Excerpted with permission from "Natural Radiance: Awakening to Your Great Perfection" by Lama Surya Das. © 2005 Lama Surya Das. By arrangement with Sounds True.

A Morning Wake-Up Practice to Greet the Day

Dzogchen pointing-out instructions and pith instructions are oral instructions given as direct introductions to our true nature and the nature of our heart-mind. They are traditionally received through an interaction with a lama or teacher who has been given a direct introduction through his or her own teacher or teachers.

These oral teachings have come down to us from the Buddha and from even before the Buddha--from primordial truth, imaged as the primordial Buddha from time immemorial, through an unbroken oral transmission lineage of yogic teachings and pith instructions passed from master to disciple. I have received these teachings from my own enlightened lineage masters. Most of these masters are gone now, reborn in the Himalayas they tell me. But they are always with me, and we are never apart. I feel one with them always.

These teachings are sometimes called "whispered oral transmissions" or secret teachings, although they are always evident to those who are ready to appreciate them, because our true nature is not a thing outside of ourselves that we need to acquire or obtain from a shopping channel or a Tibetan boutique. Go on pilgrimage if you like; a pilgrimage certainly broadens the heart and the soul. But the true inner Himalaya, the secret Tibet, is to awaken to the high ground within--the luminous clarity, the joyous awareness, the total and pure presence known as rigpa (nondual total awareness). Innate freedom and perfection are always within our own hearts and minds, available to those of us who can awaken to them.

I am now passing these teachings on to the next generation with the hope and aspiration that you too may benefit. May you awaken from the dream and illusion of helplessness, confusion, delusion, misery, suffering, victimhood, self-centered striving, and the dreams of limited egoic separate selfhood to realize the great oneness that is beyond notions of one or many. This is true presence-the interconnectedness and emptiness inseparable, the luminous web of inter-being.

Pith Instructions

When I first received the pith instructions,
I had the urge to gulp it all at once,
like a starving man face-to-face with food.

-Patrul Rinpoche

The Dzogchen view is often taught via pith instructions, or the quintessential elixir of mind-meditation teachings boiled down from the essence of empty awareness practice. The essence of these pith instructions on the view is to help us to see things as they are while seeing through them at the same time and to avoid being deceived by the mere appearances of phenomena and noumena (mind-stuff). In this practice, the essence of emptiness and awareness is inseparable-we see things as they arise and dissolve, but we also at the same time see through them into their insubstantial, empty, open, radiant, and marvelous nature. These pith instructions are not only helpful in meditation practice but are also applicable and integrable into daily life. Some of the most important of these pith instructions are:


Just as it is.
Let go and let be.
Seeing through, being through.
What we seek, we are.
Not too tight or too loose.
Take the Vajra shortcut.
Direct access.
Leave it as it is, and rest your weary mind.
Naturalness is the way.
Natural mind is Buddha mind,
We are all Buddhas; we only have to recognize that fact.
Everything is pure and spontaneously accomplished from the outset.
Nothing to do and nowhere to go.
Seeing; recognizing; penetrating; releasing.
See through the seer and be free.
Nothing to do but remain in the View.
Pure vision: see the Buddha in everyone and everything.

"Pith instructions are like a flame of truth being passed from one candle to another..."
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