Message Boards Message Boards

Books and Websites

"Main meditation manual" by tradition? (Especially Vajrayana and Dzogchen)

So if we had to name one "main meditation manual" for each tradition, one that is as self-contained, clear, exhaustive and authoritative as possible, like...

* Theravada has Buddhaghosa's Visuddhimagga.

* The yogacara tradition has Kamalasila's Bhavanakrama

* Mahamudra has Dagpo Tashi Namgyal's Moonlight.

...what would the equivalent of these texts be for Vajrayana and Dzogchen?

* Vajrayana has _________?

* Dzogchen has _________?

And while we are on it, is there anything comparable to these texts for Zen and Shingon in Japan? Or Chan in China? Or Pure Land?

There is no such thing. If there was one for Vajrayana, it would have to be a "main meditation bookshelf". Ho ho ho. 

I've seen Jigme Lingpa's Yeshe Lama suggested for Dzogchen. But as far as I know, there are still many crucial points that are only transmitted orally. So there isn't any definitive, or even adequate, Dzogchen manual that could potentially suffice for the entire path without the need for the assistance of a teacher.

I think some would argue that such a thing isn't even possible, due to the importance of a guru to give direct introduction, as an object of devotion, etc. Personally I'm quite convinced that it's possible to recognise the natural state without prior receipt of direct introduction.

Hello Brendan, thanks! I'll take a look at Yeshe Lama! emoticon

It's not a traditional manual, but it's a modern manual of traditional practices... I would highly recommend "Wake up to your Life" by Ken McLeod. One of the best presentations of several mahayana practices in english. The book itself is designed to cover the material that would be worked on in a three year (full time) retreat. It's an incredible resource and the descriptions of practice are very clearly described.

His website, with lots of podcasts, transcripts, etc. from his teaching and retreats is at

Thanks shargrol, sounds great! I'll take a look.

yeah, no such one stop shop for Vajrayana but there are a few must reads lik:

shantideva's - Guide to the Bodhisaatva Way of Life

anything by  Nagarjuna as the logical support for Vajrayana

the heart sutra

each tradition has its specific tantra practices, they are innumerable

mahamudra - Tilopa's pointing out instructions to Naropa, compact, much like Dzogchen teahings

anyway, as mentioned, there is so much diversity in the Mahayana, Vajrayana world that one tome cannot come close to covering it

The standard book to explain ngondro in Nyingma (the ritual chants and accumulations of prostrations, mandala offering, vajrasattva and guru yoga as preliminiries for dzogchen) is Words of my Perfect Teacher by Patrul Rinpoche. The book specifically explains the Longchen Nyingthig lineage ngondro, but it's fairly similar to a lot of other ngondros in Nyingma and probably also Kagyu (my experience with Kagyu is extremely limited, so I'm not entirely sure of that). It doesn't contain the chants. In other words, it's not the actual ritual text. It's just a commentary explaining the context of ngondro, why you should do it, how to do it and the mindset to have while doing it. Each lineage has its own text of chants for its own ngondro that they'll supply to students when initiating and teaching them. That way it remains an oral lineage, despite having definitive books on the subject.

RE: "Main meditation manual" by tradition? (Especially Vajrayana and Dzogch
1/30/17 4:19 PM as a reply to Jigme Sengye.
... just to add: The actual Ngondro text for Nyingma (my first practice) is the Dudjom Tersar Ngondro as authored by the mighty Dudjom Rinpoche. A great book as a commentary, is Dungse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche's A Cascading Waterfall of Nectar.