Dzogchen is an ancient spiritual teaching developed in Tibet within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. It does not belong to a school or religious system. Rather, it is the knowlege that Tibetan masters have transmitted without being limited by sectarianism. The word ‘Dzogchen’, meaning ‘total perfection’, actually refers to the true inherent nature of all beings, their primordial state, which is free from all limitations and conditioning. The master’s transmission of this state of knowledge lies at the very heart of the Dzogchen teachings.
The Dzogchen tradition has been passed from master to student in an unbroken lineage over the centuries, right up to the present day. Due to its direct and unelaborate approach, it transcends cultural boundaries making it accessible to all nationalities alike regardless of their spiritual background.
The Dzogchen teachings are divided in three series: Semde, Longde and Mennagde. The three series are three ways of presenting the teaching, each with its corresponding methods of practice; the aim of all three, however, is to lead the practitioner to final realization.
In Semde, the ‘mind series’, the practitioner is introduced to the nature of mind in order to have an actual experience of it.
Longde means the ‘space series’: in this instance space refers to the primordial dimension of emptiness which serves as a base for manifesting the clarity of the practitioner, and for developing their understanding.
Mennagde, the essential series of ‘secret instructions’ or Upadesha, comprises special teachings and methods based on the experiences of masters, with the aim of helping the practitioner progress up to complete realization.
The Longsal cycle of teachings or The Luminous Clarity of the Universe, Heart Essence of the Dakinis (female manifestations of primordial energy), were rediscovered by Chogyal Namkhai Norbu through his dreams of clarity. Up till now these teachings have been published in eight volumes.
The transmission of knowledge from master to disciple can be oral, symbolic or direct. The uniqueness of the Dzogchen teaching is the direct transmission or “direct introduction” in which the master and the student find themselves in the primordial state at the same moment through one of the experiences related to body, voice or mind. Due to the power of the transmission, the student is able to discover his or her own real condition in this way.
“Guru” means master, “yoga” means having knowledge or understanding of one’s own authentic state, the essential condition just as it is, in which there is nothing to change or to modify. This is the state of the guru. Guruyoga is, therefore, the main element in Dzogchen practice.