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.
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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