The following piece is a composite of two interviews with Surya Das, one
conducted by Fred von Allmen (copyright 1989), and one by Wes Nisker with
Catherine Ingram. Additional portions of the interviews also appear in the
Fall 1992 issue of Inquiring Mind. This piece was provided to Mt. Kailas
BBS by Ann Parker, Boston area coordinator of The Dzogchen Foundation.
     Q: We would like to talk about your practice in the Tibetan tradition
        of Dzogchen or the Great Practice.
     Surya Das: Dzogchen basically deals with the innate intelligence or
intrinsic awareness which all beings possess. It means seeing non-
dualistically rather than in the usual dualistic object-subject dichotomy.
By definition, delusion is dualistic, while non-duality is ultimate wisdom.
Dzogchen doesn't necessarily have anything to do with Buddhism. It is the
and perfect nature of all things.
     Q: It is said that in Dzogchen "the view" is of ultimate importance.
        Explain what is meant by view.
     Surya Das: In Dzogchen the view comes first, and is crucial. The view
is the outlook that everything is primordially pure and perfect just as it
is.  One might also say that the view is like vast space, without center or
periphery, infinite and open. It's the big view, the overview of overviews.
We call it the view from above. Dzogchen is like swooping down from above.
The Dalai Lama once said that Dzogchen is the practice of Buddhas, not the
practice of beings.
     Q: How does Dzogchen enable people to recognize their true nature?
     SD: It is said that a practice like Dzogchen depends upon someone
being "introduced" to the ultimate nature. The word "ngotrod" in Tibetan
means "to be introduced" but it also means "to identify". So introduction
doesn't just mean somebody tells you about it; it means you've recognized
it yourself. You've seen the sun break through the clouds, for a moment at
least. The clouds might obscure the sun again, just as the mind obscures
the innate awareness, but the important point is that we have recognized
the ultimate nature with certainty; we have actually come to see how things
     Q: And this practice of Dzogchen is for Buddhas, not for ordinary
     SD: Remember we are all Buddhas. There is a great story about a cook
in Adzum Trungpa's tent camp. Adzum Trungpa was a great master, and one day
his cook, who was unlettered and untrained, burned his hand in the fire and
"woke up". He came running to the master and told him what he had realized.
Everything fell apart in that moment of burning his hand; he had a total
satori breakthrough and non-dual experience. He realized who he was and the
nature of all things. The master said, "That's it!" And the cook said, "Now
what?" And the master said, "Keep cooking."
     That cook became a great yogi, and he just kept cooking. But he had
that big view, which is not intellectual. it's not a philosophical view.
It's your intuitive highest wisdom. It's your gestalt, your overview, which
is prethought, really. It's how you see the world.
     Q: So Dzogchen has nothing to do with knowledge or sophistication, or
        with this or that school or tradition?
     SD: That's right. If you want to entitle this interview "We are all
Buddhas" I think it might be appropriate, because Dzogchen is beyond "isms"
and "schisms." It's beyond Buddhism. We're all Buddhas, some asleep and
some awakened. A sleeping Buddha and an awakened Buddha are both Buddhas by
nature. And our only task is to awaken to our true nature. That's Dzogchen
teaching, in my own words.