Advanced Dzogchen Core Instructions
Dzogchen Sky Gazing Theory and Practice
From the Dzogchen Master, Gyatrul Rinpoche’s teaching:
”Steadly fix your gaze in the space in front of you, into the vacuity at the level of the tip of your nose, without any disorderliness or duplicity. This is the benefit of this gaze:
In the center of the hearts of all beings there is the hollow crystal kati channel, which is a channel of primordial wisdom. If it points down and is closed off, primordial wisdom is obscured, and
Thus, in animals that channel faces downwards and is closed off, so they are foolish and deluded. In humans that channel points horizontally and is slightly open, so human intelligence is bright and our consciousness is clear. In people who have attained siddhis and in bodhisattvas that channel is open and faces upwards,
so there arise unimaginable samadhis, primordial wisdom of knowledge, and vast extrasensory perceptions.
These occur due to the open quality of that channel of primordial wisdom. Thus, when the eyes are closed, that channel is closed off and points down, so consciousness is dimmed by the delusion of darkness.
By steadily fixing the gaze, that channel faces up and opens, which
isolates “pure awareness from impure awareness” (the authentic
Then clear, thought-free samadhi arises, and numerous pure visions appear. Thus, the gaze is important..... the hollow crystal kati channel is kept secret, and there are no discussions of this special channel of primordial wisdom. This channel is unlike the central channel, the right channel, the left channel, or any of the channels of the five chakras; it is absolutely not the same as any of them. Its shape is like that of a peppercorn that is just about open, there is no blood or lymph inside it, and it is limpid and clear.
The lower yanas do not have even the name of this channel. Thus, while steadily maintaining the gaze, place the awareness unwaveringly, steadily, clearly, nakedly, and fixedly, without having anything on which to meditate, in the sphere of space. When stability increases, examine the consciousness that is stable. Then gently release and relax.....”
Clarity (gsal-ba) is the radiance of the Dharmakaya. It is the essential nature of Rigpa, the essential and timeless aspect that arises in each moment. It is the non-conceptual knowingness aspect of Rigpa also known as yeshe.
Rigpa has essentially two components in oneness: The emptiness (kadag) aspect of the Dharmakaya and the arising of presence as the clarity of gsal-ba: Clear Light. (lhundrub).
It is this arising aspect (nature, rang-zhin) that is the luminosity that arises from the heart center that shines through the ka-ti channel out through the eyes. But it is also the awareness that allows hearing, smell, taste and touch to function. It is in the aspect or sense of touch that it is all pervasive throughout the body. But the main aspect for practice is the visual aspect of clarity that is centered in the lamp of the eyes, the fluid lasso lamp."
The Tantra of the Self-arising Buddha states:
Unimpeded primordial wisdom, which reveals itself in the embodiments of primordial wisdom, has for its basis one’s own eyes. Its location is in the center of one pupils. Its luminosity is the clarity of unimpeded vision. This infinite unimpededness in the center of one’s pupils is the embodiment of the unimpeded primordial wisdom of the buddhas. This luminosity of the eyes seeing without impediment is called the fluid lasso lamp.
The Tantra of the Essential Meaning of Avalokitesvara states:
Thus, the basis of the experience of the clear light is the fluid lasso lamp.
(Quotes from A Spacious Path to Freedom and Naked Awareness, both by Karma Chagme, 17th century)
Lopon Tenzin Namdak says in his Bonpo Dzogchen Teachings:
The word Sal-ba (gsal-ba) means clarity, but this is not a physical, visible light. Here clear (gsal-ba) means present and aware. Rigpa is a synonym for clarity. (gsal-ba) (pp. 85)
From Natural Liberation, Padma Sambhava teachings on the Six Bardos, as revealed by Karma Lingpa, commentary by Gyatrul Rinpoche:
From the Tantra of the Three Phrases of Liberation by Observation:
Oh Lord of Mysteries, the revelation of the Dharmakaya exists in dependence upon your body. Its locus is the core of your heart Its clarity is the clarity issuing from your eyes. The Buddha dwells inside your heart, and though it is enclosed by the body of flesh and blood, it is not covered. Thus, unobscured by the body , it is clearly, unobsturctedly present in the three times. That is the unborn and undying quality of your awareness.
Gyatrul Rinpoche comments:
The statement that clarity (gsal-ba) issuing out from your eyes pertains to the channel that connects the heart to the eyes. This clarity is a kind of luminosity, and since it is beyond the three times of the past, present, and future, it is unborn and undying.
The Tantra continues:
Oh, Lord of Mysteries, there are the instructions for actualizing the Dharmakaya: external space is this empty intervening space: internal space is the empty, hollow channel that connects the eyes and the heart (ka-ti), and the secret space is the precious palace of your own heart.
Direct your awareness to your eyes; direct your eyes to the intervening space, and by leaving your gaze there, primordial wisdom freely arises. When consciousness is directed to your eyes, nonconceptual awareness alone will appear, without being obscured by any compulsive ideation. Pp. 176
Padma Sambhava continues:
The main practice of the meditation, called the meditation of the threefold space is to be practiced while the body is in the posture of Vairocana with its seven attributes. (normal sitting meditation posture) (or in a chair)
Inwardly focus this empty mind-itself on the inter-connecting pathway of the empty, hollow channel(ka-ti). Identifying the aperture called the “fluid lasso lamp”directing your awareness to the eyes. Let the eyes gaze fixedly at this fresh, external space, and also focus your awareness into the space in front of you. Without meditating on anything, simply without wavering, let it be steady, luminous, and even.
Gyatrul Rinpoche comments:
"This practice is quite similar to the Leap-Over practice (thogal). You can learn the significance of this practice only by experiencing it for yourself. Just as you must feed your children for them to grow up, you need to feed your self through practice. By initially reading these teachings, you may get some understanding, but that alone does not suffice."
Padma Sambhava continues:
First practice in short sessions, and as you become accustomed to it, practice in longer and longer sessions. When you bring the session to an end, do not get up abruptly, but rise slowly without losing the sense of meditating: and proceed without losing the sense of awareness, without wavering, and without grasping. As you eat, drink, speak, and engage in every activity, do without losing the sentry of unwavering mindfulness. If this happens in meditative equipoise but not afterwards, by integrating this with your spiritual practice and all activities of moving, walking, lying down, and sitting, whatever you do will appear as meditation.
From "Wonders of the Natural Mind" by Tenzin Wangyal pp 119:
"It is of great importance to have the experiential, and not merely conceptual, understanding of the inseparability of external surrounding space, the internal space with objects, and the secret space in the mind. When the Dzogchen teachings talk about integrating the mind with space through the practice of gazing into the sky, the practitioner is trying to be present in the inseparability of these three spaces.
The reason the practice is performed by gazing is not to limit sense perception to the visual sense consciousness only. It is possible to experience the inseparability of the three spaces through all the senses.
The eye sense organ is favored because it is the most important of the five sense consciousnesses and because it is associated with the space element. It is through the eyes that we see the base wisdom while gazing into space.
Inner luminosity originates in the heart and passes through two channels that connect the empty space of the heart with the external empty space of the sky through the eyes, the water light doors of the inner light. Thus it is through the eyes that the inner luminosity is projected into external space.
In this way the space element of the heart, the space element of the eye sense consciousness, and the external surrounding space element of the sky are connected.
***This is integration with space, and we no longer feel limited by our bodies to one specific location but are present everywhere in space with no boundaries."***
Continued: (pp 127)
“It can be said that when we experience the fruition of the sky gazing practice we are seeing primordial awareness itself through our physical eyes, experiencing and realizing it while the moving-mind awareness is continuously and undistractedly present through the eye sense consciousness. In this way we develop the trekchod contemplation practice of remaining in union with space.”
I hope the materials above have helped to clarify and explain the theory and practice of “sky gazing” practice. I do have many additional textual sources that I could continue to quote, but I feel these are some of the best. I have practiced sky gazing myself for many years since receiving the transmissions and instructions from Norbu Rinpoche almost 30 years ago.
It would be a great benefit for all to put this practice to use. I have included many specific instructions on earlier posts, regarding postures, gaze etc. Never face the sun when doing this practice. You can actually do it in any space not just the sky. In a room, just focus on the space in front of you, not the objects or walls.
Through these practices and the resulting direct experiential insights that arise; it becomes clear that no study, empowerments, rituals or concepts are necessary in Dzogchen Ati Yoga.