The Tibetan term Dzogchen or 'Great Perfection' refers to the true primordial state of every individual and not to any transcendent reality.
The Dzogchen teachings are neither a philosophy, nor a religious doctrine, nor a cultural tradition. Understanding the message of the teachings means discovering ones own true condition, stripped of all self-deceptions and falsifications which the mind creates.
What do we mean when we say, becoming aware of our own true condition? It means observing ourselves, discovering who we are, who we believe we are, and what our attitude is towards others and to life.
If we just observe the limits, the mental judgments, the passions, the pride, the jealousy, and the attachments with which we close ourselves up in the course of one single day, where do they arise from, what are they rooted in?
Their source is our dualistic vision, and our conditioning. To be able to help both ourselves and others we need to overcome all the limits in which we are enclosed. This is the true function of the teachings.
Dzogchen is an ancient Buddhist spiritual tradition developed in Tibet. In Dzogchen, the primordial enlightened state of being is seen not as something to be constructed or gained, but rather as our inherent nature and potential. A teacher of sufficient capacity is needed to explain, introduce and transmit the Dzogchen teachings. Practitioners of Dzogchen endeavor to develop awareness and integrate the teachings into their daily lives by discovering through practice their own inherent Primordial State.
Dzogchen cannot be counted as a religious or philosophical tradition, but is a non-intellectual knowledge, which the masters have transmitted beyond any limitations of school or sect. Because its meaning does not depend on cultural specifics, it can be understood and practiced in any spiritual context.
In Tibet, Dzogchen has existed and still lives in both the Buddhist tradition and that of Bon, the indigenous pre-Buddhist religion. In the Buddhist tradition, the origins of the Dzogchen teaching is attributed to twelve primordial masters who lived in ancient times.
The Dzogchen teachings of our era that are associated with Tibetan Buddhism were first expounded more than two thousand years ago by master Garab Dorje. He was born in the land of Oddiyana, an ancient kingdom sometimes identified with the valley of Swat in Pakistan.
|In the eighth century of our era, great masters such as Vairochana, Vimalamitra and Padmasambhava brought the Teaching transmitted by Garab Dorje to Tibet. The first diffusion of Buddhism in Tibet occurred in that period.
There was a large-scale translation of Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Tibetan as well as the text of Dzogchen from the language of Oddiyana.
In Bon, the introduction of Dzogchen is ascribed to the great master Shenrab Miwoche, who transmitted this knowledge as part of a tradition widespread in the ancient Shang Shung realm, located in what is now western Tibet. Today Dzogchen is taught in the Nyingmapa lineage of Tibetan Dzogchen Buddhism and in the Bon tradition.
Now thanks to the tireless efforts of Tibetan masters such as Choegyal Namkhai Norbu, the precious Dzogchen teachings are spreading throughout the world.
|The Three Series|
Semde, Longde and Mannagde.
Manjushrimitra received the transmission of the Dzogchen teachings in their entirety from Garab Dorje and subdivided them into three series: Semde, Longde and Mannagde.
The three series are three ways of presenting the teaching, each with its corresponding methods of practice, however, the aim of all three is to lead the practitioner to final realisation. In the Semde, the 'mind series', the practitioner is introduced to the nature of mind through the mind in order to have concrete experience of it. Longde means the 'space series' and in this instance space refers to the primordial dimension of emptiness which serves as a base for the clarity of the practitioner to manifest.
|The Mannagde, the essential series of secret instructions or Upadesha, in essence includes teachings and practice methods based on the experiences of masters with the aim of helping the practitioner progress quickly up to complete realisation.|