Original Perfection - Preface

Vairotsana’s Five Early Transmissions

After the passing of the years since this work was published in Kathmandu, I am still satisfied with the introduction, which provides a broad introduction to Dzogchen and particularly to the radical Dzogchen that is found in the original transmissions that Vairotsana conveyed to the Tibetans in the eighth century. I found myself less satisfied, however, with the translations themselves. Vairotsana translated the original verses in a highly ambiguous poetic style that, while transmitting a powerful blast of radical Dzogchen, fell short of the didactic precision that would give a translator the grammatical clues to provision of a sure interpretation. Thus I felt that sometimes I could have been more precise in my rendering of poetic phrases—which I have taken the opportunity of this new edition to remedy. But what about the canonical commentaries? Surely they elucidate an unequivocal discursive meaning? Alas, the Ten Sutras was written centuries later when Dzogchen was already becoming part and parcel of a self-interested establishment and the commentaries were serving that end. Returning to the Ten Sutras commentary after these intervening years, it seems to read like a tool to assimilate the immediacy of Dzogchen’s pathless path into the spatial-temporal graduated path of Vajrayana. On the other hand, it shows how radical an effect Dzogchen has in Vajrayana and how it may be considered inseparable from it. From this we may infer, indeed, that any cultural form whatsoever (Buddhist, shaman, humanist, or post-modernist) is likewise illuminated—and released—by the light of Dzogchen.

So in the editing of the text for this new edition, I have firstly tightened the meaning by using the terminology that I have developed in the interim. “Gnosis” (rig pa) is now “pure presence,” for example; “equality” is “sameness”; and “process” (path) is sometimes “modality.” “Field of reality,” which was used as the equivalent of dharmadhatu, is now “the spaciousness that is the field of reality” or an adaptation of those words. The transliteration of the Tibetan phonetic “Bairotsana” has been replaced by the more easily recognisable Vairotsana. The appendix “Mind Series Terminology” illuminates these changes. I recommend that the reader spend some time with this appendix before entering the text to get a feel for the way many well-known Buddhist terms—such as buddha, bodhichitta, and tathagatagarbha—have been treated in the present work. Secondly, I have tweaked the verses, strengthening their radical sense while heightening the distinction between them and the commentary. In the process I have corrected some errors that had crept in during the final stages of the publication of the previous edition.


Additional material relating to Original Perfection can be found at www.keithdowman.net/dzogchen/eyeofthestorm.htm.


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© Keith Dowman, Original Perfection (Wisdom Publications, 2013)

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