The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

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The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

THE INNERMOST ESSENCE 155sion demands a teaching of comparably extreme power andclarity. I have also found that modern people want a pathshorn of dogma, fundamentalism, exclusivity, complex metaphysics,and culturally exotic paraphernalia, a path at oncesimple and profound, a path that does not need to be practicedin ashrams or monasteries but one that can be integratedwith ordinary life and practiced anywhere.So what, then, is Dzogchen? Dzogchen is not simply ateaching, not another philosophy, not another elaborate system,not a seductive clutch of techniques. Dzogchen is a state,the primordial state, that state of total awakening that is theheart-essence of all the buddhas and all spiritual paths, and thesummit of an individual's spiritual evolution. Dzogchen isoften translated as "Great Perfection." I prefer to leave ituntranslated, for Great Perfection carries a sense of a perfectnesswe have to strive to attain, a goal that lies at the end of along and grueling journey. Nothing could be further from thetrue meaning of Dzogchen: the already self-perfected state ofour primordial nature, which needs no "perfecting," for it hasalways been perfect from the very beginning, just like the sky.All the Buddhist teachings are explained in terms of"Ground, Path, and Fruition." The Ground of Dzogchen is thisfundamental, primordial state, our absolute nature, which isalready perfect and always present. Patrul Rinpoche says: "It isneither to be sought externally, nor is it something you didnot have before and that now has to be newly born in yourmind." So from the point of view of the Ground—the absolute—ournature is the same as the buddhas', and there is noquestion at this level, "not a hair's breadth," the masters say,of teaching or practice to do.Yet, we have to understand, the buddhas took one pathand we took another. The buddhas recognize their originalnature and become enlightened; we do not recognize thatnature and so become confused. In the teachings, this state ofaffairs is called "One Ground, Two Paths." Our relative conditionis that our intrinsic nature is obscured, and we need tofollow the teachings and practice in order to return us to thetruth: This is the Path of Dzogchen. Finally, to realize our originalnature is to attain complete liberation and become a buddha.This is the Fruition of Dzogchen and is actually possible,if a practitioner really puts his or her heart and mind to it, inone lifetime.The Dzogchen masters are acutely aware of the dangers ofconfusing the absolute with the relative. People who fail to

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