Written By Mila Khyentse

Mila Khyentse is a French teacher of Tibetan Buddhism and Dzogchen and the Dzogchen Today! project initiator.

Blog | Culture and tradition

There is a lot of talk about practice, but what is it really? Mila Khyentse talks about the basic steps and how one progresses towards the Great Perfection.

Three steps

In the Dzogchen tradition, there is a huge amount of talk about “practice”.
What is it really?
First of all, it is the concrete application of a particular way of perceiving reality: all our experiences, all the phenomena we perceive outside or inside us are the natural play of the mind.
In other words, we have to verify through all our daily actions, whether it is through the mind, the speech or the body, that “all that”, all reality, has its origin within us and not outside of us.


The second step in the process of the practice is to recognize perfectly that the origin of reality itself is totally natural and empty of existence: it is not an object, not a thought or a sensation, not an emotion, not someone else, nor is it the sum of all these. This is the primordial aspect of reality and this is what one eventually discovers through the practice of Dzogchen.

The third stage of the practice process is the fruit, the result, which is for Dzogchen to simply stay in what was directly perceived in the second stage. It is the gradual and natural integration of the true deep aspect of who we are into all the activities of our “surface” reality.

“In a natural state of rest, all the time and in any situation, let your meditation be like the continuous flow of a river.”

Patrul Rinpoche, The Special Teaching of the Wise and Glorious King*

Meditation, “the fundamental tool”

To achieve this, the main “tool” of the practice is meditation, which is a particular way of focusing on one or more objects and on the space of that focus, at the same time.
Once we have realized how to do this, what is called “integration of the unified concentration”, it is from now on this that will serve as a guide on the path of discovery of our own mind: of its transient nature as well as of its ultimate essence.
Little by little, by applying the unified meditation on the empty essence of phenomena (their apparent nature being only transitory and thus illusory) and on compassion (the natural radiance of the phenomena of emptiness), we move towards an authentic, unfabricated, spontaneous meditation, which is called “contemplation” in Dzogchen.
It is this contemplation that will complete the work and will allow us to remain continuously in a fundamental freedom that nothing can taint anymore.


An evolving practice

There are many different forms of meditation and body yogas that can be applied in Dzogchen, but they all follow a logic of progression: first the techniques called “preliminary” which represent the indispensable base of the practice. Then, the techniques called “main” and finally, the techniques called ” of completion “. This gradual progression is essential because it helps us to integrate little by little what cannot be integrated and assimilated directly.

As you can see, the practice of Dzogchen is measured in a lifetime, but what we can discover with it is beyond anything we can dream of.
Every journey begins with a first step on the path…

*-You can read Patrul Rinpoche’s extraordinary text on Dzogchen practice at Lotsawa House. Back

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