Essence, Nature and Energy

The Great Perfection: Essence, Nature and Energy

In Dzogchen, also known as the Great Perfection, the fundamental reality of the individual is described as being of three indivisible aspects: the essence, the nature, and the energy of their union.

The Essence

The primordial basis of every sentient being is beyond any duality or conditioning. Its essence is traditionally said to be "empty," but this does not refer to an experience of dull absence or a nihilistic lack of meaning. The essence is the open, unfettered, essential being of the individual, empty of concepts, limited identifications, and separations. It is identical with the essence of all that exists.

The Nature

While the essence is like the vast expanse of a clear, sunlit sky, the nature is like the light itself, the sky's luminosity. The innate awareness is always fresh, lively and fresh, but just as the sun can be temporarily hidden by clouds, the innate awareness is obscured by our habitual ways of seeing and of identifying ourselves. It is the ultimate goal of the spiritual path to uncover and recognize this true nature, which is also known as Buddha-nature or enlightened mind.

The Energy

From the inseparable union of essence and nature arises what is known as the energy, the endless compassionate manifestation of being and things and actions. When the innate awareness is tangled in habitual patterns, the energy manifests as the phenomena of our ordinary life, and we are left with the sense that something is missing or distorted. When the essence and nature are recognized directly, all worldly phenomena appear as the unlimited play of fundamental sacred energies, and one's own self is realized as the Buddha.