Published: June 29, 2018
Anne Klein, Rice University

Anne Klein (Rice University) will deliver a lecture titled "The Sunlit Sky: Longchenpa's Open Secret" at 7pm on October 4, 2018 at Naropa's Nalanda Events Center, 6287 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder, Colorado. This lecture is part of an on-going Buddhist Studies Lecture Series, a collaboration between Naropa University and the Department of Religious Studies. Anne Klein will be staying the weekend to participate in the Lotsawa Translation Workshop, October 5-8th at CU Boulder, made possible with the generous support of the Tsadra Foundation.

The Sunlit Sky: Longchenpa’s Open Secret

Buddhist philosophy and practice is oriented to subtle states which are famously inexpressible. This is especially true in the esoteric Great Completeness (Dzogchen) traditions. But the inexpressible is not inaccessible. It can be known. Sensing, affective feeling, and the kinesthetic engagement of the body are intrinsic to such knowing. The brilliant poet-yogi Longchen Rabjam, who gave voice to Tibet’s most powerful Dzogchen compositions, reshaped earlier Buddhist understandings of mind, body, and senses.  He saw as portals to an intimate, inexpressible knowing This inexpressible yet ubiquitous, easily obscured yet thoroughly available wisdom is Dzogchen’s open secret.

Although reality is inexpressible, it is deeply felt. What does it feel like? To the body it feels like flows deep within. In wisdom it arises as states of wonder, delight, and loving responsiveness. Such states can seem impossibly esoteric.  Yet there are analogies to them in everyday experience. Intuition, for example, also springs forth of its own accord. In philosophy, metaphor and poetry, Longchenpa makes the strange familiar, revealing how these awakened states, seemingly esoteric and distant, are an open secret because our sensibilities are primordially primed for their own awakening. Wisdom, he says, is present throughout every mind and body, and thus, potentially as clear as the radiance of a sunlit sky.

Anne C. Klein /Rigzin Drolma  is Professor  of Religion at Rice University. She is also  a Lama in the Nyingma tradition and a Founding Director at Dawn Mountain Center for Tibetan Buddhism  ( Her training includes close study with major Tibetan Lamas in three of Tibet’s great traditions. Her academic work and teaching-retreats draw from all of these, with special emphasis on Nyingma Heart Essence traditions. Her translation work focuses on Tibetan texts and oral commentaries on them.  Her central thematic interest is the embodied interaction between head and heart as illustrated across a spectrum of Buddhist descriptions of human consciousness and its cultivation.  She has also been a participant in Mind Life and other conversations between Buddhism and contemplative science. Her seven books include Heart Essence of the Vast Expanse: A Story of Transmission and Meeting the Great Bliss Queen and, most recently, her translation of Strand of Jewels: My Teachers’ Essential Guidance on Dzogchen by Khetsun Sangpo Rinpoche. (Photo: Daniel Donner, Garuda Media)