Welcome to

Introduction to Dzogchen

A Wisdom Academy Online Course with Lama Alan Wallace


In this online course led by Lama Alan Wallace, you’ll be introduced to the view, meditation, and way of life of Dzogchen—the Great Perfection tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

Lama Alan takes us through a remarkable text by nineteenth-century master Düdjom Lingpa, The Foolish Dharma of an Idiot Clothed in Mud and Feathers, and guides us in meditations that help us begin to discover the Great Perfection for ourselves. Additional selected readings, quizzes, and the opportunity to discuss this material with an international community of learners will augment your understanding and help you integrate this profound path into your daily life.

What You’ll Learn

  • Practices that will lead you directly to the heart of Dzogchen
  • Special meditation techniques to develop relaxation, stillness, and clarity
  • How to observe your own thoughts and emotions without getting caught up in them
  • An overview of the world of the Great Perfection, as told by the great master Düdjom Lingpa

About this Course

Dzogchen (or “Great Perfection”) is regarded by many to be the pinnacle of the Buddhist teachings, as it presents the most direct path to realizing our true nature and to unveiling the deepest dimensions of consciousness. This course is rooted in The Foolish Dharma of an Idiot Clothed in Mud and Feathers, a short text by the nineteenth-century Dzogchen master Düdjom Lingpa. In this pithy and relatable teaching, he presents the view, meditation, and way of life of the Great Perfection from his own experience, inspired by his many visions of the “Lake-born Vajra” manifestation of Padmasambhava who first introduced the teachings to Tibet in the eighth century. With delightful humility he describes himself as an old vagabond, ludicrously clothed in mud and feathers, who has shaken his beggar’s satchel and presents these lucid teachings as what came out.

The course’s intended audience is mature Dharma students with a strong basis in the foundational teachings and practices of Tibetan Buddhism and who have a significant interest in learning how liberation is possible in this lifetime. In this way we regard this as an “advanced introduction” to the teachings and practices of Dzogchen.

The ten lessons in course are available to access in their entirety and you may proceed through the lessons at your own pace.



Lesson 1: Introduction to Düdjom Lingpa and the Text

In this first lesson, Lama Alan Wallace shares with us the fascinating biography of the author of the text our course is based on, The Foolish Dharma of an Idiot Clothed in Mud and Feathers, and begins his commentary on the text.


Lesson 2: Refuge, Mind Reversals, and Shamatha Practice

In this lesson, Lama Alan Wallace gives us the foundational teachings in refuge and how to turn our minds toward the Dharma. We also begin to engage more deeply in shamatha meditation practice.


Lesson 3: Gurus, Viras and Dakinis, and All Beings

Lama Alan comments on Düdjom Lingpa’s teachings about the three points that are the “source of all Dharmas.”


Lesson 4: Shamatha Alone Isn't Enough

In this lesson we turn to the benefits and limitations of practicing shamatha alone.


Lesson 5: Mindfulness, Movement, and Stillness

In this lesson, we explore topics central to meditation, such as awareness, movement, and stillness, and some common challenges in relating to meditative experiences.


Lesson 6: The Perspective of Pristine Awareness

In this lesson, Lama Alan reflects on Düdjom Lingpa’s teachings about viewing reality from the perspective of pristine awareness, an essential aspect of the Great Perfection.


Lesson 7: The Substrate Consciousness and Relating to Appearances

In this lesson, we explore the nature of the substrate consciousness and learn about how to relate to appearances in the Dzogchen tradition.


Lesson 8: Padmasambhava's Pith Instructions

In this lesson, Lama Alan comments on Padmasambhava’s pith instructions on how to “collapse the false cave of appearances” and describes how to seek out the source of names.


Lesson 9: Like Reflections in a Mirror

In this lesson, Lama Alan takes us through the Dzogchen understanding of the nature of awareness and shows us how we can free ourselves from dualistic grasping—seeing instead that phenomena are like reflections in a mirror.


Lesson 10: Düdjom Lingpa’s Song of Experience

In this final lesson, Lama Alan Wallace completes his teachings on The Foolish Dharma of an Idiot Clothed in Mud and Feathers and comments on Düdjom Lingpa’s song of experience.

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.