Keith Dowman is a translator and teacher of Dzogchen, the quintessence of Buddhism. A student of the great Dzogchen lamas Dudjom Rinpoche and Kanjur Rinpoche, he lived in Benares, India, and Kathmandu, Nepal for fifty years. He now travels the world teaching Dzogchen.
A cultural refugee from his native England, Keith Dowman arrived in Benares, India, in 1966. Apart from an occasional foray back to the West, he has spent a lifetime in India and Nepal engaged in existential Buddhadharma. He has lived as a yogin, monk, pilgrim, and then as a householder, and as a scholar and poet free of all institutional and or political constraints.
In India in the 1960s, he was destined to encounter the grandfather-lama refugees arriving in India in the wake of the Chinese invasion of Tibet. In those heady years when the old lamas were totally receptive to the solicitation of Western disciples seeking confirmation of the validity of their existential trajectories, he received initiation, empowerment, pith instruction, and personal guidance from Dudjom Rinpoche Jigdral Yeshe Dorje and Kanjur Rinpoche Longchen Yeshe Dorje, who became his root gurus, among any other Nyingma lamas and lamas of other schools, notably the Eighth Khamtrul Rinpoche and the Sixteenth Karmapa Rikpai Dorje. As Chogyal Namkhai Norbu remarked, “In communion with many great masters [Keith Dowman] has fortuitously absorbed the realization of Dzogchen.”
In the 1980s he focused on translations of various Vajrayana texts. When Tibet opened, three years of seasonal trekking in central Tibet resulted in a pilgrims’ guide to Tibet. More recently, he has concentrated exclusively on the translation of Dzogchen texts, including Natural Perfection, Original Perfection, and The Flight of the Garuda. Likewise, although he has taught Vajrayana since 1992, more recently he has focused entirely on Dzogchen. He lives a peripatetic lifestyle teaching the radical Dzogchen derived from the early Nyingma tantras that is free of the tendency toward the spiritual materialism so evident in western Buddhism, a dharma easily assimilable into Western culture.