Dzogchen means Total Perfection and simply refers to our condition of primordial potentiality as it really is. “Dzogchen Teaching” is the way we enter into knowledge of Dzogchen in order to discover our real condition. Knowledge of Dzogchen goes back to ancient times, but in our era it was transmitted for the first time by Garab Dorje a few centuries after the passing of Buddha Shakyamuni. The Dzogchen Teaching has been transmitted for centuries and centuries: masters have used this method and have taught it to their disciples, without breaking its continuity, in an uninterrupted lineage up to the present day.
The Three Series of the Dzogchen Teachings: Semde, Longde and Upadesha
Manjushrimitra received the transmission of the Dzogchen teachings in their entirety from Garab Dorje and subdivided them into three series: Semde, Longde and Mennagde. The three series are three ways of presenting the teaching, each with its corresponding methods of practice, however, the aim of all three is to lead the practitioner to final realisation. In the Semde, the “mind series”, the practitioner is introduced to the nature of mind through the mind in order to have concrete experience of it. Longde means the “space series” and in this instance space refers to the primordial dimension of emptiness which serves as a base for the clarity of the practitioner to manifest. The Mennagde, the essential series of secret instructions or Upadesha, in essence includes teachings and practice methods based on the experiences of masters with the aim of helping the practitioner progress quickly up to complete realisation.
The Longsal cycle of teachings or The Luminous Clarity of the Universe, Heart Essence of the Dakinis (female manifestations of primordial energy), were rediscovered by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu through his dreams of clarity. Up till now these teachings have been published in eight volumes.
The transmission of knowledge from master to disciple can be oral, symbolic or direct. The uniqueness of the Dzogchen teaching is the direct transmission or “direct introduction” in which the master and the student find themselves in the primordial state at the same moment through one of the experiences related to body, voice or mind. Due to the power of the transmission, the student is able to discover his or her own real condition in this way.
“Guru” means master, “yoga” means having knowledge or understanding of one’s own authentic state, the essential condition just as it is, in which there is nothing to change or to modify. This is the state of the guru. Guruyoga is, therefore, the main element in Dzogchen practice.