This book was composed to assist Western students who are taking empowerments in general. The book pays attention in particular to the meaning of the fourth empowerment, which itself is the direct meaning of Mahamudra or Maha Ati (Dzogchen). It presents translations of the ritual texts used to give key empowerments in the Nyingma system and, especially. presents the root empowerment text of the Longchen Nyingthig cycle of innermost Dzogchen.
The book strats with an introduction that clearly explains empowerment. The introduction uses quotations from Padma Karpo's explantion of the Bodyless Dakini cycle of the Kagyu, which is the ultimate Dharmakaya practice given to Tilopa directly by Vajravarahi. Although this comes from the Mahamudra teachings, it is a teaching at the dharmakaya level, therefore it has the same meaning as innermost Dzogchen. The introduction continues by making particular reference to the Ati way of empowerment.
The book continues with the root empowerment text of the Longchen Nyingthig cycle, The King's Coronation Anointing Vase Empowerment. This text is from the root volumes of the Longchen Nyingthig Dzogchen transmission; anyone receiving the empowerments of the Longchen Nyingthig cycle will want the book just for this text. There are copious notes that explain the particular language of this empowerment and which show the unique approach of innermost Dzogchen in the process.
Following that text, the text for the fourth empowerment of the Narrow Fortress of the Eight Logos is presented. This is one of the central empowerments of the collected kama empowerments of the Nyingma system. It shows the meaning of the fourth empowerment especially clearly and in Ati style.
Once empowerment has been obtained, it is necessary to get the instructions on the practice and then to do the practice. Therefore, in order to make the book complete, the empowerment texts are followed by a teaching from Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche on how to practice at this level. It was written as a letter of advice to one of his Tibetan lady disciples. The letter contains a beautiful exposition on the Dzogchen path, in purely practical style, and provides an excellent summary of the whole path of Thorough Cut.