The Golden Void

Dzogchen teachings by James Low

Recommended Posts

James is one of my favourite teachers. One of the magic bus generation he set off for the East in the late 60s and after many adventures and training in the Dzogchen lineage under CRLama in whose home he lived he returned to the west and is now a consultant psychotherapist in the NHS as well as teaching Dzogchen.


Hi approach is fresh in that it presents the inner realisations in a western way. Dzogchen itself has some Taoist roots - especially in terms of the naturalness vibe. There are some great resources here which is a website of transcripts of talks and more recently videos:


To pick out two at random: a very nice 20minutes video interview "Saying the Unsayable"


& http://www.simplybei...fe_Cologne_2005


which starts...







Hello, welcome. Tonight we don't have a translator so I will speak in a simple

way and hopefully we will be able to understand each other. If that doesn't seem

clear, then we'll try something else.


The main focus I'll be talking about tonight will be the basic principles of

dzogchen, which is one strand of Tibetan buddhist practice, and how this can be

interwoven into ordinary life. There are many kinds of meditation practice, as I

am sure you all know. Some of these practices are very formal.




Formal practices require particular ways of setting things up, maybe with an altar,

making offerings, and so on. This involves a kind of interruption into the flow of

ordinary life. They take a kind of loop, so that you go from your ordinary life into

something rather artificial, something rather intentional, and then—hopefully—

you come back into your ordinary life with more sense of presence and



In dzogchen we make this loop very short because we want to try to experience

how all the phenomena of our life are inseparable from what we might call the

open dimension of being, or our ground potentiality. That is to say, all the

restrictions that we have in our life, the places where we feel limited, saddened,

anxious, depressed and so on, when we look into the quality and the nature of

that limit, we find that it is in fact not something which stands apart from us but is

indeed our own expression. And then, when we look directly, experientially, into

'who is the one who is having the experience?' we start to see that our own

nature reveals itself in different ways. Later on I'll explain a little about that.




First of all, some words on the historical context of dzogchen. It started a long,

long time ago in India and in China. Various strands of understanding, which go

back a very long time in human life, came together and the teachings were first

formulated around the second century of the christian era.


Buddhism generally is concerned with how we can free ourselves from suffering.

The Buddha's basic teaching is that suffering is grounded in ignorance and

attachment. Ignorance means not knowing our own nature, not understanding

the nature and the structure of the world we live in. Attachment is the

dependency which develops for us in relationship to the phenomena which we

experience, in the 'light' of ignorance.


Of course, one of the main phenomena we experience is ourselves. We exist for

ourselves as an experience. When you wake up in the morning, you experience

yourself coming out of a state of sleep into a state of waking, where everything

that you do, you know that you do because you experience it. If you didn't have a

capacity to experience it you wouldn't have that experience.


If you are cleaning your teeth, you look in the mirror and you see someone

looking at you and you clean your teeth at them and they clean their teeth back

at you. This is an experience that we all have. You can tell yourself, "I am looking

at myself in the mirror, cleaning my teeth. I know who I am. I know how to clean

my teeth. When I was a little person, my mama taught me how to clean my teeth.

Being a good person, I clean my teeth every day."


So, we have a story, or an understanding, which gives us a sense of the

continuity of who we are. Woven into the story are different aspects; some

aspects are happy, some aspects are sad. Some people have very difficult

childhoods; some people have very easy childhoods. Some people have an easy

childhood and then life gets worse. Some people have a shitty childhood and

then life gets better. Anyway, we all have some strands of good, bad, hopes,

fears, expansive moments, contracting moments, anxieties, depressions and so

on. These ephemeral moments—ephemeral meaning just something which is

transient, which don't last long, just like rain falling on water—these moments of

happiness and sadness, they are there, they are absolutely there, and yet you

can't grasp them, there's nothing to hang onto. What we do hang on to are







May all beings be happy :)



Edited by The Golden Void

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites