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Translations of
English: knowledge
Sanskrit: विद्या (vidyā)
Tibetan: རིག་པ (rig pa)
Glossary of Buddhism

In a Dzogchen Menngagde 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).

Three Wisdoms[edit]

Tibetan letter "A" inside a thigle. The A, which corresponds to the sound ‘ahh’,[1] represents kadag while the thigle represents lhun grub.

Rigpa has three wisdoms, which are kadag, lhun grub and thugs rje. Kadag deals with tregchöd.[2] The lhun grub aspect has to do with esoteric practices, such as (but not limited to) Thödgal, that self-liberate the human body into a Sambhogakāya (rainbow body phenomenon).[2][3] 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).[4]

The ultimate fruition of the thodgal practices is a body of pure light, called a rainbow body (Wylie 'ja' lus, pronounced Jalü.)[5] If the four visions of thogal are not completed before death, then at death, from the point of view of an external observer, the following happens: the corpse does not start to decompose, but starts to shrink until it disappears. Usually fingernails, toenails and hair are left behind[6] (see e.g. Togden Urgyen Tendzin, Ayu Khandro, Changchub Dorje.) The attainment of the rainbow body is typically accompanied by the appearance of lights and rainbows.[5]

Some exceptional practitioners such as Padmasambhava and Vimalamitra are held to have realized a higher type of rainbow body without dying. Having completed the four visions before death, the individual focuses on the lights that surround the fingers. His or her physical body self-liberates into a nonmaterial body of light (a Sambhogakāya) with the ability to exist and abide wherever and whenever as pointed by one's compassion.[7]

See also[edit]

Primary resources[edit]


  1. ^ Norbu, Namkhai. Dream Yoga Revised. Snow Lion 2002, page 56.
  2. ^ a b Dudjom Rinpoche. Wisdom Nectar. Snow Lion 2005, page 296. "The practice is that of Cutting through Solidity (khregs chod), which is related to primordial purity (ka dag); and Direct Vision of Reality (thod rgal), which is related to spontaneous presence (Ihun grub)."
  3. ^ Dalai Lama. (2004). Dzogchen, pg. 32. Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 978-1-55939-219-8.
  4. ^ Kunsang, Erik Pema. Perfect Clarity. Ranjung Yeshe 2012, page 154.
  5. ^ a b Reginald Ray, Secret of the Vajra World. Shambhala 2001, page 323.
  6. ^ Norbu (1999), pp. 158-161
  7. ^ Matthieu, Richard. 2001. The Life of Shakbar. Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications. pg. 153