The Three

by Acarya Sri Pramodavajra

Homage to the Realization [that is] born out of faith1 in Self-Reflexive Awareness.2

Intelligence3 is free from existence, and yet the diversity of auto-appearances ceaselessly arise. Thus, all of phenomena4 is a manifestation of the Pure Field of Dharmakaya, simultaneously becoming liberated in its own nature. Thus:

  1. Direct5 introduction6 to one’s essential nature.7

  2. Direct recognition8 of that singular state.

  3. Direct continuation9 [of that recognition], with faith in Liberation.

The nature of mind10 from the beginning, is the Buddha-Absolute.11 Mind-in-itself, having neither origin nor end, is empty like space. Having completely realized the meaning of the nonduality12 of all phenomena: to abide thus, without seeking, this is the meditation.


1 sraddha, faith, confidence

2 svasamvedana, Tib.: rang-rig

3 vidya, (Tib.: rigs-pa), intelligence, nondual awareness. This Intelligence is self-reflexively aware. Self-reflexive awareness is what is known as Buddha or “Absolute Intelligence”. The worldly Mind (citta, Tib.: sems) or consciousness, on the other hand, is always trapped in a dichotomy, divisible into a “knower” and what is “known”, where knower and known are two distinct, separate things.

4 sarvadharma, Tib.: chos-thams-cad, all the elements making up the whole of Existence.

5 aparoksa, direct, immediate. Direct means “in the now”, or in the immediate moment – i.e., not gradual. For example, Aparoksanubhuti means “direct experience” [of the Truth]. Yogacara is understood as a path of “direct experience” acquired through meditation, in contrast to those philosophical schools of Buddhism that rest on speculative reasoning or doctrine.

6 upanayam (Tib.: sprad), to introduce, to meet; upanayam can also imply “initiation” (diksha), to be initiated into a specific knowledge or way of realization. Tibetan “sprad-pa” means to be introduced to a someone or something or (in this case) to a specific understanding. The teachings of Dzog-chen are said to “introduce” one to the fact that one’s own mind is the Buddha. This is a new way of viewing the mind.

The three statements or sentences, as they appear in Tibetan, are as follows: (1) Ngo-rang thog-tu sprad. (2) Thag gCig thog-tu bcad. (3) gDeng grol thog-tu bca’. Through these statements one is (1) introduced to the teaching that one’s own ordinary mind is not other than the Buddha-Absolute itself; (2) that one should directly recognize this fact while examining the mind in meditation, with the result (3) that then, by simply holding on to that “recognition” as the method of meditation, Liberation will itself unfold on its own. These three pithy statements represent the whole doctrine and practice of Dzogchen. The first statement clearly outlines the ground (prakriti), the second the path (marga), and the third reveals the result or fruit (phala).

7 Tib.: Ngo-rang, self-essence, one’s own essence or one’s true self-nature.

8 pratyabhijna, recognition. After having been “introduced” to the fact that one’s own ordinary mind is indeed the absolute Buddha, the supreme luminous Reality, then it is necessary for the seeker to accept and “directly recognize” that fact, while sitting in meditation. This means to look at one’s own mind and “recognize” that no Buddha exists elsewhere, other than in the mind itself. This carries the same implication as in later Kashmir Saivism, which also teaches what is known as the “doctrine of recognition”, namely the direct recognition that oneself is not other than Siva (God), the Absolute itself.

9 Here continuation means to sustain the recognition of the truth that one’s own ordinary mind is innately absolute Intelligence (Skt: vidya, Tib.: rigs-pa), having faith (or confidence) that Liberation will unfold on its own. The latter is called self-liberation, or auto-liberation. It means that it liberates itself, since oneself (i.e., the ego) cannot bring about liberation. This is the essence of Mahamudra meditation, where no “effort” is made other than to realize the intrinsic nature of mind. What Pramodavajra is saying, is that one must simply sustain direct recognition that mind, in and of itself (or in other words, in its own essence), is Buddha.

10 citta, mind or consciousness. Mind takes three forms: 1. alaya-vijnana, the universal consciousness; 2. klista-manas, the unconsciousness; 3. visaya-vijnana, individual sense-consciousness. In Dzogchen texts, the mind, a “worldly” phenomena, is contrasted to Intelligence (vidya), which is unworldly or free of existence. Intelligence is what the mind is in and of itself, distinct from the “function” of mind-as-consciousness in the world.

11 Buddha, from the root “buddh”, to know, and “dha”, absolute, infinite.

12 adwaita, literally “not-two”. To recognize the nonduality of all phenomena is to appreciate the absolute unity of the whole of reality. Nonduality means that Samsara (the worldly) and Nirvana (the transcendental) are not separate. This great wholeness or totality is what is meant by the very term Dzogchen (mahasamdhi).