Dharmakaya essence.

c. Whereas the Quintessential Instruction School (Man-ngag-sde) is attributed directly to Guru Padmasambhava's lineage of the Heart's Drop (sNying-thig) cycle of teachings and practice. Concentrates on analyzing the primordial awareness of the self existent luminescence or radiant clarity, while remaining in the state of reality itself. And a state of detachment from acceptance or rejection which is free from the very beginning of time. It is through meditation on Rigpa, awareness is achieved. As a result of these one will be dwelt in the state of Spontaneous perfection, the state of primordial Buddha Samantabhandra, and one will be liberated in the state of primordial purity .


Meditation is based on Samatha Vipashyana techniques. Meditation has two main stages: Developing stage - UTTPANNA KRAMA, Completion Stage - SAMPANNA KRAMA. Awakened mind is the unity of Samatha and Vipashyana.

Although Dzogchen is the unique feature of Nyingma practice, even among the lay followers the practice of reciting Guru Rinpoche's prayers, observing the 10th and 25th of every lunar month as a day for feast offerings, and even retiring into retreat for three years and three months individually or in company are common.

4.3 Impact of Dzogchen on Tibetan Buddhism

In Tibet, more specifically, eight major lineages cooexist, but today 4 principal lineages remain as schools. They are: The Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug traditions. Each of these lineages transmits the peerless words of Buddha by way of lineages of sages and adepts who are like pure gold. They transmit uncorrupted authentic dharma that can lead beings to ultimate enlightenment like wise Dzogchen in Nyingma tradition is continuing its pure and authentic lineage.

It would be difficult to study all the teachings completely in a single life time. It would take many lives. But lineage lamas have contributed their knowledge and experience through their direct oral instructions and writings. All the Buddha's teachings have been transmitted in writing and texts. Besides the teachings of Buddha were also transmitted through mind to mind transmission through Guru disciple relationship uninterruptedly.

Dzogchen Atiyoga teaches the study of nature of mind to achieve and realize Rigpa awareness or primordial awareness. But the study of mind cannot be achieved or done through theoretical only.The practical experience of meditation, observing the mind again and again to penetrate its true nature.This is what Dzog chen atiyoga teaches. The most important thing is putting the teaching into practices that way one can progress steadily along the path.

Dzogchen is said to be the path of sudden enlightenment and not a gradual path.
The teachings and practices of Dzogchen are the quintessences of Dharma. Rigpa awareness is the goal of dzogchen, Atiyoga that is the fruition stage of Buddha nature. Full realization of Dzogchen completely liberates us from all the obscurations and then achieves the full enlightenment of Buddhahood.

In Dzogchen the nature of mind is introduced directly by the authentic Guru. The realization or experience of primordial awareness knows the nature of mind itself. This is the realization of ultimate truth itself. Through having realized Rigpa awareness one realizes the wisdom of direct experience of reality beyond dualistic illusions.

Dzogchen sadhakas who attained rigpa awareness realize the original nature of things as insubstantial. Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche says, "the more we train in the awakened state, in letting go of fixation, the more the outer world will be seen as it really is- an insubstantial play of or illusions" Delusion is cut through with the irresistible force of view of Rigpa. Dzogchen Rigpa accomplishment is beyond conceptual mind. It

 is totally inexpressible beyond conceptual analysis. The Dzogchen accomplished masters can bring their lives to an extraordinary and triumphant end. They are capable of transforming their material body into light at the moment of death. This type process is known as Rainbow body. It is called Rainbow body because the dissolution is accompanied by manifestation of the light and rainbows. Only hairs and nails remain when an

accomplished master attains the Rainbow body. This kind of incidents are beyond conceptual mind and seems to be difficult to believe. But the factual history of Dzogchen lineage is full of examples of practitioners that attained the rainbow body. There are several Mahasiddhas who accomplished rainbow body through practicing rigpa awareness.

4.4 Terma texts in Nyingma literature

The Treasure transmission comprises the innumerable treasure texts revealed by subsequent Treasure Masters, which were hidden by Guru Rinpochey himself in 9th century as well as numerous teachings later revealed through enlightened minds and meditative visions of Nyingma masters.

Hundreds of masters have appeared who have revealed treasures. Among them, Nyangral Nyima Özer (1124-92), Guru Chowang (1212-70), Dorje Lingpa (1346-1405), Padma Lingpa (b.1405) and Jamyang Khyentse (1820-1892) are renowned as the Five Kings of the Treasure Masters.

Their revealed treasures concern, among others, the cycle of teachings and meditations related to Avalokiteshvara, Guru Rinpochey's sadhanas, the Dzogchen teachings, the Ka-gyey cycle of teachings, the Vajrakila or Phurba cycle of teachings, medicine and prophecies.
Hence, in addition to the standard Mahayana Buddhist canon of the Kangyur and Tangyur, many further teachings may be found in the Collection of a Hundred Thousand Nyingma Tantras, compiled in thirteenth century by Tertön Ratna Lingpa (1403-1473) and organized by Kunkhyen Longchen Rabjampa (1308-1363).

Besides this, numerous works such as the sixty volumes of the Rinchen Terdzod compiled by Kongtrul Yonten Gyatso (1813-1899) and the writings of Rongzom, Dodrupchen, Paltrul, Mipham and many others have added to the rich collection of Nyingma literature.


The teaching Dzogchen is the pinnacle of all nine yanas. Dzogchen lineage goes back to the Adi Buddha, but it actually came from Buddha Shakyamuni in the form of vajrasattva. It continued through Garab Dorje. Then through various Indian Master and eventually through Padma Sambhava and Vimalamitra.

Vajrayana offers many methods for eliminating obscurations. After eliminating obscurations, vajrayana makes the mind realize its true nature. Nyngma tradition belongs to the Vjrayana school and Dzogehen practice is the most important practice in this school. Nyngma tradition is the earliest form of Buddhism prevalent in Tibet founded by padme sambhava, the Guru Rinpoche.

The practice of Dzogchen is to realize the Rigpa state of mind. The innermost essence of Rigpa is absolutely and always untouched by change or death. In Rigpa we are free from any conceptual formulations. Conceptually Rigpa cannot be realized.

Metaphorically, the Dzogchen teachings are like climbing up a mountain. We can only see the route at a time. But when we reach the top of a mountain, we can view the four directions simultaneously. We can everywhere.

All Buddhist teachings are excellent. It doesn’t mean that Dzogchen teaching is the only excellent one. Teachings differ because people are different in mental capacity. That’s why there are different types of teachings suitable to a particular mental level. And the Buddha gave teaching a accordingly.

Rigpa state of mind is the unity of empty and cognizant nature of mind, that is, the true nature of mind. So the knowing of this nature of mind is Rigpa. However, this thesis paper on the concept of Rigpa awareness is prepared with view to elucidate as described in Nyngma Dzogchen tradition. Since Bonpo tradition has parallel doctrine corresponding to Nyngma tradition, it is likely to be confused on it. We have not gone in the Bonpo tradition. Since the tradition of Dzogchen is vast in scale, to view and analyze it in different perspective do not come in the scope of this paper.

One must bear in mind that Dzogche practioner must receive imitation and empowerment from an authentic Dzogchen master. It is called Abhisheka in Sanskrit. When Dzogchen practitioner receives the secret empowerment, he or she is committed to the Samaya, the tantric vows. The practioner must maintain Samaya. When the Samaya or commitment is maintained, the outcome will be profound. Another important thing is the

Samaya with Guru, the qualified and authentic master. Master and disciple must maintain Samaya for their commitment. They are committed to keeping the Samaya intact. Dzogchen practitioner will have the accomplishment when he or she manages to kept the Samayas intact. Dzogchen accomplishment for the realization of Rigpa is impossible if, the practioner breaks off practioner must rely on his or her Guru. Guru must be the authentic lineage holder.

Most importanty, Dzogchen practice and its accomplishment cannot be realized through reading and conceptual understanding. One must bear in mind that the secret practices of Dzogchen cannot be provided for those who received initiation and empowerments have access to them.
I would like to recommend for those who want to practice Dzogchen that they receive Abhisheka or empowerment from the Dzogchen authentic lineage holder master. Without it, it is impossible to have access to Dzogchen teaching.

This thesis paper is prepared for only the concept of Rigpa awareness in Dzogchen tradition. It cannot provide different approaches for the detail research. So this paper recommends to study another books and texts of Nyngma tradition. Many Tibetan texts on Dzogchen are translated into English that make easier for us to go through in that subject matter.

Finally, the teachings of Dzogchen is still in practice. Authentic lineage holder Gurus are living now. It would be an opportunity to have such teachings for the spiritual quest. The only thing is practioners should practice diligently.


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