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THE CRYSTAL AND THE WAY OF LIGHT: Sutra, Tantra, and Dzogchen

by Chogyal Namkhai Norbu, compiled and edited by John Shane

In The Crystal and the Way of Light book, Chogyal Namkhai Norbu examines the spiritual path from the viewpoint of Dzogchen. He discusses the base, path and fruit of Dzogchen practice and describes his education and how he met his principal master who showed him the real meaning of "direct introduction to Dzogchen." By interweaving his life story with the teachings, he both sets Dzogchen in its traditional context and reveals its powerful contemporary relevance. The book is richly illustrated with photos of Buddhist masters, meditational deities and Dzogchen symbols.

Here are some excerpts from the Chapter two and four:

Many people today are not interested at all in spiritual matters, and their lack of interest is reinforced by generally materialistic outlook of our society. If you ask them what they believe in, they may even say that they don’t believe in anything. Such people think that all religion is base on faith, which they regard as little better than superstition, with no relevance to the modern world. But Dzogchen shouldn’t be regarded as a religion, and it doesn’t ask anyone to believe in anything. On the contrary, it suggests that individual observes him or herself and discover for themselves what their actual condition is.

The Primordial State

The teaching of Dzogchen is in essence the teaching concerning the primordial state that is each individual’s own intrinsic nature from the very beginning. To enter this state is to experience oneself as one is, as the center of the universe though not in the ordinary ego sense. The ordinary ego-centered consciousness is precisely the limited cage of dualistic vision that closes off the experience of one’s own true nature, which is the space of the primordial state. To discover the primordial state is to understand the teaching of Dzogchen, and the function of the transmission of the teaching of Dzogchen is to communicate this state from one who has realized, or become established in it, to those who remain caught up in the dualistic condition. Even the name Dzogchen, which means ‘Great Perfection’, refers to the self-perfectedness of this state, fundamentally pure from the beginning, with nothing to reject or accept. To understand and enter the primordial state one does not need intellectual, cultural, or historical knowledge. It is beyond intellect by its very nature.

Dzogchen: The Path of Self-Liberation

Dzogchen is neither sutra nor tantra. The basis for the communication of Dzogchen is introduction, not transformation into a manifestation as in tantra. And Dzogchen’s principal practices work directly at the level of Mind in order to allow the individual to discover the primordial state to which he or she is introduced directly by the master, and to continue in it until the total realization of the Great Transfer or the Body of Light are achieved.

Even though Dzogchen is a teaching that works principally at the level of Mind, practices of the Voice and Body are found in the Dzogchen teachings; but they are secondary to the practice of non-dual contemplation itself, and are used to bring the practitioner into this state. Only this contemplation can truly be called Dzogchen, but a Dzogchen practitioner may use practices from any of the levels of sutra or tantra, if they are found to be necessary to remove obstacles that block the state of contemplation.

The particular method of Dzogchen is called the Path of Self-Liberation, and to apply it nothing need be renounced, purified, or transformed. Whatever arises as one’s karmic vision is used as the path. (…) Self-Liberation, in Dzogchen sense, means that whatever manifests in the field of practitioner’s experience is allowed to arise just as it is, without judgment of it as good or bad, beautiful or ugly. And in that same moment, if there is no clinging, or attachment, without effort, or even volition, whatever it is that arises, whether as a though or as a conceptualization of a seemingly external event, automatically liberates itself, by itself, and of itself. Practicing in this way, the seeds of the poison tree of dualistic vision never even get a chance to sprout, much less to take root and grow.

So the practitioner lives his or her life in an ordinary way, without needing any rules other than ones own awareness, always remaining in the primordial state through integrating that state with whatever arises as part of experience –with absolutely nothing to be seen outwardly to show that one is practicing. This is what is meant by self-liberation, this is what is meant by the name Dzogchen–which means Great Perfection–and this what is meant by non-dual contemplation, or simply contemplation.

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