"I told you already that Ati Guruyoga is the most important essence of the practice. And the practice is very important because if we learn something we should apply it. If we apply the very essence of a practice like Ati Guruyoga, then we can have realization, we will have benefit. If we are not applying it and we are just thinking and learning intellectually, there is no benefit. I already gave you the example of medicines; if we are going to a doctor we discover which kind of illness we have but if we are not using the medicines and applying the doctor’s advice there is no benefit. The same is true for the teaching. It is very important that we apply the practices concretely, not remaining only with a nice idea. This doesn’t help. We always start with Ati Guruyoga. I also told you I’m teaching Dzogchen. Maybe you can find many different titles. People run very much after titles, names and forms, but this is not the principle of the Dzogchen teaching. Its principle is knowledge and understanding. We should discover what is Dzogchen, which is our real nature and then we try to be in that state. What I’m doing in all retreats is Dzogchen teaching, and even if we use different titles what I teach is mainly Ati Guruyoga. For that reason I tell people, “If you don’t remember what I taught don’t worry, but remember that I explained we should do Ati Guruyoga.” This is what I’m asking you. I’m not asking you to chant mantras or do visualization of deities. If you like you can do everything, in the Dzogchen teaching there is no limitation. You can apply anything if you have a base, but base means that you have to know which is the essence of the teaching. That is what we need to discover.
In the Dzogchen teaching we should first know that the essence of the teaching is our real nature, and we need to discover it. If we don’t know the essence of the teaching, then it is just like working in a very nice field for growing something but without planting any kind of seed. So what will grow? Nothing. In the same way discovering our real nature is the base, then we work with practice, and finally we manifest our realization. For that reason Ati Guruyoga is very important, everybody should remember it, old and new practitioners.
In this retreat I want to present a work that I did for many years and now it is ready. It is something related to a very important and famous text, called Dorje Sempa Namkha Che, that Guru Garab Dorje was chanting when he was a small boy. It is the essence of the Dzogchen teaching. Dzogchen teaching is also the most ancient teaching we have. How do we know that? In the Dzogchen tantras it is explained that twelve Dzogchen masters from ancient time until today existed in different epochs. The first, the most ancient of the twelve masters, is called Tönpa Nangwa Tampa. He was a human when the human condition began. In history it is said that at the beginning humans were just like Devas, they had those kind of qualifications. But then, as emotions increased more and more, these qualifications slowly slowly decreased, so that now we have this human condition.
Tönpa Nangwa Tampa lived in that very ancient time, and as the first teacher of the primordial teachers he taught the Dra Thalgyur, a tantra having six chapters. Some time ago I gave the complete lung transmission of this tantra. This is the root of all Dzogchen tantras, the real source of the Dzogchen teaching. Dzogchen masters studied it because the Dra Thalgyur is the root of everything. How was it developed? A very learned teacher of the Dzogchen teaching was Longchenpa who wrote the Seven Treasures. These seven texts are related basically to the Dra Thalgyur. Of course we do not understand all explanations of the Dra Thalgyur. If you read it you can understand some things but many things you cannot understand. We remained that way for centuries. Maybe at the time of Guru Padmasambhava they had more knowledge, more texts. For instance a commentary of the Dra Thalgyur tantra was written by Vimalamitra. Vimalamitra and Guru Padmasambhava were the most important sources of Dzogchen teaching in Tibet. Vimalamitra wrote a commentary of the Dra Thalgyur, but we had no knowledge of this text in Tibet. In Tibet I knew the Dra Thalgyur because I received the transmission of lung of all Dzogchen tantras, but we were not aware of the existence of this commentary. Many teachers such as Longchenpa, Jamgön Mipham and Paltrul Rinpoche, were writing instructions of Dzogchen teaching but nobody said that this commentary existed. So we were ignoring it. If we had it we would have understood better the meaning of the Dra Thalgyur. 500 years ago the 5th Dalai Lama was interested in the Dzogchen teaching. He received many Dzogchen teachings from the most important teacher of Mindrolling monastery, Minling Terchen. The 5th Dalai Lama had this knowledge and the 5th and 6th Dalai Lamas painted Thögal visions in the temple. At that time the commentary of Vimalamitra was discovered but of course they were keeping it very private, not public. The 5th Dalai Lama’s personal library was found in the Drepung Monastery because when he was young, before becoming governor of Tibet, he was living in the Drepung Monastery so he had his personal library there. Later when he became very famous and important, he moved to Potala Palace, but his library remained in the Drepung monastery. No one particularly made use of this library, but it remained there, and was considered very important as it was the library of the 5th Dalai Lama. To enter, a special permission was needed but they did not give permission easily, so many centuries passed in this way.
After the Cultural Revolution the Vimalamitra commentary was discovered there. How? When the Cultural Revolution started, Tibetans were afraid that everything would be destroyed, so all the 5th Dalai Lama’s books were hidden in a small room. After the Cultural Revolution some young Tibetan students discovered the hidden library and they asked permission to the local government to use it. But they got permission only for doing a list or catalogue of the books. So they made a list. These students were attending a school in Lhasa called Tibetan Scientific School where many young tibetans are studying after finishing university. I went to that school twice to teach ancient history and Tibetan culture, so we knew each other very well, and those who did the list showed me a copy. When I looked at it I saw the commentary of Vimalamitra of the Dra Thalgyur tantra. I was very surprised because I never knew it existed, so I asked them to make a copy of it because for me and for the Dzogchen teaching it was very important. They said they were not allowed to as they had no permission. I told them to make a copy secretly, and after one year they made a photocopy and sent it to me. It consisted of 334 pages. Tibetan writing pages are quite wide and in general one page has only six lines but this text had nine lines and it was written on both sides of the sheet so that each page contained 18 lines. I found many mistakes because they were handwritten copies. Some parts had more mistakes, some parts less, because they were copied by different persons. Some copyists had some knowledge and wrote a little better; others had less knowledge and made more mistakes. Then I thought that since it was a very important text, I should type it in the computer to make it readable for everybody.
I started that work and continued for some weeks. Then I thought it was impossible because I’m getting old and it has so many pages that I would never finish, so I stopped. However, after some months I thought that even if I don’t finish, better to give it a try, otherwise nobody will. And this book is very important for all people interested in Dzogchen teaching. So I continued even if I didn’t have much time because I was going around giving teaching retreats, but when I had time I dedicated myself to writing it down day and night. After two years I finished to type it all in my computer. Then I became aware that I did not copy it well because I was reading and writing it in the correct way without marking the mistakes in the original text so that my digital copy was not the copy of the original book. Scientifically we have to know that, otherwise nobody will know how was the original book. I did it again correcting and putting back all the original mistakes. So it became two volumes at the end. After one or two years I finished it, marking what was the original text and which were my corrections, otherwise it had no value. But meanwhile I found another original copy of the Dra Thalgyur tantra.
Previously in Tibet this book was not known but later in East Tibet lived Kathog Situ Rinpoche, a very learned teacher. He was a highly important reincarnation who was very interested in the Dzogchen teaching. He went everywhere in central Tibet and also to Nepal and India searching for original books of the Dzogchen teaching. He found many commentaries of Dzogchen tantras, copied them and brought them back to his residence, Kathog monastery. His idea was to print them to show that they were important texts and commentaries of Dzogchen. But when he returned from his journeys he didn’t live long and after a few years he passed away. His library remained there, but no one understood what it was. In ancient times that monastery was very famous for Dzogchen Semde and Longde. They were studying and applying these teachings and there was a very rich transmission and tradition. But recently all the lamas of Kathog monastery had became very famous reincarnations that were interested only in developing nice temples, etc., not in studying very much. So they lost some of those qualifications and no one thought about Kathog Situ Rinpoche’s library anymore.
Then recently a learned khenpo had the idea of looking at the texts in that library and discovered all the Dra Thalgyur commentaries and small commentaries of Dzogchen Upadesha tantras, and he tried to publish all these texts in the Nyingma Kama series. When I discovered these copies I compared the 5th Dalai Lama’s and Kathog Situ Rinpoche’s copies and I understood that their source was not the same. Originally both were handwritten, but I had no handwritten copy of Kathog Situ Rinpoche’s, only the publication of the khenpo. Also I found that sometimes in the 5th Dalai Lama’s copies some lines were missing and some words were different. Comparing all these versions I worked on them for two years and did many corrections. Later I removed all the corrections for those who are interested in reading the amended version of the Dra Thalgyur tantra. Altogether, with the version showing the corrections and the original text I prepared six volumes that I presented during the Dzogchen Forum in Moscow many years ago. This was one of my works.
The Dra Thalgyur Tantra is a very important root of the Dzogchen teaching. When we go to the essence of the Dzogchen teaching the most important text is the Dorje Sempa Namkha Che. It is not a tantra, it is a lung. In the Dzogchen teaching a text that contains all complete explanations of base, path, and fruit is called a root tantra. In the Vajrayana teaching a root tantra has ten qualifications. A text that is explaining only some of them is not a root tantra. In Dzogchen teaching it is different but base, path, and fruit must be complete; then it becomes a root tantra. A lung contains the most important points of a tantra. If a tantra, for instance, has ten chapters, maybe some of them are not the very essence of the teaching and only two or three chapters represent the essence of everything. When a teacher like Guru Garab Dorje, and also some of the mahasiddhas in the different dimensions, found these tantras they took the essence of them and compiled a lung. Dorje Sempa Namkha Che is a lung, the essence of the Dzogchen teaching. When Vairochana started to translate Dzogchen teaching in Tibetan, he first translated five texts. Four of them are lungs, not tantras, the tantras were translated later. Lungs are more essential, more important. One of the first lungs translated by Vairochana was not an original lung of the teaching, it was a text, Changchub Semgön, written by Mañjushrimitra for introducing the Dzogchen teaching to buddhists. Among these five is Dorje Sempa Namkha Che that Garab Dorje was chanting when he was a small boy, not because he learned it from someone but because he was an emanation of Buddha Shakyamuni."
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