Thanks for the replies!
This gives me some stuff to chew on, although I am not sure how closer I am getting to understanding. Another distintion that I find confusing is the distintion that Longchenpa makes between the objects of the mind and appearances. He says something like appearances are basically emanations of the mind while objects are not, which make it sound like there is something "out there," even if that something is just a dependantly arisen appearance. I guess the problem I am haveing is trying to understand this from the point of view of subject/object, when clearly this view transends all reality. I guess this means just more cushion time. The problem I have is that a lot of these questions come up when I am away from my teachers. Thanks for your help, I will keep trying to wrap my head around this stuff.
The intellect can definitely become a distraction, but as long as you're mindful of that it's ok to intellectualize some, just don't mistake an intellectual understanding for true wisdom experience and you're good to go. I'm not a teacher and am not trying to present myself as one, so definitely take up any questions you have with a qualified teacher... but here's a bunch of intellectual stuff in the meantime:
About the "He says something like appearances are basically emanations of the mind while objects are not"
, I usually look at that the other way around, objects and conditioned phenomena (meaning; phenomena which appear to accord with any of the 4 extremes) are emanations of deluded mind (i.e. avidyā). While in contrast, the term 'appearance' can be reserved for the display of primordial wisdom.
The reason objects can be considered emanations of deluded mind is because 'objects' are byproducts of projected conventional dissimulation (i.e. imputation) mistaken to be inherently real. In dzogchen, objects only arise due to non-recognition of one's nature, meaning they appear to originate from ignorance (skt. avidyā, tib. ma rig pa). The idea that phenomena only arise as a result of our habitual tendencies (of grasping and clinging) is a very important aspect of the buddhadharma which separates it from the nondual trika and tīrthika traditions.
Non-recognition of the basis (Skt. sthāna, Tib. gzhi) essentially means that the basis' appearance (the five lights) are not recognized to be self-display. So the basis' own radiance is unrecognized and is therefore apprehended as 'other'. That error causes the illusion of subjectve/objective phenomena to arise and through the habitual reification of afflictive patterning such as imputation, the unborn display of the basis is then adulterated, becoming the aggregates (skandhas) which serve to form the illusion of a sentient being and it's respective environment. This process is represented quite well by the 12 Nidānas (specific theory of dependent origination), but the general theory of dependent origination is also helpful, which is; "where this exists, that exists, with the arising of that, this arose"
. Due to grasping at phenomena as 'other', 'self' is automatically implied, with the arising of the former, the latter originates by default. This also means the absence of one implies the absence of the other, so if you follow that line of reasoning you can start to see how extremes and dualities are rendered null and void.
In the dzogchen model, the third ignorance (imputing ignorance) sets the 12 Nidānas into motion and creates a basis for the proliferation of habitual tendencies called the all-basis (Skt. ālaya, Tib. kun gzhi). The ālaya acts as a reservoir in a sense, collecting imprints and serving as a substratum for all the myriad forms of designations and actions which are mistaken as inherent aspects of experience.
The Reverberation of Sound Tantra explains the etymology of 'all-basis':"The etymology of 'kun' (all) lies in it's subsuming everything.
The etymology of 'gzhi' (basis) lies in it's accumulation and hoarding (of karmic traces and propensities)."
The Reverberation of Sound states:"Here I will explain the all-basis to start off:
It is the ground of all phenomena and non-phenomena."
So the ālaya acts as the basis-of-all, meaning that it is the foundation for conditioned phenomena (phenomena which seemingly accord with any of the four extremes, which includes non-phenomena, both and neither) and the afflictive habitual patterning which sustains ignorance. For Dzogchen the ālaya is considered to be the 'ground-of-being', which is only ever one's own ignorance.
The Tantra of the Self-Arisen Vidyā states:"The all-basis (Skt. ālaya, Tib. kun gzhi) is adulterated by diverse cognitive processes
By force of it's sustaining neurotic conceptuality;
The all-basis is the real ignorance (Skt. avidyā, Tib. ma rig pa)."
The processes of ignorance are undone via recognition of (and integration with) one's nature. In dzogchen, phenomena are viewed as empty from the very beginning, however when a certain level of integration has occurred, emptiness is directly realized, which means that phenomena which were previously attributed inherency and self-nature (svabhāva), are recognized to be empty and non-arisen.
Just as when you mistakenly view a rope to be a snake; the snake is a misconception, it's delusion, ignorance. Recognize the snake for what it is (a rope) and the snake falls, the snake is understood to have always been delusion, therefore the snake is non-arisen. Likewise, the aggregates are a misconception, delusion, ignorance. Recognize the aggregates for what they are (self-display of primordial wisdom) and the aggregates fall. The aggregates are understood to have always been delusion, therefore the aggregates are empty and non-arisen.
Dzogchen speaks of the 'full measure of vidyā' being the realization of emptiness. The 'full measure' or 'full effulgence' signifies an absence of contamination i.e. the direct realization of emptiness. In one's practice, vidyā increases by way of a decrease in the power that karmic and habitual propensities have over experience. So integration with vidyā is nothing more than resting in vidyā so that those propensities which once dominated experience exhaust themselves. "The essence of the Buddha's teaching is the method on how to let confusion dawn as wisdom. The most vital point here is the introduction to and recognition of the buddha nature, the innate wisdom of dharmakāya that is already present within oneself. This fourth Dharma is a teaching on how to recognize, train in, and stabilize this recognition of the buddha nature. Understanding it is called the view, practicing it is called samadhi, and stabilizing it is called buddhahood."
- Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche"Ordinary beings are truly buddhas,
but this fact is obscured by adventitious distortions
once these are removed, truly there is buddhahood."
- Hevajra Tantraraja Nāma
Emptiness in dzogchen is signified with the dharmakāya, which is only evident once one's condition has been divested of obscuring propensities. When direct experience appears like a reflection, meaning it is apparent yet explicitly known to be unreal, baseless, unfounded etc., that is dharmakāya.
The iconic metaphor which most adepts implement is very suiting; the objects of experience appear like a reflection of the moon in a pool of water: valid in that they are an appearance, just as the image of the moon upon the water is a valid image. Yet, just as one needs no convincing that the moon in the water is not the moon, when dharmakāya dawns it's known beyond any shred of doubt that all the constituent objects and qualities of 'reality' have never once been established or unestablished in any way... The empty appearances of experience do not create anything within or beyond their empty appearance. The experience must be akin to waking up from a dream if it's a valid knowledge of dharmakāya, it's a compelling and overwhelming epiphany that there's never been anything there at all... and yet, appearances. The empty display of primordial wisdom:"There is no object to investigate within the view of self-originated wisdom: nothing went before, nothing happens later, nothing is present now at all. Action does not exist. Traces do not exist. Ignorance does not exist. Mind does not exist. Discriminating wisdom does not exist. Samsara does not exist. Nirvana does not exist. Even vidyā itself does not exist i.e. nothing at all appears in wisdom. That arose from not grasping anything."
- from The Unwritten Tantra [per Malcolm La]"The arisings of paratantra (conventionality) are essenceless, since, their arising is not established from any of the four extremes: They do not arise from themselves, because for these arising and an instant in which they arise are contradictory. They do not arise from something else, since if the essential marks of these others are analyzed, they are not established. That they arise from both would be doubly contradictory, so that is not established. They do not arise without a cause, as that is impossible. The mere arising of whatever appears, mere interdependent arising like dream or illusion, is appearance of what does not exist."