Golden Letters

Contents of Introduction


The Place of rDzogs-chen

pp. 24 to 31


The 3 Series of rDzogs-chen

pp. 31 to 35

Contents of Part 1 : "The Three Statements That Strike the Essential Points"


By the translator (J.M.R.) : Commentary on "The Special Teaching of the Wise and Glorious King"

pp. 65 to 128


The "Last Testament" of dGa>-rab rDo-rje

pp. 129 to 138


By the translator (J.M.R.) : Interlinear Commentary to the "Last Testament"

pp. 139 to 173

0.2-3 & 1.4



The Place of rDzogs-chen

pp. 24 to 31

pp. 27-30 the Tantra-yana-

p. 27

4. Kriya (Bya-ba) "emphasizes the performance of external rituals. The ... term kriya (bya-ba) in this context means "ritual activity.""

5. Carya (sPyod-pa) "emphasizes external ritual and internal meditation. The ... term carya (spyod-pa) in this context means "conduct" or "behavior." [Carya] Tantra is also known as Upaya , where ... upaya (thabs) is "method," and as Ubhaya ... (gnyis-ka) ... "both"; that is, ... both Kriya Tantra and Yoga Tantra. In this and in the preceding vehicle, the practitioner ... prays to and petitions this deity ... . In the case of Kriya Tantra this is done in the manner of a servant approaching his or her master or lord and is similar to the attitude of conventional ... religion.

In the case of [Carya] Tantra, this is done in the manner of a friend making a request of an intimate friend. This is similar to the attitude of ... mysticism."

{Likewise, a meaning of the name of the As^anti god /N~anko-pon/ is 'Friend Great' (RMAP, p. 448).}

6. Yoga (rNal->byor) "means ... one enters into a mystical union ...

p. 28

becoming the deity in one's meditation.

{This would be a stylized imitation of becoming spirit-possessed by a particular deity.}

This experience is known as divine pride (lha>i nga-rgyal)."

p. 29

7. Maha-yoga (rNal->byor Chen-po) "emphasizes the Utpattikrama (bskyed-rim), or generation process. This ... involves ... many deities and man[.]d[.]alas."

8. Anu-yoga (rJes su rNal->byor) "emphasis is placed on the practice of the esoteric yoga of the psychic channels and energies (rtsa rlung)."

p. 30

9. Ati-yoga (S`in tu rNal->byor) "is otherwise known as [r]Dzog[s-]chen, "the Great Perfection.""

RMAP = Martin Abroquah Akanba : Revelation: the movement of the Akan people. AuthorHouse, 2010.



The 3 Series of rDzogs-chen

pp. 31 to 35

pp. 31-2 the 3 series

p. 31

1st. Citta-varga (Sems-sde) "Mind Series ... refers to ...

p. 32

the nature of mind (sems-nyid) ... . ... This ... is similar to ... the Mahamudra system of [s]Gampopa".

2nd. Abhyantara-varga (kLon-sde) "Space Series ... the four signs (brda bzhi) ... occur simultaneously ... . The extant texts of [kLon-sde] were all {reputedly} transmitted to Tibet by the translator Vairochana {more correctly transliterated /Vairos.ana/}, in particular the Vajra Bridge precepts (rdo-rje zam-pa)."

3rd. Upades`a-varga (Man-nag gi sDe) "Secret Instruction Series ... teachings are also known as ... (snying-thig, Skt. citta-tilaka), which means "the essence of the mind," from snying-po (mind) and thig-le (essence)."

p. 33 the 2 divisions of sN~in-thig

"The term ... (khregs-chod) literally means "cutting loose (chod) the bundle (khregs)," much as a wood[s]man might cut loose the ties binding

a bundle of sticks he has brought ... from the forest."

{cf. the symbolism of bundles of rods known in certain Freemasonic orders}

"the term ... (thod-rgal, Skt. vyutkrantaka) literally means "direct" (thod-rgal du) ... transition from one location to another ... . ... However, ... beyond the mind, ... one continues ... an integration with vision, with whatever arises spontaneously to vision while the practitioner is in a state of contemplation."

p. 34 rainbow-body of one's last testament

"The ultimate fruition of the practice of [thod-rgal] is the realization of the Rainbow Body ... (>ja>-lus), so that one no longer needs to undergo the process of death and rebirth. All the original masters of the [r]Dzog[s-]chen in India, at the end of their earthly teaching careers, ... after dissolving their gross physical body into pure radiant energy (a process known as ru-log, or "reversal," where the physical elements of the body are dissolved into the corresponding colored lights), then subsequently reappeared in the dimension of the sky ... in order to bestow their last testaments (zhal >chems) upon their respective senior disciples."



By the translator (J.M.R.) : Commentary on "The Special Teaching of the Wise and Glorious King"

pp. 65 to 128

1.4.1 p. 66 authorization to study

"the student required permission and authorization of a qualified ... master before reading and studying a religious book. Such a scriptural authorization ... took the form of the [b]Lama['s] reading the text aloud to the student or students. ... In Tibet, usually this ... was given at an exceedingly rapid rate, in a kind of singsong chanting. ... When ... completed, it might be followed by an explanation, ... (khrid), of the text."

1.4.1 p. 67 ascended master within own sphaire of glory

"Garab Dorje (Skt. Prahevajra), the first human teacher of [r]Dzog[s-]chen ... At the time of his passing into Nirvana, ... revealed himself within a sphere of light (thig-le) of rainbow colors".

1.4.5 p. 73 initiations

by the __ initiation

we are empowered to practice the __


"visualization of the deity"


"yoga of the channels and energies (rtsa rlung)"


"perfection process"



1.4.5 p. 75 thoughts

"Thoughts do not arise from anywhere ... , they do not remain anywhere ..., and they do not go anywhere. ...

{Untrue! Just as matter-and-energy must each come from somewhere, must remain somewhere, and must go to somewhere; so likewise with thoughts.}

They are truly without any root or source ... . Like the clouds in the sky, they arise only to dissolve again.

{False! Clouds have their root-source in invisible water-vapour, which can condense to become visible, and then again become invisible.}

Thoughts arise out of the state of emptiness and return again into this state of emptiness, which represents pure potentiality."

{Actually, like matter-and-energy, thoughts always retain their distinct character while indetectible. There is no actual indistinguishably indefinite "pure" potentiality whatsoever.}

{The conservation-principles of matter-and-energy and of thoughts are quite similar. About the only difference is that whereas matter-and-energy are located in the material plane-of-existence, thoughts are properly located in subtle planes-of-existence.}

1.4.7 pp. 79 & 82-3 phat.

p. 79

"we suddenly utter a thought-shattering PHAT[.]!"

{In Japanese, this word is KWATS.}

p. 82

"we sharply and abruptly sound PHAT[.]! ... This state in which we find ourselves is called had-de-ba, "startled awareness." ...

p. 83

There are no thoughts, yet there is awareness."

{The state of being startled is surely (as is every emotion) a state of thought. (Though it may be unaccompanied by praecise words; nevertheless one can readily think, and perform, without words. Pure awareness would be quite emotionless and performanceless.)}

1.4.8 pp. 84-6 the Basis and its aspects

p. 84

"This immediate intrinsic Awareness ... abides as the Base (gzhir-gnas kyi rig-pa). ...

p. 85

"This Primordial State, the Base, ... in ... its manifestation, we distinguish three aspects (chos gsum) : its Essence (ngo-ba), its Nature (rang-bzhin), and its Energy (thugs-rje).

In the Sutra system, the Tibetan word thugs-rje translates the Sanskrit word karun.a, "compasssion"; but in the [r]Dzog[s-]chen context it means the "Energy" of the Primordial State. ...

The Essence ..., which is primordial purity, is emptiness ... .

Its Nature is clear luminosity (gsal-ba), which is spontaneous self-perfection ... .

p. 86

... These three aspects of the Primordial State ... are known as the Trikaya of the Base (gzhi>i sku gsum)."

1.4.8 p. 86 allegations about the manifestations of the Tri-kaya

"The Nirmanakaya manifests ... on the material, etheric, astral, and mental planes of conditioned existence (Samsara). ...

{/Nirman.a-kaya/ is an 'apparitional phantasm', and not anything on the material plane. In order to appear visibly to ordinary persons, it must be on the lower section of the astral plane (the higher astral, and all of the mental, plane being invisible to the unprojected mortal).}

However, the Sambhogakaya ... does not manifest anywhere other than Akanishtha".

{The Sambhoga-kaya would actually be the 'mental body' (manas-maya-kos`a). Typically, deities abide in their own mental plane, and may be seen there by mortals visiting it in their mental body.}

"The Dharmakaya ... transcends all location ..., and it is all-pervasive, beyond all limitations and forms".

{The Dharma-kaya is often described in the Tantra-s as having definite form and location.} {This Dharma-kaya would be the causal body.}

{There are two different descriptive frameworks involved : one is the omnipraesent nature of all deities; the other is the limited and localized form wherein they appear to mortals, so that mortals can recognize them. The latter framework would include mental and causal bodies, which the deities not only themselves appear to mortals in, but also can lend to mortals for those mortals' temporary use (for projecting out the material body, or while dreaming).}

1.4.8 p. 88 tabulation of the 3 components of the Basis

byan ('purity')

chub ('perfection')

sems ('mind')

no-bo ('essence')

ran-bz`in ('nature')

thugs-rje ('energy')

ston-pa n~id('emptiness')

gsal-ba ('clarity')

ma >gags-pa ('unobstructedness')

ka-dag ('primordial purity')

lhun grub ('spontaneous perfection')

dbyer-med ('inseparability')

1.4.11 pp. 95-6, 97 the Mother-Clear-Light & her Son-Clear-Light

p. 95

"the actual Clear Light of the Base ... is none other than ... the Great Mother. And this ... is called the Mother Clear Light that abides as

p. 96

the Base (gzhi gnas ma>i >od gsal). ... And this Mother is something universal, rather than being individual ... . [p. 348, n. 1:4 : "See the discussion in the Appendix of my Self-Liberation, pp. 81-87."]

{cf. the Neo-Platonic Universal (or Cosmic) Soul (which is feminine in the Hellenic language)}

We come to recognize the Clear Light by means of the ... individual Clear Light to which we have been ... introduced by the master, who indicates it to us ... . This individual Clear Light to which the master introduces us and which we experience again and again in our meditation experience throughout our lifetime, is known as the Clear Light of the Path (lam gyi >od gsal) rather than the Clear Light of the Base (gzhi> >od gsal). This Clear Light met with on the path is also known as the Son Clear Light (bu>i >od gsal) in contrast to the Mother Clear Light (ma>i >od gsal). ... The Son, the Clear Light of the Path, is experienced in our meditation practice during our lifetime, but

the Mother, the Clear Light of the Base, is met with at the moment of death when the Clear Light dawns at the onset of the Bardo of Reality. ...

{This is similar to the Saiddha-antika doctrine that "Actual liberation occurs only at the time of death." ("DMT", p. 286)}

The Mother Clear Light manifests at the beginning of the second Bardo before the visions of the Peaceful and Wrathful deities arise."

p. 97

"At the moment of death, when the Clear Light dawns, we will recognize it ... . ... This moment, when the Clear Light of the Path and the Clear Light of the Base merge and become inseparably united ..., is spoken of as the meeting of the Mother Clear Light and the Son Clear Light (ma bu >phrad-pa)."

"DMT" = Alexis Sanderson : "Doctrine of the Malini-vijaya-uttara Tantra". In :- Teun Goudriaan (ed.) : Ritual and Speculation in Early Tantrism : studies in honor of Andre' Padoux. State U of NY Pr, Albany, 1992. pp. 281-312.

1.4.11 pp. 96 & 348 correlation of Bar-do states with sleep-states

p. 96

the Bar-do of __

correspondeth to the __

"Dying" (>chi-kha>i)

"process of falling asleep"

"Reality" (chos n~id)

"manifestation of the Clear Light before the onset of the dream state"

"Existence" (srid-pa>i)

"dream state"

p. 348, n. 5

"On how to practice the natural Clear Light in relation to sleep and lucid dreaming, see Namkhai Norbu, The Cycle of Day and Night."

1.4.12 p. 98 supernatural visions during meditation

"When beginners practice contemplation for a long time, usually experiences begin to arise ..., especially those that are luminous and blissful, such as visions of celestial paradises.

We become ... caught up in ... :

1. blissful experiences (bde-ba),

2. luminous experiences (gsal-ba),

3. the calm state (gnas-pa)".

1.4.12 pp. 99, 101-2 imperturbability of a Siddha

p. 99

"The word zang-thal (or zang-thal-le-ba) means "directly penetrating" in an unimpeded fashion, as ... when a Siddha passes his phurpa dagger effortlessly through solid rock, meeting no resistance ... . ... (A Siddha or adept will be able to speak ..., and yet remain in the state of contemplation [samadhi] ... .)"

p. 101

"Even while in a state of contemplation (samadhi), the Siddha has the capacity to move, to speak, to think, to reason ... . ...

p. 102

For this reason one is called a Vidyadhara or Rigdzin (rig-pa >dzin-pa), that is, "one who holds (>dzin-pa) to immediate Awareness (rig-pa)." This is how the realized individual or Siddha differs from an ordinary person".

1.4.12 p. 100 becoming a divine fish

"Rather, when a fish suddenly leaps out of the water, we find ourselves no longer a detached observer ... as we did in Shamatha practice.

Now we find that we are the fish."

{Temporarily becoming a divine fish swimming in divine waters in a divine world (i.e., while dreaming) is a Siberian shamanic practice.}

1.4.13 p. 103 liberating one's thoughts

"the direct perception of Reality (chos-nyid mngon-sum), encompasses ... the four stages of the practice of vision (snang-ba bzhi). ... All thought (internal) and appearances (external) are immediately liberated into the Base as they arise, into the state where awareness and luminosity are inseparable (rig gsal dbyer med)."

1.4.14 pp. 104-5 inhaerent Reality of the wish-granting gem

p. 104

"And when we practice this natural yoga ... where Shamatha and Vipashyana are inseparable ..., everything becomes ... spontaneous ... and we continue in the inherent state of Reality

p. 105

(chos nyid kyi rang ngo skyong-ba) ... dharmata (chos nyid) as "Reality, ... being just what it is" (ji bzhin nyid). The practice is known as the wish-granting gem of the Siddha Lineage."

1.4.14 p. 106 undoubting liberation of Awareness

"One we have ... experienced naked primal awareness or gnosis ..., we can continue ... without any doubts. ... Rigpa, or immediate intrinsic Awareness, has been liberated from the very beginning; it is primordially liberated."

1.4.15 pp. 107-8 Rupa-dhatu & A-rupa-dhatu

p. 107

"if we master the First Dhyana in meditation practice, then we can attain rebirth among the Brahma gods dwelling on the three lowest mental planes of the Rupadhatu ... . These subtle mental planes belonging to the Brahmaloka lie far above the higher astral planes of the Kamadhatu, or desire world, where

the Devas or gods who dwell there are still dominated by sensual desires (Skt. kama).

{Inaccurate! Those deva-s are not themselves "dominated by sensual desires"; but, instead, they praeside over (regulate) the functions of sensual desires in mortal beings.}

The Brahmas are not afflicted by sensual desires and passions, but only by more subtle and refined intellectual impulses.

{[More accurately stated :] the Brahma-s praeside not over sensual desires, but rather instead over refined intellectual impulses, in mortal beings.}

They inhabit very subtle mental bodies possessing great auras of light, and these are much more splendid ... and refined than the etheric and astral bodies possessed by the Devas inhabiting the Kamadhatu. ...

{All such divine bodies are, of course, illusions created by those imperishable universe-controlling immortal deities as a means of rendring their illimitable magnitude perceptible to mere mortals.}

According to ... the Abhidharmakosha of Vasubandhu (3 cen. CE) ..., there exist six Devalokas, or levels of the astral plane, inhabited by the Devas ... .

p. 108

These six Devalokas, comprising the divine part of the Kamadhatu, are ... celestial paradises. Then, in ascending order, the same text lists some seventeen Brahmalokas, or mental planes, which correspond to the four Dhyanas ..., or levels of concentration in meditation. ... These seventeen Brahmalokas comprise the Rupadhatu, or form world ... .

By means of the mastery of the higher Dhyanas, known as Samapattis, or absorptions, the practitioner can attain rebirth on one of the four planes of cosmic consciousness belonging to the Arupadhatu, or formless world, which lie beyond the Brahmalokas of the Rupadhatu."

1.4.16 p. 112 lucid dreaming

"finding ourselves in a lucid dream. We recognize the dream as a dream, and yet we remain caught up in the dream."

{So long as a dreamer is lacking in the realization (to be achieved while awake) that the dream-world is the divine world, then that dreamer will (whenever asleep) remain "caught up in" the dream [in the sense that the dream-deities praesent will not even comment on the dreamer's statements to them, "This is a dream"]; but when the dreamer hath with certitude achieved (while awake) the realization that the dream-world is the divine world, then dream-deities praesent in the dream will acknowledge, with approbation, the dreamer's declaration, "This is a divine dream, and ye are its dream-deities".}

1.4.17-18 p. 113 thoughts become luminosity

1.4.17 "Within Vipashyanta practice, we no longer strictly remain a detached witness ..., but our awareness reintegrates with activity ... ...

{So long as one hath no body in one's dreams, one must remain merely a detached viewer of events; but when one hath been awarded a dream-body to reside in while dreaming, then one can partipate in the events.}

1.4.18 When we practice habitually in this way for a long time, the mere arising of thoughts becomes the meditation itself. ... The movement of thoughts is now seen directly as indescribable light, the manifestation of the clear luminosity of the Base which is the Primordial State."

{This is similar to the surat s`abda (current of sound) which is seen as luminosity in the Radhasoami meditational practice.}

1.4.19 p. 114 similes of the 4 modes of liberation


its simile

"gCer-grol, which is lberation by way of recognizing thoughts,

is like meeting a person whom we have met before.

Shar-grol, where thought liberate themselves after arising,

is like a snake unknotting itself from its coils.

But rang-grol, where thought arise into their immediate and spontaneous liberation,

is like a thief entering an empty house and finding there is nothing to steal. ... .

... primordial liberation refers to Rigpa itself, which has never been otherwise than totally liberated".

1.4.19 pp. 114-6 descriptions of the first 3 modes of liberation

p. 114

1st. "gcer-grol, "liberation through bare attention," ... is like seeing the person on the crowded street as a stranger, and then suddenly recognizing him as an old acquaintance."

p. 115

2nd. "shar-grol, "liberation as soon as it arises" -- "here the arising (shar-ba) and the liberating (grol-ba) of the thought are simultaneous."

p. 116

3rd. ran-grol : "Liberation is completely automatic, spontaneous, effortless, and instantaneous, the process known as self-liberation. Thoughts ... very arising is the process of their liberating."

1.4.20 p. 116 the arhant after death

"According to the Mahamaya teaching, the Arhant ..., after his or her Nirvanic state is exhausted,

he or she must take up existence once more in the higher worlds of Rupadhatu. And thereafter ..., one must set about practicing the career of the Bodhisattva. Nevertheless, one need not be reborn again as a human being after attaining the status of an Arhant (dgra-bcom-pa)".

{It is hereby implied that it is possible for a Brahma (such as the Arhant will have become) is able to become a Buddha in Brahma-loka; a possibility denied in Hina-yana. A non-Arhant who hath become a Buddha is known in S^in-gon (and in Zen) as a "Sun-Buddha"; so, praesumably, a "Moon-Buddha" (the "Moon-Buddha-s" being 10 times more numerous than the "Sun-Buddha-s") would be an Arhant who hath become a Buddha.}

{If the Arhant must become redincarnate again in Rupa-dhatu, then it might be expected correspondingly that the Buddha must become redincarnate again in A-rupa-dhatu.}

1.4.21 pp. 117-8 special doctrine of Maha-siddhi : divine Garu.da & divine lion

p. 117

"This method, whereby thoughts are purified by self-liberation ..., is the special teaching of the natural Great Perfection (rang-bzhin rdzogs-pa chen-po>i khyad chos)".

p. 118

"The [r]Dzog[s-]chen practitioner is like the great Garud[.]a bird who is fully formed, even with its wings complete, inside the egg. ...

{Divine bird Garutman (Garud.a) is the vahana of Vis.n.u.}

Or again, one is like a lion cub emerging from the womb of its mother".

{Nara-simha ('Human Lion') is an avatara of Vis.n.u.}

{Thus, the Maha-siddhi system would appear to be a sort of Vais.n.ava Siddha-anta.}

1.4.28 p. 126 this book is a mind-treasure

This book "came to him from a higher source (the Dharmakaya, "the wise and glorious king"). ... In other words, this text is a kind of dgongs-gter, or mind treasure.

There exist many kinds of hidden treasure texts, such as

sa-gter, "earth-treasure," chu gter, "water treasure," nam-mkha> gter, "sky treasure," rmit-lam gter, "dream treasure," and so on. But a treasure text that arises spontaneously in the mind, deriving from some higher spiritual source ..., is known as a dgongs-gter or thugs-gter, "mind treasure.""

1.4.28-9 pp. 126-7 apparitions of dead saints

1.4.28 p. 126

"The last testament (zhal >chems) of of Garab Dorje, or Prahevajra, was revealed to his disciple Manjushrimitra at the time when the master Garab Dorje, after dissolving his material body into space, reappeared ... in the sky".

1.4.29 p. 127

"Centuries later Longchenpa appeared to Jigmed Lingpa, otherwise known as Khyentse Odzer, in a Wisdom Body, or Jnanakaya [Jn~ana-kaya] (ye-shes kyi sku) and bestowed upon him ... a symbolic transmission of the Vidyadharas".


John Myrdhin Reynolds ([a.k.a. Vajranatha] translator & commentator) : The Golden Letters : the three statements of Garab Dorje ... together a commentary by Dza Patrul Rinpoche. Snow Lion Publ, Ithaca (NY), 1996.