The Four Naljors & the Four Ting-ngé-dzin

excerpts from teachings by Ngak’chang Rinpoche

Pema Ösel Ling, March, 1998

The Aro gTér is a Lineage of Atiyoga and Anuyoga. It also contains some practices of Mahayoga. It is entirely a Vajrayana gTérma lineage of inner Tantra. The yidam practices are all of the Anuyoga style in which one self-arises as the yidam. So … there are no sadhanas – no liturgical texts. There are cycles of practices from the Mahayoga such as namkha, or sky-weaving, and gar’cham or vajra dance; but the style in which they are presented is still very much influenced by Dzogchen. Mainly the teachings within the Aro gTér are within the categories of Dzogchen – the sem-dé, the long-dé and men-ngak-dé. The Aro gTér contains the ngöndro (sNgon ’gro) of the Four Naljors – and that is the ngöndro we will discuss and practice with you here on this retreat at Pema Ösel Ling. I would like to begin by thanking Lama Tharchin Rinpoche for his kind hospitality and encouragement, and for his wonderful work in making this place a pure land of the Nyingma tradition.

There are three series of Dzogchen – sem-dé (sems sDe), long-dé (kLong sDe) and men-ngak-dé (men ngag sDe). Sem-dé is characterised as having the greatest proportion of explanation with regard to the nature of Mind. Long-dé has less; and men-ngak-dé has none. So there is less and less to be found, as the series move through from sem-dé to men-ngak-dé.

Sem’ relates with two particular principles that overlap with each other. It is a contraction of ‘sem-nyid’ (sems nyid) – the nature of Mind. Sem is also a contraction of ‘chang-chub-sem’ (byang chub sems – Tibetan)—or bodhicitta (Sanskrit)—but the word chang-chub-sem or bodhicitta has a different meaning than active-compassion; there the word chang-chub-sem means ‘the nature of Mind’. This word sem-dé has occasionally been mistranslated as ‘mental’, because that is what sem really means – it means ‘conceptual mind’. However, it is mis-translated in this way because some people are unaware that in the Dzogchen teachings, sem is a contraction for sem-nyid. We do not talk in Dzogchen about sem or conceptual mind – it is not particularly an issue. When the word sem is used, it is simply a contraction. ‘Dé’ means ‘series’, so sem-dé is ‘the series of the nature of Mind.’ Within sem-dé one has the Four Ting-ngé-dzin and the Four Naljors (rNal ’byor). The Four Naljors are the ngöndro, and the Four Ting-ngé-dzin are the main body of practice.

Long-dé means ‘the series of space’, and the principle of long-dé is concerned with sensation. Long-dé is the practice which uses sticks, straps, belts, and props such as chin rests that push on various pressure points to work with the tsa-lung (rTsa rLung) system – the energy channels. There are all kinds of lengths of these straps, to keep the body in certain positions. One can see pictures of Milarépa or Nyima ’ö-Zér wearing a gomtag, or meditation strap. Usually in these pictures the straps are not shown correctly; the strap should be taut, because it is serving a function. This is one of the aspects of long-dé – that the principle is sensation. It works with the elements a great deal. The Aro gTér is characterised by its emphasis on long-dé, rather than sem-dé and men-ngak-dé.

Men-ngak-dé means ‘the series of implicit instruction’; it is simply a series of exercises. What is meant by ‘implicit instruction’ is that the meaning of the instruction is implicit within the instruction. This means that if you need to ask a question about the instruction, that you will not understand the answer to the question by virtue of the fact that you have asked it. This is what is meant by men-ngak-dé: that if you do not understand, there is no way of understanding. The fact that you do not understand has a certain meaning – it means that you do not understand. There is nothing more to be said. That is the character of men-ngak-dé. The nature of the instruction speaks of the movement into the state of rigpa (rig pa). If one understands that, one understands the instruction. So one simply applies the instruction through comprehension of the instruction.

There are psychophysical exercises attached with each of the three series. With sem-dé it is called trül-khor. Vajra posture comes from trül-khor. With long-dé it is sKu-mNyé; and from the men-ngak-dé it is A-tri. Trül-khor is either like vajra posture, or it looks like hathayoga – but combined with pranayana and movement; so it is like moving from one hathayoga posture to another, co-ordinated with breath. sKu-mNyé looks like nothing on earth that I have ever seen. It is comprised of a series of one hundred and eleven exercises named after animals; the animals are connected with the elements. There are the lion exercises for the earth element, vulture exercises for the water element, tiger exercises for the fire element, eagle exercises for the air element, and garuda exercises for the space element. These particular practices are designed to generate sensation; and then one finds the presence of awareness in the dimension of the sensation. The particular kind of sensation that arises is known as zap-nyam, or profound nyam.

It may be useful to understand a bit about Tibetan history here. Ögyen gTérdag Lingpa said that the lineage of sem-dé and long-dé had begun to die out in the 15th century, and had practically done so by the 17th century. This means that at the present time, although the lungs (rLungs) of sem-dé and long-dé still exist in every lineage – what is really practised is men-ngak-dé; this is the main body of teaching. So in terms of an extant tradition, one is really looking at men-ngak-dé – apart from possibly a few minor lineages that still maintain sem-dé and long-dé. I am aware of an extant lineage of sem-dé and long-dé in the Bön tradition also.

If one is going to approach Dzogchen, and what one has is really men-ngak-dé, then this is really not approachable. Men-ngak-dé is a series of implicit instruction – if you do not understand the instruction, then there is no way you can practise it. So when it is said, ‘There is nowhere to go; there is nothing to do’… Well, if that seems to be what I am doing at the moment, but I don’t seem to be gaining realisation… what does that mean? This is why mainly within the Nyingma School it is considered very important that one completes the Tantric ngöndro, and that one passes through the generation phase and completion phase practices, before one moves into the practice of Dzogchen. This is indispensable, from that point of view. From the point of view of a lineage that has sem-dé as an extant tradition, and that has the ngöndro of that, then that is not specifically required.

I think that is important for people to understand. I think a lot of people these days have questions about whether ngöndro is dispensable or not, whether you do it or not. That is not in question. It is how it is approached, according to each individual lineage. Where men-ngak-dé is the major body of teaching, then one passes through the Tantric ngöndro and approaches it in that way. Where sem-dé still exists as an extant tradition, and where it has a ngöndro, then it is possible to approach it in that way. In terms of the Aro gTér Tradition, it has no Tantric ngöndro; it has instead, the Four Naljors ngöndro.

The Four Naljors Ngöndro:

The Four Naljors consists of shi-nè (zhi gNas), lhatong (lhag mThong), nyi-mèd (nyis med) and lhundrüp (lhun grub) as the four stages of the ngöndro. The stages of shi-nè and lhatong are those that equate with Sutra and Tantra. Shi-nè, for example, incorporates aspects of Sutra—of compassionate practice—in terms of how the content of mind is viewed.

Shi-nè is the practice of letting-go of thought and of entering into the empty state – the state of mi-tog-pa. ‘Tog-pa’ is that which arises in mind; ‘mi’ means ‘not’ – so there are no thoughts there; there is mind without content – this is mi-tog-pa. This is the state that is arrived at through shi-nè. It is important to remember that the word shi-nè or shamatha (Sanskrit) is used differently according to tradition. When one talks about shi-nè from the perspective of Dzogchen, there is a slightly different emphasis, and this is even more pronounced with lhatong; because lhatong and vipassana (Sanskrit) are quite different. So when we look at shi-nè in terms of the Four Naljors practice as a ngöndro of Dzogchen sem-dé, one is looking at finding the presence of awareness in the dimension of the movement of breath. This is very different from observing or following the breath. It is semantically different; but it is not simply semantics.

Let us talk a bit about finding the presence of awareness. We start with the word ‘finding’. Why do we say ‘find’? Why do we not say concentrate, or look, or observe? If I have lost something, where do I find it? I find it where it is. It is nowhere else. Whatever you have lost, that is where you find it – where it is. Now when you next lose a thing, and you find it, what I would like you to do is stop for a moment and try to re-experience the sense in which you did not know where it was. You will find that you cannot remember not knowing where it was. That is very interesting. That is about the closest correlate that you can find to the sense in which we are all beginninglessly enlightened. Yet somehow we do not know that – and that we have always been enlightened. So when I find my passport underneath my underpants in the drawer—which is where I put it for safekeeping and then forgot it was there—when I find it again I think, ‘Oh! That’s where I put it!’ Somehow I have always known that; and I cannot remember not knowing where it was. That is an experiential thing; so if you remember that, you might find that quite a powerful experience, even though it is fairly banal. But when you contact that sense of not being able to remember not knowing, that is very interesting. So, we start with this word ‘finding’: we find the presence of awareness.

We use the word ‘presence’ here, because all the sense-fields are present; we have not internalised. I hear everything. Whatever I smell, I smell; whatever there is to taste I taste; whatever there is to feel I feel—of heat or cold—that is still there. I have not retracted in some way. All the sense-fields are open and I am present in the sense-fields. Nothing is excluded. We find the presence of awareness; and we find that in the dimension of… something. Why do we not simply say, ‘I find presence of awareness in the… movement of breath?’ Why do we say ‘in the dimension of the movement of the breath?’ The reason we use the word ‘dimension’ here is because everything is then within that dimension: there is the movement of the breath, and that is the dimension. Which means that if I hear a bird sing, or I hear the fans moving, or if I have a pain in my toe, or if I feel hot – all this occurs within that dimension.

Q: How is that different from any other dimension?

NR: It is not. It is just that this is the particular method. One finds the presence of awareness in the movement of the breath. One could find the presence of awareness in the dimension of sound, as in the practice of yang, or Dzogchen gar-dang (yogic song). One could obviously simply find the presence of awareness in the dimension of reality itself – but that is vast; that is actually more simple, but more difficult. By isolating something, one has more ease of finding presence of awareness. One tends to find it in one of the sense-fields, and within men-ngak-dé there are many thousands of practices of finding presence of awareness in different ways: according to the moving elements, according to many different things.

So it is the fact that everything exists within that; which is really the same as finding presence of awareness in the dimension of reality – without making any division. It is the same, but there is a shift. It is a shift to discovering that – through the movement of the breath, or through sound, or through the texture of the emotion, or whatever else there is, whether it is visual, whether it is audible.

Q: There is something other – a recognition broader than the breath?

NR: Oh, yes; but this is the method. Finding presence of awareness there, one actually discovers non-duality, because one is identified with that movement. Initially one finds the empty state there – the state of mi-tog-pa; and one becomes identified with that state of mi-tog-pa – or stable shi-nè as it is called. Now, upon arriving at the state of stable shi-nè, one then dissolves shi-nè by opening the eyes.

In this particular practice of shi-nè one holds one’s hands like this [demonstrates]. One is looking slightly downward. The eyes are partially open. Sometimes it is said that the eyes should be half-open or half-closed; but this is extremely hard to do, and so mainly people give up and close their eyes. But there is an eye position that is comfortable – that is simply letting the eyelids hang; and you find that you can let them hang in a position where light enters. What is intended is that some light enters the eyes; if you close your eyes, it leads to sleepiness, or eyelid movies. You simply let the eyelids hang, so that light is still entering the eyes. Now in some practices you also turn the eyes up slightly inside; but this is not this practice.

This is then the posture for shi-nè. Then one moves into lhatong. Lhatong means ‘further vision’. With this practice the hands move to the knees; the head moves upwards; the eyes are wide open. One is looking slightly upward, but directly forward. One focuses in space. What is meant by focusing in space, is that there is no object on which one is focusing. This is not the same as being out of focus. The idea of being out of focus is that there is an object upon which one is not focusing – it is based on an object. One is in focus, but one is focusing in space. One can train in terms of focusing in space by holding up your finger and focusing on it. You hold your finger at arm’s length; you focus on the finger and then you take the finger away. It is not important that your focus stays there; it can wander around, as long as it does not settle on an object. The idea of focusing at this length is that this is comfortable for anybody. Usually people experience some discomfort around focusing in space, that is psychological discomfort which interprets itself as physical discomfort. But there is no discomfort physically in terms of not having an object there. This is what lhatong requires – the ability to focus in space. This is somewhat easier if you are practising something like namkha ar-té—sky-direct—where you just look into a blue sky – because there is no object; so this is easy in this way.

Q: When does shi-nè become lhatong?

NR: It is a movement from stable shi-nè—when there is no thought—when you have some confidence of shi-nè and you are able to remain without reference points. Traditionally they give a lot longer for this; but I would say ten to twenty minutes. I think for people in the West, that is quite an accomplishment. Possibly if you live on some vast plain, being able to stay in it all day is easier. But thought is quite a big thing here; so being able to do without it for ten to twenty minutes, one is probably safe to move on to lhatong. That would not be a traditional statement; that would be just my opinion, from my experience of working with people.

Once you have stable shi-nè, then you dissolve shi-nè and you alter your posture. This is a very deliberate thing. There are different styles of this in the Dzogchen system. There are methods of practising shi-nè with eyes open. And there are practices where mi-tog-pa has a different definition: where mi-tog-pa is not absence of thought, but simply non-attachment to it – it simply moves. But here this movement into lhatong comes after stable shi-nè, in which there are no reference points. Then one actively changes one’s position: one’s eyes open and thoughts arrive.

Here namthogs arise. Previously—when one talks about shi-nè—one talks about thought. Actually namthog is thought in Tibetan; I use an English word and a Tibetan word, because what we are initially dealing with is much more conceptual. When one moves into lhatong, there is this idea of namthog meaning ‘that which arises’. This need not be thought or conceptuality in particular. It can be colour, texture, pattern – anything that moves in mind. It might also be conceptual movement, but not necessarily. Here we are dealing with something that is a lot more subtle. When namthog arises, then one finds the presence of awareness in the dimension of the movement of the namthog. This is why we start with the movement of the breath – because we are practising this movement of something very subtle. There are various stages here with shi-nè: you start with finding the presence of awareness in the movement of breath; then we let go of that breath, until we enter into the stage of stable shi-nè; then in lhatong we change our posture; we find presence of awareness in the dimension of that which moves.

Q: You mentioned the principle of letting go, and also the principle of finding. Are they two ways of saying the same thing?

NR: No, it is very different. Letting go…

Q: Isn’t that the essence of the practice in the beginning? The letting go of whatever arises?

NR: Yes, in the beginning, yes.

Q: So, out of letting go, does finding spontaneously arise?

NR: No, letting go is advice in a different language. This ‘finding’ is specifically the language of Dzogchen. When you talk about letting go and letting be, this is a different kind of advice – this is practical, relative advice. ‘Finding’ is the very specific language of Dzogchen.

Q: Before, you said that to enter the Tantric vehicle, you have to have some sense of emptiness. In Dzogchen, before you begin the Dzogchen ngöndro, do you already have to have that sense of emptiness? Or does shi-nè help you come to that emptiness?

NR: Shi-nè here is Sutra, lhatong is Tantra – this is what they equate to in terms of the Four Naljors. You look at shi-nè and you can see Sutra there. There is a whole teaching in the Ug-Dong-Do, the Sutra of the Owl-Headed Dakini, where shi-nè is described in terms of the Paramitas, in terms of wisdom and compassion – everything is contained within shi-nè in terms of Dzogchen view. In terms of lhatong being Tantra, one would say that Tantra is symbolic lhatong; and lhatong is non-symbolic yidam practice. Instead of the yidam, it is that whatever arises is yidam. You self-arise not as the yidam, but you self-arise as everything that arises – you are whatever arises. If you understand that, you know how this is Tantra. The principle is identical. It is a very different view; but actually it is the same thing.

This is what is fabulous about Buddhism. One day you could get really excited about Buddhism; when you start realising how much everything makes sense there. There is no distinction between the vehicles, at one level. I tend to put a lot of emphasis on saying how the vehicles are different. In the end, you end up with Ekayana—the solitary yana—because it is all the same. You look at the skhandas, you look at the five Buddha families, you look at the five dakas and dakinis, the five elements, the five thig-lés – it is all the same. It is all the same teaching; it is just a shift on it, in a different way. Then you realise: ‘This is all the same teaching!’ This is really wonderful.

Q: How would you describe vipassana as it is distinguished from lhatong?

NR: I would say that vipassana is a dual approach. It is not a non-dual approach, because one is observing – I am observing what arises; I am naming what arises. In lhatong—in terms of the Four Naljors—one is not naming what arises; one is not separate from what arises. One becomes completely identified with that which arises. One can see that it is the same practice; but in Dzogchen it is a non-dual approach – one becomes identified. Another vipassana style is where one enters into the empty state and then one contemplates some aspect of Dharma. But in every style there is emptiness; then some form comes – and it is what you do with that. With lhatong, whatever arises – one identifies; and one finds presence of awareness in the dimension of that which moves.

Let us now consider these in terms of nyams. ‘Nyam’ means ‘meditational manifestation’, or ‘meditational experience’; so it is not the enlightened state – it is an experience. There are all kinds of nyams that arise in terms of practice. The general advice on nyams is to let go of them; you do not become a seeker of nyams. This is true in Sutra; it is true in Tantra. In Dzogchen, however, there is a different perspective on nyams because there are particular nyams. In sem-dé there is what is called the sem-nyams – the nyams of the nature of Mind. Stable shi-nè is known as the nyam of né-pa. Né-pa means ‘absence with presence’ – absence of thought with presence of awareness. With lhatong, we find presence of awareness in the dimension of that which moves. When we accomplish this, it is called the nyam of gYo-wa – ‘gYo-wa’ means ‘movement’. With the two sem-nyams, or nyams of the nature of Mind, one is either identified with emptiness or one is identified with the movement of form. These are called nyams because neither are rigpa – although either could be rigpa. One has to be able to distinguish here, what is rigpa? What is the enlightened state? What is the non-dual state? So we have shi-nè which gives rise to the nyam of né-pa; we have lhatong which gives rise to the nyam of gYo-wa.

Now the next of the Four Naljors is called nyi-mèd. Nyi-mèd means non-dual, or literally ‘not two’ – the ‘not two’ is expressing that there are not two experiences here. There is one experience. Nyi-mèd is something that you do not have to move into. It moves into itself; because naturally one enters into lhatong, then form arises again. But it is not always there. Form disappears again—there is the empty state—then form arises again. One naturally moves into nyi-mèd – into this alternation between the nyam of né-pa and the nyam of gYo-wa. This is called the practice of nyi-mèd, and within this practice, one is trying to establish ro-chig – the one-taste of emptiness and form. This is the practice of nyi-mèd.

Here, if one is in the nyam of né-pa, and then lhatong arises—the nyam of gYo-wa—and one enters into that nyam of gYo-wa and finds that one can rest there, but yet there seems to be a difference – then this is not rigpa. If one is in the nyam of gYo-wa, and there is the dissolution of that nyam into the nyam of né-pa; and one feels that there is a difference – then this is not rigpa. Rigpa is what is the same – what is the same taste in the nyam of né-pa and the nyam of gYo-wa. When one discovers what is the same, then the nyams of né-pa and of gYo-wa become the ‘ornaments of rigpa’.

Q: Is that because of the rôle of memory and not having the sense of not being in three-times? I mean, if you feel there’s a difference, then you’re comparing. So one’s a memory and one’s…

NR: No, it is not at that level; it is a very subtle thing. Né-pa and gYo-wa have to become seamless. The awareness is there, but somehow there is a change that happens. It is finding that moment of change; and then finding that that moment of change does not exist. Here we are talking in vast abstractions. This is very difficult to talk about; this has to be experienced. I am only talking about this so that if this arises in your practice, you will have some idea.

Shi-nè is a lot harder than lhatong. Getting to that state of stable shi-nè is difficult; it is difficult because it is not a natural state. Stable shi-nè is a forced state of no reference points. Lhatong is a far more natural state, because there is simply arising and dissolving happening. So people will naturally fall into lhatong much more easily. But lhatong is very unstable without the previous experience of shi-nè. All kinds of people have lhatong experience. You can enter into lhatong if you are an artist or a musician or a long-distance runner – anything that you get totally obsessed with. You get so obsessed that you forget yourself, and that happens accidentally. I have heard quite a few guitarists say, ‘I did not know if I was playing it, or it was playing me, or it was just happening. And then I noticed and I said, ‘Hey! This is good!’ and then I lost it.’ That is a common experience; and that is lhatong. Lhatong is something that is easier to enter into.

I have this little rhyme that I devised about shi-nè and lhatong: that shi-nè is hard to attain, but easy to remain; lhatong is easy to attain, but hard to remain. What does this make you think of? Form and emptiness! Why?

Q: Is it that in shi-nè you are creating a form to be in the emptiness; and in the other one the other way around?

NR: Yes. When you divide emptiness and form, they are going to mirror each other. Shi-nè is a practice of emptiness; lhatong is a practice of form. They are going to be mirror-images of each other. ‘Hard to attain, easy to remain.’ Sure it will be easy to remain – there is nothing disturbing you; there is nothing. So it is hard to get there – but once you are there, you can cruise. lhatong is easy to attain, but hard to remain because it is moving. ‘Oh, that is interesting. Look at that.’ I can compare; there is difference.

Q: So in shi-nè there are no thoughts?

NR: Yes. Although there are different approaches to that. There is the approach where one would say that stable shi-nè means you are not affected by the thought.

Q: They are just floating there? But you are not engaging?

NR: Yes. However, that is not shi-nè according to the ngöndro of the Four Naljors. There it is specifically required that one stabilises, because this equates with Sutra. Then lhatong equates with Tantra; and nyi-mèd equates with the realisation of Tantra. Lhundrüp equates with Dzogchen. In fact, lhundrüp then becomes Dzogchen, because in the same way that Lama’i Naljor is the heart of Tantra, lhundrüp is then the heart of sem-dé. So you find this ngöndro works in exactly the same way as prostrations, mandala offering, Dorje Sempa mantra, and Lama’i Naljor. It is exactly the same format. In principle, each one is identical. It is just that one is symbolic; one is non-symbolic.

Q: Is it no-arising of thoughts? I can see the danger of ignoring thoughts, because the thoughts are still there that you are ignoring.

NR: That is called sleepy shi-nè.

Q: So it is no-arising?

NR: Yes.

Q: What gives one greater capacity to reach stable shi-nè?

NR: I do not understand the question.

Q: [laughs] I mean, why is it so hard for me? How does one increase their capacity?

NR: Oh, there are all kinds of things. I would say Forced Shi-nè is very useful for that.

Q: Do some people, by their nature—their elemental configuration—have more capacity for shi-nè?

NR: Yes, they do; it is true. This is a particular thing that one has to address with individuals. With some people—occasionally—I have had to say, ‘Forget shi-nè; just practice lhatong. You are hitting your head on the wall with this, and it is not useful.’ There is really no such thing as a practice that everyone has to do, come what may, like a rule. Although obviously—when we are speaking of experiential factors—there are some things that have to be accomplished, one way or another. And one would find that in the many different traditions there are different approaches to this. There is eyes-open shi-nè; there is the style of shi-nè where there is the movement of thought there, but one is unattached to it – it is simply moving. But that would be a different style of practice; and that might be more suited to a person who found complete dissolution of thought impossible. But really, it requires retreat; it requires many balancing factors – maybe the practice of physical yogas. There is diet alteration in terms of the balance of one’s elements. There are many different factors there.

Q: Are those things just trying to decrease conceptualisation?

NR: Yes.

Q: I understand that nyi-mèd comes naturally out of lhatong. You don’t produce it. What I need to understand is, that it seems that nyi-mèd is deeper shi-nè. Or am I seeing that incorrectly?

NR: It is where shi-nè and lhatong alternate, just on their own; because that is the natural state. If one is in this state where shi-nè and lhatong are alternating, but this is still not rigpa… or is it? Well, if it is, you know; but if you do not, then it is not. So you have to know. And how is it that I know? At that point, there is no way of knowing; one either knows or one does not know. Which is why one might enter into some practice of A-tri, like this ‘Ha!’ or ‘Phat!’ These trek gÇod (khregs gCod) exercises are used to explode that state of not-knowing. Then you find presence of awareness in the state of he-de-wa, that is created through exploding that state. There are many practices in the different traditions of trek-gÇod that explode that state of nyi-mèd into the understanding of rigpa.

Q: How do you start to practice nyi-mèd?

NR: The practice of nyi-mèd simply happens. Nyi-mèd is the movement between the nyams of nè-pa and gYo-wa. The object of nyi-mèd is to find what is the same. When you find what is the same in the nyam of nè-pa and the nyam of gYo-wa—that is in the empty state or the state of identification with the empty state—and the state of identification with what moves in mind – then that is rigpa. Then the nyams of nè-pa and gYo-wa become the ornaments of rigpa. This is nyi-mèd.

The final practice is lhundrüp. Lhundrüp means something like ‘spontaneity’, when one takes rigpa into integration with each moment. This is no longer a seated posture. Perhaps one stands, one walks – with whatever arises, one integrates rigpa. Lhundrüp is like the post-meditative state—jé-thob—where one integrates the experience of rigpa with everything else. This is really the heart of Dzogchen practice, according to sem-dé.

So these are the Four Naljors, and this is the ngöndro of Dzogchen sem-dé. It is also the ngöndro of Dzogchen in general. The ngöndro for any vehicle looks like the vehicle. Tantric ngöndro looks like Tantra, right from the start. The Four Naljors look like Dzogchen. Once one has experienced this ngöndro of Dzogchen sem-dé, then one can also practice long-dé and men-ngak-dé, because one has that understanding. The base of Tantra is emptiness; the base of Dzogchen is the non-dual state. One needs some experience of the non-dual state in order to be able to practice Dzogchen. Without any experience of rigpa, Dzogchen is impossible; so one needs at least some flash of understanding there.

Now if we come to look at the four Ting-ngé-dzin, which is the actual practice of Dzogchen sem-dé, they are: nè-pa, which is the first – and you will notice that this nè-pa which is the first ting-ngé-dzin is also the nyam of shi-nè; so the first ting-ngé-dzin is the fruit of shi-nè. The next ting-ngé-dzin is called mi-gYo-wa. Now you will notice that this word is not the same as the nyam of lhatong, which is gYo-wa. This is mi-gYo-wa, ‘not-moving’. The third is nyam-nyid – the nature of the two sem nyams; and the fourth is lhundrüp.

So the fourth Ting-ngé-dzin is the same as the fourth naljor. Now what can we say about these? These really have to be introduced at the level of experience. I am going to end on this. There will be no questions about this subject – or if there are, there will not be any answers. If you have some confusion about it, you just stay with that; because trying to frame a question will not be helpful. Although I ask for lots of questions, sometimes I say ‘questions are not useful about this’. They are really not useful about this.