Primordial purity

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The ground of Dzogchen is described as being endowed with three qualities: its essence, its nature and its compassionate energy. The first quality, the empty essence is called primordial purity (Tib. ཀ་དག་, kadak, Wyl. ka dag) because it is free from adventitious defilements, and because it is empty of inherent existence.

Tulku Tsullo, a student of Tertön Sogyal Lerab Lingpa, describes it in the following way:

The ‘empty essence’ is primordial purity. It refers to the empty aspect of the wisdom of empty clear light, the universal monarch who creates all samsara and nirvana, free from the very beginning and uncompounded. If we explain this further, just as ka is the ‘original’ or the very first of the thirty Tibetan consonants, the wisdom of clear light has always been ‘pure’ (dag) from its very origin or primordial beginning, unstained by all the adventitious concepts, thoughts, and emotions of the ordinary mind, both subtle and coarse, as well as the various impure negative actions they give rise to, as well as the coarse and subtle virtuous states of mind such as devotion and the various pure positive actions they inspire, and all the neutral intentions and the behaviour they motivate, such as ordinary work and everyday actions. It is also unstained by the ignorance of believing there is some inherent identity to phenomena or to the self, and the habitual tendencies of such clinging, as well as the karmic winds upon which they ride. Therefore this clear light is called primordially pure and empty.[1]

Alternate Translations

  • alpha pure
  • original purity


  1. His Holiness the Dalai Lama, The Vision of Enlightenment, pages 312-313, published by The Tertön Sogyal Trust, ISBN 0 95 312514 9. Also published by Wisdom Publications as Mind in Comfort & Ease, The Vision of Enlightenment in the Great Perfection. ISBN 0-86171-493-8

Further Reading