Invocation of Samantabhadra

There will be another wonderful precious opportunity to receive teachings from Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche this month. This webcast retreat will be a teaching about the Invocation of Samantabhadra which belongs to the cycle of the Northern Treasures (byang gter) discovered by the Tertön Rigdzin Gödem Chen. The teachings will be broadcasted live from Merigar, Italy.


Day 1: Introduction about this retreat and its teaching,how we can apply its principal practice "Guru Yoga" in a simple way, and giving the tridlung of Short Thun


Day2: Explanation about the transmission and the Empowerment of Guru Yoga, and giving the tridlung of Medium Thun


Day 3: Teaching of "The Invocation of Samantabhadra about the condition of the Base, how developed the transmigration", and giving the tridlung of Gana Puja


Day 4: Teaching of "The Invocation of Samantabhadra about the Six Lokas and how one can liberate all of them", and giving the tridlung of Longer Thun


Day 5: Teaching of "The Invocation of Samantabhadra about the last part", giving some Tridlungs and advices for daily life practices. The retreat ends with a Short Thun Practice together

The following is an excerpt by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu taken from Teachings of Chogyal Namkhai Norbu, which contains twenty teachings from The Mirror, the newspaper of the international Dzogchen Community of Namkhai Norbu. It has been edited with permission from The Mirror. This newspaper is available as a bi-monthly and is also on line at

Invocation of Samantabhadra

I want to explain the Invocation of Samantabhadra contained in an Upadesha Tantra; within this Tantra is the very essence of knowledge of the Dzogchen teaching.

This invocation is not only to be used as such, but is also very important for having knowledge and understanding. In general, practitioners use it as an invocation, chanting and reciting it to be in the state of knowledge. Particularly at the beginning of the invocations there are verses that are essential Dzogchen.

Everything Has the Same Base

The beginning of the first verse says that the bases of all of the universe-samsara, nirvana, and all our considerations-are the same base. There is a Tibetan word zhichig; chig means one, zhi means base. One base does not mean the only base, but the same base.

For example, in the universe there are infinite sentient beings, including all enlightened beings. All these beings, either enlightened or in samsara, have the same base. One of the most important things we learn in Dzogchen is what the base is. The base is our real condition. When we explain the base, we use the explanation of essence, nature and energy. There is no difference, enlightened or not. That is why in Dzogchen we say that since the beginning our state is the enlightened state. Our real base or condition never changes or is modified. If we follow the teaching and use methods or practices for purification, we purify obstacles, but that doesn't change our nature. Our real condition is the same base since the beginning.

Two Kinds of Paths

Lam nyi means there are two paths or two aspects of manifestation. When we have knowledge or understanding of the base or are in the condition of the base, that is called enlightenment, the state of illumination. If we are ignorant of that and are no longer in that state, then we fall into dualistic vision and samsara. Hence samsara and nirvana.

When did this samsara and nirvana start? In the West we usually have a Judeo-Christian education, and have the idea that someone has created everything from the beginning. So who created this and divided these paths into two? No one divided them; their division is related to our nature. If we have movement in our nature, it must manifest. If we have the capacity of manifesting reflections, somehow they manifest when circumstances arise.

There is no starting point of samsara, because our real condition is beyond time. When we are beyond time we are in an illuminated state, no longer in samsara. But we don't remain in that state for a long time, because thoughts arise and we are conditioned by them. In the state of contemplation, even if thoughts arise we do not follow them. That state of clarity or instant presence is the illumined state. When we are distracted with thoughts and dualistic vision, we are in samsara. That is the starting point of that moment of samsara. We can be at the starting point of samsara many times. We can have millions and millions of starting points of samsara. It depends on our condition and how we get in that state.

Generally speaking, we say that since the beginning one who is in the state of instant presence and is never distracted has knowledge or understanding. That primordial understanding is called Samantabhadra, which is the symbol of the Ati Buddha, the primordial Buddha that since the beginning has never been conditioned by dualistic vision. If we don't have this knowledge or understanding there is no way we can realize or get in that state. This is called lam nyi, two paths.

Drebu nyi means there are two kinds of fruit: either we have knowledge and understanding or we don't. Those who have that kind of knowledge are in a state of illumination. Those who are ignorant continually create negative karma and the potentiality of karma, producing infinite samsara.

Rigpa and Marigpa

What is the cause of these two paths and two fruits? Here we arrive at the main point: rigpa and marigpa. Rigpa means knowing or being in that knowledge and understanding; marigpa means ignorance of real knowledge or understanding. If we are ignorant we fall totally into dualistic vision. The way we fall is very simple. For example, we can relax a bit and observe our thoughts and circumstances: our eyes see, our ears hear, all our organs have functions, and immediately we have contact through the senses and we think and judge. We see something very pleasant, receive the information through our vision and immediately our judgment arises "Oh, how nice, I like that." That means we are accepting and creating attachment. Then we fight and struggle to get that object of attachment. When we can't get that object, we suffer. So this is how we fall into suffering.

Or, if we see something we don't like, we say "Oh, I don't like that and if you put it in front of me it makes me nervous." That means we are rejecting and are angry with that object. These are our two main emotions: attachment and anger. In this way we accept and reject over and over again, falling into dualistic vision and accumulating the negative potentiality of karma. When we produce negative karma it has the potentiality for producing samsara. Therefore our obstacles of negative karma become thicker and thicker and we become more and more ignorant of our condition.

Buddha Essence

Even if we have our perfected qualification of potentiality from the beginning, if we are not aware of it, it has no value. This principle is found not only in Dzogchen but also in Sutra teaching. In Sutra it is called Buddha essence. Everyone has the Buddha essence. There is a book called Gyüd Lama which explains and gives an example that is very important in the Dzogchen teaching as well:

There was a very poor man living in the country. Every day he went to town to get food. He didn't have a house and every night he went to a mountain cave to sleep. He passed his life in this way. In front of this mountain there was a practitioner, a yogi, who was doing retreat. Every day the yogi saw the old man going to town and coming back in the evening. Then the yogi noticed that the old man no longer came out of his cave. He saw by means of his clarity that the old man was dead in the cave. He looked a little deeper with his clarity to discover why and how the old man had died and he saw that the old man had a negative karma to purify and due to this had no money. But he also saw that every night in the place the old man put his head to sleep there was a big diamond. But even though the old man had contact with this diamond every day, he never discovered it throughout his life. If he had discovered this diamond he would have become very rich.

This is an example of how we each have the Buddha essence, like that diamond. When we don't discover it, even if we have it, it has no value.

Dualistic Vision

All our sense organs are directed externally to have contact with objects. When we have this contact with the objects of our senses we fall into dualistic vision and have no capacity to observe ourselves. In Dzogchen, therefore, we do not use the teachings and our understanding like eyeglasses because even if they are clear and strong they always look outside. We use the teaching and knowledge like a mirror. If we look in a mirror we discover how our face appears. In this same way if we turn our awareness within ourselves, then we can discover and have knowledge, understanding; this is the principle of rigpa or marigpa-having understanding or not. Whoever has this knowledge can be in their real condition and be like Samantabhadra and Vajrasattva. If we look outside-judging, thinking and multiplying our dualistic vision-we end up with infinite dualistic vision and samsara.

In the Dzogchen teaching we have a word rulog which means reverse. We do not go directly into samsara, we reverse this process and get into real knowledge or understanding. We can have this experience and be again in our real potentiality with this invocation of Samantabhadra. This is called illumination or realization.


Realization or illumination is not something we construct or build. If we consider realization as something we build then it becomes something made up of aggregates or something impermanent. If we create something within time and through action, we can never get beyond time. In our real condition the base is beyond time, beyond consideration, explanation, beyond everything. That is why at the end of his life Buddha Shakyamuni explained everything as emptiness with the teaching of the Prajnaparamita. Even at the end of his life he said there was no wisdom, no path, and no realization. Why did he negate all these things? We always enter into concepts. If we say "wisdom" then we have a concept and if we remain in this concept, we have a problem. Realization must be beyond all this.


In Dzogchen we have the qualification of self-perfectedness from the beginning. Self-perfectedness is the nature of our real condition. For example, in the summer there are many kinds of flowers and trees in the garden. No one made them. There is cause and effect, our condition, and through our condition our nature manifests. In the same way in our qualification there is the self-perfection of everything. This is the base in the real sense.

Why do we say that the base or essence is empty? Because when we search there is nothing to find. We always reach the point of emptiness; our real condition is emptiness. If we are in a room in the night-time and the room is totally dark, if we go in any direction we will reach a wall. We reach a wall because we are in a room. In general, we are in our real nature of emptiness. That is why we search and always find emptiness. Reaching this emptiness we discover our condition.

It seems we only find emptiness but our real condition is emptiness with infinite potentiality, not only an idea of emptiness, like the emptiness of the idea of the horns of a hare or a horse. These animals don't have horns, but you can imagine they do even though in reality they have never existed. This is a kind of emptiness. The kind of emptiness of a horn on the head of a horse has no function.

Emptiness with Infinite Potentiality

This is not what we mean by the total emptiness of our real nature such as Dharmata or Dharmakaya. This is emptiness which can have infinite manifestations. We can observe the emptiness of space, and the infinite manifestations of this dimension. When we observe the sky, there may be nothing in the sky. When infinite clouds arise, those manifestations of clouds can't be separated from space; they manifest in the same dimension as space. In the same way, we have that emptiness with infinite potentiality. For that reason we say that our real nature is clarity. Even if it is empty, it can manifest everything. All possibilities can manifest without interruption. This is represented by the thigle and the white A-by sound, light and rays.

Three Kayas

In the teaching there is an explanation of the three dimensions, the three kayas of the base, path and fruit. If you read many books, particularly Mahayana texts, then you understand that these three kayas explain some qualifications of enlightened beings. In the real sense this is not only the explanation of enlightened beings but also the explanation of our condition. It is very important to know this from the beginning. Essence is empty and is Dharmakaya. Nature is clarity natuand means manifestation and is Sambhogakaya. And energy without interruption means Nirmanakaya. When we are in a state of contemplation we are in those three states. When we have that knowledge through Introduction we have discovered our real base. How we manifest this concretely depends on how we do practice and how we realize.

Discovering our real nature doesn't mean we manifest our qualifications. In the Dzogchen teachings there is the example of the practitioner's knowledge which is similar to the egg of the eagle. The egg of the eagle is different from other eggs; when it opens the small eagle is perfectly formed and ready to fly, self-perfected from the beginning. That is why it is said to be like a practitioner of Dzogchen. Even if we live with the limitation of the physical body, our capacity, knowledge and understanding are perfected. When we liberate from this physical body we have the realization of all three kayas.

[May 1996-Mirror 36]

taken from the Snow Lion Newsletter

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