Welcome to

Dzogchen Teachings for Mountain Retreat

A Wisdom Academy Online Course with Lama Alan Wallace

In this new course from Lama Alan Wallace, receive guidance on retreat based on the text Extracting the Vital Essence of Accomplishment: Concise and Clear Advice for Practice in a Mountain Retreat by Düdjom Rinpoché, Jigdral Yeshé Dorjé.

What You’ll Learn

  • Teachings and commentary on a newly revised translation by Lama B. Alan Wallace of Extracting the Vital Essence of Accomplishment: Concise and Clear Advice for Practice in a Mountain Retreat by Düdjom Rinpoché, Jigdral Yeshé Dorjé;
  • how to practice Madhyamaka philosophy in retreat and daily life;
  • instructions on pristine awareness meditations;
  • understanding the view, meditation, and conduct of Dzogchen practice;
  • pitfalls in meditation practice to avoid;
  • practical methods to apply Great Perfection teachings now.

About this Course

Lama Alan Wallace presents and comments on pith instructions of Dzogchen, the Great Perfection. Providing guidance on retreat, this course is based on the text Extracting the Vital Essence of Accomplishment: Concise and Clear Advice for Practice in a Mountain Retreat by twentieth-century Nyingma master, Düdjom Rinpoché, Jigdral Yeshé Dorjé. Considered by many to be amongst the greatest tertöns of our time, Düdjom Rinpoché was holder of all the teachings and the first supreme head of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. Lama Alan translates and explores the short, powerful text on retreat in terms of the preliminaries, main practices, and post-meditative practices of the Great Perfection path. Dzogchen, also known as the Great Perfection, Great Completion, and Utmost Yoga (Atiyoga), traditionally focuses on awakening and maintaining pristine awareness of the ultimate, primordial ground of existence.



Lesson 1: Cutting the Ties of Attachment

Lama Alan Wallace introduces the text by Düdjom Rinpoché, and unpacks statements of refuge, pointing out the intended practitioners for whom these vital pith instructions were composed. Dharma is explained as a way of life that gives rise to genuine well-being not dependent on outside circumstances, rooted in ethics, and culminating in wisdom.


Lesson 2: Directing Your Mind to Dharma

Düdjom Rinpoché’s text discusses redirecting the orientation of perspectives and goals. The view is one that is dissatisfied with the reality of conditioned existence within samsara. By turning the mind to Buddha-Dharma, the path to knowing reality as it is and out of cyclic suffering becomes available.


Lesson 3: Purifying Your Mindstream

Lama Alan Wallace provides commentary on Düdjom Rinpoché’s teachings about the revolutions in outlook triggered by purifying the mindstream, leading to decreased mental afflictions. Lama Alan explains how realigning goals enhances Dharma practice just as Buddha-Dharma helps to clarify realistic intentions and strategies.


Lesson 4: The Madhyamaka Basis of the Great Perfection

Lama Alan Wallace presents the Nyingma emphasis on the view, providing a fundamental revolution in outlook. Lama Alan explores the pragmatic intentions behind Madhyamaka philosophy and its uniqueness compared to other philosophical disciplines.


Lesson 5: The View of the Great Perfection

Lama Alan explains how the view of Dzogchen is actually put into practice in meditation, settling the mind into its natural state. The wisdom gained by meditation familiarizes one with resting in pristine awareness, with which one realizes the emptiness of inherent nature of all phenomena. the essence of the Dzogchen view.


Lesson 6: The Meditation of the Great Perfection

Lama Alan teaches on the Great Perfection instructions of examining the mind and arriving at its very nature, resting in rigpa. Dzogchen’s unique practice is explained as transcending wisdom, non-conceptually maintaining non-meditation.


Lesson 7: The Conduct of the Great Perfection

Drawing on a profound inspiration for understanding, continued practice shifts the way phenomena are viewed to one of equal taste in pristine awareness. Understanding the guru as an authentic Buddha empowers practice, setting realistic goals and potentials for nondual meditation.


Lesson 8: Entering the Path of the Great Perfection

The Dzogchen way of life springs forth from Dzogchen meditation, which springs forth from the Dzogchen view, arising from the fertile soil of the mind prepared by the preliminaries. Düdjom Rinpoché explains that cutting through is the culmination of the swift Dzogchen path.


Lesson 9: Keeping Your Samayas and Vows

Upholding vows and commitments made to the guru maintains a stable foundation, empowering knowledge of what is to be adopted and what is to be rejected. Wisely holding the guru as authentic and supreme directs and upholds the entire path to realistic fulfillment.


Lesson 10: Integrating All Your Activities of This Life with Dharma

In this final section of the text, Düdjom Rinpoché focuses on advice to fully integrate Dharma into every aspect of life, reminding us that the only three things to be considered are Dharma, the guru, and all sentient beings. Düdjom Rinpoché teaches that adversities are to be confronted as authentic opportunities to practice the Great Perfection.

About the Teacher

Dynamic lecturer, progressive scholar, and one of the most prolific writers and translators of Tibetan Buddhism in the West, Lama Alan Wallace, PhD, continually seeks innovative ways to integrate Buddhist contemplative practices with Western science to advance the study of the mind. Lama Alan, a scholar and practitioner of Buddhism since 1970, has taught Buddhist theory and meditation worldwide since 1976. Having devoted 14 years to training as a Tibetan Buddhist monk, ordained by H.H. the Dalai Lama, he went on to earn an undergraduate degree in physics and the philosophy of science at Amherst College and a doctorate in religious studies at Stanford. Lama Alan later studied Dzogchen with Gyatrul Rinpoche, a senior teacher in the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. With his unique background, Lama Alan brings deep experience and applied skills to the challenge of integrating traditional Indo-Tibetan Buddhism with the modern world. Lama Alan is the author and translator of several books, including Düdjom Lingpa’s Visions of the Great Perfection, Stilling the Mind: Shamatha Teachings From Dudjom Linpa’s Vajra EssenceTibetan Buddhism from the Ground Up, Natural Liberation: Padmasambhava’s Teachings on the Six Bardos, and The Attention Revolution.