"The Dzogchen view is often taught via pith instructions, or the quintessential elixir of mind-meditation teachings boiled down from the essence of empty awareness practice. The essence of these pith instructions on the view is to help us to see things as they are while seeing through them at the same time and to avoid being deceived by the mere appearances of phenomena and noumena (mind-stuff). In this practice, the essence of emptiness and awareness is inseparable — we see things as they arise and dissolve, but we also at the same time see through them into their insubstantial, empty, open, radiant, and marvelous nature. These pith instructions are not only helpful in meditation practice but are also applicable and integrable into daily life. . . . Some of the most important of these pith instructions are:
Just as it is.

Let go and let be.

See through, being through.

What we seek, we are.

Not too tight or too loose.

Take the Vajra shortcut.

Direct access.


Leave it as it is, and rest your weary mind.

Naturalness is the way.

Natural mind is Buddha mind.

We are all Buddhas; we only have to recognize that fact.

Everything is pure and spontaneously accomplished from the outset.

Nothing to do and nowhere to go.

Seeing; recognizing; penetrating; releasing.

See through the seer and be free.

Nothing to do but remain in the View.

Pure vision: see the Buddha in everyone and everything.

These pith instructions are known in Tibet as men-ngak and in Sanskrit as upadesha. These essence words are the highest direct words, the pithy pointers, which we call in Tibetan mar-tri, or red guidance, naked words. Or, let us say, naked truth. These pith instructions are not just the information that we have read in books or the Buddhist scriptures, but are the essence of lessons actually learned from life, the most naked instructions boiled down to their essence or pith. They are, in a sense, concentrated wisdom — the way a vitamin C pill contains 1000 milligrams of ascorbic acid so that we do not have to eat dozens of oranges to get enough of the active ingredient.

In this way, pith instructions are the boiled-down elixir of all the wisdom teachings of enlightenment that have been passed down and preserved orally until modern times. Their essence is not something written down but lived as the oral living flame of enlightenment. Pith instructions are like a flame of truth being passed from one candle to another, from my teacher to me to you — the same flame but different wax and bodies. This is how we pay back our spiritual benefactors and masters — those to whom we are so grateful — by realizing this innate wisdom and cherishing it, and then practicing it and passing it on intact to those who are capable of upholding it. Motivation and skillful means are important — we must pass it on for the right reasons at the right time. . . .

"These pith instructions often address fundamental human questions about the true nature of our heart-mind, who we are, and what is real. They also attempt to answer other questions about the nature of God, the soul, the afterlife, birth and death, and the purpose and meaning of life. They also speak of our true relation with the ultimate, the relationship between the impermanent and the eternal, the relationship between God and humanity, and what we are all doing here."