Essence

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The Ground of Dzogchen is described as being endowed with three qualities―essence (Tib. ངོ་བོ་, ngowo; Wyl. ngo bo), nature and compassionate energy. The first quality is that its essence is empty.

Unfortunately, the word ‘emptiness’, which is used to translate the Sanskrit term shunyata, (Tib. སྟོང་པ་ཉིད་, Tib. tongpa nyi, Wyl. stong pa nyid) carries a connotation of a nothing-ness or a void. Happily, there is a wonderful definition in Tibetan that captures its true meaning: tak ché dang dralwa, which translates as: ‘free from permanence and non-existence’.

Generally, all philosophies tend to fall into one of two extremes:

eternalism’: believing in the existence or permanence of something, ‘nihilism’: believing in non-existence.

Shunyata—‘emptiness’—goes beyond both of these extremes, because it is neither permanent nor non-existing, and that is, ultimately, how things are.