The Dzogchen Tantras
Due to many requests we'd like to provide a more detailed description of the 18 Dzogchen Tantras collected in one place. We see these mentioned individually or possibly a few mentioned together once in awhile. Here they are together.
These come from the Appendix to Tsele Natsok Rangdrol's 17th century work titled "The Mirror of Mindfulness" ISBN 962-7341-18-5, translated by Erik Pema Kunsang, and published these days originally in 1987, again, by Rangjung Yeshe in Kathmandu, Nepal.
The underlined and/or highlighted words are links in case you may want more refined descriptions and associations. RWB _____________________________________
Note: Regarding these Dzogchen Tantras, the names, numbers and the tantras themselves in these lists may vary from teacher-to-teacher, tradition-to-tradition, each one however being a complete teaching in and of itself. Some call for 17 tantras, while most call for 18, and some add, still, an additional tantra making the total 19.
The Dzogchen Tantras
The first human vidyadhara in the Dzogchen lineage is Garab Dorje, who compiled the 6,400,000 tantras of the Great Perfection. He entrusted these teachings to his main disciple, Manjushrimitra, who classified these into Three Sections of Dzogchen: Mind Section, Space Section, and Instruction Section.
The chief disciple of Manjushrimitra, the great master Shri Singha, divided the Instruction Section into The Four Cycles of Nyingthig: the Outer, Inner, Secret, and Innermost Unexcelled Cycles.
The Innermost Unexcelled Cycle consists of seventeen tantras. These are eighteen when adding the Ngagsung Tromay Tantra, which is focused on the protective rites of Ekajati. According to the system of Padmakara, there are ninteen when including the Longsel Barwey Tantra.
These tantras teach in full all the requirements for one person to practice and reveal complete buddhahood within a single lifetime. Each tantra is not dependent upon the others but is complete in itself.
- 1. Dra Thalgyur Root Tantra (sgra thal 'gyur rtsa ba'i rgyud) explains how to reveal the level of nirmanakaya and how to accomplish the welfare of others through practices related to sound.
- 2. The Tantra of Graceful Auspiciousness (bkra shis mdzes ldan gyi rgyud) teaches how to establish the nature of awareness and how to identify the basis of confusion and unmistaken wisdom.
- 3. The Tantra of the Heart Mirror of Samantabhadra (kun tu bzang po thugs kyi me long) shows how to identify and cut through pitfalls and errors and how to establish what is innate.
- 4. The Blazing Lamp Tantra (sgron ma 'bar ba'i rgyud) teaches how to identify the "lamps" related to awareness, their terminology, analogies for how wisdom arises, the unity of awareness, how to clear misconceptions about self-cognizance, and how to practice.
- 5. The Tantra of the Mind Mirror of Vajrasattva (rdo rje sems dpa' snying gi me long) teaches how the lamps are the self-display of awareness. By means of 21 pointing-out instructions, the different types of people recognize wisdom. It further teaches the four key points and how to practice.
- 6. The Tantra of Self-Manifest Awareness (rig pa rang shar gyi rgyud) teaches how to resolve the view, meditation, and action.
- 7. The Tantra of Studded Jewels (nor bu bkra bkod) shows how to eliminate the defects and sidetracks connected to the view and the practice of meditation, conduct, and fruition.
- 8. The Tantra of Pointing-Out Instructions (ngo sprod sprad pa'i rgyud) describes applying the essence of awareness in one's practice through various indications.
- 9. The Tantra of the Six Spheres of Samantabhadra (kun tu bzang po klong drug pa'i rgyud) teaches how to prevent rebirth in and purify the six realms, and manifest the pure realms of self-display.
- 10. The Tantra of No Letters (yi ge med pa'i rgyud) describes the actual means of practice, how to abandon activities and live in places free from defects, the four ways of 'freely resting,' sustaining naturalness as well as the undefiled method of the main part of practice.
- 11. The Tantra of the Perfected Lion (seng ge rtsal rdzogs kyi rgyud) explains degrees of progress and signs which occur, how to stabilize awareness and increase the level of experience.
- 12. The Pearl Garland Tantra (mu tig phreng ba'i rgyud) is taught for the sake of preventing awareness from straying back by means of bringing it to maturation. It teaches how to practice, reach familiarity and liberation.
- 13. The Tantra of Self-Liberated Awareness (rig pa rang grol gyi rgyud) teaches how awareness is uncreated but is liberated by itself, how to control appearances, to grow familiar with the vajra chain, and to naturally free all of samsara and nirvana.
- 14. The Tantra of Piled Gems (rin chen spungs pa'i rgyud) explains how all the qualities manifest are all the essence of space and awareness.
- 15. The Tantra of Shining Relics (sku gdung 'bar ba'i rgyud) describes the outer and inner signs of awareness reaching maturity which are manifest before and after the time of death in order to inspire and instill confidence in other persons.
- 16. The Union of the Sun and Moon Tantra (nyi zla kha sbyor gyi rgyud) shows which experience a person undergoes in the intermediate state, the bardo, after passing away. It teaches how to resolve one's master's oral instructions during the bardo of this life, how to stabilize awareness during the bardo of dying, how to attain enlightenment through recognizing awareness during the bardo of dharmata, and, if necessary, how to be assured a rebirth in a natural nirmanakaya realm during the bardo of becoming and there attain buddhahood without further rebirths.
- 17. The Tantra of Self-Existing Perfection (rdzogs pa rang byung) teaches how to prepare to be a suitable recipient of the teachings by means of the four empowerments.
- 18. The Tantra of the Black Wrathful Shri Ekajati (dpal e ka dza ti nag mo khros ma'i rgyud) describes how to protect the practitioner against harms inflicted by others.
Vimalamitra united the explanatory lineage with scriptures and the hearing lineage without scriptures and concealed these, to be revealed in the future as the Nyingthig teachings renowned as Vima Nyingthig, and also as the Secret Heart Essence of Vimalamitra (bi ma'i gsang ba snying thig). Longchenpa clarified these in his fifty-one sections of Lama Yangthig.
Padmakara concealed his teachings on the Innermost Unexcelled Cycle, to be revealed in the future as Khandro Nyingthig, the Heart Essence of the Dakinis. Longchenpa also clarified these teachings in his Khandro Yangthig.
In recent years, many Westerners have had the fortune to receive this collection in completeness from living masters headed by His Holiness' Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Penor Rinpoche, and also, Dodrupchen Rinpoche, and in parts by the masters who have passed on these transmissions for Jamgon Kongtrul's precious treasuries, the Rinchen Terdzo and Damngak Dzo. RY