Science has shown that our minds are far stronger and powerful than we human beings can possibly imagine. Most of the time, we are so lost in afflictions that we fail to realize the mind’s true potential in not only helping us solve our problems but also in taking us through the hard times with emotional and mental stability.
By training our minds the proper way towards realizing and exploiting their full potential, we are able to find life easier to live and problems will not overcome us and undermine our peace, health and well-being.
Dzogchen meditation is one the practices that can help us venture into and bring out our real abilities as human beings, mentally, emotionally and physically.
It makes it possible for us to discover our true nature, become enlightened and gain spiritual awakening.
Let’s take a closer look at dzogchen meditation.
What is Dzogchen Meditation?
The word “Dzogchen” is a Tibetan word that means “The Great Perfection”. Dzogchen meditation is simply a practice that aims at helping the meditator realize this great perfection in themselves that is pure, limitless and endless which brings bliss, peace and harmony.
It is believed that all human beings have a perfect nature within themselves that is full of wisdom, insight, unlimited awareness and compassion. It is able to perceive, experience, relate and reflect all other areas of our lives including the joys and sufferings of life.
Lama Surya Das, a dzogchen meditation expert who was among the people who introduced this practice to the western world stresses this concept of the practice by comparing it to enlightenment. And he says,”Enlightenment is not becoming divine. Instead, it’s about becoming more fully human. It is the end of ignorance.”
This means that by practicing dzogchen meditation you are not getting into a divine nature, instead, you are becoming more of a full version of a human being.
You are simply exploiting your full potential as a human being when you live in this perfect nature.
One of the features of the perfect nature is that it remains to be pure and can never be contaminated.
There are times it may be overshadowed by our negative feelings, thoughts and actions but it can never be permanently replaced. It is there to stay.
Dzogchen meditation is pretty much a path through which we go deep within the self where this nature lies, get to access it and establish it in our lives.
The practice gives us the opportunity to rest in this nature.
It is known to be relatively easy to do compared to other forms of meditation as you don’t have to put much effort into doing this meditation.
It is mostly about observing the constant movement of our thoughts, feelings and sensations, noticing the patterns that form without interrupting them since they rise on their own and disappear on their own too.
Dzogchen meditation breaks the habits which we have taken up through the years that have kept us chained in our weaker self and the rising and falling emotions that are always affecting how we think, perceive and respond to various situations.
To summarize the practice, Lama Surya Das says, “Breath by breath, let go of fear, expectation, anger, regret, cravings, frustration and fatigue. Let go of the need for approval. Let go of old judgments and opinions. Die to all that, and fly free. Soar in the freedom of desirelessness.”
How Dzogchen Meditation Works
Dzogchen meditation is a practice that is effortless and fairly easy to practice which is based on deep Buddhist teachings. There are many aspects of the practice that apply different teachings on which the practice was founded.
To understand well how this style of meditation works, you first have to acquaint yourself with the teachings of the practice. You should take time to understand the concepts of this exercise such as the six outer and six inner preliminaries, rigpa, the keeping of vows and the networks of deep awareness and positive force of building enlightenment, among others.
You also need to understand what the teachings say about mental images, movements of verbal thinking, attitudes and feelings such as unhappiness, happiness and neutral feelings.
There are more teachings that the person who wants to practice it needs to be well acquainted with before doing it so that they can know what they are working with and how to apply the teachings properly in their lives for good results.
Ideally, the teachings say that we all have to train our mind so as to sieve off the filth and impurities in our minds that wear us down.
With an untrained mind, we are more likely to be carried away by afflictions of the mind such as passions, desire, anger, depression, anxiety, insecurity, jealousy, fear and sadness.
These afflictions and emotions that rise within us every day which make us take certain actions that we later regret are only temporary, not permanent. But since we get so caught up in them, we tend to believe they are part of our nature, which is not the case.
As earlier mentioned, all of us have a nature that is pure of all negative emotions, well-balanced and that is filled with wisdom, skillful means and enlightenment. This nature, which is our true nature, is complete in wisdom and compassion and is one with the universe.
And to get to this nature, we have to do dzogchen meditation which comes with a number of steps that lead us there the right way.
When we are able to follow the steps provided in this practice as we meditate, we go beyond the mental afflictions and the temporary wave of feelings and eventually get to this powerful, immovable and insightful nature.
Achieving this is gaining The Great Perfection and having The Great Completion, where you are enlightened, wise, humble, quiet (both on the inside and the outside) and possess natural goodness.
In his book “Awakening the Buddha Within, Tibetan Wisdom For The Western World”, Lama Surya Das says, “Let go. Let be. See through everything and be free, complete, luminous, at home. At ease.”
Benefits of Dzogchen Meditation
There are currently few studies on this form of meditation. And although more studies and trials are required to reveal all the benefits and potency of the practice, dzogchen meditation seems pretty promising as far as self-improvement is concerned (1)(2)(3).
Here are the benefits associated with doing dzogchen meditation:
1. Increases awareness – By doing the practice on a regular basis, you are training your mind to observe the way the temporary aspects that may be currently dominating your life such as negative emotions, feelings and thoughts rise and fall and the way they keep you away from your true nature. This consistent observation allows you to be present and improves your level of awareness.
2. Increases attention and concentration – In order to observe how your body and mind are currently working, you need to direct your attention to the experience of the faculties. You also need to maintain the focus and attention there so as to learn as well as to let the nature of feelings and thoughts take its natural course. In the long run, your levels of attention and concentration are boosted.
3. Helps you master your emotions – The fundamental principles of dzogchen meditation state that emotions, sensations and feelings are temporary and they should not rule our lives. Our true nature has all these emotions in control and barely any of them get to dominate. By realizing this nature, we are able to have good control over our emotions which allows us to have a balanced life.
On this note, Lama Surya Das says, “To just be, to be, a midst all doings, achievings and becomings. This is the natural state of the mind, or original, most fundamental state of being. This is the unadulterated Buddha-nature. This is like finding our balance.”
4. Promotes inner calmness, peace and quietness – Dzogchen meditation is all about going from the high point of mental chatter, raging feelings and sensations to a state of calm, inner harmony and balance. Doing this meditation allows us to calm the mental noise, gain control of our emotions and bring out the powerful poised nature that we all have. This leads to inner peace, calmness and serenity.
5. Improves our overall well-being – The true nature, that is The Great Perfection, is a nature that is more superior to our current state of being and way of life. Since the true nature is fully aware, enlightened, compassionate and wise, realizing it and having it dominate our lives means having all these beautiful and desirable qualities, which in turn raises the value of our lives and improves our well-being.
How Dzogchen Meditation is Different From Mahamudra
Dzogchen and mahamudra are two practices that are used to help discover the nature of true unlimited awareness. Many people tend to think they are the same thing but there are fundamental differences between them when it comes to the instructions they work with.
Each has different instructions.
Mahamudra is diverse and has slightly different levels based on the tradition it came from. Ideally, there are 3 traditions, the Sakya, Kyagu and Gelug/Kagyu traditions. All these traditions focus on the nature of mental activity. However, the Gelug/Kagyu and Kagyu traditions use sutra as well as anuttarayoga tantra levels of this exercise while the Sakhalin works with the anuttarayoga only.
When it comes to dzogchen meditation, the practice put its main focus on the highest and most subtle level of the activity of the mind. It only only concentrates on the traditional and accepted higher rigpa natures but also on the diverse angles and aspects of it.
This is best understood when you have a good understanding of the conceptual background, teachings and practices of dzogchen meditation.
How to Do Dzogchen Meditation
To learn how to do dzogchen meditation, it is highly recommended that you attend the silent retreats which are organized by various dzogchen institutions and centers or any Buddhist schools that offer this type of meditation.
They help ground you on the practice as they will teach you the fundamentals of the exercise and the concepts and principles of it not to mention how you should apply them during your meditation session and throughout day and life to get valuable results.
These retreats are normally silent and the attendants maintain long periods of silence so as to train the mind easily.
There are timetables designed to help people know how to spend their time while they are there for optimal performance. For the most part of the day, participants engage in meditation, either individually or in groups, but with breaks in between.
Attending the retreat as a beginner of the practice will help you learn how to meditate the right way, know all you need about the practice to avoid making guesses of what concepts are used and even have all your questions answered by experts there.
To register for the retreat, you should first identify the nearest dzogchen meditation center or Buddhist school to you and then book your spot for the upcoming retreat. You can search the centers on the web and then follow the provided steps to secure your spot.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) on Dzogchen Meditation
Question: Who is Lama Surya Das?
Answer: He is a master of dzogchen meditation who studied the practice for more than 20 years under the earliest spiritual leaders including Kalu Rinpoche Dudjom Rinpoche, the 16th Karmapa, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche and Kangyur Rinpoche. He later partnered with Nyoshul Khenpo Rinpoche in spreading the practice in western countries.
Question: Why is silence upheld in the retreat?
Answer: During the retreat, silence is one of the key aspects that is observed as it goes al long way in training the mind. See, when you reduce the verbal “noise” that comes with constantly communicating with other people, you also cut down on the mental noise that keeps you away from getting to the true nature.
Many people tend to see dzogchen meditation as one of the easiest forms of meditation compared to other forms such as Chakra meditation and Dynamic meditation, and to some extent it is. However, when it comes to practicing it, a good deal of effort has to be put into understanding it properly, both the inner and the outer aspects.
It takes time, patience and perseverance to get to the true nature. And once you do, it opens a new world for you.
That is why it is very important that you give yourself time to learn it well and then take it upon yourself to do it regularly for you to enjoy its full benefits.