“The Dzogchen teachings are neither a philosophy, nor a religious doctrine, nor a cultural tradition. Understanding the message of the teachings means discovering one’s own true condition stripped of all the self-deceptions and falsifications which the mind creates. The very meaning of the Tibetan term “Dzogchen,” or “Great Perfection,” refers to the true primordial state of every individual and not to any transcendent reality.

Dzogchen is not a school or sect, or a religious system. It is simply a state of knowledge which masters have transmitted beyond any limits of sect or monastic tradition. In the lineage of the Dzogchen teachings there have been masters belonging to all social classes, including farmers, nomads, nobles, monks and great religious figures, from every spiritual tradition or sect.

Dzogchen does not depend on externals; rather it is a teaching about the essentials of the human condition. Since the Dzogchen teachings are not dependent on culture, they can be taught, understood and practiced in any cultural context. To be a practitioner of Dzogchen, one does not need to change anything externally – one’s clothes, one’s job or one’s way of life.

In the Dzogchen teachings we talk of ‘being aware,’ which means we work with our circumstances: we see how they manifest and then we do our best. It is not always easy to understand a situation and know the best way to act, but we always try to do our best. And by doing practice, we develop more clarity.

The Dzogchen teachings say that the most important thing is discovering our real nature of mind. But first we must discover our own everyday mind. If we never discover in a real sense our own mind and its limitations, then we are jumping too quickly into the real nature of mind. So it is very, very important that we first actually understand our real condition and also our relative condition: our physical body, our energy, and our mind, and how these relate to our existence and our own world with all its problems.”

– Chöegyal Namkhai Norbu


Dzogchen: The Self Perfected State. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications, 1989.

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