In April 2014, just before the start of the Longsal Retreat at Merigar West, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu made public to the Dzogchen Community an important message on the topic of generosity. Included in this message was a description of a way to organize teaching retreats according to the principle of generosity.

In this Focus section of The Mirror, we would like to present small excerpts from various teachings and commentary on the topic of generosity, a basic aspiration for all practitioners and something that can be applied at a new level in the Dzogchen Community, bringing us to a greater understanding of the supreme value and gift of the precious Dzogchen Teachings.

Below are some excerpts from Rinpoche’s message which can be read in its totality here at the Mirror website:

as well more detailed information from the International Dzogchen Community Gakyil on the application of generosity in the organization of retreats: 

Excerpts from

Chögyal Namkhai Norbu’s Message on The Virtues of Generosity and Donors

In the histories of the teaching of the Secret Mantra it is told that once, when Buddha Shakyamuni was alive, in the kingdom of Uddiyana there was a very powerful king called Indrabhuti. He had very sincere faith and devotion to the Buddha and therefore he invited some pandits who were disciples of the Buddha and honored them as royal priests. One day the king said to the royal priests, “I have the greatest desire to invite Buddha Shakyamuni to the country of Uddiyana, but as the distance between India and Uddiyana is very great, travelling is not safe, and so forth, it seems that I will not have the fortune to meet the Buddha, and that we do not have the merits to make the Buddha come to the land of Uddiyana. Alas! What can we do?”

Thus he lamented, but the pandits who were present advised him unanimously, “Since Buddha Shakyamuni is omniscient, he must surely know about your wish. He is endowed with miraculous powers, therefore if you invoke him with fervent devotion and invite him for the midday meal, the Buddha will arrive here for lunch miraculously. Thus you will be able to meet the Buddha!”

The king of Uddiyana arranged the midday meal perfectly as advised by the royal pandits, and prayed one-pointedly to the Buddha. When the time for the midday meal came, the Buddha arrived at the royal palace of Uddiyana together with his retinue endowed with miraculous powers. When the Buddha and his retinue had finished their meal, they recited:

Through the power of this vast offering

May all beings attain spontaneous enlightenment,

And may all those who have not been liberated by previous Buddhas

Be liberated by this act of generosity.

After this dedication and invocation, the king of Uddiyana addressed the Buddha, “Bhagavan Buddha! I have an immense desire to follow your teaching and reach the state of supreme liberation. However, since I have the responsibility to look after both the kingdom and my family, there is no way for me to renounce this and be ordained as a monk, and thus to practice your teachings.”

Bhagavan Buddha replied, “Great king! Following and practicing the sacred teaching must be in accordance with the capacities of individuals. Since there are various capacities, it does not mean that all those who enter the sacred Dharma must necessarily abandon their families, become monks and practice solely according to the path of renunciation. There are also profound upadeshas for individuals of high capacity who can attain enlightenment through the path of transformation, without renouncing emotions and enjoyments.”

Then the king of Uddiyana asked, “Supreme teacher, please teach me this extraordinary teaching!”

Accordingly, the Buddha saw that he was a special disciple and in an instant manifested as the mandala of Shri Guhyasamaja, both as the dimension and its deities inside, and transmitted the complete upadesha of the profound path of Vajrayana transformation. This is narrated in the history of the Guhyasamaja. Thus, also from the origins of the diffusion of the Secret Mantra teaching we can clearly understand the importance of being a donor.

When Bodhisattvas, the offspring of the Buddhas, enter the Mahayana path and apply sublime Bodhisattva behavior, they engage in the famous “six paramitas”: generosity, morality, patience, diligence, meditation, and discriminative wisdom. The first of the six is the paramita of generosity, which is subdivided into three aspects, the gift of the teaching, the gift of material things, and the gift of protection from fear.

Six Points which are related to the Principle of the Six Spaces of Samantabhadra

In the future, in order to be in total accordance with the principle of the sacred Dharma and to be able to put into practice in an authentic way the “behavior according to place and time” without leaving it as a mere talk, any Gakhyil of the Dzogchen Community that, on the basis of the wishes of Community members and of the various necessities of the place and time, has to plan the organization of a teaching retreat, whether big or small, must first of all follow this fundamental procedure:

.    1)  First of all the particular reason or importance of that teaching retreat has to be widely communicated to all Community members so that a clear understanding of it may arise in all those who are interested.

.    2)  Those who wish to sponsor the specific teaching retreat, either an individual donor or a group, must inform the Gakhyil in due time, and then the Gakhyil together with the sponsor should decide the place and time of the retreat, and all its necessary factors.

.    3)  The Gakhyil and the sponsor must jointly take full charge of the teaching retreat, and ensure that all the activities of the retreat will be perfectly accomplished.

.    4)  All Community members, both as a group or individuals, will only make donations and presents to the Master and to the Community according to their wishes, and no specific enrolment fee will be requested.

.    5)  It is important that the sponsors, without wishing for an immediate or karmic reward, train in the excellent behavior of the Bodhisattvas, scions of the Buddhas, and that they do not even show an air of self-importance in front of the Community for the fact that they are sponsors.

.    6)  The Master, the Gakhyil and all the members of the Community will rejoice in the merits of such sponsors, and properly express the wish that they may attain inexhaustible happiness.

These six points which are related to the principle of the six spaces of Samantabhadra, I, the Dzogchenpa Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, offer to all the members of the Dzogchen Community as a means to keep presence and awareness alive. May good things increase!


The following quotations are from Chapter 30 and 37 of the Kunjed Gyalpo with commentary from the Ornament of the State of Samantabhadra by Khenpo Zhenphen Öser.

Courtesy of Jim Valby

Here is the 54th teaching of Guru Garab Dorje when he was 7 years old. The following quotation is from chapter 30 of the Kunjed Gyalpo. The commentary is from the Ornament of the State of Samantabhadra by Khenpo Zhenphen Öser.

(Root Text: Q54)  “Honoring gurus, generosity, and all similar meritorious acts become the greatest fetters if performed without the power of non-attachment and non-movement.”

Commentary by Khenpo Zhenphen Öser:

Offering praise with various articles to honor the three jewels and the gurus of the three worlds, who are superior to all objects of worship, (is a meritorious act).  And a wealth of merits arises from the generosity of giving gifts of wealth and dharma to beings.  And a wealth of similar merits arises from morality.  And a wealth of merits arises from meditation.  But all of these merits again and again become the biggest fetters if there is no liberation from the tight knots of hope, fear, struggle and achievement, and if actions, such as making offerings with the movement of dualistic concepts and desirous attachment to objects, are performed without the power of prajña’s non-attachment to anything and without the power of non-movement from the realm experienced in contemplation. Thus non-attachment is the advice for becoming an expert in the key point of self-liberation.  The Rübal Tsagyü says:

If honoring, offering, and so forth, are not completed with a vajra mind, they become shackles because of one’s big pride, and there is no liberation.

The Dochu says:

Dzogchen sacred activities are beyond effort.  If honoring the gurus and the three jewels, giving generously, and similar meritorious (actions) which yearn for the two accumulations are performed without the power of the contemplation of non-attachment and non-movement, they become the biggest shackles, because one honors and gives with attachment to objects and with unstable contemplation. Specifically, I teach that these (activities) are deviations from (sacred) activities.

The following quotation is from chapter 37 of the Kunjed Gyalpo.

(root text)       “Concerning the nature of the real condition of Pure Perfect Presence, (bodhisattvas) use the two truths – absolute and relative – to travel and purify on the (five) paths and ten levels with the ten paramitas – generosity, morality, (and so forth).  They do not recognize the real condition; rather, they abide on a level of purification.”

Commentary by Khenpo Zhenphen Öser:

The nature of the real condition of Pure Perfect Presence is the essence of the unique thigle, dharmakaya, the total indivisibility of the two truths, beyond distinctions of ultimate and relative. Those who follow the bodhisattva vehicle of characteristics establish their view with the principle of the two truths.  Ultimate truth is the natural state of emptiness; relative truth is the apparent state of all conditioned things.  Their path is based upon the ultimate transcendence of the concepts of the three realms, the relative renunciation of the seven attachments, the possession of the four enlightened qualities, and so forth.  Applying the ten paramitas, such as giving generously, maintaining morality, and so forth, (bodhisattvas) travel to higher and higher levels and paths by gradually purifying emotional and intellectual obscurations on the ten spiritual levels, like first joyful level, and so forth, and on the five paths – preparation, application, seeing, meditation, and no more learning.  Although they want to realize the ultimate goal of the eleventh spiritual level, named ‘Universal Illumination’, they do not recognize that all the obscurations to be eliminated are actually the great state of the baseless essence of the real condition of Pure Perfect Presence, beyond identification, renunciation, antidotes and distinctions.  Using meditation of the two aspects of selflessness, they abide on a level of purification within the unborn real condition.  Thus they deviate from the state of All-Creating Pure Perfect Presence, which transcends purification and travel.


Following from the Precious Vase
Instructions on the Base of Santi Maha Sangha
Chapter IV, The Cultivation of Bodhicitta

Chögyal Namkhai Norbu
© Shang Shung Editions 1999, 2001, 2008


The Paramita of Generosity comprises three subdivisions: the gift of material things, the gift of the teaching, and the gift of the release from fear.

‘Offering’ means to offer material things without one’s possibilities without attachment or greed and without expecting recompense or a good karmic result, on the basis of the wish to give all that we have for the benefit of others.

‘Great offering’ is exemplified by prince Lokeshwara who gave away all his riches contained in the treasury of his father the king and even his own son.

‘Supreme offering’ means a gesture of total offering, such as that of Buddha who in a previous incarnation as Bodhisattva Tagmo Lüjin offered his own body to a hungry tiger.

 Page 117

Also, as Engaging in Bodhisattva Conduct says:

Our body, wealth

And all the virtues we have accumulated in the three times

We should offer without reservation

To achieve the benefit of all beings.

And furthermore:

The Paramita of generosity is said

To consist in giving with a generous mind to all beings

All material things including the fruit;

Thus it is based on the mind.

 Page 119

And the commentary The Drop of Nectar states:

To all beings, important or less so, rich or poor, we should give our body, wealth and all other material things we own together with the fruit (of this deed), that is without expecting karmic recompense in this or our next life, and without avarice or attachment that hinder us from giving, but instead with a mind that is generous or that has trained perfectly in generosity: this is called the Paramita of generosity. In fact it is said in (the sutra) Inexhaustible Intelligence:

What is the Paramita of generosity? Giving everything to others with a generous mind, including the fruit.

‘Paramita’ means being unwaveringly free of conceptual consideration of the three factors (of the act: giver, gift, recipient) and this also applies to the others (Paramitas). Thus generosity does not depend on the worth of the offered gift but rather on one’s mind being free of attachment that hinder giving anything internal or external.  The generosity consists in a generous mind and consequently derives from the mind.

Pages 119 & 120