Written By Johanne Bernard

Johanne is a scriptwriter for cinema and television, and author of books for youth. She has been practicing Buddhist meditation and Dzogchen for more than ten years.

Blog | Culture and tradition

In this article, Johanne talks about the encounter with Dzogchen: how it can happen and what the introduction can look like. A bit like the mountain yeti with a cup of tea!

How does one encounter Dzogchen?

You are sitting, in a conference room or at home, you are listening to a teaching, or you are reading a text. You are focused, sometimes a little sleepy if it is just after the meal. Everything is going on as usual, except that, without you really being aware of it, your perceptions are subtly modified: the space becomes wider, clearer too, the details are more precise… It is different but not clear enough to pay attention. And then suddenly, for a moment, there is no longer anything. And from this void, an experience emerges. An experience totally unknown, and yet at the same time familiar. An experience so brief that you wonder if you have even lived it, while the state born from this experience is still present. What happened?


If you ask people around you how they discovered Dzogchen, each one will surely give you a different context: they discovered it through an article, a friend who talked about it, a word in a dictionary… But all of them will talk to you at some point about the same thing: an experience they had, as unexpected as it was striking. They will tell you that they find difficult to talk about it, that there is no word for it, but that it was at that moment that, for the first time, they really encountered Dzogchen.

In the Dzogchen tradition, we speak of an experience on the nature of the mind.

“The nature of the mind, when we enter the path of Dzogchen, at the beginning, it is a bit like the Yeti of the mountains: we hear a lot about it, but we have not yet met it (…)”

The Mountain Yeti

The nature of the mind, when we enter the path of Dzogchen, at the beginning, it is a bit like the Yeti of the mountains: we hear a lot about it, but we have not yet met it, and deep down, we do not really know what it looks like, or even if it exists. Sometimes you think you see it, but you’re not quite sure… You say to yourself “Oh, this is it!” And then not.


The cup of tea

My Dzogchen master says: ” When we experience the nature of the mind, we know it !” He also says: ” The experience on the nature of the mind can happen at any time, but especially when we do not expect it: when we get up to make a cup of tea, or when we take, by surprise, a door in the face.” He also says, finally: “The nature of the mind is not encountered, it is spontaneously present.”

My master is very good at pointing out the Mountain Yeti… Because, let’s start from the beginning. The meeting with Dzogchen, it is above all the meeting with a holder of Dzogchen. Someone who is able to show you the Dzogchen view directly, through his own experience and integration. So it all starts … with the transmission.

That first experience, the very first… Remember? It is the one that marks the entry into the path and the Dzogchen view. And it didn’t happen by chance, it happened because someone had experienced it before you and was able to allow you to experience it in your turn. In the Dzogchen tradition, it is called the Rigpé Tsèl Wang, the direct introduction to one’s own nature, the nature of the mind.

For centuries, men and women have experienced this introduction, this first encounter. Even today, this encounter takes place, at every moment, for all those who enter the path of Dzogchen. This is what makes this tradition so alive.

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