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Rigpa (Tib. རིག་པ་, Wyl. rig pa; Skt. vidyā) is a Tibetan word, which in general means ‘intelligence’ or ‘awareness’. Within the Dzogchen tradition, however, rigpa has a deeper connotation, ‘the innermost nature of the mind’. Dzogchen practice is directed towards realizing this ultimate nature, the state of omniscience or enlightenment.

Rigpa is said to be the special feature of Dzogchen. Jikmé Lingpa says in his Treasury of Precious Qualities:

Rigpa, which transcends the ordinary mind,
Is the special feature of the natural Dzogpachenpo.

Distinguishing between ordinary mind and rigpa

In Dzogchen, a fundamental point of practice is to distinguish ordinary mind (Tib. sem; Skt. citta) and rigpa.

For example, Dodrupchen Jikmé Tenpé Nyima wrote:

Generally speaking, in the instructions on Dzogchen, profound and special aspects are endless. The key point, however, is the differentiation between the ordinary mind and rigpa.

The Dalai Lama wrote:

This is where we come to the distinction between the word sem in Tibetan, meaning 'ordinary mind', and the word rigpa, signifying 'pure awareness'. Generally speaking, when we use the word sem, we are referring to mind when it is temporarily obscured and distorted by thoughts based on the dualistic perceptions of subject and object. When we are discussing pure awareness, genuine consciousness or awareness free of such distorting thought patterns, then the term rigpa is employed.[1]


  1. Dalai Lama 2004, p. 31.


  • Dalai Lama (2004), Dzogchen. Heart Essence of the Great Perfection, Snow Lion Publications, ISBN 978-1-55939-219-8 

Further reading

  • Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche (1994), Union of Mahamudra and Dzogchen, Rangjung Yeshe Publications 
  • Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche (2004), The Bardo Guidebook, Rangjung Yeshe Publications 
  • Dalai Lama (2004), Dzogchen. Heart Essence of the Great Perfection, Snow Lion Publications, ISBN 978-1-55939-219-8 
  • Hookham, S.K. (1991), The Buddha Within: Tathagatagarbha Doctrine According to the Shentong Interpretation of the Ratnagotravibhaga, SUNY Press 
  • Karma Chagme; Gyatrul Rinpoche; Wallace, B. Alan (1998), A Spacious Path to Freedom: Practical Instructions on the Union of Mahamudra and Atiyoga, Snow Lion Publications 
  • Khenchen Trangu Rinpoche (1998), The Practice of the Tranquility and Insight: A Guide to Tibetan Buddhist Mediation, Snow Lion Publications 
  • Kunsang, Erik Pema (2006), Quintessential Dzogchen, Ranjung Yeshe 
  • Kunsang, Erik Pema (2012), Perfect Clarity, Ranjung Yeshe 

External links

This article includes content from Rigpa on Rigpawiki (view authors). Licensed under CC BY-NC 3.0 RW icon height 18px.png