Longchenpa: A Guide for Readers
The Life of Longchen Rabjam (1308–1364)
Longchen Rabjam was a master known by many names including Drime Ozer, Dorje Ziji, and most notably, Longchenpa, whose name literally means “Great Expanse” as described in H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s book Primordial Purity. Born in a time of great social, political, and literary change in Tibet, Longchenpa made a significant impact on the development of the Nyingma tradition. Having systematized the tradition in such a way, during a time when the “old school” of the Nyingmas was nearing extinction due to the ever-changing social, political, and religious horizons of 14th century Tibet, the legacy of Longchenpa continues to draw inspiration for today’s Nyingma and Rime teachers alike. Some of his greatest works include his Trilogy of Rest and the many works compiled by Tulku Thondup in the Practice of Dzogchen.
In Nyingma, Longchenpa is indispensable. His teachings are authoritative works for listening, contemplating, and meditating. Longchenpa had three incarnations as a tertön. The first was as Pema Ledrel Tsal. The second was as the Omniscient Longchen Rabjam. The third was as the tertön king Pema Lingpa. Gyalwa Longchenpa is considered an incredibly learned and accomplished master. If one is sectarian, then there is a tendency to be critical of masters from other lineages, saying, “Well, such-and-such a master is learned, but not accomplished,” or, “That teacher is learned in sutra, but not in tantra.” However, Longchenpa is both accomplished and learned in the sutras and tantras of all the five traditions in Tibet.
Longchenpa’s teachings are so thorough, complete, and logical that there can be no debate about them. So far, no one has really been able to challenge Longchenpa; his position is indestructible. His writings also change the mind of those who read them; they are clearly put forth, in an unerring fashion, and also carry incredible blessings.
—Gangteng Tulku Rinpoche, from the Preface to The Life of Longchenpa: The Omniscient Dharma King of the Vast Expanse
Latest and Upcoming Releases
Sunlight Speech That Dispels the Darkness of Doubt
Sublime Prayers, Praises, and Practices of the Nyingma Masters
By Longchenpa, Jigme Lingpa, Jamgon Mipham, Dudjom Rinpoche, and Patrul Rinpoche; translated by Thinley Norbu
In this sublime revision, Kyabje Thinley Norbu Rinpoche has translated a selection of wisdom teachings into direct and simple English that retains the power of the original writings and their emphasis on practice. The authors are five of the most sublime scholar-saints of the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism: Kunkhyen Longchenpa, Kunkhyen Jigme Lingpa, Patrul Rinpoche, Mipham Rinpoche, and Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche. Their compositions include words of advice, poetic praises, concise daily prayers, and liturgies accompanied by instructions. Written over a span of time from the medieval to the modern era, these precious teachings are intended to be the cornerstones of faith, practice, and enlightenment.
The Precious Treasury of the Fundamental Nature
By Longchenpa and Khangsar Tenpa’i Wangchuk; translated by Padmakara Translation Group
Modern scholar and Nyingma master Khangsar Tenpa’i Wangchuk composed this first and only commentary on the fourteenth-century Buddhist master Longchenpa’s essential text, The Precious Treasury of the Fundamental Nature. The root text establishes the definitive view of the secret class of pith instructions of Dzogchen, the Great Perfection. Tenpa’i Wangchuk’s word-commentary elucidates the nature of phenomena adhering closely to the internal structure of Longchenpa’s verses, clearly presenting the four vajra principles of the nature of phenomena: nonexistence, evenness, spontaneous presence, and single nature.
The Padmakara Translation Group has provided a clear and fluid new translation of Longchenpa’s root text. The commentary by Khangsar Tenpa’i Wangchuk is here translated for the first time, commencing an extended project to render his entire collected works in English. This is an invaluable resource for students of Buddhism who wish to deepen their understanding of the nature of mind and phenomena as presented in the Great Perfection tradition.
Precious Advice on the Vajrayana Path
Longchenpa’s Trilogy of Rest
Finding Rest in the Nature of the Mind
by Longchenpa and translated by Padmakara Translation Group
Longchenpa’s classic Buddhist manual for attaining liberation teaches us how to familiarize ourselves with our most basic nature—the clear, pristine, and aware mind. Written in the fourteenth century, this text is the first volume of Longchenpa’s Trilogy of Rest, a work of the Tibetan Dzogchen tradition. This profound and comprehensive presentation of the Buddhist view and path combines the scholastic expository method with direct pith instructions designed for yogi practitioners. It sets the foundation for the following two volumes: Finding Rest in Meditation, which focuses on Tibetan Buddhist meditation practice, and Finding Rest in Illusion, which focuses on post-meditation yogic conduct. The Padmakara Translation Group has provided us with a clear and fluid new translation of Finding Rest in the Nature of the Mind along with selections from its autocommentary, The Great Chariot, which will serve as a genuine aid to study and meditation.
by Longchenpa and translated by Padmakara Translation Group
Longchenpa’s classic exposition of the Buddhist path, the Trilogy of Rest, teaches us how to familiarize ourselves with our most basic nature—the clear and pristine awareness that is the nature of the mind. According to the traditional format of view, meditation, and action, Finding Rest in Meditation is the sequel to Finding Rest in the Nature of the Mind, which establishes the view of the Buddhist path generally, and specifically that of the teachings of the Great Perfection. It precedes the final volume, Finding Rest in Illusion, which focuses on post-meditation yogic conduct. The current volume outlines the main points of meditation, namely, where one should meditate, what qualities a practitioner should possess and develop, and what should be practiced.
Finding Rest in Illusion
by Longchenpa and translated by Padmkara Translation Group
This third volume of the Trilogy of Rest introduces us to our most basic nature—the clear and pristine awareness that is the nature of the mind. The Padmakara Translation Group has provided us with a clear and fluid new translation of the final volume, Finding Rest in Illusion, along with its autocommentary, The Chariot of Excellence, which describes in detail the conduct of those who have stabilized their recognition of the nature of the mind and how to apply the Buddhist view when relating to ordinary appearances. This is an invaluable manual for any genuine student of Buddhism who wishes to truly find rest through the path of the Great Perfection.
The Fearless Lion's Roar
Profound Instructions on Dzogchen, the Great Perfection
By Nyoshul Khenpo and translated by David Christensen
Included in this collection of stories and teachings is Longchenpa’s life story and an introduction to Resting in Illusion, the third text in his Trilogy of Rest.
This volume is a heartfelt, intimate presentation of the entire system of the Nyingma tradition from sutra to tantra to Dzogchen, the Great Perfection, and how through it, modern-day practitioners can succeed in attaining fully realized buddhahood. Inspiring stories of the great masters Longchenpa and Jigme Lingpa kindle the prerequisites of faith and devotion that are the basis for the practices that follow. The Tibetan Buddhist master Nyoshul Khenpo Jamyang Dorje gave these talks during a three-year retreat in France from 1982 to 1985.
More From Longchenpa
The Practice of Dzogchen
Longchen Rabjam’s Writings on the Great Perfection
By Longchenpa and translated by Tulku Thondup
This classic collection of texts on the meditation practice and theory of Dzogchen presents the Great Perfection through the writings of its supreme authority, the fourteenth-century Tibetan scholar and visionary Longchen Rabjam. The pinnacle of Vajrayana practice in the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, Dzogchen embodies a system of training that awakens the intrinsic nature of the mind to reveal its original essence, utterly perfect and free from all duality—buddha nature, or buddhahood itself.
In The Practice of Dzogchen, Tulku Thondup translates essential passages from Longchen Rabjam’s voluminous writings to illuminate and clarify this teaching. He also draws on the works of later masters of the tradition, placing Dzogchen in context both in relation to other schools of Buddhism and in relation to the nine-vehicle outline of the Buddhist path described in the Nyingma tradition. This expanded edition includes Counsel for Liberation, Longchenpa’s poetic exhortation to readers to quickly enter the path of liberation, the first step toward the summit of Dzogchen practice.
You Are the Eyes of the World
By Longchenpa and translated by Kannard Lipman and Merril Peterson
Just as the images on television are nothing more than light, so are our experiences merely the dance of awareness. Often we form attachments to or feel enslaved by these experiences. But they are only reflections. As easily as television pictures vanish when the channel is changed, the power of our experiences fades if we penetrate to the heart of reality—the light of the natural mind within everyone.
You Are the Eyes of the World presents a method for discovering awareness everywhere, all the time. This book does not discuss how to turn ordinary life off, and it does not describe how to create beautiful spiritual experiences; it shows how to live within the source of all life, the unified field where experience takes place.
The Guhyagarbha Tantra
Secret Essence Definitive Nature Just as It Is
By Longchenpa and translated by Lama Chonam and Sangye Khandro
The twenty-two chapters of this tantra elucidate how to correctly view the ground, traverse the path, and ultimately reach the result—fully enlightened buddhahood. The first part of this book includes the Tibetan and English translation for the root tantra itself. The second part is a translation of the extensive commentary on The Guhyagarbha Tantra, called Thorough Dispelling of Darkness throughout the Ten Directions, written by the omniscient Longchenpa, who was an emanation of Samantabhadra. His word-for-word commentary gives uncommon explanations regarding all stages of Vajrayana practice, including comprehensive teachings from the Dzogchen point of view on how to practice and accomplish the path to enlightenment. The author includes complete explanations of the peaceful and wrathful mandalas as well as practical instructions needed to attain the four states of vidyadharahood.
Note that this is a restricted text. See Sangye Khandro's advice on restricted material.
Longchen Choying Tobden Dorje, Longchenpa, and The Complete Nyingma Tradition
In 1838 Longchen Choying Tobden Dorje, a yogin and scholar of northeastern Tibet and one of the main students of the first Dodrubchen Rinpoche, completed a multivolume masterwork that traces the entire path of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism from beginning to end. Written by a mantra practitioner for the benefit of mantra practitioners living among the lay community, it was intended to be informative, inspirational, and above all, practical. Its twenty-five books, or topical divisions, offer a comprehensive and detailed view of the Buddhist path according to the Nyingma School, spanning the vast range of Buddhist teachings from the initial steps to the highest esoteric teachings of the Great Perfection.
As an heir to Longchenpa, this vast work by Longchen Choying Tobden Dorje is very much based on his teachings. In particular books 15–17 are based on Longchenpa’s explanations of the Guhyagarbha Tantra.
Books and Collections that Include the Works and Inspiration of Longchenpa
On the Path to Enlightenment
Heart Advice from the Great Tibetan Masters
By Matthieu Ricard
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche inspired Matthieu Ricard to create this anthology by telling him that “when we come to appreciate the depth of the view of the eight great traditions [of Tibetan Buddhism] and also see that they all lead to the same goal without contradicting each other, we think, ‘Only ignorance can lead us to adopt a sectarian view.’” Ricard has selected and translated some of the most profound and inspiring teachings from across these traditions.
The selected teachings are taken from the sources of the traditions, including the Buddha himself, Nagarjuna, Guru Rinpoche, Atisha, Shantideva, and Asanga; from great masters of the past, including Thogme Zangpo, the Fifth Dalai Lama, Milarepa, Longchenpa, and Sakya Pandita; and from contemporary masters, including the Fourteenth Dalai Lama and Mingyur Rinpoche. They address such topics as the nature of the mind; the foundations of taking refuge, generating altruistic compassion, acquiring merit, and following a teacher; view, meditation, and action; and how to remove obstacles and make progress on the path.
More from Longchenpa’s Lineage
Included below are works by eminent Nyingma scholars and practitioners who’ve gleaned much of their inspiration from Longchenpa. They include Jigme Lingpa, who according to the tradition, received visions from Longchenpa himself and revealed the Longchen Nyingtik treasure cycle. In addition, masters such as Mipham Rinpoche, Dudjom Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, and many more have drawn from the well-spring of inspiration provided by Longchen Rabjam.
Treasury of Precious Qualities: Book One
By Jigme Lingpa
This book is a translation of the first part of Jigme Lingpa’s Treasury of Precious Qualities, which in a slender volume of elegant verses sets out briefly but comprehensively the Buddhist path according to the Nyingma school. The concision of the root text and its use of elaborate poetic language, rich in metaphor, require extensive explanation, amply supplied here by the commentary of Kangyur Rinpoche.
The present volume lays out the teachings of the sutras in gradual stages according to the traditional three levels, or scopes, of spiritual endeavor. It begins with essential teachings on impermanence, karma, and ethics. Then, from the Hinayana standpoint, it describes the essential Buddhist teachings of the four noble truths and the twelve links of dependent arising. Moving on, finally, to the Mahayana perspective, it expounds fully the teachings on bodhichitta and the path of the six paramitas, and gives an unusually detailed exposition of Buddhist vows.
The paperback edition includes Jigme Lingpa’s root text in verse, which was not included in the hardcover edition.
Treasury of Precious Qualities: Book Two
Vajrayana and the Great Perfection
by Jigme Lingpa
Following the first volume of the Treasury of Precious Qualities, which sets out the teachings of the sutras, the present volume continues Jigme Lingpa’s presentation of the stages of the path and includes a general description of the tantra teachings followed by an exposition of the Great Perfection, regarded in the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism as the summit of all vehicles and the final stage of the path of spiritual training. This concluding volume provides a comprehensive overview of the Nyingma path of Tibetan Buddhism and is presented together with a detailed commentary by Kangyur Rinpoche.
The section on the tantras is a compendious presentation of all-important issues: lineage, empowerment, the generation and perfection stages, and samaya. The section on the Great Perfection is arranged according to the classification of Ground, Path, and Result, and gives an extremely clear introduction to the doctrinal background that underpins the practice of this unique system.
Middle Beyond Extremes
Maitreya’s Madhyāntavibhāga with Commentaries by Khenpo Shenga and Ju Mipham
Middle Beyond Extremes contains a translation of the Buddhist masterpiece Distinguishing the Middle from Extremes. This famed text, often referred to by its Sanskrit title, Madhyāntavibhāga, is part of a collection known as the Five Maitreya Teachings. Maitreya is held to have entrusted these profound and vast instructions to the master Asanga in the heavenly realm of Tuṣita.
Distinguishing Phenomena from Their Intrinsic Nature
Maitreya’s Dharmadharmatāvibhaṅga with Commentaries by Khenpo Shenga and Ju Mipham
The Buddhist masterpiece Distinguishing Phenomena from Their Intrinsic Nature, often referred to by its Sanskrit title, Dharmadharmatāvibhaṅga, is part of a collection known as the Five Maitreya Teachings, a set of philosophical works that have become classics of the Indian Buddhist tradition. Maitreya, the Buddha's regent, is held to have entrusted these profound and vast instructions to the master Asanga in the heavenly realm of Tusita. By divesting the mind of confusion, the treatise explains, we see things as they actually are. This insight allows for the natural unfolding of compassion and wisdom. This volume includes commentaries by Khenpo Shenga and Ju Mipham, whose discussions illuminate the subtleties of the root text and provide valuable insight into the nature of reality and the process of awakening.
Oral Instructions on the Three Words That Strike the Vital Point
By Patrul Rinpoche and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
Three Words That Strike the Vital Point is the famous seminal statement by Garap Dorje that is said to encapsulate all the myriad dzogchen tantras. The key instructions on it by Patrul Rinpoche—the verses known as “The Special Teaching of Khepa Shri Gyalpo”—form the basis for the discourse in Primordial Purity. It explains that in dzogchen, when one has fully recognized that all the confusion of samsara is the expressive power of great emptiness, confusion is spontaneously liberated into the primordial purity of mind’s essential nature.
Counsels from My Heart
by Dudjom Rinpoche
Counsels from My Heart is one of the few volumes of teachings by Dudjom Rinpoche, a legendary meditation master of the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, to become available in English. It features talks to students presented in Dudjom Rinpoche's characteristically incisive and direct style, bringing the timeless heart-counsels of this great teacher vividly to life.
Heart Essence of the Vast Expanse
Foundational Practices and the Transmission of the Longchen Nyingtig
By Patrul Rinpoche and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
Introduced and translated by Anne Carolyn Klein
The Longchen Nyingtig Ngondro are the foundational practices found in Jigme Lingpa’s treasure cycle granted to him by Longchenpa. These foundational practices have for over three centuries been one of the most widely practiced and beloved gateways to Dzogchen in Tibet. This compilation of texts includes the story, history, music, and commentaries to help practitioners more fully understand the elements of the practice. With translations of the texts alongside their original Tibetan counterparts, this treasury of materials gives readers the opportunity to explore these beloved teachings in depth.
Masters of Meditation and Miracles
Lives of the Great Buddhist Masters of India and Tibet
By Tulku Thondup
Masters of Meditation and Miracles presents colorful biographies of thirty-five realized teachers whose lives were full of peace, enlightenment, and amazing miracles. They flourished in Tibet, the Roof of the World, in its golden days. These teachers belong to the Longchen Nyingthig lineage of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, a cycle of mystical teachings revealed by the great scholar and adept Jigme Lingpa.
From the first master, Garap Dorje, to the present, each spiritual personality has his or her own distinctive role to play in this great lineage. In retelling their stories in his own words, the author has sought to bring out their inner feelings as well as their external activities: how they faced and healed physical pain, how they dealt with emotional turmoil, how they overcame spiritual or meditative illusions, and most important, what experiences they had when they awakened their own inner Buddha Mind and Buddha qualities. These biographies not only provide great sources of teachings on meditation, but will also kindle a spiritual flame in the hearts of readers.
Select translations from Longchenpa can be found under 'Longchen Rabjam Series' on Lotsawa House
And for Tibetan readers, TBRC/BDRC of course provides downloadable pdfs of Longchen Rabjam's works in Tibetan
More can be found on Longchenpa's live on Treasury of Lives