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Dzogchen teachers / retreat
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5/3/15 12:42 PM
Hey all, Dharma Overground has been on my radar for a while but I am just now finally getting around to creating a post.

I have done 3 different 10 day Vipassana retreats, one mostly around Samadhi/Jhanas, one Goenka, one Mahasi Sayadaw (Panditarama).

However after reading Sam Harris, I am interested to explore Dzogchen meditation as well. He thinks it is the most direct path to reaching pure awareness, "taking the path as the goal", and he views Vipassana has requiring the meditator to view the end goal of enlightenment as the goal and exploration of sensations to be the required steps to get there (if you understand my meaning).

This seems like an interesting idea, however whilst good Vipassana centres are easy to find I have no clue who the good Dzogchen meditation teachers are in the world, or where the retreat centres / places for serious practice are.

Does anyone have any advice on these topics? Thanks

RE: Dzogchen teachers / retreat
Answer
5/4/15 10:36 AM as a reply to Klay Men.
In Harris's book, he writes, "Tulku Urgyen is no longer alive, but I’m told that his sons Tsoknyi Rinpoche and Mingyur Rinpoche generally teach in his style..."

Mingyur Rinpoche's organization Tergar is based in Minnesotta in the US. Don't know where you are, but perhaps you might start there.

RE: Dzogchen teachers / retreat
Answer
5/10/15 11:24 AM as a reply to Small Steps.
Thanks for the reply, I'll check it out emoticon. In the meantime, for those coming searching, I also got pointed towards John Churchill as a teacher, and towards the book Clarifying the Natural State. But I was also told depending on what you're trying to do Dzogchen isn't in general suitable for people prior to Stream entry, it's better for people with more direct experience of awareness etc.

RE: Dzogchen teachers / retreat
Answer
5/10/15 10:29 PM as a reply to Klay Men.
Try reading Clarifying the Natural State.  If it doesn't seem to make sense or be helpful, then maybe it isn't time and you should stick with Vipassana for some time.  Or if you read and think, "YES!", then it is time.

I give this advice based on my own personal experience with Dzogchen and Mahamudra.  At first it didn't resonate with me at all, so I cast it aside.  Then I came across it again when I had changed, and its simplicity made all the sense in the world.

Another option: Use vipassana to reach the 11th ñana, then shift to a dzogchen-like practice.

-T

RE: Dzogchen teachers / retreat
Answer
9/11/16 10:32 AM as a reply to Klay Men.
IMHO, James Low has an excelent understanding of Dzogchen, he offers retreats and many of his talks can be found online:
https://vimeo.com/jameslow
His homepage with his primary book "simply being": http://www.simplybeing.co.uk/books-in-print/

Martin Boord is another Dzogchen teacher that can be recommended: http://www.khordong.de/alt/Engl/rand_e.html

Although Jon Kabat-Zinn is not a Dzogchen teacher, he has a helpful guided choiceless awareness meditation ("nowscape", 30min, with a little too much text, only a shorten version of it is currently online): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97zu6E8F2eI

RE: Dzogchen teachers / retreat
Answer
9/11/16 12:47 PM as a reply to Klay Men.
Klay Men... But I was also told depending on what you're trying to do Dzogchen isn't in general suitable for people prior to Stream entry, it's better for people with more direct experience of awareness etc.
"And who knows you might get pointing out instructions from a very fine lama, and you might really have a taste, it happens. I'm not questioning that. Without hardly any preparation you go to a weekend retreat with a really good lama, giving pointing out instructions and you may have some genuine breakthrough. I've heard it many times, I don't question that. I think people are giving authentic accounts of their actual experience and what is uniform in their case is that they can't sustain it. The absolute norm is that people go to zen and have a spike experience and then it becomes a memory. The same thing in chan, mahamudra, dzogchen and so forth. They have a real breakthrough, the clouds cover (it) over and then they think, ”How can I get it back?”... We may have breakthroughs to this subtle dimension of awareness, it does happen, even without great preparation, even spontaneously. But then, as Dudjom Lingpa was saying from his own experience, (he) falls of the wagon, something comes up. And then we fall right back into the ruts of reification. And we are right back into the spin cycle... He (Dudjom Lingpa) had himself, it is so marvelous, he did break through, he did cut through into this pristine awareness and then he found he couldn't sustain it. So where does he go from there? Back to vipashyana." - Alan Wallace

My observation is that for 4th paths (6th bhumis OHBM) it should be somewhat easy to recognise rigpa and make good use of it, i.e. are able to sustain it. Before that people just don't seem to get it. They get "something" and it's wonderful for them but they are not getting rigpa. Dzogchen is rigpa-practice. Hate to use this foreign term but it does refer to something very specific.

Small StepsIn Harris's book, he writes, "Tulku Urgyen is no longer alive, but I’m told that his sons Tsoknyi Rinpoche and Mingyur Rinpoche generally teach in his style..."
Mingyur Rinpoche's organization Tergar is based in Minnesotta in the US. Don't know where you are, but perhaps you might start there.

Just a couple of days ago one fellow wrote at FB: "I meet Mingyur in Mexico a few weeks ago and he delivered a diluted message... And the event was quite expensive". I've also joined Mingyur's event back in 2003. I left after a couple of hours because he didn't seem to deliver (mushrooming). 

If you wish to try on your own here's a bit of rigpa pointing out instruction by Wallace (who also has a mushroom-effect going on but every once in a while he says something useful):

Pointing out instruction by Alan Wallace
...Mindfulness of breathing is marvelous for this, settle body speech and mind at ease, and then mindfulness of breathing, full body awareness, let your awareness permeate the whole field of the body.

And in the midst of that, let’s already take a little step toward Dzogchen, the Great Perfection. And that is, while attending to the sensations corresponding to or correlated with the respiration, throughout the entire body, kind of the flow of energy through the whole body, corresponding to or related to respiration, while attending to the movements within the body, corresponding to the respiration, attend to this from a place of stillness. Your awareness, your mental awareness, resting in stillness while simultaneously attending to the flux, the ebb and flow, of the sensations of the breath throughout the body - stillness and movement, stillness and movement simultaneously.

As you calm, as the mind stabilizes, as the clarity of mind, like the sun rising over the horizon, the clarity of mind becomes clearer and clearer. Then make a segue into a practice that is called by various names, one is simply observing the mind, again from a vantage point of stillness. 
 
Direct your attention now single-pointedly to one out of six domains of experience, the domain of mental events, of thoughts, of memories, mental images, the same domain in which dreams arise at night, but also subjective impulses, like desires and emotions. And from the vantage of stillness, clarity of stillness, awareness that is at ease, still and clear, observe the theater of the mind – the comings and goings, thoughts, emotions, memories, fantasies and so forth. Coming and going, arising in the space of the mind, dissolving back into that space. And observe it in an ongoing way from that vantage point of stillness without, what psychologists call Cognitive Fusion, without getting caught up and carried away by the memories, the desires, the emotions and so forth. 
 
And then as you go deeper, look to the intervals between thoughts, attend to the very space of the mind itself. And attend clearly, discerningly … observe what is the nature of this space. Is it physical space? This is the space of the mind. Does it have color? Does it have shape? Does it have a center, a periphery? Does it have form? Does it have any physical qualities whatsoever? Observe it closely, the very space of the mind. 
 
And then as we move along the strategy, this is a very condensed course, as you are able to maintain that flow of clear, discerning, awareness, the space of the mind, And observing also how thoughts emerge from that space...
...Alright. So observe the space of the mind and now do something very clever. Withdraw the vector of your attention and withdraw it right into the very nature of being aware itself. Have no directionality, no vector. No object of attention outside of awareness itself and simply rest in an ongoing flow of awareness of being aware - consciousness of consciousness itself...
Observe consciousness, nakedly, without mediation. We’re almost there – that’s called Shamatha, it’s the subtlest and most profound method of Shamatha there is in the whole Buddhist tradition: the awareness of being conscious itself.
And now one step further and we’ll step into the domain of Dzogchen. Now carefully, incisively observe that which is observing. We call it the mind. Observe the mind. We call it awareness. Observe awareness. Observe that which is aware, that which thinks, that which intends. Observe the observer. And cut through the mind, right down to the very ground, which is Rigpa
 
And Dzogchen meditation is nothing more or less than cutting through to pristine awareness, Rigpa, and viewing reality from that perspective. And that right there is the view of the Great Perfection. 
 
So in your practice, - I just gave you enough to keep you busy for at least a few days – in your practice, when you come to the end, when you’re coming to the, where you’re able to sustain the flow of awareness of awareness, and then you cut through the flow of awareness of awareness to, the penetration to, that which is aware, you note a distinction between the awareness that gets distracted, and gets dull, and gets centered, and gets distracted again …. And that’s the mind.

But as you cut through to that which is aware, you may cut through to a dimension of awareness that is unborn and unceasing, that never moves, because it is not in time. It is unchanging and you can never wrap your conceptual mind around it. Because this baseline, this ground of awareness, from which all conditioned states of consciousness emerge. Transcends the very parameters of existence and non-existence. It transcends all conceptual categories. It can be known. It is not an ultimate mystery. It can be known directly without mediation, but only by itself. It can know itself. But your conceptual mind cannot grasp it. It is beyond its pay grade, it is beyond its scope.

So this Rigpa, this pristine awareness, it is present right now. It is where your awareness is. It is where your thoughts are, it is not something separate. It is not somebody else’s, it not God’s or Buddha’s or some other person’s. It is the ground state of your own awareness. And I’ll end on this note: hidden and in plain sight. So try that and see what happens. Thank you so much.

RE: Dzogchen teachers / retreat
Answer
9/12/16 3:37 PM as a reply to Kim Katami.
... And then if you got it, your sitting should look something like this emoticon
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CpcH46uJiSM&index=22&list=PLqTm9fV9DGhs_5dnFU0bh8S8ZKaSof_px

On the same playlist see also clips of Mingyur and James Low meditating. There's also a longer clip of the previous generation rinpoches and lamas from Tibet, out of whom some are beautiful*, while others are still cooking.