The following piece is a composite of two interviews with Surya Das, one conducted by Fred von Allmen (copyright 1989), and one by Wes Nisker with Catherine Ingram. Additional portions of the interviews also appear in the Fall 1992 issue of Inquiring Mind. This piece was provided to Mt. Kailas BBS by Ann Parker, Boston area coordinator of The Dzogchen Foundation. Q: We would like to talk about your practice in the Tibetan tradition of Dzogchen or the Great Practice. Surya Das: Dzogchen basically deals with the innate intelligence or intrinsic awareness which all beings possess. It means seeing non- dualistically rather than in the usual dualistic object-subject dichotomy. By definition, delusion is dualistic, while non-duality is ultimate wisdom. Dzogchen doesn't necessarily have anything to do with Buddhism. It is the and perfect nature of all things. Q: It is said that in Dzogchen "the view" is of ultimate importance. Explain what is meant by view. Surya Das: In Dzogchen the view comes first, and is crucial. The view is the outlook that everything is primordially pure and perfect just as it is. One might also say that the view is like vast space, without center or periphery, infinite and open. It's the big view, the overview of overviews. We call it the view from above. Dzogchen is like swooping down from above. The Dalai Lama once said that Dzogchen is the practice of Buddhas, not the practice of beings. Q: How does Dzogchen enable people to recognize their true nature? SD: It is said that a practice like Dzogchen depends upon someone being "introduced" to the ultimate nature. The word "ngotrod" in Tibetan means "to be introduced" but it also means "to identify". So introduction doesn't just mean somebody tells you about it; it means you've recognized it yourself. You've seen the sun break through the clouds, for a moment at least. The clouds might obscure the sun again, just as the mind obscures the innate awareness, but the important point is that we have recognized the ultimate nature with certainty; we have actually come to see how things are. Q: And this practice of Dzogchen is for Buddhas, not for ordinary beings? SD: Remember we are all Buddhas. There is a great story about a cook in Adzum Trungpa's tent camp. Adzum Trungpa was a great master, and one day his cook, who was unlettered and untrained, burned his hand in the fire and "woke up". He came running to the master and told him what he had realized. Everything fell apart in that moment of burning his hand; he had a total satori breakthrough and non-dual experience. He realized who he was and the nature of all things. The master said, "That's it!" And the cook said, "Now what?" And the master said, "Keep cooking." That cook became a great yogi, and he just kept cooking. But he had that big view, which is not intellectual. it's not a philosophical view. It's your intuitive highest wisdom. It's your gestalt, your overview, which is prethought, really. It's how you see the world. Q: So Dzogchen has nothing to do with knowledge or sophistication, or with this or that school or tradition? SD: That's right. If you want to entitle this interview "We are all Buddhas" I think it might be appropriate, because Dzogchen is beyond "isms" and "schisms." It's beyond Buddhism. We're all Buddhas, some asleep and some awakened. A sleeping Buddha and an awakened Buddha are both Buddhas by nature. And our only task is to awaken to our true nature. That's Dzogchen teaching, in my own words.