The lightning bolt of compassion


Written By Nils Derboule

Nils Derboule is a global engineer and project manager who has been studying and practicing Dzogchen since several years while being active with his job.

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In his article “The lightning bolt of compassion”, Nils presents how the good friend can lead us to the fundamental experience of Great Perfection.

The lightning bolt of compassion


When we speak of the Friend of good in the Dzogchen tradition, we’re talking first and foremost about the guide or master, the person who, as part of an authentic lineage, has walked the path before us and is therefore able to guide us. This is one of the key points of this tradition. For how can we make the journey without a guide? Like an apprentice following the teachings of a master craftsman, the Great Perfection requires direct transmission “from person to person”, whether to share its essence or its forms, such as body postures, symbolic gestures or chants. This is what a Friend of good does: sharing the Great Perfection.

There are many, many different ways of sharing. It depends, of course, on the Friend of good, but also on the student and his or her cognitive and emotional biases, on the place where the two protagonists meet, on the moment when this meeting takes place, and of course on what is being transmitted. A lot of conditions, therefore… for a great benefit! But don’t forget: it doesn’t have to be in a Tibetan temple, with the shimmering gold of statues, the smell of butter lamps and the smoke of incense; it works just as well in a Japanese restaurant at lunchtime, between the noise of the kitchens and a steaming bowl of ramen.

“The Friend of good has the fundamental ability to share this view. He is both the space of the sky that envelops us and the rays of the sun that touch us.”


So much for the theory. Except that…

How do you share primordial knowledge, the natural, radiant expression of the empty essence of reality? There’s no point in just reading it, so go and pass it on!

And yet…

It all begins with the View. A central element in Dzogchen culture, that says there is nothing else to be achieved. This view is the fundamental absence of any conceptual view, the naturally empty view of the nature of reality. Everything is encompassed and pervaded by this View. It’s a bit like looking out into the pure atmosphere on a sunny morning after a stormy night. There’s a spontaneous freshness, a powerful, imperceptible vibration that seems to come from the sky itself and penetrates us just as well.

The Friend of good has the fundamental ability to share this view. He is both the space of the sky that envelops us and the rays of the sun that touch us. Having completed the path, he knows that the path is illusory, and that all attainment is illusory. The bliss of primordial evidence radiates naturally, imbued with the love of the Friend of good for all beings. And this is a real treasur for the student… although it does hold some surprises, as you will see!

dzogchentoday-The lightning bolt of compassion
When we set out on the path of Dzogchen, there’s one principle from which no one can escape: we take all our luggage – our habitual tendencies – with us. So we go in search of what we’re looking for in our lives: fame and beauty, recognition and worldliness. What’s more, our lives are a bit overloaded, so if it can be quiet, that’s fine with us.

With this state of mind, having received the instructions, the student trains in the view. He studies, meditates, questions. The Friend of good is the most important asset, the infallible joker who tirelessly guides him. For the realization of the Dzogchen view is very demanding: we can’t be content to wallow on the sofa of our intellectual understanding, watching the latest series of our meditative experiences. No, the student has to face the dynamic, uncompromising reality of everyday life, and this can sometimes involve shocks, some wake-up calls. The view, a long, quiet river… you’ll tell me!

Yes, it is! Breaking through the conceptual veils that students cling to like a second skin, moment after moment, rarely works with soft words. The Friend of good knows this because he’s been there. Even if his compassion suffers no interruption, and every word, every gesture, every thought is the ideal opportunity to introduce the View or remind the student of it, there comes a time when the pupil is ripe to realize it. Then the Friend of good pulls out all the stops: the thunderbolt.

The lightning bolt of compassion is powerful, direct, electrifying. The student can no longer banter. The moment before, he was dragging his feet, mired in a cloud of ignorance. The next moment, it’s all gone: seizure gives way to transparent clarity.

This didn’t happen by magic. The power of the lineage blessing transmitted by the Friend of good leaves no escape. I won’t draw you a picture: it could be a word that hits the student like a roar, a body movement that propels him into absolute space… Whatever it is, the result is there: the View of Great Perfection.

Where, from the outside, it may seem as if lightning has struck without us really knowing why, the Friend of good has in fact just offered his student the greatest gift of all: an introduction to the nature of mind.

So, are you ready for the lightning bolt of compassion?

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