Thogal theory and Practice
I am writing this as a "quick start" instructional guide that will allow anyone to begin practicing thogal effectively and safely.
Thogal means "over the skull", "over the crest". It actually means to arrive instantly without jumping to get there, like a quantum leap. Thogal practice makes it very easy to experience, know and differentiate rigpa from all other mind states, in its purest form.
Rigpa is our primordial Buddha Mind that is intrinsically perfect, permanently. Because it's permanent, it's always present. But it is not our experience, rather our experience is other coarser states of mind as content, which are appearing within the space of changeless rigpa awareness.
By practicing thogal, rigpa itself becomes its own self-experience. What is experienced is its own penetrating transparency, insightful clarity, wisdoms, and absence of a "me" egoic identity, as well as the absence of the sense of an "external" universe. Eventually the physical body will dissolve into pure Light as the practice comes to perfect fruition.
Thogal focuses on the visual apparatus. That means we use our eyes as our path.
Traditionally we use the sun by looking towards the sun in early morning and late afternoon. One does not look directly at the sun but slightly underneath it or off to the side, and with sun glasses on. I find using one eye at a time works best. One squints so that the ball of the sun is no longer visible but only a diffraction pattern of colored rays and a background tapestry of circles as though similar to looking at a peacock's feather. Within that diffraction pattern you can see little round spheres that may have little circular rings within them as well. At first they may just look like this but completely round: @
Sample images are posted below. They get larger over time with consistent practice. They are called "thigles" in Tibetan. (Pronounced: teeglay)
One then begins to focus on one little sphere by not moving the eyes. You just gaze at it. So do just this much for several sessions. I recommend a safer and easy way to do thogal:
Use your iPhone or similar phone with only the black screen. Hold it down toward your waist, angle it so you can look down and see the reflection of the sun. Squint your eyes until the ball disappears into the light refraction and continue as described above. This allows practicing throughout the day, even at noon. But be sure to wear sun glasses. Between the UV absorption in the phone's black glass and your sun glasses, no harmful UV rays should be entering your eyes. It's only the UV rays that damage the eyes. I recommend 20 minute sessions. 10 minutes with each eye. Start with one session per day and add a session later in the day if desired. But practice everyday. The effects will last and are cumulative.
If sun is not available you can flip the phone around and use the flashlight feature as though looking at the sun, but no sunglasses are necessary. You can also use an ordinary light bulb.
There are specific recommended postures for during thogal practice but I have not found them necessary and Namkhai Norbu stated that once the practice is working the postures are no longer necessary. I have taught dozens of people this approach in my retreats and it works for everyone without exception.
Once you are a little familiar wth the inner landscape and can focus on these thigle spheres easily, then while looking at the spheres ask your self "who or what is doing the looking?". "Where exactly is the observer?" Is there a "someone" looking or is there just empty perception?".
Also from time to time notice the empty space between the thigle and the place from where you are observing. Notice that completely clear and transparent space. Sense that space behind you and all around you and through you.
Also notice your state of inner empty clarity, transparent and vividly awake; from time to time.
Pay less attention to the condition of the thigles than to your empty awareness that is looking.
After you finish, look closely at various textures and surfaces close up and notice the sharpness of detail. Sometimes you can actually feel the textures by sight alone. Vision will become amazingly clear along with a sense of transparency and absence of selfness. It's this transparency (zangthal) and absence of selfing that transforms the mind completely into its own vivid emptiness. There is nothing to think about or workout. The practice does it all automatically.
There are many more aspects to all of this. To learn more and for additional support please join our thogal group here at FB, Dzogchen Thogal.
I am posting this on the general Dzogchen group to encourage those interested to practice. There is currently lots of misinformation out there regarding thogal and I would like to keep this technology available in an easy and workable format that can bring infinite benefit to any competent practitioner that wants to learn.
There are several lineage authorized books on the open public market now that explain thogal in complete detail. Now the traditional lineage Lamas have allowed these thogal teachings to be propagated broadly for everyone's benefit also out of a fear that these precious teachings may disappear eventually.
I received the thogal transmission and practice instructions privately in 1985 through the Yeshe Lama text as presented to me by a Nyingma Lama who was taught by Dudjum Rinpoche. I later received the detailed Bon transmission of Shardze Rinpoche's text "Heart Drops of the Dharmakaya" trekchod and thogal instructions personally from the Bon Menri Lopon. Shardza Rinpoche attained the "rainbow body of light" in the 1930's. Neither of my teachers asked me to keep these teachings secret, nor have I pledged any samaya regarding not sharing any of the Dzogchen teachings with others.
Please share your successes and insights in our thogal group as well as your practice issues.
I recommend reading my book and gaining familiarity with all the practices in the appendix before commencing thogal practice: "The Natural Bliss of Being", as well as attending one of my thogal retreats.
May all beings benefit! Emaho!