Dzogchen is the main practice for becoming enlightened in the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. With this method, you focus attention on “present awareness” and remain that way voluntarily.
This “present awareness” is the same awareness I described in my article “How to Stop Thoughts.” It has to be the same because there is only one awareness. If there seem to be various kinds of awareness, it’s only because we confuse the things of which we are aware with awareness itself.
It’s helpful to read instructions for remaining in the aware state that are written by a variety of different people from different traditions. It’s a hard thing to describe, and maybe some of the instructions will be more clear to you than others. Despite the differences in vocabulary, all these authors are trying to communicate the same basic idea.
Here is very nice essay of this kind by a 19th century Tibetan lama. I have reprinted this article from the website of Lama Surya Das.
Homage to the Guru, the teacher.
The View and Meditation of Dzogchen can be explained in many, many ways, but simply sustaining the essence of present awareness includes them all.
Your mind won’t be found elsewhere.
It is the very nature of this moment-to-moment thinking.
Regard nakedly the essence of this thinking and you find present awareness, right where you are.
Why chase after thoughts, which are superficial ripples of present awareness?
Rather look directly into the naked, empty nature of thoughts; then there is no duality, no observer, and nothing observed.
Simply rest in this transparent, nondual present awareness.
Make yourself at home in the natural state of pure presence, just being, not doing anything in particular.
Present awareness is empty, open, and luminous; not a concrete substance, yet not nothing.
Empty, yet it is perfectly cognizant, lucid, aware.
As if magically, not by causing it to be aware, but innately aware, awareness continuously functions.
These two sides of present awareness or Rigpa — its emptiness and its cognizance (lucidity) — are inseparable.
Emptiness and luminosity (knowing) are inseparable.
They are formless, as if nothing whatsoever, ungraspable, unborn, undying; yet spacious, vivid, buoyant.
Nothing whatsoever, yet Emaho!, everything is magically experienced.
Simply recognize this.
Look into the magical mirror of mind and appreciate this infinite magical display.
With constant, vigilant mindfulness, sustain this recognition of empty, open, brilliant awareness.
Cultivate nothing else.
There is nothing else to do, or to undo.
Let it remain naturally.
Don’t spoil it by manipulating, by controlling, by tampering with it, and worrying about whether you are right or wrong, or having a good meditation or a bad meditation.
Leave it as it is, and rest your weary heart and mind.
The ultimate luminosity of Dharmakaya, absolute truth, is nothing other than the very nature of this uncontrived, ordinary mind.
Don't look elsewhere for the Buddha.
It is nothing other than the nature of this present awareness.
This is the Buddha within.
There are innumerable Dharma teachings.
There are many antidotes to many different kinds of spiritual diseases.
There are many words in the Mahamudra and Dzogchen nondual teachings.
But the root, the heart of all practices is included here, in simply sustaining the luminous nature of this present awareness.
If you search elsewhere for something better, a Buddha superior to this present awareness, you are deluding yourself.
You are chained, entangled in the barbed wire of hope and fear.
So give it up! Simply sustain present wakefulness, moment after moment.
Devotion, compassion, and perfecting virtue and wisdom are the most important supportive methods for completely fulfilling this naked, nondual teaching about present awareness, the innate Dharmakaya.
So always devote yourself to spiritual practice for the benefit of others and apply yourself in body, speech, and mind to what is wholesome and virtuous.
May all beings be happy!
Jamgön Kongtrül Lodrö Thayé (1813–1899), the first Jamgon Rinpoche, was a founder of the Rimé movement of Tibetan Buddhism and author of more than one hundred books.
Photo of Tibetan horses in field of gentiana © 2010 Jan Reurink (Reurinkjan).