golden dorje

Original Perfection

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Vairotsana's Five Early Transmissions

golden dorje


Second Edition, August 2013
Wisdom Publications
ISBN-10: 0861716809
ISBN-13: 978-0861716807

Original Perfection

Vairotsana's Five Early Transmissions

Translation with Commentary by Keith Dowman

These early, foundational Dzogchen texts--clear, lyrical, and rich in metaphor--were smuggled into Tibet in the eighth century on white silk, written in goat-milk ink that would become visible only when exposed to heat.

These five texts are the root of Dzogchen practice, the main practice of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. Vairotsana, a master among the first generation of Tibetan Buddhists, reveals here a truth that is at once simple and deeply profound: that all existence--life itself, everyone one of us--is originally perfect, just as is.

Keith Dowman's sparkling translation and commentary provide insight and historical background, walking the reader through the truths encountered in this remarkable book.

Eye of the Storm is an earlier edition of this translation, published in Kathmandu by Vajra Publishing, and available at

With a commentary from the Dochu, by Keith Dowman and a foreword by Bhakha Tulku Pema Rigdzin.


Critical Reviews

"The five texts translated into English in this book are considered the first transmission of Dzogchen to Tibet. They were transmitted by a Tibetan monk called Vairotsana who distinguished himself not only in the field of translation, emerging as the greatest of the Tibetan lotsawas, but also as a traveler and pilgrim who left the Land of the Snows for the hills of the Hindu Kush to bring back a canon of Dzogchen texts from its closely guarded source. They constitute the root and essence of Dzogchen in Tibet."

From the foreword by Bhakha Tulku, founder of the Vairotsana Foundation

"Precise and poetic, authentic and elusive, these sweet translations bring the warm breath of the Dzogchen tradition into our daily lives. A major contribution to the exciting spread of Dzogchen in modern times."

James Lowe, author of Simply Being

Book Excerpts

The Cuckoo's Song of Gnosis

In Tibet's ancient shamanic tradition, the cuckoo was a magical bird, the king of birds. As the cuckoo's first call is the harbinger of spring, so the six lines of the Cuckoo's Song of Gnosis introduce gnostic reality. In this seminal transmission, Samantabhadra defines himself as spontaneously complete and perfect nonaction. It incorporates the precept of undiscriminating joyous activity. This is the root text of the Dzogchen Mind Series.

Hey, Mahasattva, Magnificent being, listen!

The nature of multiplicity is nondual
and things in themselves are pure and simple;
being here and now is construct-free
and it shines out in all forms, always all good;
it is already perfect, so exertion is redundant
and spontaneity is ever-immanent.

All experience, the entire phantasmagoria of the six senses, the diverse multiplicity of existence, in reality is without duality. Even if we examine the parts of the pure essence of mind in the laboratory of the mind, such specifics are seen to be illusive and indeterminate. There is nothing to grasp and there is no way to express it. The suchness of things, their actuality, left just as it is, is beyond thought and inconceivable and that is the here-and-now. Yet diversity is manifestly apparent and that is the undiscriminating, all-inclusive sphere of the all-good buddha, Samantabhadra. Total perfection has always been a fact and there has never been anything to do to actuate this immaculate completion. All endeavor is redundant. What remains is spontaneity and that is always present as our natural condition.

If the six lines are divided into three pairs of verses describing Dzogchen vision, meditation and action respectively, the first two lines express the view that pure mind is an ineffable singularity and cannot be analyzed; the second two lines indicate nonmeditation as the natural state of Samantabhadra's display; and the third couplet shows action as the non-directed action - nonaction - of spontaneous awareness.

Radical Creativity

> Samantabhadra's radical creativity is the miracle of illusory display emanated in every moment. It lies in the freeform field of reality that is the dynamic of nonaction. In a more limited sense, however, radical creativity is evident here in the soft touch of Samantabhadra's breath of inspiration that informs these pith instructions. This is a transmission that embodies specific instruction. It teaches that there is no path to traverse and no distinction to be made in pure mind reality.

Hey, Mahasattva, Magnificent Being, listen!

All and everything emanates from me,
so all and everything, whatever appears,
is revealed as transmission,
revelation of the timelessly pure reality-field.

The path is the process of Samantabhadra's entire emanation in a timeless moment. In this respect every moment is identical and complete in itself and there can be no progress or development in or of pure mind. There can be no gradual increase or decrease of realization through time. Further, if all is one in the moment, how can there be any valid differentiation of pure mind from reality or, indeed, any distinctions whatsoever? Samantabhadra's all-inclusive momentary emanation is the nonreferential field of reality, which is his transmission and his instruction. The here-and-now is pure mind, the field of reality and Samantabhadra's complete transmission. There is nothing else.

All outer and inner is the timeless field of reality
and in such an immaculate field of play
buddha and sentient beings are not distinct-
so why try to change anything?

Pure mind and reality are one in the reality-field and it is quite impossible to make any distinction. We say that all phenomena, whatever exists, composed of earth, water, fire, air and space, is external, and that pure mind and the nature of reality are internal. But this is idle speculative thought imputing mere nominal meaning where there is no real basis for it. The field of reality is an all-inclusive unity. In this timeless sphere of activity there is no distinction between buddha and sentient beings. It is impossible to improve on the timeless moment - it is already perfect and complete, the all-good Samantabhadra. It cannot be altered or transformed because it is the immutable Vajrasattva.

There is no ambition in effortless, fully potentiated creativity
and such freeform spontaneous perfection is always the same;
in the pure field of reality, where the conception and the act are one,
however misguided how can we innocents do any wrong?

A moment of bodhi-reality is primordially perfect and lacks any goal-orientation or ulterior intent; it has no desire. It is free of all aspiration. It is uncontrolled and uncontrollable freeform display. It is always the same in the ultimate equality of pure mind. The meaning is always the same. Since it is complete and perfect as it stands, there is nothing at all to do, and there never was anything to do, and thus activity is freeform display. All strenuous practice is rendered effete. Here, both impulse and its simultaneous actualization and both immaculate subject and object are the pure field of reality. In this milieu it is impossible to err, regardless of our naive beliefs and intractable habits. Nothing we fools can do can defile this pure space.

The pure-pleasure union of sentient behavior,
conceived by the deluded as a perverse path,
is identical to the pure process of Samantabhadra:
whoever understands such equality is buddha, lord of all.

Pure-pleasure union, sensory or sexual, as an integral part of human conduct, or as a tantric path, is reviled as immoral or perverse by the ignorant. But the course of human behavior, from the beginning, is inseparable from Samantabhadra's transmission as revealed above - freeform play. These two paths are actually one. The lord of past, present and future buddha is he who realizes these apparently incompatible modes as identical.

All dualities, all dualistic structures, are spontaneously resolved in the absolute equality of Dzogchen. This includes the duality of the delusive path of gender union and the pure mind modality where the vision and the act are one. The apparent duality of the gender principles of skillful means and insight united in pure pleasure is actually always a unity from the beginning, a primordial unity, pulled apart (in anuyoga) only in order to recognize it as a unity and always for the first time.

On the delusive, extremist path, thinking, 'I' and 'Mine',
deluded innocents enter a structured path of dharma practice
with no chance to realize that it leads nowhere:
how can reality ever be found by seeking?

The teacher who talks in terms of 'I' and 'Mine' implies the existence of a substantial self - or soul - in an individual who must strive to gain and hold something that he lacks. This conventional way of thinking is called 'extremist' because of its lack of a sense of middle way where the 'I' is deconstructed and the notion of possession becomes a fallacy. Such a teacher draws his students into a conceptual, progressive, goal-oriented dharma practice, where there is a presumption that the graduated path has an attainable goal and that realization can be obtained through analysis and where there is no possibility of spontaneous realization. The path of ritual performance and religious practice has no end. In the Great Perfection there is no path - only the timeless modality of momentary unfoldment. Thus the nature of reality cannot be found by seeking; it is already present. The mind cannot objectify its own nature, so reality cannot be found by searching for it. Seeking it would be like a dog chasing its own tail.

The instruction of monkey-like masters who lack direct insight
is fraught with false concepts of preparation and technique;
so the master who cleans the tarnish from pure gold,
the authentic teacher, the most precious resource,
he is worth the ransom at any price.

A monkey mimics without understanding, like a teacher who gives precept and transmission without the valid basis of understanding that is direct insight into the nature of mind. Such teaching induces a conceptual notion of the path, a specific starting point and a goal in the mind of the disciple, involving preparation, supports and technique. The master who sees the nature of mind has eradicated any implication of a conditioned path. This is likened to removing any fine film of tarnish from pure gold through the application of black alum - a traditional practice. No refinement, like separating the dross from pure gold, is necessary. The teacher's transmission of this pathless path is worth to his students whatever price must be paid. In early times the student proved his commitment by offering gold to the master.

The Great Garuda in Flight

The garuda is a giant mythical bird, like an eagle. In the mountains he glides high in the sky, wide wings outstretched, riding the currents of air, occasionally beating his wings in unison. He seems to put no effort into his flight. He is utterly alone there. He appears to be flying purely for the joy of it. He has mastery.

Samantabhadra, Pure Mind, taught this seminal transmission on effortless perfection, undirected freeform action, so that the mind can rest at ease. It shows that there is nothing substantial in the mind, that there is no quest to pursue and no possible progress on a path towards a goal, that reality cannot be demonstrated or proven in any way and that it is immune to inflating or deflating evaluating bias.

Within this uncompromising description of the great garuda in flight - the Dzogchen yogi in a nondual modality - there appear references to glitches and veils and also allusions to the keys to the doors through which existential miasma may be forsaken.

Hey, magnificent immutable being, listen!

Hey! This freeform field, illusive like space,
nowhere located, has no object of focus;
an unstructured experiential process
it occurs in the slightest subtle projection:
the concept of pure being, indeterminable,
itself is self-sprung awareness,
an ubiquitous, unthinking, authentic presence,
and this illusive freeform field needs no alteration.

The field of nonaction, a freeform field of reality, is the dharmadhatu itself, and its pristine awareness is everywhere naturally present. The projected fields of dualistic perception are instantaneously transcended as a spontaneously emergent, nonobjective field of reality. Therein lies the process.

Pure being, the dharmakaya, conceived as an object in contrived meditation has no content, no specific qualities and no actuality and hence the ubiquitous self-sprung awareness. Think of pure being - a thoughtless, boundless space of equality - and the mind is filled by the nondual actuality of spontaneous pristine awareness. Pure mind is at once the sole cause and effect and for that reason, when relativistic thought-forms arise in pure being, they spontaneously emerge as a freeform field of pristine awareness.

The reality of nondual perception is an integrated field in which objects cannot be located or focused as discrete entities. The innate tendency of the intellect to concretize and reify is perceived here as a subtle projection or 'dedication' that is immediately recognized as the field of reality. It is as if the structuring, conceptualizing, tendency of conditioned mind instantaneously unfolds into an insubstantial, unstructured, inconceivable, field of reality. Thus the dualism of subjective knower and any objective factor never arises. There is only ever pure being, simultaneously a concept of emptiness and an existential reality. Any slight projection that gives intimation of a putative duality is immediately released by itself. Each thought and concept has intrinsic its own automatic release function: as pristine awareness it swallows itself.

Thus the natural field of reality cannot be improved upon and there is nothing at all to be done to attain it. Indeed, there is no object to address in this field, so how can anything be done to it? Any goal-oriented meditative technique employed to discover it is a vain counter-productive attempt that seeks to turn it into an object; but the nature of the causal method itself cannot but find the reality of the pure essence of mind.

Seeking the essence through derivative phenomena,
enjoy it only through its nonconceptual aspect:
the manifest essence is just pure being.

The field of experience is perfected as it stands and nothing needs to be done to actualize it as pure being. In whatever manner the pure essence of mind appears, the appearance itself finds its own intrinsic reality. Its seeming appearance is recognized as inconceivable and so its manifestation is free of mental structuring and only as such, free of constructs, can it be enjoyed. 'Derivative phenomena' is to be understood as the relative world that arises through the mutual dependence of twelve causes and conditions (ignorance, habitual tendencies, consciousness, name and form, six sensory fields, contact, feeling, craving, existence, birth, old age and death). But what appears to be interdependent phenomena is the freeform field of the pure essence of mind. 'The field of reality, unchangeably empty, is known through reflections in the nature of mind.' The analysis of samsara as a twelve-fold causal chain may be employed in the meditation technique whereby the emptiness of each link is established and the source of samsara revealed. But in the view disclosed here the twelve concepts in themselves - nothing but pure being - are the means to their own immediate consummation (see also verses 24 and 25).

Relaxing into every concept with an empty mind, the pristine awareness of pure being, which is the individuated pure essence of mind, is spontaneously present. Thus the marvelous display of Samantabhadra is enjoyed as its inconceivable, unstructured nature. Since the pure essence of mind is intrinsic to all, nothing but pure being can ever arise out of it and there is nothing else to achieve. To put it another way, the natural expression of pure being is its own antidote and it is reflexively released into itself.

This one nucleus, indivisible, unpatterned,
is the nonspecific actuality of pristine awareness;
in that vivid, unthought, wide-open essence,
on the path of purity lies sovereign equality.

This one indivisible nucleus that can never be particularized or localized is the pure mind essence evoked in the previous verse. Within it pristine awareness, being noncomposite, arises by and from itself. The singularity of this reality is the nonspecific meaning that is the exaltation of pristine awareness. Pristine awareness arises spontaneously in and as the unitary significance of things. This primordial awareness of pure being suffuses all seemingly concrete phenomena in a unitary cognition. It is vivid direct perception, unthought and unstructured, an open-ended expanse. In the modality of utter purity that is immersed in this perceptual nonduality lies effortless awareness of sameness, the natural equality of all things, and this is the nature of the pure essence of mind.

Changeless and unchangeable, there is nothing to desire,
no object of perception, no perceiving mind;
impulsion towards direct self-perception implies fixation on a cause,
but no ultimate equality can come in the bliss of meditation infatuation.

This naturally arising pristine cognition precludes attachment because it has no object within it to grasp and to cling to. In the absence of any object of attachment there is no mind to cling and no mind to grasp and so mind is unlimited. There is only the here-and-now. Subjective and objective factors are resolved in unitary cognition. The unchangeable nature of that awareness is like a timeless, primordial absence of object to be grasped and mind to grasp. If, nevertheless, we are still struck by the imperative to seek and find the nature of mind - that timeless primordial absolute - on a path of direct vivid gnosis, then that implies fixation on a causal path of meditation. Employing such technique, most likely we will become intoxicated and obsessed by the pleasure that arises in the projective function of meditative absorption. In that pleasure-attachment the possibility of attaining the famous sovereign equality is denied.

To the one buddha-dimension, all-embracing, nothing can be added,
and since the field of reality is unlimited, it cannot be diminished;
in the reality-display there is no place of heightened mood,
for pleasure resides everywhere equally in the vast self-sprung field.

In this nondual perspective 'the one-buddha dimension' is all-inclusive pure being (dharmakaya), which subsumes the dimensions of clarity (sambhogakaya) and compassion (nirmanakaya). From the beginning it is complete and perfect in itself and nothing can augment or improve it. Likewise, since the reality of self-sprung awareness cannot be reached by movement in any direction, its field of reality is the limitless here and now and cannot, therefore, be circumscribed. Thus, in nondual pure mind experience there is no variation in mood, only the one taste of pure pleasure, for reality is the play of pleasure and the field of reality is the playground of pleasure.

There is no marvelous vision to be seen here with an eye of insight,
and nothing specific to be heard since nothing can be explained;
here the sacred and profane are always inextricably intermingled,
and an ultimate goal, a superior place, cannot be articulated.

There is no particular understanding or insight to be desired above any other, for all cognition is equal in pure being. There is no particular way of seeing that will provide insight into the here-and-now, for the here-and-now is always present. It is useless to wait to hear something of particular significance because, in the moment, meaning remains unelaborated and cannot be expounded. If the 'sacred', the 'real', is seeming appearance and the 'profane', the 'unreal', is pure fabrication, because verbal expression is an inextricable mixture of these two, it is impossible to articulate the ultimate reality which is, supposedly, a superior state. The ultimate reality of 'absolute emptiness', being expressed and defined, does not exist in reality and cannot be established existentially.

The path of pure mind cannot be conceived as true or false
because self-sprung awareness itself cannot be defined;
in the direct vivid presence of timeless inclusive identity
thought arises but like a shadow.

Any attempt to determine the manifest pure mind, the appearances that flit across the mind-sky, as real or unreal, authentic or contrived, true or false, is purely academic. Such discussion is informed by mental constructs which cannot comprehend the spontaneous nature of mind. The self-cognizing mind-sky itself surpasses its content. In the freeform identity lacking directed activity, gnosis does not seek to identify itself. In pristine awareness constructs and discursive thoughts are like gossamer shadows without weight or substance. They are the shadow of buddhahood and a shadow is all we can see of it. They are like rainbow-hued figments of mind, neither existent nor nonexistent, neither coming into existence nor ceasing to be.

Every verbal expression in mind or speech is transcended by its nature as the pristine awareness which occurs at one with the verbal formula. Thus the alphabetic glyphs of thought and speech - whether they express positive or negative meanings - are buddha-speech and it is pointless to discuss with oneself the validity of any given experience with a view to any imagined conclusion. Attachment to any particular premise, hypothesis or formula over any other is thereby pre-empted and argument or discussion becomes a dead issue. Every experience is consummate in itself.

Its nonexistence is not unqualified - its essence emerges as an absence
and its emptiness is not voidness - it is present as empty objects;
through recollection of the nature of space, without desire,
the pleasure of consummate freeform action is enjoyed
and in that untargeted field pristine awareness emerges.

The essence does not exist as any thing, but it emerges as an absence of anything else. Likewise emptiness is not voidness because it is present as an empty field. The 'nonexistence' and 'emptiness' of the pure essence of mind are conceptual tools that deny it substantiality and create an ineffable space in which nonaction and spontaneous creativity occur. 'Absence' or 'nonexistence' describes the source - the pure essence of mind - of a non-objectifiable field or object. 'Emptiness' indicates only the absence of anything concrete or specific in that field and, further, implies the infusion of such an indeterminate reality by a vital fullness. Space is its best analogue and, indeed, by evoking the experience of the nature of space, free of any desire or intention the pure pleasure of pure mind emerges in a freeform field suffused by pristine awareness.

The ancient sages, focusing a passionate will,
became utterly lost in the torment of strenuous effort;
the omniscience that is immersion in the natural process,
when articulated, engenders conceptual meditation.

Referring back to the sages of yore, to exemplify a nonproductive, self-defeating mode of meditation, it was not so much the strenuous, passionate, effort that doomed their endeavor but the construction of goals fixed by conceptualizing the undoubted state of omniscience of those who had recognized the true nature of mind. Omniscience is the quality of nonconceptual pristine awareness; when such natural understanding is defined as knowledge of this or that through metaphysical speculation and conceptual fabrication it is turned into a desirable goal and spontaneity is precluded. The rishis pursued a futile temporal path of conceptual goal-oriented meditation.

Craving pure pleasure is an attachment sickness;
if it is not cured by the panacea of imperturbable equality,
even the causal bases of higher states are infected by passion.

Desire for happiness or pleasure through meditation is as much an extraneous attachment as desire for sensual pleasure or material objects. Hunger for pure pleasure is chronic heart disease. The universal panacea for desire and attachment is our inborn imperturbable sense of the equality of all experience. Without this natural recognition, desire nullifies even the merit accumulated for the purpose of attaining a higher state of being. Without it, social virtues such as generosity, patience and morality are infected and skewed. So the desire that fuels the ambition to attain a spiritual goal is self-defeating.

Desire in itself is self-liberating, but with craving and addiction - like diseased attachment to the bliss of union - desire becomes a glitch in the process. It is the presence of equality that takes the sting out of desire and allows it spontaneous liberation. Even if it is desire for the virtue creating states of beatitude that is infected by goal-oriented craving, the same applies.

Those enmeshed in a negative process by this virulent disease,
aching for progress, are like animals stalking a mirage -
their goal has no existence anywhere in the universe;
even the causal bases of the ten stages obscure the purest mind.

Goal-directed craving entails a negative process that is like pursuing a phantom - the goal is a figment of the imagination and cannot be reached no matter how long the journey. Nirvana can never be reached by striving. The principle applies equally to those seeking a mundane goal as to those who strive to traverse the ten stages of the bodhisattva path - the stages and levels cannot be traversed so long as they are separated from the starting point in the here-and-now where pristine awareness is an immediate source of fulfilment. Even when the goal is one of the ten stages of purification on the bodhisattva path or buddhahood itself, ambition to attain it is a glitch in the natural process.

Ultra-fast pristine awareness, beyond thought,
like a spiritual friend - a fountain of gems,
unmotivated, independent of changing circumstance,
by its very nature fulfills all wishes.

Goal-oriented striving is redundant because pristine awareness itself, moving so fast that fulfilment is simultaneous with the need, is totally satisfying. Such pristine awareness is like the wish-fulfilling gem of the masters that is the source of infinite virtue, the precious jewel that we carry in veneration upon our heads. It is like a soul-mate who responds to our unspoken wishes, has no self-directed or ulterior motivation and remains constant in all circumstances whatsoever. It is not something that can be imaged or is contingent upon circumstance. It is gnosis arising from within as our own nature - that is what is totally satisfying.

Analyzed it is nothing - letting it be, fine exaltation;
it is truly invisible, yet it gratifies every need:
the master, innocent of self and other, a treasure trove;
the happy isles, revealed in selfless compassion.

This precious wish-fulfilling gem of pristine awareness cannot be examined under the microscope or it appears nonexistent. But naturally relaxing into it, it spontaneously emanates a multiplicity of positive qualities; it is the invisible matrix that emanates all our needs and here the great way is revealed to all. In pristine awareness, where the duality of subject and object, self and other, is resolved, there is the master, the guru-buddha, and the teacher. That is the land of milk and honey, where everything is fulfilled, a field of instantaneous accomplishment. The master is a bodhisattva in his pure land which is an emanation of selfless compassion. This is the emanation body (tulku) that never leaves its pure mind source and never becomes a concrete object and this is the wish-fulfilling gem.

Unmoving within, it is nothing that can be found within
and turning outside, it cannot be imaged or isolated;
neither extruding nor intruding, this selfless compassion
is inalienable - it abides here timelessly.

This precious jewel of selfless compassion is identical to pure mind and like awakened mind it is said to exist within but cannot be discovered within or indeed anywhere at all. Certainly it cannot be found outside because what appears outside is a projection upon an empty screen and has no substantial reality whatsoever. So this selfless compassion can be neither radiated nor absorbed, neither applied to another nor soaked up from outside, for it cannot move out of its own sphere, which is all-embracing. In no way can it be intentionally or conscientiously applied to an external human or material field or it reduces itself to mawkish pity. It cannot be focused upon a specific target of sympathy. It is a primordial, universal, constant .

To yearn for pleasure precludes its dawning -
pleasure is already here, yet still it strains for itself;
in pure delusion we ardently crave nirvana
but such a grasping self has no buddha-vision.

Incessant desire towards a future end frustrates itself because the actual process of desire in this moment is the end itself. Consummation cannot be attained until desire is recognized as the pure pleasure that it always is. The desire for pleasure that looms out of pure mind strains towards what is always ineluctably present in the here-and-now as pure pleasure. In the same way, the desire for nirvana that arises in clouded pristine awareness is consummated only when it recognizes itself as nirvana. So long as it strains towards nirvana the aspiration alienates itself from nirvana and in such a bind the nature of the aspiration as the goal remains obscured. Rather than trying to perform the impossible task of standing aside and admiring pure mind, we jump directly into it!

Where there is no buddha there is no buddha to name
and buddha revealed, to label him is error:
to try to catch buddha 'out there' is a false path
for all things are formless without an iota of substance.

So long as dualistic perception maintains a gap between desire and pleasure, so-called 'buddha' cannot be seen. In the absence of 'buddha', to employ the concept is to suggest something that does not exist which creates a dichotomy between what is and what might be. To strive for what might be is a chimerical, mistaken quest because 'buddha' has no color or shape and does not exist anywhere. 'Buddha' has no substance or continuity whatsoever, so the label does not refer to any entity or state. Then, when 'buddha' is revealed, there can be no objectification of nondual buddhahood. It cannot be conceptualized and 'he who knows does not speak'. So the word 'buddha' remains phony in any context and whether in a delusive or nondelusive state 'he who speaks does not know'.

Consummate, beyond desire, serene,
insubstantial, and utterly foregone,
the nature of the miraculous ambrosia
does not depend upon any technique.

The 'miraculous ambrosia' is nondual perception where conscious subject and animate or inanimate object are indissolubly joined in the totality of pristine awareness. This ambrosia (amrita) is, therefore, pristine awareness itself which is spontaneously, effortlessly and ineluctably present in every moment. There is no need to apply any technique whatsoever to attain the release and it matters not at all what the shape and color of the immaterial form that is abandoned there. The neurosis of clinging and the pain of attachment is naturally and primordially assuaged.

This sublime reality, free and open, all inclusive,
provides recourse for the little ones;
and when concepts dissolve in the vastness
there is no distinction between great and small.

The antidote to the goal-oriented aspirations of adherents to the lesser, causal, levels of Hermits, Disciples and Bodhisattvas, is the vast expanse of naturally perfected reality. In this space all ideas about the nature of reality dissolve, all desire, aspiration and ambition dissolve, all concepts projected upon the sensory fields dissolve. There is only one recourse, technique or antidote, and that is primordial pure mind - which is not to be sought after.

Articulated transmission, emergent vision,
which is like an illusionist's trick,
arises in pulsating misty awareness.

Extempore verbalized transmission augmented by secret instruction, or a vision taking momentary form, is like a conjuror's magic, mere illusion. Now you see it; now you don't! It appears to have content but it is utterly insubstantial. Such creativity arises by the power of pristine awareness pulsating in sameness, creating a skein of illusion at each beat, at each beat engulfed in its own purity. Through the self-recognition of ultimate sameness in a torpid mind, pristine awareness is freed from its seeming dullness and cloudiness.

Within seeming delusion pristine awareness emerges spontaneously. In the very process of the volatile fluctuations of delusive energy, in its dispersion and absorption, expansion and contraction, alternating between creative output and ultimately deconstructive rest, in sameness pristine awareness arises. In this way, verbal transmission is the inspired revelation of a dynamic pulsating pristine awareness. Vision arises by the same process. Poetry and art arise likewise. Scripture has the same source. Out of a languid, torpid mind primal awareness shines through and therefore can be said to be the source of spontaneous creativity. This precept is restated in Pure Golden Ore verse 5 and Victory Banner verse 44.

In this universal sovereign approach,
released, accepting, our nature
aspires to nothing and appropriates nothing,
and induces not the slightest presumption.

Self-sufficient we are released from all conceptual supports and mental crutches, free of a spiritual base or port. With presence of equality we are undiscriminating. We have no desires and no needs. The ingenuousness of our pleasure assures that no complacence or arrogance can be generated and this frees us from the seeming womb-like security of the gods. The universality of the process where the upper and lower realms are one, and buddha and sentient beings are indivisible, denies the possibility of the gods' exclusivity as also the sage's divine pride.

As with the soaring garuda in flight
no complication, no simplification,
nothing to lose and nothing to gain.

The garuda, the mythological king of birds, is egg-born to full maturity and at birth he can glide across the universe with a single movement of his wings. Utterly self-sufficient, fearless, lacking any anxiety, he needs no output or input, radiates nothing and absorbs nothing, without diffusion or concentration, and flying high and free he is completely happy in himself without expectation or trepidation, hope or fear.

That ultimate space, like an ocean,
gives rise to the multiplicity of things;
creative potential, coextensive with space,
is unpredictable in the forms that it takes.

The ocean is the source of all variety. Still in its depths, its surface spontaneously takes on all peaceful and wrathful forms that represent every kind of human experience. Just as the shape of the ocean's surface is capricious and variable, so the form of creation, the shape of our experience, is changeable, variable and unpredictable. The creativity of the pure essence of mind is all-pervading like space and where it appears to manifest as this or that is always uncertain.

In the pure essence of mind, spontaneously,
ultimate sovereign samadhi arises;
and vision is like a vast ocean,
unstructured, as extensive as space.

The creative dynamic of the pure essence of mind is ubiquitous although its point of apparent manifestation is uncertain. In every adventitious thought or construct, the ultimate samadhi always arises without concentration or relaxation. With that, then, vision is like a vast ocean or like the sky. Vision has no structure; or it is simultaneously structured and destructured. Thought-free with the sense of equality, it is co-extensive with space. That is the vision.

In this freeform field of Samantabhadra
nothing is born and nothing transforms;
the twelve fold causal chain
denigrates and demeans it.

In Samantabhadra's field of activity, which is the space of equality, nothing is born and nothing dies, nothing comes into being and nothing ceases to be, so nothing can transform or transmigrate and there is nothing at all that can change. Causality is denied, so there is no karma and no reincarnation. The twelve-fold chain of interdependent origination (ignorance, habitual tendencies, consciousness, name and form, the six sensory fields, contact, feeling, craving, existence, birth, old age and death) is an analysis of samsara, the wheel of life. Entertaining such a theory denigrates and demeans the original buddha, Samantabhadra, by imputing a causal process to what is timeless. Causality precludes the perfection of the here-and-now by the presumption of causes and conditions. It is the premise of an intractable pessimist. But to deny the causal chain diminishes samsara while to affirm it reifies its fleeting appearances - and neither is appropriate to recognition of its nature.

Let the wise recognize the twelve-fold chain
as a door into delusion for the ignorant,
while experience of the six kinds of beings
should be recognized as the primary path.

If we believe in samsara, affirming the existence of its causes and conditions, a door into samsara's six realms of suffering opens and endless transmigration from realm to realm begins. The ignorant who walk through that door are trapped by delusive appearances. But whoever recognizes the nature of reality understands the twelve links and samsaric appearances as mere concepts and constructs. At the same time, delusory samsaric experience of the six personality types, or six kinds of beings, who populate the six realms of the wheel of life, recognized by the wise as pure mind itself, constitutes the enlightened modality. In this way, what is a trap for those who affirm or deny samsara and its causal analysis is a lucky break for those who understand it as the pure mind process.

Since sensual pursuits are whetted by compassion,
the pleasure of pure mind is enacted in them all;
butchers, whores and taboo-breakers,
unspeakable sinners and outcastes,
all can know nothing but pure pleasure
through inclusive perfection, the nondual elixir.

When there is no gap between vision and action on the wheel of life, when vision and action are congruent and simultaneous, whatever form the sensory continuum takes, regardless of social opprobrium or taboo, there can only be pure pleasure. In nondual perception the apparent form is always mere gossamer illusion of pure mind. All activity is suffused by compassion for others. This includes the activity of butchers and all erotic indulgence - all is pure mind action and pure pleasure is its inevitable feeling tone. Even the breaking of social taboos is suffused by compassion, regardless of whether it is a single action or lifestyle. The five taboos, or inexpiable crimes, of the Buddhist tradition, are matricide, killing an arhat, patricide, creating schism in the community and letting the blood of a tathagata with malice - these actions are said to result in immediate rebirth in hell without a moment for absolution. The elixir of nonduality absolves, absolutely, all guilt and in ultimate equality there can only be pure pleasure.

This unstructured, unthought, pure essence of mind
cannot be hidden in the continuum of mind:
for indiscriminate pure mind yogis
pure mind is present in every situation.

Our actual identity, being all-inclusive, perfect and complete, our identity as pure mind, is inseparable from pure pleasure. It is known as 'the inconceivable essence'. It is not something discrete concealed somewhere in the continuity of being, or in the personality. It is there for everybody to see in every situation that arises. As we act without discrimination, neither rejecting nor adopting whatever arises, it is implicit in the sense of total fulfilment. Nothing lacking, nothing superfluous, it resides in the absence of motivation. It is the equanimity that exists in experience of the thing-in-itself, the essence of unstructured experience. It exists as the nature of mind in the continuity of thought.

The Eye of the Storm, published in America as Original Perfection, is a translation of Vairotsana's five early transmissions of Dzogchen (snga 'gyur lnga) from Sri Singha in Orgyen to King Trisong Detsen of Tibet and his court. They comprise the five seminal tantras of the Mind Series of Dzogchen precepts, translated here with a commentary from the Mdo bcu by Keith Dowman, with a foreword by Bhakha Tulku Pema Rigdzin. Eye of the Storm is published by Vajra Publications, Kathmandu, Nepal, [] and the excerpts on this page are taken from that edition. Original Perfection is published by Wisdom Publications, Boston, MA [].

Appendix I
The Tibetan Texts and Commentaries

The following abbreviations are used here and in the annotation:

BGB     Bairo rgyud 'bum: 8 vols. Tashigangpa, Leh, 1971.
TB        Rnying ma rgyud 'bum, Mtshams brag edition: 46 vols. Thimphu, Bhutan: National Library, Royal Government of Bhutan, 1982.
NCG     Rdo rje sems dpa' nam mkha' che'i rgyud: (TB vol. Ga ff. 165.3-191.)

The Five Early Translations appear in the Bairo rgyud 'bum and as chapters of the Kun byed rgyal po (see below). They are also quoted in the Mdo bcu in the context of their commentary. The Bairo rgyud 'bum is the oldest but most corrupted. The commentary to the transmissions is derived primarily from the explanatory text the Mdo bcu (Chos thams cad rdzogs pa chen po byang chub kyi sems su 'dus pa'i mdo): TB vol. Ka ff. 352-499, the second text in the Rnying ma rgyud 'bum. Of the various tantras in the Rnying ma rgyud 'bum with Rdo rje sems dpa' nam mkha' che in the title, the Rdo rje sems dpa' nam mkha' che' i rgyud has sometimes shed light on verses in the Mi nub rgyal mtshan and, likewise, the Lcags 'grel commentary (BGB vol. Nga pp. 397-453).

The following verses or lines are quoted by Longchenpa in Byang chub kyi sems kun byed rgyal po'i don khrid rin chen sgru bo, translated as You Are the Eyes of the World (Longchenpa 1987): Radical Creativity v. 6 on pp. 24-5; Pure Golden Ore v. 7 in note 42; Eternal Victory Banner v. 16 on p. 40; and v. 40 on p. 43.

The following verses or lines are quoted by Longchenpa in Gnas lugs mdzod 'grel ba, translated as Old Man Basking in the Sun (Longchenpa 2006): Eternal Victory Banner vs. 9 and 10 in canto 84, p.208; v. 30 in canto 85, p.210, and in canto 113, p.249; and vs. 41, 42 and 44 in canto 115 p. 252. Great Garuda vs. 2-4 are quoted in canto 8 pp. 85-6; v. 10 in canto 33, p.138; v. 12 in canto 63, p.177; v. 14 in canto 112, p.248; and v.21 in canto 125, p.278.

Sources of Tibetan Texts and English Translation

For the Nyingma collections of tantras see the Samantabhadra Collection online at the University of Virginia:
Rig pa'i khu byug: The Cuckoo's Song of Gnosis
IOL/Stein 647 in the Tun Huang Collection.
TB vol. Ka 113.2-113.5; Kun byed rgyal po, ch. 31.
TB vol. Ka 453.3-453.6; Mdo bcu, in the eighth sutra.
BGB vol. Nga p.306.

Samten Karmay, 1988: p. 50.
John Reynolds, 1996: pp. 232-3.
Namkhai Norbu and John Shane, 1986: p. xv.
Namkhai Norbu and Adriano Clemente, 1989: p. 48.
Namkhai Norbu and Adriano Clemente, 1999: pp. 174.

Rtsal chen sprugs pa: Radical Creativity
TB vol. Ka ff. 98.7-100.1; Kun byed rgyal po ch. 27.
TB vol. Ka ff. 453.6-455.1; Mdo bcu, in the eighth sutra.
BGB vol. Nga pp. 306-308.

Namkhai Norbu and Adriano Clemente, 1999: p. 165.

Khyung chen lding ba: Great Garuda in Flight
TB vol. Ka ff. 87.2-91.6; Kun byed rgyal po ch. 22.
TB vol. Ka ff. 455.1-462.4; Mdo bcu, in the eighth sutra.
BGB vol Nga pp. 308-314.

Namkhai Norbu and Adriano Clemente, 1999: pp. 158-61.

Rdo la gser zhun: Pure Golden Ore
TB vol. Ka ff. 96.4-98.6; Kun byed rgyal po ch. 26.
TB vol. Ka ff. 450.3-453.3; Mdo bcu, in the eighth sutra.

Namkhai Norbu and Adriano Clemente, 1999: pp. 163-65.

Mi nub pa'i rgyal mtshan: Nam mkha' che
The Eternal Victory Banner: The Vast Space of Vajrasattva
TB vol. Ka ff. 105.2-113.1; Kun byed rgyal po ch. 30.
TB vol. Ka ff. 352-499 ; in the ten sutras of the Mdo bcu.
BGB vol. Nga 383-395.

Adriano Clemente, 1999.
Namkhai Norbu and Adriano Clemente, 1999: pp. 168-73.

Appendix II

Mind Series Jargon

NB. The following abbreviations are employed as indices in the following analysis:
CS = Cuckoo's Song;
RC = Radical Creativity;
GG = Great Garuda;
PGO = Pure Golden Ore;
and VB = Victory Banner.
The 'c' denotes citation from the respective commentary.

The vocabulary of the transmissions helps to confirm these Mind Series texts as the earliest Dzogchen scriptures. Dzogchen terminology was still evidently in an incipient phase and had not developed into the jargon of later exegesis. It was as if Vairotsana was employing a common vocabulary to translate his experience, very much as we struggle to translate the Tibetan into English. The language of the Mdo bcu on the other hand is written in highly developed Dzogchen jargon and argues for a much later date of composition by an author other than Vairotsana. In the transmissions, for example, the words 'reality' (chos nyid) and surprisingly, 'gnosis' (rig pa) rarely appear, and likewise 'reality-field' (dharmadhatu) and 'pure being' (dharmakaya). The word 'matrix' or 'expanse (klong), a vital notion in elaborated Dzogchen, does not appear in the transmissions and only once in the commentary. The term 'ground of being' (kun gzhi) does not appear (although see PGO2). The phrase 'nondual perception' (gzung 'dzin med pa) does not appear in the transmissions, although frequently in the Mdo bcu commentary. The term 'seminal nucleus' (thig le chen po) appears once in the transmissions (PGO10), although the notion of the 'one indivisible particle' (rdul phran gcig) (GG3) could present the germ of that concept. As to be expected the term 'emptiness' (stong pa nyid) does not appear in the transmissions (but see GG), although the commentary uses it occasionally.

Further, the transmissions do not mention the three dimensions of being (trikaya) and the commentary stresses the unity of the three as the one dharmakaya. Nor are the four yogas or the nine approaches mentioned, although one of the main themes of the Mdo bcu is the assimilation of the gradual approaches into radical Dzogchen. The commentary to Victory Banner verses 4, 5 and 6 applies the natural modality of the great perfection to mahayoga, anuyoga and outer yogatantra (sattva-yoga), where each is shown as complete and perfect. This is in apposition to the commentary to verses 42, 27, 36 and 17 upon the reality of anuyoga, mahayoga, tantra-yoga and atiyoga respectively, where anuyoga is described as a 'subtle technique', while mahayoga and tantra-yoga are considered faulted. The absence of these and other enumerations and frames of analysis in the transmissions argues a very early date and very pure antecedents for the Mind Series transmissions of radical Dzogchen.

Pure mind (bodhichitta, byang chub sems)
There is a strong case for assimilating the word bodhichitta, by which we understand the buddha's compassionate mind, into the English language, since we possess no precise equivalent. 'Enlightened' or 'awakened mind' is the phase most commonly employed in the vajrayana. But in the vajrayana enlightened mind is the prerogative of buddha only, whereas in Dzogchen it is the very stuff of all-embracing reality. Bodhichitta is reality itself - 'pure mind and reality are one in the dharmadhatu' (RCc 1-2), as mind and inner space are one (GG1c). The nondual imperative of Dzogchen requires a more neutral, less affective, equivalent for bodhichitta and for that reason we have chosen 'pure mind', the pure mind that supersedes or transcends the rational mind without any sense of moral quality. Pure mind is also the sole recourse of beings trapped on a causal path because it is the one cause and the sole effect (GG19c). Pure mind, however, is also identified as loving kindness (VB1) and selfless compassion (GG14c). Since the term defines the Mind Series of Dzogchen precepts, its meaning is paramount and justifies its dominant incidence in the texts.

Pure essence of mind (byang chub snying po, bodhigarbha)
As the one cause, pure mind is the pure essence of mind, the source of all things (VB33c). 'Essence' is here a rendering of snying po which could also be translated as 'womb' or 'matrix'. However, 'essence' is to be understood as emptiness, never as even the most subtle concrete quintessence. Since pure mind is free of any substantial ens or self, the connotation of substance is always inappropriate. The physical image of the word 'womb' makes it inappropriate as an equivalent of snying po in the Dzogchen context because it implies a separation of the container and the contents. The pure essence of mind is bodhichitta as the sole cause, not to be separated from bodhichitta as the sole effect. The essence and the manifestation are one. The seed and the product are one. Pure essence of mind and pure mind are one.

Particularly in Great Garuda and Pure Golden Ore, 'pure essence of mind' replaces 'pure mind. 'Pure essence of mind' is preferable because it denotes potentiality rather than actuality. Nothing ever comes into existence or ceases to be and remains therefore in a state of potential, as in a womb, which is the nature of pure mind, and is described as 'the great nucleus' (thig le chen po) and 'the six nuclei (PGO11, PGO13). In Great Garuda the emergent nature of the pure essence of mind is pure being, 'individuated' emptiness (GG2). This essence is our all-inclusive identity and that is the wish-fulfilling gem (GG14c). It is all-encompassing creativity ('radical creativity') (GG22). In the pure essence of mind the ultimate samadhi arises as pristine awareness in the field of reality (GG23).

In Pure Golden Ore the pure essence of mind is identified with Manjushri Kumara, the all-inclusive buddha-body deity of the eight mahayoga buddhas, who is the fount of all phenomena and thus all experience. All such experience is spontaneously released in the pure essence of mind modality. Thus the essence of pure mind is 'the mother of the sugatas' (sugatagarbha). In the pure essence of mind, pure mind and the proclivities of mind are one - there is no separation. The nature of the pure essence of mind is self-sprung awareness, unchanging and imperturbable. It is inconceivable, always present like space, transcending ideas and speech.

In Victory Banner the pure essence of mind is the place of all suffering, where forever comprehended, never becoming anything more or less than pure mind, it manifests as pure being and pristine awareness (VB15c). All dualities are congruent in the pure essence of mind: therein buddha's pure pleasure and the happiness and misery of ordinary beings are one (VB10c). The reality of pleasure and pain, happiness and sadness and the five passions is identical in the pure essence of mind. Man and woman are identical in the pure essence of mind (VB33). The field of reality in the pure essence of mind remains unmoved by mentation (VB11). Desire, anger and bewilderment arise in the modality of the pure essence of mind (VB16c). 'The pure essence of mind is the universal source and pure and simple reality', at once indeterminate reality itself and the source of reality (VB22).

Reality (chos nyid, dharmata)
The Dzogchen reality of pure mind is nondual reality and that is all that should be said about it. Insofar as the view and meditation of atiyoga is a constant recognition of deconstructed mind and experience, it provides that reality. Etymologically both the Sanskrit and the Tibetan words mean 'experience (dharma) in itself'. The word appears only seven times in the transmissions - although surely reality is their nature and their purpose: it is not exclusive to any particular experience or phenomena (RC5); it is free and open and all-inclusive (GG18); unsought, it is known in nonmeditation (VB7); it cannot be transmitted through time (VB8); it is adorned by sensual pleasure in the dharmadhatu (VB16); it is pure and simple and cannot be elaborated (VB22); and it is noncontingent (VB41).

Reality is inexpressible and the adjectives used to describe it in the Mdo bcu all point to that ineffability through negation. It is nondual (CSc), superseding time (VB48c) and space (VB31c), pleasure and pain (VB15c) and the five passions (VB15c); it is not created (CSc and VB6c), it is nondiscursive (GG1c); it cannot be located (GG3c) and it cannot be discovered ; it cannot be objectified (GG12c); it is insubstantial (GG15c); it is unelaborated and indeterminable (VB12c); it is immovable (VB3c) and unchangeable (VB41-43); it is signless (VB21c); and it cannot be accomplished or attested (VB55c).

On the other hand, reality is defined positively as Vajrasattva, pure mind (RC2c and VB16c), as the here-and-now ('suchness') (CSc), as pristine awareness (GG3c), as equality (GG3c), as our dharmakaya identity (VB3c), as one totality (VB22c); its nature is spontaneous pure pleasure (VB26c); it is a display of bliss (GG5c); it is the Dzogchen modality itself (VB24c); it is identical to loving kindness and compassion (VB2c). It is a timeless unchanging moment (VB41-43).

The field of reality (chos dbyings, dharmadhatu)
The first distinction to be made in the temporal development of consciousness in childhood is between inside and outside, subject and object. The tendency to concretization of self and other dominates our ordinary perception, but the reality is a unified field of experience that viewed holistically is called the dharmadhatu. The first three verses of Radical Creativity describe it as Samantabhadra's emanation, which is our own field of experience. It is a unitary field superseding all outer and inner distinctions and time itself (VB26). It is a field of absolute identity and equality. It is perfect in itself, unalterable and immovable. It is a dynamic field of experience free of any directed activity and thus it can be described as a 'freeform field' (RC3c). In the first two verses of Great Garuda, Samantabhadra’s emanation as the dharmadhatu is shown 'individuated' as the mind of the Dzogchen yogin and therefore as the Dzogchen modality in which a field, as pure mind, cannot be anywhere located, a non-field in perceptual nonduality, nondiscursive and non-analytical. Although it is 'individuated', the dharmadhatu is still unlimited, uncircumscribed, without center or circumference (GG5).

If Samantabhadra is the nondual wholeness of being and knowing, Vajrasattva is the vast spaciousness of the field of reality within pure being, or 'individuated emptiness' (VB1). The field of reality is thus the space in which all and everything agglomerates and is reflexively released as Vajrasattva in a constant unimpeded process. 'Dharmadhatu' may be rendered simply as spaciousness or as 'existential space'.

In the anuyoga view the reality-field is posited as the complement of gnosis (rig pa) in a union of the gender principles of skillful means and insight. Thus the Dzogchen unity of the single Samantabhadra is provisionally split to show Samantabhadra as gnosis in union with Samantabhadri as reality itself (VB5).

The five passions arise in pure mind and the five sensual pleasures are described as 'ornaments' of the field of reality. As such they partake of the nature of reality and therefore can have no appearance, no form, shape or color (VB16). In the same way, the universe as an offering of sensual pleasure is described in terms of an 'adornment' of the field of reality, so the offering is an offering of the dharmadhatu as emptiness (VB49).

Pure being (dharmakaya, chos sku)
If the dharmadhatu refers to the holistic experiential field, the dharmakaya refers to the ontic dimension of the totality, to pure being. The word 'being' in English, within its abstract universal meaning, has a personalized sense that allows the notion of buddha in human form. This limitation, however, is belied by its definition as 'unthought sameness' (VB18), which is a close synonym of 'emptiness' a term rarely used in Dzogchen exegesis. 'Pure mind reality is like space, and mind without thought is pure being' (VB18c). Within pure being pure mind reality lacks any concrete name or form whatsoever - it is utterly insubstantial - so there is nothing to grasp and hold on to. Within the unoriginated dharmakaya of Samantabhadra the magical illusion of creation is apparent and all of creation is Samantabhadra's display.

'Within pure being magical illusion arises composed of the five aggregates which as secondary emanations of the eight consciousnesses comprise the complete sphere of activity of the three-fold mundane finite world which takes the form of the five passions' five sensory pleasures' (VB26c). In this sense pure being is all-inclusive. But since pure mind never becomes any thing, never becomes any shape, size or color, and, therefore, insofar as it never moves out of its own nature, it is immovable and unchangeable (VB32c), and known as pure being, present as the stance (mudra) of pure being, and as a seal of pure being, it is free of perceptual duality. The self-sprung awareness of pure being remains constant in an imperturbable samadhi. So pure being is pristine awareness.

In Great Garuda (verses 1-3) a distinction is made between the notional dharmakaya which is the object of goal-oriented meditation and pure being that is pristine awareness. The notional dharmakaya as a concept refers to nothing at all and, therefore, simultaneous with its conception self-sprung awareness arises. The same may be said for any concept whatsoever, so all thought is pure being.

Pristine awareness (ye shes, jnana)
This basic awareness is forever fresh, never becoming tired, bored or jaded. There is an element of the ingenuousness of the simpleton in it since it cannot be elaborated into a complex proposition. Since it is nondual perception, nothing can transcend it and it cannot be objectified; it can therefore be rendered as 'ultimate awareness'. Since it exists as original reality, it can be rendered as 'primordial awareness'. It has no cause or condition and arises spontaneously by and of itself and it is thus 'self-sprung awareness'. Direct perception and nondual cognition are pristine awareness in the reality-field that is all pure mind; it is spontaneous, instantaneous cognition. It cannot be discovered by seeking (VB20c) and it is immune to analysis (VB25c). It arises in an unimpeded samadhi (VB1c), imperturbable (VB32). Nothing can induce it or develop it. The process of release is inherent within it (VB3). It’s nature is natural pure pleasure (VB26c). Gnosis is a function of pristine awareness (VB42).

Thought itself is pristine awareness because the dharmakaya as a concept is naturally indeterminate and pure (GG1). Thought in itself is thought-free and pristine awareness is 'a ubiquitous, natural presence' (GG1). It has no location, no specifics, and it is noncomposite (GG3c). It transcends all thought and expression, absorbing all specific meaning in one single sovereign equality. The field of reality is spontaneously and constantly suffused by pristine awareness. Pristine awareness is a wish-fulfilling jewel (GG12). Pristine awareness is the eye of direct insight, the eye of omniscience, that sees the nature of the field of reality (PGO6).

Although it cannot be located, it can be recognized in the natural union of means and insight (anuyoga) (VB5). Desire, anger and bewilderment arise as pristine awareness (VB16). Pristine awareness arises particularly in the state of bewilderment as Samantabhadra's miraculous display (VB44). It spontaneously arises in thought (VB12), in the spaciousness of mental constructs (anuyoga) (VB17). In the perspective of sattva-yoga, the buddha-deity of pristine awareness identifies with the yogi. In ubhaya-yoga vision, pristine awareness is radiated from the nature of mind as Vajrasattva who is inseparable from the five colors and the five elements (VB47c). In the offering ritual the offering of the sensual pleasures, the individuated mind that is making the offering and pristine awareness are one (VB49c).

Bewilderment (gti mug), or a state of stupidity, is clouded pristine awareness that possesses the same undiscriminating facility as pristine awareness itself and therefore pristine awareness arises easily within it, or rather it is timelessly inherent in it and spontaneously emerges therein (PGO5). The scriptures themselves and momentary visions appear in pulsating nescience (GG19).

Pure being and pristine awareness (sku dang ye shes)
Pure mind has no structure, yet it is described didactically in terms of being (sku) and awareness (ye shes), a putative dualism of its ontic and epistemic aspects (VB6c). 'Pure being' refers to the structure of reality, or since this structure has no concrete reality and no temporal or spatial limitations perhaps 'anti-structure' is more meaningful. It could be described as the uni-dimensional reality of pure mind, since it is not elaborated in time or space, yet it appears as variegated multiplicity. This structure may be differentiated as the three modes of pure being - dharmakaya, sambhogakaya and nirmanakaya - but such a distinction is mentioned only once in the five transmissions and that in the commentary. Pristine awareness is the all-inclusive pure cognition of all buddha. So pure being is pure mind and pristine awareness its innate propensity for cognition. As a skillful means, realization of the unity of the ontic (sku) and epistemic (ye shes) voids substantiality in the sensory fields by facilitating the union of subject and object. They are united as a union of 'the immovable' and 'the imperturbable' (VB32c).

The all-inclusive magical illusion of pure mind is actualized by an involuntary realization of its unitary nature of 'suchness'. Then it can be described as indivisible 'pure being' in its ontic reality and 'pristine awareness' in its epistemic aspect (VB6c).Likewise, in realization of the wheel of life as the modality of pure mind, the phantasmagoric display is a union of pure being and the five aspects of pristine awareness (VB9c). Again, in so far as the field of buddha-experience is devoid of perceptual duality - any structure based on consciousness, sense organ and sensory object, the fictions of dualistic analysis - buddha-experience in pure being is described in terms of pure being and pristine awareness (VB20c).

Nature of mind (sems nyid)
The seminal phrase the 'nature of mind' does not appear in the transmissions. Pure mind and the pure essence of mind are the nature of mind and subsume all its meanings.

Path, process, modality (lam)
If a path implies a distinct starting point, a temporal progression and a destination Dzogchen Ati has no path - or it is better designated a pathless path, the path always under our feet that has no extension. And yet within a timeless moment of pure mind there is an unfoldment and a release. For this reason 'path' has sometimes been rendered as 'process'. To emphasize the synchronistic function of 'arising', 'abiding' and 'releasing', 'modality' has sometimes been preferred to 'path' or 'process'.

Equality, sameness (mnyam pa, mnyam nyid)
'Equality' describes the nature of Samantabhadra himself who is the Lord of Equality, and 'sovereign equality' is the nature of pure mind, the pure mind matrix, and therefore of all things whatsoever. This 'equality' is synonymous with 'identity' in the sense that the nature of mind is identical in every moment of the here-and-now. Equality is an attribute of the ocean and also of the sky. Equality, however, is a state of being, a state of 'evenness' or 'equanimity', in which there is no radiation or absorption. In its imperturbability, it is the antidote to desire and attachment. At the same time it is present in the active sphere of Samantabhadra and as such is both the intrinsic identity of multiplicity and multiplicity itself, in the same way that reality is both pure mind matrix and pure mind manifest. In this way equality is virtually synonymous with emptiness (stong pa nyid) though it has a stronger, positive flavor. It is the nature of gnosis (rig pa). It is the unthought dharmakaya. It is reality (chos nyid) itself.

'Equality', in Tibetan, as it does in English, carries the sense of 'on the ground' and thus is 'free of all complacency and arrogance'. 'Equality', besides taking the sting out of desire and attachment, is the antidote to guilt and remorse. Indeed, the state of equality can be fully recognized through sexual indulgence and anti-social activity. It is this fundamental quality of pure mind that brings the sage and the sinner onto a level playing field.

Nonaction, freeform (bya med, bya bral)
'Nonaction' may imply the unmoving nature of the reality-field (GG1), the dharmadhatu itself (GG1c), but it is, simultaneously, the play of sameness or emptiness in multiplicity and for that reason it has been rendered 'freeform', like the sky, herein. Nonaction is 'non-directed action' or 'spontaneous, freeform action' (RC3); it is spontaneity itself. It is the yogi's activity that is an integral part of the dynamic, miraculous display of Samantabhadra (GG24). There is no self-directed motivation, and indeed there is no motivation whatsoever. There is no effort involved, no goal-oriented striving, no seeking for the sake of finding (VB55c). There is no connotation of 'hard work' or 'onerous duty'. It may imply renunciation of all mundane involvement, but not necessarily so. It may imply the abandonment of all spiritual materialism, including meditation, devotional exercises and ritual, but again not necessarily so (VB21). This definition is inclining towards 'nonaction' as an attitude to the dynamic of 'body', 'speech' and 'mind' (VB53). With this attitude the spectacular display of appearances, including the yogin, is a constant, but nothing is ever done. At the same time everything is released (VB3).

The Five Early Translations belong to those chapters of the Kun byed rgyal po which treat perfected nonaction. But the word appears only rarely therein and rarely in the Mdo bcu commentary. Its significance, however, is seminal in Dzogchen exegesis.

Gnosis (rig pa)
Rigpa is best defined as nondual awareness of our every moment of experience. As the verb 'to know' in dualistic verbal structures it was elevated in Dzogchen jargon to denote the realization of natural perfection. Since we have no equivalent of this notion in the English language we have used the word 'gnosis' herein, a word that should be taken to imply full awareness of the nondual holistic natural state of being. The word appears only once in the Transmissions where it is used to describe Samantabhadra’s pure-pleasure awareness (VB42) and then infrequently in the commentary to the Victory Banner, which indicates a late movement to the center of Dzogchen exegesis. Here gnosis is the transcendental realization that subsumes all conceptual meditation (VB13c). It cannot be cultivated, and intrinsic to unstructured reality it is free of dualistic perception; discursive thought arising therein is pristine awareness itself (VB12c). Here gnosis would be represented iconographically as the single naked blue buddha Samantabhadra. But this gnostic totality is also described as a timeless union of gnosis and the dharmadhatu, in which gnosis is the skillful means and reality-field the insight function (VB5c). Likewise, whereas the reality-field is represented by the vowels of articulated expression, so gnosis is represented by the consonants (VB18c). The union of vowels and consonants is the display of Samantabhadra that never crystalizes. This display of spontaneity is a dance of gnosis (VB52c). In the radical Dzogchen of the transmissions, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that rigpa is knowledge of the common light of day.

Union (sbyor ba)
The notion of 'union, sexual or metaphysical, belongs in the tantric domain. Yet sexual union as the spontaneous play of Samantabhadra's emanation is buddha-activity (RC4) and his display itself may be conceived as the union of vowels and consonants (VB18-19). In commentary on the Victory Banner, the union of skillful means and insight is treated under the rubric of anuyoga (VB5). Where in tantra-yoga the notion of union would be employed there is circumlocution to indicate a timeless immanent interfusion (VB34), which may appear as a flash of spontaneous cognition or 'nonunion' (VB52). In the deconstruction of the tantric ganachakra rite, union is a timeless, endless dance (VB52c).

Realization (rtogs pa)
The word rtogs pa, often translated as 'realization' or 'intuitive understanding', is linguistically rooted in the verb rtog pa 'to think'. Mental structure and thought as functions of the rational, intellectual mind are coincident with realization of the nature of mind as empty and radiant (RCc). The modality of natural perfection is inherent in every thought-form. In later Dzogchen exegesis, thought, or the stream of discursive mentation (rnam rtog), is conceived of more as a glitch in the pure mind modality, rather than as a basis for realization. Insofar as we know reality as nothing other than mental constructs we are never free of 'realization'. In the Transmissions, and particularly in VBc, thought, like passion, is inseparable from pure mind itself and therefore never to be avoided or suppressed. The seemingly indiscriminate use of rtog pa and rtogs pa in the texts may be an error of grammar or calligraphy but their proximate identity is thereby indicated.

Field, object (yul)
In the delusive dualistic analysis of perception, objects of the senses, the objective field, is grasped by consciousness, 'the knower'. In nondual perception there is no object to grasp and the sensory fields are the field of reality, the dharmadhatu.

Buddha (sang rgyas pa)
In the Dzogchen view there are no separate entities called 'buddhas'. Rather, there is universal buddhahood, which is synonymous with enlightenment.

Body, speech and mind (sku gsung thugs)
The three dimensions of 'body', 'speech' and 'mind' are one in pure mind and one in pure being. The elaboration of the fundamental unity into three aspects provides a skillful means of illuminating the delusive miasmas of the six kinds of being in three dimensions. Human 'body', 'speech' and 'mind' refers to the dimensions of structured emanational being, energy flows and patterns, and consciousness, respectively. Buddha 'body', 'speech' and 'mind' refers to the natural equality of those dimensions in pure mind. Buddha 'body', 'speech' and 'mind' are like the eyes of pure mind that recognize the variety of beings, the passions, the suffering and the sensual pleasures on the wheel of life, as pure mind. More specifically, buddha 'body', 'speech' and 'mind' are the purity of the three poisons in pure mind, 'buddha-body' recognizing the tendency to attraction and desire and its manifestations, 'buddha-speech' recognizing the tendency to aversion and anger, and 'buddha-mind' recognizing all forms of bewilderment and ignorance. In conceptual meditation the centers of 'body', 'speech' and 'mind' are located in the head, throat and heart respectively.

Sarva Mangalam!
May all beings be happy!