|Tibetan:||རིག་པ (rig pa)|
|Glossary of Buddhism|
In a Dzogchen context, rigpa (Skt. vidyā; Tibetan: རིག་པ་, Wylie: rig pa) is the knowledge that ensues from recognizing one's nature. At the trekchö level, one knows that there is a primordial freedom from grasping his or her mind (sems). The opposite of rigpa (vidyā, knowledge) is marigpa (avidyā, ignorance).
A Dzogchen Master STARTS with "direct introduction" with everyone. If they don't "get it" then one starts to use all the infinite methods and means to help bring about the experience of Rigpa. When one has the experience of Rigpa, then one confirms the validity of one's path now being "remaining with Rigpa" as path. Then, one simply continues in that state. Rigpa is the view to be experienced, Rigpa is the path to be followed, and Rigpa is the fruit of the path. There is no change in Rigpa, either in the beginning, middle or end. The fruit is your first realization of Rigpa. There are no Stages of Rigpa. Thogel does not modify Rigpa.——Dudjom Rinpoche on the Three Statements of Garab Dorje
Apperception and beyond
Rigpa has three wisdoms, two of which are kadag and lhun grub. Kadag (primordial purity) is the Dzogchen view of emptiness. Lhun grub (natural formation) is the Dzogchen view of dependent origination. Throughout Mahayana, emptiness and dependent origination are two sides of the same coin. Kadag deals with tregchöd. The lhun grub aspect has to do with esoteric practices, such as (but not limited to) Thödgal, that self-liberate the dependently originated human body into the Sambhogakāya (rainbow body phenomenon). The symbol of Dzogchen is a Tibetan A wrapped in a thigle. The A represents kadag while the thigle represents lhun grub. The third wisdom, thugs rje (compassion), is the inseparability of the previous two wisdoms.
In Dzogchen, a fundamental point of practice is to distinguish rigpa from sems (mind). The distinguishing of rigpa and sems from each other is emphasized by Jigme Lingpa and goes back to the seventeen tantras.
In the above quotation in the Tibetan nomenclature of the 'mind[stream]' or 'continuum' (Wylie: rgyud), 'nondual awareness' is 'Rigpa' (Wylie: rig pa) and 'self-awareness' (Wylie: rang rig) is 'Rangrig'. Rigpa is a contraction of "rang rig pa" which includes both rig pa and rang rig (Wylie: rang rig). The latter term renders the Sanskrit svasaṃvedana/svasaṃvitti, and has different senses in different vehicles. In Dharmakīrti's work it refers to the awareness (of) dualistic consciousness at the root of reflexive consciousness, which Elias Capriles explains in redefined Sartrean terminology as nondual awareness (of) consciousness of object, where the preposition "of" is within parentheses in order to indicate that there is no relation of knowledge (i.e., no dualistic, conceptual apprehension) between that nondual awareness and the dualistic consciousness of object—their relationship being like the one that obtains between a mirror and an image reflected in it. In this sense svasaṃvedana/svasaṃvitti involves reflectivity and corresponds to Kant's 'apperception' or "awareness that consciousness is perceiving"
In the Dzogchen teachings it refers to the dissolution of the dualistic consciousness in nondual awareness, so that this nondual awareness, rather than manifesting as nondual awareness (of) dualistic consciousness of object, reveals its true condition in a nondual, nonconceptual way (and therefore in this case it is not permissible to speak either of reflexivity or of apperception, for there is no dualistic, conceptual perception [of] which nondual awareness may be aware). Some have claimed that these differences are cosmetic and that they are resolved in the practice of 'meditative trance' (Wylie: 'jog pa). However, there is a radical difference between nondual awareness (of) the dualistic consciousness that is the core of saṃsāra and the nondual awareness in question fully revealing its own nature in nirvāṇa (the former involving reflexivity [which implies the subject-object duality] and apperception, the second being nondually aware [of] itself and [of] its true condition). At any rate, doubts in this regard can only be resolved in the direct realization of Dzogchen, Mahamudra and so on, and in the associated literatures of the deep contemplative traditions of Himalayan Buddhism (Tibetan Buddhism, Nepalese Buddhism, Bhutanese Buddhism, etc.) and Bon, particularly Dzogchen and Mahamudra; e.g. Dark retreat (Tibetan: mun mtshams).
Pettit (1999: p. 129) holds that rangrig (Wylie: rang rig), which he renders as 'apperception,' is key to Mipham's (1846–1912) system of epistemology and hermeneutics as discussed in the DRG and in Mipham's Commentary to the Ninth Chapter of the Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra. However, in Padmasambhava, Karma Lingpa, Gyurme Dorje, Graham Coleman and Thupten Jinpa (2005: p. 480), we find the following clarification of the difference between the sense of the Tibetan rangrig and the Sanskrit 'svasaṃvitti' or 'svasaṃvedana' in Indian Buddhist epistemology and in particular in the writings of the lauded logicians Dignāga and Dharmakīrti, and their meaning in the Dzogchen teachings—in which the translators render the term by the English expression 'intrinsic awareness' :
...term svasaṃvedana refers to the apperceptive or reflexive faculty of consciousness, for which reason it is sometimes rendered as 'reflexive awareness' or 'apperceptive awareness'. However, in the view of the Great Perfection (rdzog-pa chen-po) and in the context of the present work [The Tibetan Book of the Dead], the same term refers to the fundamental innate mind in its natural state of spontaneity and purity, beyond the alternating states of motion and rest and the subject-object dichotomy. It is therefore rendered here as 'intrinsic awareness'. As such, intrinsic awareness gives the meditator access to pristine cognition [ye-shes; jñāna] or the buddha-mind [thugs, citta] itself, and it stands in direct contrast to fundamental ignorance ([ma-rig-pa,] avidyā), which is the primary cause of rebirth in cyclic existence (['khor-ba,] samsara). The direct introduction to intrinsic awareness is a distinctive teaching within the Nyingma school.... This practice is a central component of the Esoteric Instruction Class ([man-ngag-gi sde,] upadeśa[varga]) of Atiyoga, where it is known as Cutting Through Resistance (Khregs-chod).—
In the language of Zhangzhung, 'rang rig' (Wylie) is 'nges de shin' where 'shin' equates to 'shes pa'. The Zhangzhung lexical item 'shin' is found in many compounds (Martin, 2004: p. 158) where it contributes a meaning of 'to know' and 'knowledge' to both nominal and verbal/process oriented lexical items.
- Mipham's don rnam nges shes rab ral gri "The Sword of Prajna (DRG) & the translation of this text in English is also freely available from Lotsawa House Online
- Dalai Lama. (2004). Dzogchen, pg. 32. Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 978-1-55939-219-8.
- http://earlytibet.com/about/hashang-mahayana Accessed June 29, 2010
- Williams, Paul (1998, 2000). The Reflexive Nature of Awareness: A Tibetan Madhyamaka Defence. Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. ISBN 978-0-7007-1030-0, p.xi
- Capriles, Elias. Clear Discrimination of Views Pointing at the Definitive Meaning: The Four Philosophical Schoolsof the Sutrayana Traditionally Taught in Tibet (With Reference to the Dzogchen Teachings). Merida, Venezuela: University of The Andes (Internet Provisional Publication). Internet: http://webdelprofesor.ula.ve/humanidades/elicap/
- Pettit, John Whitney (1999). Mipham's Beacon of Certainty: Illuminating the View of Dzogchen, the Great Perfection. Boston: Wisdom Publications. p. 129. ISBN 0-86171-157-2.
- Pettit, John Whitney (1999). Mipham's Beacon of Certainty: Illuminating the View of Dzogchen, the Great Perfection. Boston: Wisdom Publications. p. 126. ISBN 0-86171-157-2.
- Note that if we use the term rig pa in the sense of the Base (gzhi), then it will indicate the nondual awareness under discussion, whether it is nondual awareness (of) dualistic consciousness of object, as in saṃsāra; nondual awareness that reveals its own nature, as in nirvāṇa; or nondual awareness that does not manifest a duality but that nonetheless does not reveal its own nature, as in kunzhi (kun gzhi). On the other hand, qua Path and qua Fruit rigpa will always be nondual awareness that reveals its own nature in nirvāṇa. Cf. Capriles, E. (2004). Clear discrimination of views pointing at the definitive meaning: The four philosophical schools of the Sutrayana traditionally taught in Tibet (With reference to the Dzogchen teachings). Mérida, Venezuela: University of The Andes. Internet: http://www.webdelprofesor.ula.ve/humanidades/elicap/ (Provisional publication the fully revised and corrected edition of which will be published on paper.) Capriles, E. (2007a). Beyond being, beyond mind, beyond history. Volume I: Beyond Being. Mérida, Venezuela: University of The Andes. Internet: http://www.webdelprofesor.ula.ve/humanidades/elicap/. For a more general introduction to rigpa cf. Capriles, E. (2003). Buddhism and Dzogchen - Volume one - Buddhism: A Dzogchen outlook. Mérida, Venezuela: University of The Andes. Internet: http://www.webdelprofesor.ula.ve/humanidades/elicap/ (Provisional publication the fully revised and corrected edition of which will be published on paper.)
- Allione, Tsultrim (2000). Women of Wisdom. (Includes transcribed interview with Namkhai Norbu) Source:  (accessed: November 15, 2007)
- DRG = Mipham's 'Don rnam par nges pa'i shes rab ral gri' (Wylie) a text within 'lHag bsam bstan pa'i ryal mtshan, 1984' (Wylie)
- Padmasambhava (composed), Karma Linga (revealed), Gyurme Dorje (translated), Graham Coleman (Editor) and Thupten Jinpa (Associate) (2006). The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Liberation by Hearing in the Intermediate States. London, England: Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN 978-0-14-045529-8. p.480
- Jacques, Guillaume (2008). Zhang-zhung and Qiangic languages. National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka. Source:  (accessed: Sunday April 12, 2009), p.6
- Martin, Dan 2004. Zhang-zhung dictionary. electronic publication.