Original Perfection - Foreword

Vairotsana’s Five Early Transmissions

A beautiful, lyrical translation of the first five Dzogchen texts with crystal-clear commentary.



128 pages, 6 x 9 inches


ISBN 9780861716807

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eBook Bundle (PDF, epub, mobi)


ISBN 9781614291350

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The five texts translated into English in this book are considered the first transmission of Dzogchen Ati to Tibet. They were transmitted by a Tibetan monk called Vairotsana who distinguished himself not only in the field of translation, emerging as the greatest of the Tibetan lotsawas, but also as a traveler and pilgrim who left the Land of the Snows for the hills of the Hindu Kush to bring back a canon of Dzogchen texts from its closely guarded source. Returning from Oddiyana, where he had received the transmission of Dzogchen Ati from Shri Singha, he immediately translated these five tantras into Tibetan, and they became known as the Five Early Transmissions or Translations (snga ’gyur nga). They constitute the root and essence of Dzogchen in Tibet—basic, raw Dzogchen precepts that are appropriately designated “radical Dzogchen.”

Tulkus in the Nyingma tradition, considered emanations of the heart of reality, have been trained in the rites and devotions of the lineage, in the meditations and yogas of the Vajrayana, in the Buddhist philosophy of India and Tibet, and in the skillful means of assisting others not only on the path of liberation but in the amelioration of their suffering in samsara. But what precedes all of that in significance and priority, what gives it value and meaning and what facilitates the sharing of Buddhadharma, is Dzogchen Ati. This is the special, extraordinary teaching of our Nyingma lineage. The great masters, including Vairotsana, Padma Sambhava, and Vimalamitra, have all attained realization through Dzogchen, contemporary masters all owe their status to Dzogchen, and any attainment in the future will be based on the precepts of Dzogchen Ati. And while there are a vast number of texts revealing the various precepts of Dzogchen—in the Mind, Matrix and Secret Precept Series, the Elaborate, Simplified, Simple and Ultra-simple Cycles, the Crown Pith and Ultra Pith Teaching—these five transmissions of Vairotsana, the core of the Mind Series, constitute the seed, root, and branch of Dzogchen. Please remember after all, Garab Dorje himself, the first guru of the Dzogchen lineage, recited extemporaneously the greatest of these five early transmissions, The Eternal Victory Banner also known as The Vast Space of Vajrasattva, in his infancy.

If the Tibetan Dharma is to thrive in the West, it must be with the transmission of Dzogchen Ati, the apex path, the culmination of Vajrayana Buddhism, or a nondual equivalent. Throughout history, Dzogchen has been the subject of dispute among the various schools of philosophy in Tibet, but it is acclaimed by all yogins on the actual path of praxis. It is well known that it is among the personal secret practices of H. H. the Dalai Lama himself. In its transmission to the Western world, the methods of conveyance may undergo certain changes, but the essence of Dzogchen will remain unchanging. This was the teaching of our lamas Dudjom Rimpoche and Kanjur Rimpoche in their Dzogchen mandala in Darjeeling in India where I first encountered Keith Dowman, the eminent translator of these texts.

I hope many people will read these texts and realize the heart meaning and spontaneously attain the realization of Dzogchen Ati and join those who have realized this ultimate truth but remain anonymous. May all sentient beings be free from samsara!

Bhakha Tulku Pema Rigdzin
Vairotsana Foundation
Los Angeles, California


How to cite this document:
© Keith Dowman, Original Perfection (Wisdom Publications, 2013)

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