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Restricted Dzogchen Teachings, Part 3: The Sharp Vajra of Conscious Awareness Tantra

A Wisdom Academy Online Course with Lama Alan Wallace

Restricted Dzogchen Teachings, Part 3: The Sharp Vajra of Conscious Awareness Tantra

In this course Lama Alan Wallace presents the first installment of a line-by-line oral commentary on The Sharp Vajra of Conscious Awareness Tantra, one of the famed Dzogchen master Düdjom Lingpa’s most essential and profound visionary texts. The Sharp Vajra of Conscious Awareness Tantra provides an exposition on the entire path of Dzogchen, the Great Perfection, transmitted from Düdjom Lingpa’s pure visions into pith instruction and heart advice. 

Lama Alan Wallace—authorized to share these teachings by his Dzogchen lama, the Venerable Gyatrul Rinpoche—makes this wellspring of the Great Perfection approachable to a contemporary audience, with step-by-step guidance through the theory and practice of Dzogchen. Rich discussion, practical insights, and guided meditation all support the cultivation of a foundation in the practices of shamatha (calm-abiding) and vipashyana (insight), so as to open to the gateway into the utterly profound and distinctive practices within Dzogchen: in particular the practice of trekchö, or cutting through to pristine awareness.

This is a restricted course. Please see below for more information on how to join.

What You’ll Learn

  • How the Dzogchen tradition, the tradition of the Great Perfection, understands the path of awakening
  • The ability to put into practice pith instructions from one of Tibet’s greatest visionary Dzogchen masters, Düdjom Lingpa
  • How to integrate the practices of shamatha and vipashyana into the greater vision of the Great Perfection, including practices such as trekchö, or cutting through to pristine awareness

About this Course

Discover the depths of the Dzogchen tradition’s approach to awakening, the pristine purity of unborn awareness, with line-by-line commentary and heart advice on Düdjom Lingpa’s famed Sharp Vajra of Conscious Awareness Tantra by Lama Alan Wallace. 

These teachings are based on Lama Alan Wallace’s eight-week retreat in Italy at the Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa in April and May 2018.

Wisdom Academy has created two courses from this retreat: Restricted Dzogchen Teachings, Part 3: The Sharp Vajra of Conscious Awareness Tantra, and Part 4: The Sharp Vajra of Conscious Awareness Tantra.

This course, Part 3: The Sharp Vajra of Conscious Awareness Tantra is available now. Part 4: The Sharp Vajra of Conscious Awareness Tantra follows immediately on the teachings from Part 3.

Eligibility for the Course

This series of courses is restricted to students who have a solid foundation in the Dharma and a strong commitment to the Buddhist path. Lama Alan Wallace has chosen to limit access to these teachings on Dzogchen due to the possibility of students misunderstanding the subject without having the appropriate background.

Please note that you must take the Introduction to Dzogchen online course first in order to qualify to take Restricted Dzogchen Teachings, Part 3.

Restricted Dzogchen Teachings Part 3, in turn, is a prerequisite for Part 4.

By enrolling in this course, you confirm that you meet the pre-requisites.



Lesson 1: The Path of Pristine Awareness: Introducing the Sharp Vajra Of Conscious Awareness Tantra

In this first lesson, Lama Alan Wallace offers practical advice on cultivating the motivation best suited to pursuing the path of Dzogchen. We learn about the consummate mastery of Düdjom Lingpa, and how his direct transmission of The Sharp Vajra of Conscious Awareness Tantra from the Lake Born Vajra through pure visions, encapsulates the entirety of the Dzogchen path. Lama Alan makes clear how the practices unique to Dzogchen, trekchö and tögal, relate to each other, and to the achievement of shamatha. Though pith instructions, initial commentary on The Sharp Vajra of Conscious Awareness Tantra, and guided meditations, we set out to put this visionary quintessence of Dzogchen into practice.


Lesson 2: Cutting Through: Buddhamind and the Continuum of Consciousness

In this second lesson, Lama Alan Wallace orients us within the utter profundity of Düdjom Lingpa’s view, from the start of The Sharp of Conscious Awareness Tantra–that of trekchö, or cutting through to pristine awareness. Lama Alan’s initial commentary on Phase 1 of the root text, “Taking the Impure Mind as the Path,” reveals how The Sharp Vajra of Conscious Awareness Tantra outlines a direct and concise encapsulation of the complete path to achieving rainbow body. We learn how timely the root text is, prophesied for the very world we live in, and how working with the mind itself can open the space of bliss, luminosity and clarity–a doorway to the path of Buddhahood. Lama Alan introduces us to sadhana practice on Avalokiteśvara, with guidance through a practice text composed by the great seventeenth-century Tibetan master, Karma Chagme Rinpoche. Lama Alan explains that sadhana practice can support our relationship with root text, to grasping its meaning. For those who have received the empowerment of The Lake-Born Vajra, Lama Alan offers guided recitation through both the short and medium length sadhana texts.


Lesson 3: Luminosity and Space: Releasing the Mind onto the Path

In this lesson Lama Alan Wallace’s commentary on the  root text guides us through an understanding of how practices central to the course relate to the path articulated by Dudjom Lingpa. We investigate how the path can serve sentient beings of a variety of capacities, with respect to the path of Dzogchen, and how taking aspects of the mind as the path can give rise to the dawn of insight, spontaneously and effortlessly.


Lesson 4: Great Impartiality, One Taste, and the Essential Nature of Mind

For our fourth lesson, Lama Alan Wallace continues his commentary on Phase 1 of the root text, and offers essential guidance on how to relate to meditative experiences. Through Düdjom Lingpa’s pith instructions, we learn how the Dzogchen tradition advocates cutting through the tendency to reify the mind itself as a panacea to any difficulties we may experience along the path. Through practices on stillness and motion, great impartiality, and tonglen Lama Alan guides us in approximating the vastness of Düdjom Lingpa’s view—that of one taste into the essential nature of the mind, and phenomena.


Lesson 5: Taking the Fruition as the Path

In this fifth lesson, Lama Alan Wallace takes us through the completion of Phase 1 of The Sharp Vajra of Conscious Awareness Tantra. We receive Dudjom Lingpa’s pith instructions on how to follow an authentic spiritual teacher, how to practice in light of our constitutional makeup, and how not to stray from the authentic path. Through practice on great impartiality and great compassion, we learn to uphold the heart of the Mahayana within a Dzogchen view.


Lesson 6: Path Pristine Awareness Free From Conceptual Elaboration

For our sixth lesson, we transition from Phase 1 of The Sharp Vajra of Conscious Awareness Tantra into Phase 2, where Düdjom Lingpa introduces vipashyana from the Dzogchen point of view. Lama Alan guides call us to reflect on the importance of the preliminary practices as essential both to Phase 1, and to relating to the presentation of path pristine awareness, and the essential nature of the path in Phase 2. Lama Alan’s commentary makes clear the distinction between path and ground pristine awareness, and gives us insight into natural liberation.


Lesson 7: Resting in the Sharp Vajra of Wisdom

In this lesson, Lama Alan Wallace continues his commentary on Phase 2 of the root text, elaborating on what it means to truly enter and progress along the path set forth by Düdjom Lingpa. Lama Alan acquaints us with the potency and difficulty of nonmeditation, the essential nature of resting in pristine awareness, and with how the sharp vajra encapsulates all the qualities of the ground, path, and fruition. Guided meditations in this lesson give us the opportunity to approximate the vastness of such practice, as well to cultivate great loving-kindness and great joy.


Lesson 8: Discerning the Root of Samsara

In this lesson, Lama Alan Wallace concludes his commentary on Phase 2 of the root text, and brings us into Phase 3, “Revealing the Ground Dharmakaya.” Lama Alan clearly outlines the terrain of the path enumerated by Düdjom Lingpa, which ushers us into the profundity of vipashyana, the sharp vajra of discerning wisdom. In Phase 3 we look squarely at the fundamental cause of delusion and suffering: the failure to recognize the identitylessness of self, and grasping at “I”.


Lesson 9: Objectless Emptiness

In this lesson, Lama Alan Wallace continues his commentary on Phase 3 of the root text, taking us into the heart of vipashyana: discerning the objectless emptiness of personal identity and objective phenomena. Lama Alan offers insights into the profundity of Düdjom Lingpa’s method of realizing the emptiness of self and phenomena by their mere appearance. He also offers guided meditations on the cultivation of sacred space and the emptiness of self.


Lesson 10: The Path of Wisdom: Karma and Absolute Space

In this lesson, Lama Alan continues his commentary on Phase 3 of the root text, offering insights on “Destroying Grasping at the Permanence of Things” and “Combating the Faults of Benefit and Harm.” Lama Alan guides us into the profundity of Düdjom Lingpa’s distinction between absolute and relative truth, and also how we can understand The Sharp Vajra of Conscious Awareness Tantra as a wisdom text.

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.