Monthly Dharma Quotation: The Importance of Longchen Rabjam

Longchen Rabjam

The word Longchen refers to a person, Longchen Rabjam, the great 14th century Nyingma figure without whom there would be no current Nyingma tradition, there’s no doubt. Longchen also refers to the great long, the vast space in which being permeates or being itself acquires this aspect of vastness. Trungpa Rinpoche said, if you’re on the edge of a great precipice and look outwards then that is like the dhatu, space. But he said, if you parachute off the edge of the cliff then that would be the long. You are actually in the space yourself, not, as it were, just looking at the space.

The idea of Longchen, that great vast living openness of things, is not really different from Dzogchen itself, the great perfection or the great completion. So it’s as though Longchen Rabjam himself is, as they say, the view, the view which is not just simply to do with theory but with a direct experience of reality itself.

One western scholar once said, “Well, we hear all these stories about Longchen Rabjam, what happened and so forth in his life. But let us now get to the real man underneath!” In other words, throw away all this Dharma stuff which just obfuscates things. You’re not, as he said, getting “to the real man underneath.” What did he mean by that? What did he mean, the real man underneath? He seems to mean really that Longchen Rabjam was, under all that Dharma, just like the rest of of us with all the irritating idiosyncrasies, greed, hate and delusion. And this is the kind of western way of looking at things that all great saints have feet of clay in some way.

I think this is a totally wrong way of looking at Longchen Rabjam and this idea of the “western” version of the man underneath. You must get rid of that way of thinking because the Dharma is not some kind of prescriptive set of practices. It actually is the living heart of reality itself and you, by practicing, are entering into that. So you can’t say get rid of that window dressing of Dharma. It’s not window dressing, it is the reality itself. By entering into that reality the real man or woman underneath, indeed if there is such a thing, becomes changed from what perhaps he or she might have been originally into something new, almost strange, remarkable, amazing and a value to the world and to others.

Rigdzin Shikpo gave this teaching at one of our recent Longchen Rabjam days, when we commemorate the life and teachings of the great 14th century Tibetan master Longchen Rabjam. February marks the parinirvana of this incomparable teacher of the Dzogchen (also known as Maha Ati) cycle of teachings.

Reminder: Cinema Shikpo Tomorrow!

Don’t forget to attend Cinema Shikpo tomorrow, which will feature aspects of Longchen Rabjam’s teaching on Mandala and Mandala Principle. Cinema Shikpo is an opportunity to hear especially important teachings Rigdzin Shikpo has given in the past. For more information, see the event page here:

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