Keith Dowman

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Fast Facts
Spiritual Teacher
Dzogchen, Tibetan Buddhism, Mahamudra
Main Countries of Activity: 
Nepal. Israel, Europe, USA
Date of Birth: 
Place of Birth: 
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 


Keith Dowman is a Buddhist teacher and translator based in Kathmandu, Nepal, where he has lived as a genyen for 25 years.

He has been practicing Tibetan Buddhism for more than 30 years and studied with some of the great contemporary masters of Dzogchen and Mahamudra.

He teaches Buddhist workshops and meditation retreats worldwide and has gained a reputation for his direct approach to Tibetan Buddhism free of ritual and cultural trappings and jargon.

More recently he has been dedicated to leading Dzokchen retreats.

His important translations from the Tibetan include Calm and Clear, The Divine Madman, Sky Dancer, Masters of Mahamudra, The Flight of the Garuda and The Sacred Life of Tibet.


Dzogchen is 'The Great Perfection', the apogee of Tibetan Tantric Buddhist meditation accomplishment. It is the Buddha's enlightenment in rainbow light.

Dzogchen is also a path of existential praxis which is the quintessence of all Tantra. But it cannot be taught or learned. Either you get it or you don't. It is the school of Buddhism with greatest affinity to the sanity of twenty-first century mystical aspiration.

A sign of Dzogchen is the Garuda, a mythical bird, Khyung or Kading in Tibetan, an ancient sun-god, the celestial bird sometimes with human face.

The exposition of Dzogchen is conventionally expressed in terms of Vision, Meditation and Action. The mystical jargon is highly abstract and abstruse. One of the great masters of Dzogchen in this century, Kyapje Dunjom Rimpoche, expressed the vision of Dzogchen something like this:

'The first thing is Dzogchen vision which sees what really is -- the nature of mind itself. This is the natural state of being, where the mind makes no distinctions and judgments. This state of awareness is called rigpa. Rigpa is naked awareness of the wholistic here and now. We cannot actually express this awareness and there is nothing to compare it to in order to describe it. It is certainly not the ordinary state of emotional confusion and conflicting thoughts, but neither is it nirvanic cessation. This state cannot be produced or developed, and on the other hand it cannot be stopped or extinguished. We can never be free of it and nor can we fall into error in it. It is impossible to say that we actually exist at that moment but we cannot say that we do not exist. This experience is neither of infinity, nor of anything specific.'

'So, to be brief, because the nature of mind, the Great Perfection, rigpa, cannot be established as any specific thing, state, or action, it has the original face of emptiness which makes it pure from the beginning, all pervasive and all-penetrating. Because the unobstructed lustre of Emptiness and the entire gamut of experience whether confused or transcendant are like the sun and its rays, Emptiness is experienced positively as everything and anything whatsoever and it has the intrinsic nature of non-dual awareness of the spontaneously arisen universe of pure quality. For this reason the recognition of the presence of what is, as the primordial natural state of being, the Real Self of the Three Buddha Bodies, intrinsic awareness as the union of light and emptiness, is called the vision of the inconceivable Great Perfection.'

On the Dzogchen page the nature of Dzogchen is described by various adepts through the ages.



Keith Dowman is conducting Dzokchen retreats all around the world. See the link below for schedules.

Books & Media

Recommended Books: 
Cover image

The Flight of the Garuda: The Dzogchen Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism


Dzogchen, a tradition of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, is considered by many to be an extremely powerful path to enlightenment. This ground-breaking book offers translations of four sacred texts of the Dzogchen tradition: Secret Instruction in a Garland of Vision, The Flight of the Garuda, Emptying the Depths of Hell, and the Wish-Granting Prayer of Kuntu Zangpo. With an informative introduction by the translator, Flight of the Garuda is an invaluable resource for both practice and scholarship.

Flight of the Garuda conveys the heart advice of one of the most beloved nonsectarian masters of Tibet. Ordained as a Gelug monk, the itinerant yogi Shabkar was renowned for his teachings on Dzogchen, the heart practice of the Nyingma lineage. He wandered the countryside of Tibet and Nepal, turning many minds toward the Dharma through his ability to communicate the essence of the teachings in a poetic and crystal-clear way. Buddhists of all stripes, including practitioners of Zen and Vipassana, will find ample sustenance within the pages of this book, and be thrilled by the lyrical insights conveyed in Shabkar's words.

Along with the song by Shabkar, translator Keith Dowman includes several other seminal Dzogchen texts. Dzogchen practice brings us into direct communion with the subtlemost nature of our experience, the unity of samsara in nirvana as experienced within our own consciousness. Within the Nyingma school, it is held higher than even the practices of tantra for bringing the meditator face to face with the nature of reality.