THE GROUND 277 May all of you who read this book come to know him a little as I know him, may all of you be as inspired as I have been by the dedication of his life and the splendor of his dying, may all of you draw from his example of total dedication to the welfare of all sentient beings the courage and wisdom you will need to work for the truth in this time!
SEVENTEEN Intrinsic Radiance AS THE GROUND LUMINOSITY DAWNS AT DEATH, an experienced practitioner will maintain full awareness and merge with it, thereby attaining liberation. But if we fail to recognize the Ground Luminosity, then we encounter the next bardo, the luminous bardo of dharmata. The teaching on the bardo of dharmata is a very special instruction, one specific to Dzogchen practice and treasured at the heart of the Dzogchen teachings over the centuries. Initially I felt some hesitation about publicly presenting this most sacred of teachings, and in fact if there had not been any precedent I might not have done so at all. However, the TibetanBookof the Dead and a number of other books that refer to the bardo of dharmata have already been published, and have led to some naive conclusions. I feel it is extremely important, and timely, to make available a straightforward clarification of this bardo, putting it into its authentic context. I should stress that I have not gone into any detail about the advanced practices involved; none of these practices could, under any circumstances, ever be done effectively except with the instructions and guidance of a qualified master, and when the commitment and connection with that master is kept completely pure. I have gathered insights from many different sources in order to make this chapter, which I feel is one of the most important in this book, as lucid as possible. I hope that through it some of you will make a connection with this extraordinary teaching, and be inspired to investigate further and to begin to practice yourselves. THE FOUR PHASES OF DHARMATA The Sanskrit word dharmata, chö nyi in Tibetan, means the intrinsic nature of everything, the essence of things as they 278