Dzogchen and Religious Pluralism

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Dzogchen and Religious Pluralism

Postby mint » Sun Dec 04, 2011 1:40 am

In Dzogchen: The Self-Perfected State by Namkhai Norbu, he goes to great length in order to explain that Dzogchen is not another religious system or philosophy to be followed with all of its rules and regulations; rather, it is the state of being. That being said, he writes:

A monk, without giving up his vows, can perfectly well practice Dzogchen, as can a Catholic priest, a clerk, a workman, and so on, without having to abandon their role in society because Dzogchen does not change people from the outside. Rather it awakens them internally. The only thing a Dzogchen master will ask is that one observes onself, to gain the awareness needed to apply the teachings in everyday life. (p. 29)


This statement seems to implicitly suggest that all religious views and philosophical systems can ultimately be incorporated under the umbrella of Dzogchen since Dzogchen is the ultimate nature of every single being. However, this would seem to contradict something that he says later in the book concerning the relationship between the student and the master:

The master is inseparable from the state of knowledge, and in Dzogchen one of the fundamental practices for developing contemplation is, in fact, Guru Yoga, or the "Union with the Master."(p. 113)


[T]he true Buddha, for the disciple, is the master. (p. 112)


Despite the promptings that Dzogchen is universal, emphasis is laid upon the Buddha-hood of the master. The disciple should see the master as a Buddha. Not Christ. Not Moses. Not Yahweh nor Allah nor Marduk nor Quetzalcoatl. But Buddha. That's an awfully narrow window.

Also, the notion of "transmission" and "empowerment" has a rich Buddhist history. For a priest, rabbi, or shayk to receive transmission, there are certain prerequisite tantric concepts that must be believed; however, these tantric concepts are directly antithetical to vows, canons and divine laws of those ministers and holy men.

Thoughts?
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Re: Dzogchen and Religious Pluralism

Postby alwayson » Sun Dec 04, 2011 3:03 am

I'll just point out that guru yoga in Dzogchen is a synonym for tregcho.

The practice is represented by the Tibetan letter "A", which refers to the kadag (primordial purity) wisdom of rigpa.

Both "wrong" and "right" views become self-liberated in this practice.
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Re: Dzogchen and Religious Pluralism

Postby Dechen Norbu » Sun Dec 04, 2011 3:59 am

A monk, without giving up his vows, can perfectly well practice Dzogchen, as can a Catholic priest, a clerk, a workman, and so on, without having to abandon their role in society because Dzogchen does not change people from the outside. Rather it awakens them internally. The only thing a Dzogchen master will ask is that one observes onself, to gain the awareness needed to apply the teachings in everyday life. (p. 29)


This statement seems to implicitly suggest that all religious views and philosophical systems can ultimately be incorporated under the umbrella of Dzogchen since Dzogchen is the ultimate nature of every single being. However, this would seem to contradict something that he says later in the book concerning the relationship between the student and the master:


Notice the part I boldfaced. Now imagine the case of a Catholic priest that has a strong connection with the Dzogchen teachings. Due to previous karma, he somehow ended up a Catholic, but the strength of the connection makes him attend a retreat out of curiosity. He actually gets interested and starts his practice, even without becoming a Buddhist. It's not that you attend a retreat and bang, you leave with all certainties about God, emptiness, primordial state and all that, right? He observes himself, "to gain the awareness needed to apply the teachings in everyday life" and ends up getting direct transmission, being able to rest in the natural state. In that moment he got it. It matters little his tittle, his background, his social role. He saw reality as it is and from then on he may stabilize it. From then on, he is a Buddhist, liking it or not, but Buddhist is just a label. As there are masters with little or no formal instruction who attained realization, if one practices and has the capacity, not mattering that much the background one has, there can be direct introduction. Perhaps this is not very common, but I don't see why not. If someone gets direct introduction, following the next two dictates of Garab Dorje seems natural.
So, there's a difference between this and what you are saying: " implicitly suggest that all religious views and philosophical systems can ultimately be incorporated under the umbrella of Dzogchen". No it does not suggest that. In fact in Dzogchen you abandon all views and philosophical systems. They are like a clutch you don't need any longer.




The master is inseparable from the state of knowledge, and in Dzogchen one of the fundamental practices for developing contemplation is, in fact, Guru Yoga, or the "Union with the Master."(p. 113)
[T]he true Buddha, for the disciple, is the master. (p. 112)

.
Despite the promptings that Dzogchen is universal, emphasis is laid upon the Buddha-hood of the master. The disciple should see the master as a Buddha. Not Christ. Not Moses. Not Yahweh nor Allah nor Marduk nor Quetzalcoatl. But Buddha. That's an awfully narrow window.

Also, the notion of "transmission" and "empowerment" has a rich Buddhist history. For a priest, rabbi, or shayk to receive transmission, there are certain prerequisite tantric concepts that must be believed; however, these tantric concepts are directly antithetical to vows, canons and divine laws of those ministers and holy men.

Thoughts?


Well, you can call it awaken, enlightened and so on. Buddhahood is enlightenment and enlightenment is not having cognitive or emotional afflictions whatsoever. Buddha is a label for that. You are getting stuck in the word Buddha when more important is its meaning, I suppose. Seeing the master as Christ, for instance, would mean seeing him as the son of God, a God that doesn't exist. Your confusion about the first point, above, that I tried to dispel, helps me understand why you were finding this strange. Since you were thinking ChNN considered Dzogchen an umbrella for all religious views and philosophical systems this second mistaken assunption followed.

Transmission in Dzogchen is not the same as an empowerment. These are different things. ChNN explains quite well the difference between tantric practice, deeply connected with empowerments and Dzogchen, depending of direct introduction, not empowerments as in tantric practice.

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Re: Dzogchen and Religious Pluralism

Postby mint » Sun Dec 04, 2011 5:01 am

Dechen Norbu wrote:
A monk, without giving up his vows, can perfectly well practice Dzogchen, as can a Catholic priest, a clerk, a workman, and so on, without having to abandon their role in society because Dzogchen does not change people from the outside. Rather it awakens them internally. The only thing a Dzogchen master will ask is that one observes onself, to gain the awareness needed to apply the teachings in everyday life. (p. 29)


Now imagine the case of a Catholic priest that has a strong connection with the Dzogchen teachings. (snip) He observes himself, "to gain the awareness needed to apply the teachings in everyday life" and ends up getting direct transmission, being able to rest in the natural state. In that moment he got it. It matters little his tittle, his background, his social role. He saw reality as it is and from then on he may stabilize it. From then on, he is a Buddhist, liking it or not, but Buddhist is just a label.


When I read the above quoted statement by ChNNR, what I interpret him saying is that "a Catholic priest" "can perfectly well practice Dzogchen" "without having to abandon" his "role in society" - which I take to mean that the Catholic priest does not have to give up being a Catholic priest as that is his role in society. However, as you point out, and to which I agree, this is false. For the Catholic priest to receive direct introduction, he is effectively abandoning his holy orders. He has conventionally become a Buddhist but ultimately a "Dzogchenist."

So, there's a difference between this and what you are saying: " implicitly suggest that all religious views and philosophical systems can ultimately be incorporated under the umbrella of Dzogchen". No it does not suggest that. In fact in Dzogchen you abandon all views and philosophical systems. They are like a clutch you don't need any longer.


I agree that Dzogchen abandons all views and philosophical systems. See my interpretation above for what I say the quoted statements seems to suggest.

Well, you can call it awaken, enlightened and so on. Buddhahood is enlightenment and enlightenment is not having cognitive or emotional afflictions whatsoever. Buddha is a label for that. You are getting stuck in the word Buddha when more important is its meaning, I suppose. Seeing the master as Christ, for instance, would mean seeing him as the son of God, a God that doesn't exist.


Conventionally, Buddha is a very specific term and person associated with a very specific religion. Which, again, illustrates why the two statements from ChNNR are contradictory. As you say, the master cannot be visualized as anything other than a Buddha for very obvious, illusive reasons. Aside from Buddha, though, when our Catholic priest friend receives direct introduction, he takes refuge in the master, the divinity and the dakinis. That refuge is antithetical to his holy orders.

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No, not really. But maybe my OP wasn't quite clear on my thesis. ;) My thesis being that the quotes I provided from the book are contradictory due to the essence of Dzogchen.
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Re: Dzogchen and Religious Pluralism

Postby Sönam » Sun Dec 04, 2011 8:42 am

Just to recall some teachings of Rinpoché ...

"Why we learn to practice others traditions? Because we need to integrate all traditions, any kind of practices ... but we go in essence."

About integrating: "You are already in sambhogakaya, when you integrate you learn how you go to sambhogakaya with that tradition."

"State of Guru Yoga is real teacher. Explanation can be 100 different ways, but essence is Guru Yoga."

Sönam
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By understanding that any and all mental activity is meditation, you are freed from arbitrary divisions between formal sessions and postmeditation activity.
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Re: Dzogchen and Religious Pluralism

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Sun Dec 04, 2011 9:55 am

alwayson wrote:I'll just point out that guru yoga in Dzogchen is a synonym for tregcho.
Only if a person has true knowledge.

alwayson wrote:The practice is represented by the Tibetan letter "A", which refers to the kadag (primordial purity) wisdom of rigpa.

It's actually an A within a tigle, with the tigle representing lhundrup, giving us a symbol of the inseparability of kdag and lhundrup. Of course, this is just one of a number of ways of doing guru yoga in Dzogchen, though. But, unquestionably, a great way.
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Re: Dzogchen and Religious Pluralism

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Sun Dec 04, 2011 10:00 am

Mint,

I think Rinpoche's point was simply to strongly emphasize that Dzogchen is not about shedding some old affiliation or identity and acquiring a new one. Dzogchen is about getting to the heart of one's actual nature.

lol Does your mind ever give you a break?
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Re: Dzogchen and Religious Pluralism

Postby Dechen Norbu » Sun Dec 04, 2011 2:09 pm

When I read the above quoted statement by ChNNR, what I interpret him saying is that "a Catholic priest" "can perfectly well practice Dzogchen" "without having to abandon" his "role in society" - which I take to mean that the Catholic priest does not have to give up being a Catholic priest as that is his role in society. However, as you point out, and to which I agree, this is false. For the Catholic priest to receive direct introduction, he is effectively abandoning his holy orders. He has conventionally become a Buddhist but ultimately a "Dzogchenist."

Is he abandoning his holy orders, really? Was it God himself who gave them to him? I think the Church might not be happy, but I know of Christians practicing meditation with an open mind. So we don't know how that would go.

I agree that Dzogchen abandons all views and philosophical systems. See my interpretation above for what I say the quoted statements seems to suggest.

To me it doesn't seem to suggest.

Conventionally, Buddha is a very specific term and person associated with a very specific religion. Which, again, illustrates why the two statements from ChNNR are contradictory. As you say, the master cannot be visualized as anything other than a Buddha for very obvious, illusive reasons. Aside from Buddha, though, when our Catholic priest friend receives direct introduction, he takes refuge in the master, the divinity and the dakinis. That refuge is antithetical to his holy orders.

Any mental fabrication is accessory. I'm quite confident that direct introduction can happen even if Buddhist terminology isn't used. It isn't dependent on exact words or concepts. Ultimately one takes refuge in the primordial state, our real nature, which is beyond words or definitions. A mirror, a crystal ball or a prism, very common metaphors to point it symbolically don't seem against anyone's "holy orders", whatever that might be.

No, not really. But maybe my OP wasn't quite clear on my thesis. ;) My thesis being that the quotes I provided from the book are contradictory due to the essence of Dzogchen.

They go exactly to the point of the essence of Dzogchen and this is why they make sense. You seem to be stuck in the presentation of Dzogchen to a certain audience (Buddhist) with a certain type of worldview, perhaps more conducive, but missing the essence. It is said that Dzogchen was taught in several word systems. I doubt the way it was presented there matches the way it was presented here. The essence, however, must be the same.

I also recommend keeping in mind Pema Rigdzin's post.
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Re: Dzogchen and Religious Pluralism

Postby kalden yungdrung » Sun Dec 04, 2011 2:11 pm

Sönam wrote:Just to recall some teachings of Rinpoché ...

Tashi delek,

Will put some remarks between the lines in blue.

Mutsog Marro
KY


"Why we learn to practice others traditions? Because we need to integrate all traditions, any kind of practices ... but we go in essence."
Like the Rime masters explained one can practice everything but then keep that "other" tradition clear by doing that tradition in their way of practice. So they underlined to NOTintegrate others lineages into ones own lineage.i am not convinvinced about integrating "strange" things into ones Dzogchen practice. Besides that Dzogchen does not need something else....Dzogchen is the highest teaching there is.

About integrating: "You are already in sambhogakaya, when you integrate you learn how you go to sambhogakaya with that tradition."
Thought that the meaning of Dzogchen is to reach Dharmakaya or do you mean here that over Tantra we reach Dzogchen?

"State of Guru Yoga is real teacher. Explanation can be 100 different ways, but essence is Guru Yoga."
One of the most important essences would also be the experience of the inner Guru, because the Buddha does not dwell outside. Yeh with the help of the outer Guru to a certain degree, one can develop the awareness of the inner Guru. When that goal is reached how is then the outer Guru seen? As a friend, teacher or as a Buddha?

THOUGH A MAN BE LEARNED
IF HE DOES NOT APPLY HIS KNOWLEDGE
HE RESEMBLES THE BLIND MAN
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Re: Dzogchen and Religious Pluralism

Postby Malcolm » Sun Dec 04, 2011 2:32 pm

mint wrote:
This statement seems to implicitly suggest that all religious views and philosophical systems can ultimately be incorporated under the umbrella of Dzogchen since Dzogchen is the ultimate nature of every single being.


What it actually means is that worldly religions such as christianity, etc. are included in the nine yanas. The nine yanas in the root tantra of Dzogchen, the "Drathal Jyur" are a little different than in other places. Here, the first vehicle is the vehicle of gods and men, where we can include Xianity, Islam, Hinduism, Confucism, Taoism, and so on.

As to your other question, yes, realizing the meaning of Dzogchen is Buddhahood.

People have to work out the implications of that for themselves.

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Re: Dzogchen and Religious Pluralism

Postby Sönam » Sun Dec 04, 2011 2:35 pm

kalden yungdrung wrote:
Sönam wrote:Just to recall some teachings of Rinpoché ...

Tashi delek,

Will put some remarks between the lines in blue.

Mutsog Marro
KY


"Why we learn to practice others traditions? Because we need to integrate all traditions, any kind of practices ... but we go in essence."
Like the Rime masters explained one can practice everything but then keep that "other" tradition clear by doing that tradition in their way of practice. So they underlined to NOTintegrate others lineages into ones own lineage.i am not convinvinced about integrating "strange" things into ones Dzogchen practice. Besides that Dzogchen does not need something else....Dzogchen is the highest teaching there is.

This is not the point. The point here is that while we integrate any kind of practice, we are able to guide practitioners of all traditions to the essence of all teachnings. Learning to practice others traditions is like to learn others languages to be able to communicate with others ... but what is commyunicated is the essence.

About integrating: "You are already in sambhogakaya, when you integrate you learn how you go to sambhogakaya with that tradition."
Thought that the meaning of Dzogchen is to reach Dharmakaya or do you mean here that over Tantra we reach Dzogchen?

This is the continuation of the previous sentence ... because we are already in sambhogakaya and we have integrated other tradition, you can naturally accompagny others to sambhogakaya

"State of Guru Yoga is real teacher. Explanation can be 100 different ways, but essence is Guru Yoga."
One of the most important essences would also be the experience of the inner Guru, because the Buddha does not dwell outside. Yeh with the help of the outer Guru to a certain degree, one can develop the awareness of the inner Guru. When that goal is reached how is then the outer Guru seen? As a friend, teacher or as a Buddha?

Guru Yoga and inner Guru is identical !

By understanding everything you perceive from the perspective of the view, you are freed from the constraints of philosophical beliefs.
By understanding that any and all mental activity is meditation, you are freed from arbitrary divisions between formal sessions and postmeditation activity.
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Re: Dzogchen and Religious Pluralism

Postby treehuggingoctopus » Sun Dec 04, 2011 3:37 pm

Namdrol wrote:What it actually means is that worldly religions such as christianity, etc. are included in the nine yanas. The nine yanas in the root tantra of Dzogchen, the "Drathal Jyur" are a little different than in other places. Here, the first vehicle is the vehicle of gods and men, where we can include Xianity, Islam, Hinduism, Confucism, Taoism, and so on.


Wow. Now that's a bit . . . unexpected. Namdrol-la, could you expand on the nine yanas as explained in the Drathal Jyur a bit, please? Is there an English translation of the tantra?
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Re: Dzogchen and Religious Pluralism

Postby Sönam » Sun Dec 04, 2011 4:19 pm

Why should the yanas start with the shravakas ? ... evidently yanas start large before. Otherwise before sravakas, it would be a mass of totally black (zero light) ignorance ...

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By understanding that any and all mental activity is meditation, you are freed from arbitrary divisions between formal sessions and postmeditation activity.
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Re: Dzogchen and Religious Pluralism

Postby mint » Sun Dec 04, 2011 4:42 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:Is he abandoning his holy orders, really? Was it God himself who gave them to him? I think the Church might not be happy, but I know of Christians practicing meditation with an open mind. So we don't know how that would go.


Ultimately, no, he's not abandoning his holy orders. On a base level, from a strict Dzogchen POV, I agree that he has no label and no affiliation, but that's not the point. The statement suggests that the Catholic priest could receive introduction to Dzogchen and remain a Catholic priest. Could he? Practically, yes, he could - but he would be deceiving himself. As you've already said, receiving the introduction would make him Buddhist, like it or not. Conventionally speaking, receiving introduction could very well get him defrocked. As an individual, he would soon come to the realization of right view and renounce his holy orders. Either way, he could not continue in his capacity as a Catholic priest as ChNNR says he could.

Any mental fabrication is accessory. I'm quite confident that direct introduction can happen even if Buddhist terminology isn't used. It isn't dependent on exact words or concepts. Ultimately one takes refuge in the primordial state, our real nature, which is beyond words or definitions. A mirror, a crystal ball or a prism, very common metaphors to point it symbolically don't seem against anyone's "holy orders", whatever that might be.


You seem to be stuck in the presentation of Dzogchen to a certain audience (Buddhist) with a certain type of worldview, perhaps more conducive, but missing the essence. It is said that Dzogchen was taught in several word systems. I doubt the way it was presented there matches the way it was presented here. The essence, however, must be the same.


Though Dzogchen is said to have been taught in multiple world systems and is said to be beyond the confines of culture, religious views, philosophies, and other sectarian boundaries, in this world system, on this planet, from the time of Garab Dorje onwards, Dzogchen has been associated with Oddiyana and Buddhism. What you are positing is a Dzogchen without Buddhism, which is absurd. The very terminology with which Dzogchen enunciates the causes of suffering and release are thoroughly grounded in Buddhism: knowledge v. ignorance, refuge, bodhicitta, dedicating merits, the nine yanas, etc.. As Namdrol says,

realizing the meaning of Dzogchen is Buddhahood.


So, if I seem stuck on the presentation of Dzogchen to a certain audience, there's good reason for that. Thus, being that it is presented on this planet by Tibetan lamas, using Buddhist terminology, with the end result being Buddhahood, confidence that Dzogchen can be communicated outside of these parameters doesn't really clear our Catholic priest friend of indirectly becoming a Buddhist.
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Re: Dzogchen and Religious Pluralism

Postby mint » Sun Dec 04, 2011 4:44 pm

Pema Rigdzin wrote:Mint,

I think Rinpoche's point was simply to strongly emphasize that Dzogchen is not about shedding some old affiliation or identity and acquiring a new one. Dzogchen is about getting to the heart of one's actual nature.

lol Does your mind ever give you a break?


As a rhetorical device, it fails.

And forgive me for not knowing it all like you and having to ask questions.
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Re: Dzogchen and Religious Pluralism

Postby mint » Sun Dec 04, 2011 4:56 pm

Namdrol wrote:What it actually means is that worldly religions such as christianity, etc. are included in the nine yanas. The nine yanas in the root tantra of Dzogchen, the "Drathal Jyur" are a little different than in other places. Here, the first vehicle is the vehicle of gods and men, where we can include Xianity, Islam, Hinduism, Confucism, Taoism, and so on.


What you say is interesting, but I don't really see how that is inferred from or applies to the text of the statement.

ChNNR says that a Catholic priest could realize his primordial nature and yet remain in his role as a priest. What does the priest being part of the first vehicle have to do with that?
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Re: Dzogchen and Religious Pluralism

Postby ngodrup » Sun Dec 04, 2011 5:14 pm

The implication seems to be that a Catholic Priest could say mass,
counsel people, write sermons consistent with the beliefs of others
without damage to his practice.
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Re: Dzogchen and Religious Pluralism

Postby Sönam » Sun Dec 04, 2011 5:26 pm

mint wrote:
Any mental fabrication is accessory. I'm quite confident that direct introduction can happen even if Buddhist terminology isn't used. It isn't dependent on exact words or concepts. Ultimately one takes refuge in the primordial state, our real nature, which is beyond words or definitions. A mirror, a crystal ball or a prism, very common metaphors to point it symbolically don't seem against anyone's "holy orders", whatever that might be.


You seem to be stuck in the presentation of Dzogchen to a certain audience (Buddhist) with a certain type of worldview, perhaps more conducive, but missing the essence. It is said that Dzogchen was taught in several word systems. I doubt the way it was presented there matches the way it was presented here. The essence, however, must be the same.


Though Dzogchen is said to have been taught in multiple world systems and is said to be beyond the confines of culture, religious views, philosophies, and other sectarian boundaries, in this world system, on this planet, from the time of Garab Dorje onwards, Dzogchen has been associated with Oddiyana and Buddhism. What you are positing is a Dzogchen without Buddhism, which is absurd. The very terminology with which Dzogchen enunciates the causes of suffering and release are thoroughly grounded in Buddhism: knowledge v. ignorance, refuge, bodhicitta, dedicating merits, the nine yanas, etc.. As Namdrol says,


Dzogchen has been told within Buddhist Dharma, but once realized it transcends Buddhism ... Buddhism is just another label, like Xstian, Jewish and so on. Dzogchen does not "speaks" Buddhist.

Sönam
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By understanding that any and all mental activity is meditation, you are freed from arbitrary divisions between formal sessions and postmeditation activity.
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Re: Dzogchen and Religious Pluralism

Postby mint » Sun Dec 04, 2011 5:29 pm

ngodrup wrote:The implication seems to be that a Catholic Priest could say mass,
counsel people, write sermons consistent with the beliefs of others
without damage to his practice.


Which would be a complete and utter farce.
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Re: Dzogchen and Religious Pluralism

Postby treehuggingoctopus » Sun Dec 04, 2011 5:29 pm

mint wrote:Could he? Practically, yes, he could - but he would be deceiving himself.


mint wrote:As an individual, he would soon come to the realization of right view and renounce his holy orders. Either way, he could not continue in his capacity as a Catholic priest as ChNNR says he could.


But these are only your ideas, Mint, regarding what the hypothetical priest would do in such a situation. Please note that in the past Dzogchen was considered to be a heresy, and because of that villified, by quite a few Vajrayana masters - and some of the students of these masters did practice Dzogchen in secret; they surely weren't hypocrites, were they?

These days Namkhai Norbu has got a lot of Gelugpa students who may also happen to wish to keep their Dzogchen practice secret - and he does have, or so I am told, both lay Christians and Christian monks as students, who may be facing a similar dilemma. Yet they do stay Christian, and don't get disrobed - are we arrogant enough to acuse them of hypocrisy without knowing their reasons for what they do or fail to do?
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