“The practice of Dzogchen or Atiyoga, is to realise the tathagatagarbha, or buddha nature, which has been present in our nature since the very beginning. Here it is not sufficient to concentrate on contrived practices that involve intellectual efforts and concepts; to recognise this Nature, the practice should be utterly beyond fabrication. The practice is simply to realise the radiance, the natural expression of wisdom, which is beyond all intellectual concepts. It is the true realisation of the Absolute Nature just as it is, the ultimate fruition.
At the present moment our awareness is entangled within our mind, completely enveloped and obscured by mental activity. Through the practice of Trekchö, or ‘cutting through all attachment’, and the ‘direct realization’ of Tögal, one can unmask this awareness and let its radiance arise.
To accomplish this it is necessary to do the practice of ‘the four ways of leaving things in their natural simplicity’ (Tib.chokshyak shyi) and through these, to acquire perfect stability in the Trekchö practice. Then will come the ‘four visions of tögal’ which are the natural arising of visions of discs and rays of light, deities and buddha fields. These visions are naturally ready to arise from within the central channel that joins the heart to the eyes. Such an arising from this channel will appear in a gradual process. In the same way that the waxing moon will increase from the first to the fifteenth of the month, these visions will gradually increase—from the simple perception of dots of light to the full array of the vast expanse of thesambhogakaya buddha fields. The manifestation of space and awareness will thus reach its culminating point.
These experiences are not linked with consciousness or intellect as the former experiences were; they are a true manifestation or radiance of awareness. After this, in the same way that the moon decreases and disappears from the fifteenth to the thirtieth of the month, all of these experiences and visions, all phenomena, will gradually come to exhaustion and reabsorb themselves in the Absolute. At this time the deluded mind which conceives subject and object will disappear, and the primal wisdom, which is beyond intellect, will gradually expand. Eventually one will attain the perfect enlightenment of the Primordial Buddha, Samantabhadra, endowed with the six extraordinary features.
This is the path intended for people of superior faculties who can achieve enlightenment in this very lifetime. For those of medium faculties, there is instruction on how to achieve liberation within the 'Bardo' or ‘intermediate state’. When we say ‘Bardo’, in fact we recognise four bardos: the Bardo from conception to death; the Bardo of the moment of death; the Bardo of the Absolute Nature; and the Bardo of coming into the next existence.
The Bardo between conception and death is our present state. In order to destroy all deluded perceptions or deluded thoughts in this Bardo, the ultimate practice is Dzogchen Atiyoga. In this there are the two main paths of Trekchö and Tögal, as described above. As the ultimate fruition of this practice, the ordinary body made of gross aggregates will dissolve into the ‘Rainbow Body of Great Transference’ or ‘Vajra-body’, or dissolve without leaving any remnants.
But if one cannot achieve such ultimate attainment within a lifetime, then there is still the possibility of achieving enlightenment at the time of death. If our teacher or a close Dharma brother is near to us at the very moment of our death, he will remind us of the instructions—the introduction to the nature of mind. If we can recall our experience of practice and remain in this nature, then we achieve realization. It is then possible to depart to a buddha field straightaway with no intermediate state. If this is not accomplished, then the Bardo of the Absolute Nature, or Dharmata, will arise. At this time the Ground Luminosity of the Dharmakaya will appear. If one can unite the Ground Luminosity (Mother Luminosity) with the Luminosity which one has recognized whilst practising during one’s lifetime (Child Luminosity), then one will be liberated into the Dharmakaya.
If one is not liberated at this time, then countless manifestations will appear: sounds, lights and rays. Great fear will arise because of these emanations and visions, but if one is a good practitioner one will realize that there is no point in being afraid. One will know that whatever deities appear, wrathful or peaceful, they are one’s own projections. The recognition of this assures liberation in a sambhogakaya buddha field. But if this is not accomplished, then the Bardo of coming into a new existence will occur. If one practises in the right way at this time one can be liberated into a nirmanakaya buddha field.
In essence, the primordial nature of the Buddha Samantabhadra is like the ground or mother-nature of realization. The nature which has been introduced to us by the teacher is like the child-nature. When these two meet, one will attain full realization and seize the fortress of Enlightenment.
For ordinary beings unable to achieve liberation either in this life or in the intermediate state, liberation can be attained in the nirmanakaya buddha fields.
In brief, through the practice of the path of Trekchö and Tögal, one will reach the ultimate realization of the Dharmakaya, the enlightened state of the Primordial Buddha Samantabhadra, within this very lifetime. This is the best case. If not, then one can be freed in the other three Bardos: the Bardos of the moment of death, Dharmata and Becoming. Even if this does not happen, one can still be relieved of suffering and be liberated by the virtues or blessings of the Dzogchen teachings. Whoever has a connection with these teachings is: liberated by sight, on seeing the teaching or the teacher; liberated through hearing, on hearing the teacher or teaching; liberated through contact, on wearing the precious mantras and scriptures of Dzogchen; or liberated through taste, and so forth. As a result, one will be liberated into one of the five nirmanakaya buddha fields.”
......From a teaching on the Longchen Nyingtik Guru Yoga, given by Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche in Dordogne, France in August 1984, at the request of Sogyal Rinpoche and the Rigpa Sangha
John Hopkins....Northern New Mexico