The Distinctive Mindfulness of Dzogchen: Jigme Lingpa’s Advice on Meta-Awareness and Nondual Meditation

with Marc-Henri Deroche, Kyoto University

Religions 2022, 13(7), 573.

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For Indian Buddhists and their Tibetan successors, the faculty of “mindfulness” (Skt. smṛti, Tib. dran pa) has been interpreted as the foundation of the threefold development of wisdom (study, reflection, cultivation). Such a model was, in Tibet, the hallmark of the gradual approach to awakening, whereas in the simultaneous approach, the state beyond ordinary mindfulness was emphasized. The complementarity of both approaches has been an essential issue, especially for the Nyingma tradition, which holds the direct teaching of Dzogchen to be the penultimate. To elucidate the operations of mindfulness in this context, this paper analyzes two guidance texts on mindfulness by Rigdzin Jigme Lingpa (1730–1798), Ocean of Qualities: Advice on Mindfulness and Cudgel to Discern the Real: Advice that Shines from Mindfulness and Meta-Awareness, the latter translated into English for the first time in this paper. As this study shows, Jigme Lingpa articulates a twofold typology of mindfulness, first a mindfulness that is effortful and conditioned, and secondarily the distinctive mindfulness of Dzogchen that is inseparable from pure awareness or rigpa (rig pa). Jigme Lingpa thus applies mindfulness to integrate Buddhist teachings and make sense of alternative modes of practice along the Dzogchen path.