The following article is from the Winter, 1993 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.

New Book on Dzogchen:

Teachings on the Kunzang Nying-tig by Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen

The Teachings of the Progressive Great Perfection called the Heart Drops of Dhannakaya ('od gsal rdzogs-pa chen po'i lam-gyt rim-pa khrid-yig kun-tu bzang-po'i snying-tig shes-bya-ba bzhugs)

Translation and commentary by Lopon Tenzin Namdak

Introduction by Per Kvaerne Edited by Richard Dixey

180 pages

Available April




Introduction by Per Kvaerne

Biographv of Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen (1859-1933)

Heart Drops of Dharmakaya: The Text

Book 1: Preliminary Practices

Book 2: The Practice of Trekcho

Book 3: The Practice of Togel

Book 4: Phowa and Bardo Practices

Appendix 1: The Rainbow Body

Appendix 2: A Short Historv of Bon

Appendix 3: Biography of Lopon Tenzin Namdak


Bibliographic Essay

Tibetan Text

From the Preface by Richard Dixey:

The publication of this text is a first for two reasons. It is the first time a text from the Bonpo tradition has been published in its entirety, demonstrating the vitality and importance of this tradition which has survived intact from very ancient times. Secondly it is the first time a complete text concerning Dzogchen has been made available to a general Western audience, and gains from the fact that it was actually written in modern times, almost certainly after 1930. Written by Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen (1859-1933), a famous Bonpo master who gave teachings to students of other schools of Tibetan Buddhism as well as to many students from the Bonpo community, it belongs within an unbroken lineage that remains active right up to the present day.

Reappraisal of the Bonpo and their role in the development of Tibetan culture has been a feature of Western scholarship of the last twenty years, and we hope that this volume will help in this task. Toward this end we have included with the text a short history of the Bonpo from their own perspective, as well as biographies of Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen and Lopon Tenzin Namdak, the Bonpo master primarily responsible for this translation.


The text presented here is in the style of personal instruction from Shardza to his students. Such texts are called mengagde in the tradition of Dzogchen, and this text is a condensate of a two-volume work by Shardza of the same name.

The translation was carried out in August 1991 by Lopon Tenzin Namdak in the course of teaching the text to a small group of Western students in his monastery in the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. As the rain fell around us, Lopon spent some two hours every morning translating and teaching from the text, which was typed on a portable word processor as he taught it. It was also tape-recorded, which enabled us to check that the typed text was accurate, and that no omissions occurred from the Tibetan original. The final version was then read back to the Lopon, who checked it for a second time against the Tibetan original.

As well as being an acknowledged master of Dzogchen, Lopon Tenzin Namdak is a remarkable teacher with an encyclopedic knowledge of Bonpo culture and a lifetime's experience of teaching it to trainee monks, both in Tibet and India. Not only could he translate the text as he read it to us, but he was happy to answer any points of clarification or problems of interpretation as they arose during our sessions, and his answers form almost another mengagde text alongside the original. These comments are to be found in the copious footnotes that accompany the text, and have been printed alongside it as they do indeed parallel the original and should be read as a commentary to it, and at the same time.

Following the suggestion of Per Kvaerne, this text is better described as an exegetical commentary than as a translation as such. As it is a commentary of what is, after all, a personal instruction by a great master of Dzogchen, this need not cause too much of a problem, and we hope it preserves some of the flavour of the text as it was taught. For those new to Dzogchen, however, a comprehensive resume of background reading is given by Professor Kvaerne in the bibliographic essay that follows the text.

As mentioned in the first line of this preface, this is indeed a rare event, and we hope that this wonderfully cleara nd concise text will be both comprehensible and useful to whoever reads it. It describes a tradition that is both utterly magical yet is still active and available. May it serve to benefit beings.

Excerpt from the text:


First there is a preliminary practice which is described in two sections. The purpose of the first practice is to end desire for samsara; the purpose of the second is to stop desire for objects or thoughts.


The first practice is further subdivided into external and internal practices.

External practice

Go to a quiet place without any people and stay there. First make offerings to the mountain gods or whoever is powerful and spiritual in the area so that they are not disturbed. Tell them where you are practicing so that you do not disturb them.

Then, thinking that you must stop desire for samsara, ask what is the purpose of so much attachment? You need to ask why you have this desire. Imagine that you are naked and born in hell, screaming and suffering as if you are actually there. Then imagine that you are born in the realm of the tormented spirits (pretas) with endless hunger and want. Imagine you are born in the animal realm, doing as animals do. Then think that you are born as a human with servantsimagine that life; then as a titan (asura) fighting with anotherwhat is the purpose of that? Finally imagine that you are born as a god (deva) and spending life in leisure without thinking of the next lifewhat is the purpose of this? Imagine that you are circulating from one realm to the next. Do whatever comes to your mindin vision or imagination.

Then imagine what it is like to be a yidam (tutelary deity) or a buddha; or that you are in Shambhala and are teaching the bodhisattvas; or in the tantric realms with the siddhas as disciples; or in Sukhavati or Olmolungring teaching Dzogpachenpo. Pretend that you are actually doing this. Finally dissolve all visions into the natural state. What is left? Then dissolve even your thought itself into the natural state so there is nothing left. Then you will realise that everything is made by your thoughteverything comes from there. You have to realise how things are created.

You must practice this seriously for at best three months, or at least one month.2

The purpose is to see that everything is created by your thought. Once you finally realise this you can check back to find its origin. All things are created by your thought and mindand if you look back to the source of your thought and mind you find that it disappears. It dissolves and goes back to its nature. That is the limit; every individual thing is dependent on the mind. All worldly life, all the beings in the six realms are in the same temporary situation. The purpose of this practice is to stop all desire for the worldly lifeto see that it is all created by our mind. The world is like a common mind, with the whole human race sharing the same attitude, the same karma. Likewise for the beings in the other realmsthey all share a karmic vision of the world.

Take the individual mind, for example. One person might think that he is good although others think he is bad; a mother may see a man as her son, but his wife sees him as a husband. All this is created by individual mindspeople see others through their preconceptions. Everything is created. This realisation makes it possible for us to develop in positive or negative ways. But we are covered with our ignorance, for always we are grasping. If things exist as our grasping mind sees them, as objects that are real and fixed, then nothing can change in this world. But nothing is fixed. That is how we are deluded. It is to break this deluded perception that is the purpose of this practice.

Internal Practice

The second part of the first preliminary practice is to stop desire internally through visualisation and recitation. It should be done for at least seven weeks. The actual practice is not described in this text. Briefly, there is a mantra and sending lights to the six realms to purify all defilements. It is more connected to the tantric system.


External Practice for the Body

Here one practices with the body. One stands up and places the soles of the feet together with the knees out and the hands joined above the head. The neck is bent to the chest. That is the body posture. One visualises oneself as a three-pointed dorje, flaming and blue. Inhale the breath and hold it. Hold that posture until you cannot hold it any longer. At that point fall down backwards, exhaling with HAH strongly. Do this many times.

This practice serves three purposes: first, it purifies the body; second, the demons see the flaming vajra and leave you alone; and third, it stops desire for the body.

The Practice for the Speech

The second type of practice is for the speech. There are four subdivisions: Jedapa (sealed), Tsel jang (practice), Nyen Tsal (the training), and Lamdu shug (to put in the way).

The seal
(jedapa, rgyas gdab-pa.

There are three subdivisions. HUM is a seal for the impure mind. HUM is used since it symbolises the Buddha mind. The practice is to sit cross-legged and gaze into space. Visualise your mind at the heart as a blue HUM, then sound HUM slowly many times. At the same time visualise the blue HUM emitting rays of little HUMs which come out through the right nostril filling up the universe with HUM. Whatever the HUM touches turns into another blue HUM, everything both internally and externally. Your mind is completely absorbed into HUMnothing else is happening. Always sound the HUM, soft and long.

Now sound HUM in a fast rhythm, and imagine that all the HUMs dissolve one into another and come back to the heart through the left nostril. When they come to the inside of the body all the flesh and blood turns into HUM so that the body is filled with HUM. Hold this vision for a long time. Thus you realise that no object, not even your body, is self-sustaining. Nothing, not even your body, has independent material existenceeverything can be easily changed. When you have practiced long enough signs come, such as an unexpected vision of HUM externally, or that you suddenly feel that your body is filled with HUM. That is a sign that you have practiced jedapa enough.

The practice of visions as reflections
(Tsel ja?ig, rtsal sbyang.

Whatever vision comes to mind is Tsal (reflection), so this practice is to destroy whatever comes and dissolve it into mind. The practice is similar to before. Sitting with the five-point body posture, visualise a dark blue HUM inside the heart. Now you should sound the HUM very strongly, very sharply, and visualize the HUM as a very strong lire with swords, throwing off sparks like lightning. This HUM comes out through the right nostril in the form of many HUMs and whatever they touch they destroy. Finally they go through everything and destroy in all directions. Everything is destroyed by this strong HUM. Then again it comes back through the left nostril and destroys all the material of your body. It also helps to send away all sickness and disturbance. It can even help in the formation of the jalu (the body of light) by stopping all desire for the body.

The signs that this has been practiced enough are to have the sudden vision that the universe is just an illusion and that your body is thin like a net, insubstantial. That is the sign.

The training
(Nyen tsel, Nyen btsal-ba.

The purpose here is to tame your mind and bring it under control. You practice by placing a stick in front of you and sounding HUM continuously like a beat. Then many HUMs come out from the heart like beads, leave the body through the nostrils, and go to the base of the stick. They climb the stick like ants, wrapping around it. When the first one comes to the top of the stick it stops, facing you; the rest are wrapped around in a spiral. When thoughts disturb you, all the HUMs come back to the first HUM at the heart. You have to spend some time doing this, and it brings the thoughts under control so you can meditate for as long as you want to.

lo put in the way
(Lamdu Shug, Lam-du gzug.

This means to put the body, speech and mind into the right wayto put them into the natural clear light. The practice is to think of a blue HUM the size of the distance from your elbow to your finger tips. This represents your body, speech and mindeverything. When you sound HUM it moves to the right and left and then it moves off, travelling over the countryside, until finally it goes to countries that you have never seen. All the while say, HUM, HUM continuously. Then stop it by saying PHAT! strongly and suddenly. The vision disappears and you rest as you areyou remain in your nature. This HUM can go to the heavens or to Shambhala; suddenly you stop it by sounding PHAT. By doing this you induce the natural state. By carrying out this practice you will begin to have experiences of bliss, emptiness and clarity.

The sign that you have carried out this practice enough is that you will be able to remain in the natural state without any doubt or effort.

The Practice for the Mind
(Sem Jongwa, Sems sbyong-ba)

These are direct methods of introduction to the natural state. The methods described above are all material ways to bring you to the natural state. Below are given nine methods to bring you directly to this state.

(End of excerpt)