In the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, the Great Perfection is considered the most profound and direct path to enlightenment. The instructions of this tradition present a spiritual shortcut—a radically direct approach that cuts through confusion and lays bare the mind's true nature of luminous purity. For centuries, these teachings have been taught and practiced in secret by some of the greatest adepts of the Buddhist tradition. Great Perfection: Outer and Inner Preliminaries contains detailed instructions on the foundational practices of this tradition, from "The Excellent Chariot," a practice manual compiled by the Third Dzogchen Rinpoche.
Distilling the teachings of the Heart Essence of the Dakinis into an accessible, easy-to-practice format, The Excellent Chariot leads the reader through the entire Buddhist path, starting with basic Buddhist contemplations that work to dislodge deeply ingrained patterns of thinking and behaving, and continuing on to the most advanced and secret meditative practices of the Great Perfection. The teachings in this volume are drawn largely from the writings of the great Nyingma master Longchenpa and the root texts of the Heart Essence of the Dakinis itself. The Third Dzogchen Rinpoche begins by discussing the correct way to study and practice the Great Perfection teachings before presenting an overview of the Great Perfection lineage and an explanation on the meaning and importance of empowerment. In the chapters that follow, he presents practical instructions on the outer and inner preliminaries, the so-called "ngöndro" practices. These practices enable the practitioner to transform and purify the mind, preparing it for the advanced Great Perfection meditation of Trekchö and Tögal, the breakthrough and direct leap.
In addition to the translation mentioned above, Great Perfection: Outer and Inner Preliminaries contains a beautiful introduction by the Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, a contemporary Great Perfection master, and an extensive glossary of key Great Perfection terminology.
The Heart Essence Series presents translations of seminal writings on the Great Perfection. Beginning with the works of the Heart Essence of the Dakinis and the Heart Essence of Vimalamitra, two cycles that lie at the core of the Great Perfection lineage, the series aims to provide scholars, teachers, and practitioners of these profound teachings with accurate and readable translations of the most important Great Perfection texts.
Great Perfection: Separation and Breakthrough, a companion volume of restricted teachings, is also available, containing advanced teachings on the separation or rushen practices and the breakthrough stage of Great Perfection meditation.
“"This amazing volume enshrines the Buddhist teachings for beginners, teaching how to deal with everyday life, how to apply one's mind to the pure teachings of the Buddha, and especially the extraordinary physical, vocal, and mental exercises that awaken the enlightened nature of the mind. This wonderful volume is rich in blessings and filled with practical advice."—Tulku Thondup Rinpoche, author of The Healing Power of Mind "For centuries, the Heart Essence of the Dakinis has been treasured as one of the most profound and direct paths to enlightenment in the Tibetan tradition. The teachings contained in this volume illuminate the preliminary practices of this sacred path. Drawing upon many of the greatest sages of India and Tibet, its lucid explanations are sure to inspire beginners and seasoned meditators alike."—Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, author of The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness "The aim of the preliminary practices is to establish a foundation for all spiritual progress. To dispense with these foundations in order to practice teachings one supposes to be more profound is like building a palace on the surface of a frozen lake. If one's practice of the preliminaries is profound, the main practice will be profound as well. One can therefore be grateful to Cortland Dahl for having given us a clear and insightful translation of the Third Dzogchen Rinpoche's magnificent teachings on the preliminary practices of the Khandro Nyingtik. When it comes to the meaning of the Great Perfection, the birth of understanding depends entirely upon these preliminaries."—Matthieu Ricard, author of Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill”