Part I: Refining the View
Part II: Perfecting the Path
Part III: Unifying Insight & Action
Part IV: Realising Spontaneous Fruition
This four-part course explores the history and practices of Dzogchen–the culmination of the Tantric Buddhist tradition–in the context of “skillful means” for realizing the innate freedom of the human condition through practices of body, breath, and mind. Drawing on oral Tibetan Buddhist teachings, as well as cutting-edge science concerning bioelectricity and subtle energy, the course presents powerful and incisive techniques for optimizing awareness and collective wellbeing in our currently tumultuous and uncertain times, following the Dzogchen typology of View, Meditation, Action, Fruition.
The first two-hour seminar will focus on the origins and development of Dzogchen in the context of Vajrayāna Buddhist traditions of Mahāmudrā, the “Great Seal,” as propounded by male and female mahāsiddhas, or realized adepts, in India and Oḍḍiyāna, the legendary cradle of Tantric Buddhism on the ancient Silk Road. Special attention will be given to early teachings on sahajananda, or “innate bliss,” as the basis for later presentations of “great perfection” in the Seventeen Dzogchen Tantras and Tibetan “heart-essence” (nyingtik) traditions.
The second two-hour seminar will explore the “methods” of Dzogchen as presented in its earliest known texts, including the integral view of Saṃsāra and Nirvāṇa realized through deeply embodied preliminary practices (kordé rushen) and “taking nature as the path” by attuning to the spontaneous sounds, or reverberations, of the inner elements of earth, water, fire, and wind with the support of natural features of the environment such as waterfalls and swift rivers. These fluent practices, sometimes supported by medicinal “essence extracts” (chudlen), traditionally serve as skillful means for Dzogchen adepts to awaken to their inherent, inborn Buddha Nature.
The third two-hour seminar will examine the function of the Six Yogas, as originally propounded in the Mahāmudrā traditions of Naropā and Niguma, in the transmission and practice of the signature Dzogchen techniques of Trekchöd and Thögal (“cutting through” and “crossing over”). Special emphasis will be given to the practice of Tummo, or Inner Fire, in the unified Mahāmudrā–Dzogchen transmissions of Yuthok Yönten Gonpo and Tertön Pema Lingpa, as well as in the context of contemporary understanding of the bioelectrical nature of the human body and its interface with consciousness.
Great Perfection teachings are traditionally presented as a unity of View, Meditation, Action, and Fruition, in which directly perceiving one’s ultimate nature, or ground of being, is the View; stabilizing that recognition is Meditation; and integrating the experience into all aspects of one’s life is Action.
Fruition, the subject of the fourth seminar in this series, refers to the spontaneous unfolding of one’s ultimate nature as pure luminosity when aligned with the Natural Great Perfection that is life itself.
This seminar will review how deeply embodied physical practices that draw on the “perfection” (Dzogrim) stages of Vajrayāna Buddhism serve to entrain awareness to its highest potential for self-illuminating, altruistic wisdom.
This concluding seminar will also explore the current, cross-cultural trajectory of Dzogchen through interdisciplinary scholarship concerning the luminous nature of mind and consciousness, thus promoting a view of the Great Perfection as the default potential of the human condition.
Suggested Reading: Tibetan Yoga: Principles and Practices, pp. 243-279.
CCN operates a policy of sliding scale charges for its courses – in order that all may benefit from the courses available. Please contact Elizabeth if you require support or a full bursary for this course:
Ian Baker is an anthropologist, author, and scholar of Tibetan Buddhism and Tantric yoga.
He was also recognised by National by National Geographic Society as one of seven ‘Explorers for the Millennium’ for his research on the Tibetan tradition of hidden-lands (beyul) in the world’s deepest gorge, the subject of his newly reissued book, The Heart of the World: A Journey to Tibet’s Lost Paradise, which explores the geographical and literary sources of the legend of Shangri-la in the remotest regions of the Himalayas.
In the final words of his book, The Heart of the World: A Journey to Tibet’s Lost Paradise, introduced by H.H. the Dalai Lama, Ian Baker writes:
“We feed on mystery, whether the enticements of unknown lands
or a masked dancer revealed more perfectly by what she hides.
The scrolls describing the beyul lead us similarly into wonder,
for they are accounts of processes of the mind
as much as in the external world.
There is no real separation or boundary
between our selves and the world around us,
and an ever-present wildness and radiance
lies at the heart of our tamest vistas.”
“Our minds have no real or absolute boundaries; on the contrary, we are part of an infinite field of intelligence that extends beyond space and time into realities we have yet to comprehend. The beyul and their dakini emissaries are traces of the original world, inviting us to open to the abiding mystery at the heart of all experience, the inseparability that infuses every action, thought and intention.”[Epilogue: The Veils of Paradise, footnote 6].