Ground (Dzogchen)

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In Dzogchen Ground (Tibetan: གཞིWylie: gzhi; IAST: āśraya[1] or sthāna[note 1][note 2]) is the primordial state. It is an essential component of the Dzogchen tradition for both the Bonpo and the Nyingmapa.[2][3] Knowledge of this Ground is called rigpa.[note 3]


The Tibetan: གཞིWylie: gzhi has been rendered as 'Base', 'Basis', 'Ground' and 'Ground of Being' amongst other English glosses. According to Dudjom the original Sanskrit-term is āśraya (IAST; Sanskrit Devanagari: आश्रय; Etymology: आ- √श्रि),[4][note 1] but it could also be sthāna.

Sam van Schaik states that gzhi is to be distinguished from kun gzhi. In the Seminal Heart series a distinction is made between kun gzhi, c.q. ālaya, "the base of it all", the samsaric basis of consciousness, of all the samsaric appearances; and gzhi, "the nirvanic basis known as the ground."[5][note 4]

Three qualities

According to the Dzogchen-teachings, the Ground or Buddha-nature has three qualities:[6][7]

Goodman & Davidson point out that this Ground is both a static potential and a dynamic unfolding. They give a process-orientated translation, to avoid any essentialist associations, since

ngo-bo (facticity) has nothing to do with nor can even be reduced to the (essentialist) categories of substance and quality; [...] rang-bzhin (actuality) remains open-dimensional, rather than being or turning into a rigid essence despite its being what it is; and that thugs-rje (resonance) is an atemporal sensitivity and response, rather than a distinct and narrowly circumscribed operation.[8]

The Prayer of Kuntuzangpo

Beings are trapped in samsara by not recognizing the ground. The Prayer of Kuntuzangpo from the Gonpa Zangthal states:

From the beginning you beings are deluded

Because you do not recognize
The awareness of the ground[9]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 According to A Dictionary of Buddhism, Oxford University Press, 2003, 2004[web 1] "āśraya" is a synonym for ālaya-vijñāna, the "store-house-consciousness.
  2. Other translations of gzhi: Chinese: 基 (Pinyin: Ji); Korean 의지 (ŭiji); Japanese:エジ (eji)
  3. Wylie: rig pa; IAST: vidyā)Template:Dudjom Rinpoche
  4. Sam van Schaik: "....the Seminal Heart distinction between two types of basis, the nirvanic basis known as the ground (gzhi) and the samsaric basis of consciousness, the ālaya (kun gzhi).[5]



Published sources

  • Dudjom Rinpoche; Jikdrel Yeshe Dorje (1991), The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism: its Fundamentals and History. Two Volumes. Translated and edited by Gyurme Dorje with Matthew Kapstein, Wisdom Publications, ISBN 0-86171-087-8 
  • Goodman, Steven D.; Davidson, Ronald M. (1992), Tibetan Buddhism: reason and revelation, SUNY Press, ISBN 0-7914-0785-3 
  • Hubbard, Jamie (2008), Original Purity and the Arising of Delusion (PDF) 
  • Ranjung Yeshe (2006), Quintessential Dzogchen, Translated by Kunsang, Erik Pema 
  • Longchen Rabjam (1998), The Precious Treasury of the Way of Abiding, Translated by Richard Barron, Padma Publishing 
  • Petit, John Whitney (1999), Mipham's Beacon of Certainty: Illuminating the View of Dzochen, the Great Perfection, Boston: Wisdom Publications, ISBN 0-86171-157-2 
  • Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche (2001), Het wonder van onze oorspronkelijke geest. Dzokchen in de bontraditie van Tibet (Dutch translation of "Wonders of the Natural Mind"), Elmar BV 
  • Rossi, Donatella (1999), The Philosophical View of the Great Perfection in the Tibetan Bon Religion, Snow Lion, ISBN 1-55939-129-4 
  • Schaik, Sam (2004), Approaching the Great Perfection: Simultaneous and Gradual Methods of Dzogchen Practice in the Longchen Nyingtig (PDF), Wisdom Publications Inc. 


Further reading

  • Lipman, Kennard (c. 1984). "How Samsara is Fabricated from the Ground of Being." Translated from Klong-chen rab-'byams-pa's Yid-bzhin rin-po-che'i mdzod. In Crystal Mirror IV. Berkeley: Dharma Publishing.
  • Hubbard, Jamie (1994, 2008). Original Purity and the Arising of Delusion. Smith College. Source: [1] (accessed: Friday April 9, 2010)
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