The Stages of A-Khrid Meditation (Dzogchen Practice of the Bon Tradition)

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Item Code: IDK349
Author: Bru-sgom rGyal-ba g.young-drung, Translated by Per Kvaerne and Thupten K. Rikey
Publisher: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, Dharamsala
Edition: 2004
ISBN: 8186470034
Pages: 136
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5" X 5.5"
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Book Description

The main part of the present work appeared in the journal Kailash, published in Kathmandu, in 1973. Some of the basic ideas of the Bonpo tradition of the Great Perfection had been presented to Western readers in 1967 by Professor David L. Snellgrove in his translation of excerpts from the gZi brjid. However, the text of which I published and translated roughly one third in Kailash is older than the gZi brjid, which is assigned to the 14th century. It also has the advantage of being a systematic, practical manual written for the benefit of teachers who have set themselves the task of guiding others in achieving enlightenment through the practice of the Great Perfection.

The Great Perfection (rdzogs pa chen po) is a tradition of spiritual training and philosophical insight which is found in the Nyingmapa schools of Buddhism as well as in the Bon religion. Probably there is a certain amount of common ground, historically as well as philosophically, between Bon and Nyingmapa Buddhism as far as the Great Perfection is concerned, but the nature and extent of this relationship still awaits study.

The Great Perfection of Bon is found is three distinct traditions, each with its own texts and spiritual lineage. This was pointed out for the first time in Western literature by Samten G. Karmay in his short but useful work, "A General Introduction to the History and Doctrines of Bon", published in 1975. The three traditions, sometimes known as a rdzogs snyan gsum, are the A khrid, 'the Teachings regarding the Ultimate Origin (A)', the Zhang zhung snyan rgyud,' the Aural Transmission of Zhang zhung', and a tradition which, though quite separate and distinct, is simply known as rDzogs chen, 'the Great Perfection'. While the latter two have been transmitted through lineages of masters reaching, so the Bonpos claim, back to supra-human spheres, the A-khrid is held to have an historical origin which can be precisely defined, being initiated by the lama known as rMe'u dGongs-mdzod, 'the Great Hermit' of the rMe'u clan, who lived from 1038 to 1096. The following passage from the above-mentioned work by Samten G. Karmay can serve to introduce the present translation :

"A-Khrid was promulgated by the great hermit, dGongs-mdzod (1038-1096). His system is divided into 80 periods called A-khrid thu-mtshams brgyad-cu-pa, each period lasting one or two weeks. After completing this course the adept is qualified and given the title rTogs-ldan. However, the system of 80 periods was reduced to 30 by 'A-aha Blo-gros rgyal-mtshan (1198-1263) and a little later this was further reduced to 15 by Bru Rgyal-ba g. young-drung (1242-1290). Since then the system has been known as Bru'I a-khrid thun-mtshams bco-lnga-pa the fifteen period A-khrid of Bru" (p. 215).

Publications (other than texts in Tibetan) relevant to the Great Perfection of Bon have not been numerous. Brief excerpts from texts belonging to the Zhang zhung snyan rgyud and the bsGrags paskor gsum traditions were translated by Giacomella Orofino in 1985: Insignamenti tibetani su morte e liberazione. Testi inediti dale piuantiche tradizioni del Tibet, Roma (Edizioni Mediterranee); English revised edition 1990. A short but important contribution was Chap. VIII, "rDzogs chen in the Bonpo Tradition", in Samten G. Karmay, The Great Perfection. A Philosophical and Meditative Teaching of Tibetan Buddhism, Leiden (E.J. Brill), 1988, pp. 201-205.

In 1993 two books on this topic appeared. Tenzin Wangyal, a Geshe from the Bonpo Monastery at Ochghat, Himachal Pradesh, presented the Great Perfection according to his own training and experience in Wonders of the Natural Mind. The Essence of Dzogchen in the Native Bon Tradition of Tibet, Barrytown, N.Y. (Station Hill Press). The other book, entitled Heart Drops of Dharmakaya. Dzogchen Practice of the Bon Tradition, Ithaca, N.Y. (Snow Lion Publications), is a composite volume. The main part of the book is a somewhat free English rendering of a work by the famous Bonpo lama Shar-rdza bKra-shis rgyal-mtshan (1859-1934), with the comments (based on tape-recordings) of Slob dpon bsTan-'dzin rnam-dag, an essay on the phenomenon of the 'rainbow body' ('ja' lus), a short history of Bon, illustrations, Tibetan text, a preface by the editor of the volume, Richard Dixey, and a short Introduction and a Bibliographic Essay by myself. An article on the A-khrid which I published in 1983 is reprinted as the Introduction to the present volume.

Back of the Book

The Stages of A-Khrid Meditation presents one tradition of the system of meditation known as "the Great Perfection" (rdzogs pa chen po), in the form of a methodical and practical guide written to assist those noble beings who set themselves the task of leading others to enlightenment through the practice of the Great Perfection.

The A-Khrid ("the Teachings regarding the Ultimate Origin (A)") is believed to have a historical source in the great lama called rMe'u dGongs-mdzod (1038-1096). The text given here is a condensed version of his original composition, written by Bru-sgom rGyal-ba g.young (1242-1296).

All readers with an interest in rDzogs-chen-which is common to both the Nyingmapa school of Tibetan Buddhism and the Tibetan Bon tradition-will gain great benefit from the lucid and compelling translation contained in this book. The Tibetan text has been included for scholars of Tibetan religious and literary culture.


PART ONE: The Preliminary Practice
1Meditation on Impermanence (Session One)5
2Taking Refuge after Having Cultivated Bodhicitta (Session Two):7
Bodhicitta Cultivation8
Taking Refuge9
Confession of Sins10
3Mandala Offering: a means to complete the accumulation of merit (Session Three)11
4Entreaty: a means to receive full blessings (Session Four)15
PART TWO: The Actual Body of Practice
1Mental Grasping (Session Five):21
Control of the body21
The Gaze22
The Vow22
2The Equipoising (Session Six): 26
Spiritual exertion for the obtaining of stability26
Spiritual exertion for the procuring of benefit (Session Seven)30
3The Confrontation with the Substance of Ultimate Nature (Session Eight):33
Discerning of Spontaneous Wisdom33
Casting off defilements produced by the intellect (Session Nine)37
Gaining of Control over Stainless Wisdom (Session Ten)40
Appendix I: The Similes47
Appendix II: Index of Lamas, Index of Texts50
Appendix III: Glossary of Technical Terms52
Appendix IV: Outline of the Original Text54
Tibetan text73
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