Dzogchen: The Self-Perfected State


The Self-Perfected State

By Chögyal Namkhai Norbu

This is a concise introduction to Dzogchen by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, who is the incarnation of several realised masters.

Dzogchen: The Self-Perfected State is based on two series of talks. The first part is a general introduction into the three yanas of Buddhism: Sutra, Tantra, and Dzogchen—and an explanation of Dzogchen practice and view. The second part is an exposition of the Dzogchen text ‘The Cuckoo of the State of Presence’.

Norbu Rinpoche begins by explaining the starting point for any practitioner: here and now, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. Although each school of Buddhism arises within a cultural context, it is unnecessary – and in fact a mistake – to assume the attitudes of that culture. He points out that there is no need for a Western person to ‘Tibetify’ in order to practice.

Norbu Rinpoche introduces the paths of the three yanas. He explains how Sutra views form as our problem, and how all Sutric practice aims at emptiness. The Tantric practitioner, having arrived at emptiness, takes this realisation into the phenomenal world and transforms all experience. The goal of Tantra is non-duality. Dzogchen takes non-duality as its starting point, path, and result – viewing the enlightenment of the practitioner as always already present.

The second part of the book gives a general introduction to the ‘The Cuckoo of the State of Presence’ and then explains its six verses in greater detail. This section is divided into three chapters, covering the base, path, and result.

This book is extremely interesting, inasmuch as it presents various teachings taught in Aro—but from a slightly different angle; with different emphases; with a distinctly different personality; and, in style which creates a bridge between Aro and other books which discuss Vajrayana. Topics such as like shi-nè, lhatong, and namthogs are all there and are explained with great clarity.

The same author’s Crystal and the Way of Light covers much of the same material in greater detail – but this book is well worth reading as a companion commentary on Dzogchen.

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