This is my opinion, which is likely to be less profound than many practitioners who have studied Buddhism far longer than I have. There may also be many mistakes or misconceptions, I don't know, but here it is-
padma norbu wrote:We still have the end result of buddhahood which is expressed in spontaneous manifestations which then, if human manifestations, must re-awaken to buddhahood all over again. This is why the historical Buddha was a display and why Padmasambhava, Garab Dorje and everyone else pretty much has to re-learn and re-train to have realization for themselves.
In a sense. Except that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas reincarnate for the benefit of all beings (not because they have to), and they don't exactly have to relearn *everything*. There are many things that are carried over, such as an ability to understand the Dharma, practice it, faithfully follow a teacher, various siddhis, and so forth. Some even incarnate with knowledge of their past life, even if its not a total knowledge. This isn't even to consider the merit they bring with them, allowing them to easily find Dharma and so forth.
padma norbu wrote:Also, if we see our guru as the Buddha, doesn't that mean we should really believe it? If we do, doesn't that mean Namkhai Norbu is a Buddha and so he (and all other real human gurus) are examples of those who have already gone beyond and come back as displays to re-learn it all again in a different incarnation? I think the real answer to this question is "no" because our modern gurus are not really Buddhas (and surely someone will say that my lack of seeing them as such is part of my problem!), but if we are to see them as such, then we should believe this is the case. So, then, what is the point? Endless cycles of this crapola to realize buddhahood, manifest new incarnations and undergo amnesia in the next incarnation to re-train, re-learn, re-awaken and do it all over again forever and ever?
Once we realize emptiness as an experience (the sixteen moments of the Path of Seeing) the fires of wisdom will burn away our innate obscuration and most of this stuff won't matter anymore. That we incarnated will not matter, nor will the prospect of doing it again matter, nor will it be possible for us to not see enlightened beings as enlightened. Absolute bodhicitta will arise, and with that we will willingly come back to benefit all beings. As for seeing gurus as enlightened, part of this is skillful means. If we don't think its possible for them, it won't be possible for us.
Faith in the guru is also important because otherwise how can we faithfully practice anything? We are told to do this or that, but if we doubt the source, we will doubt the practice, which in turn will just cause us to doubt a lot of things. Then in the end, we will not have accomplished anything because we are so worried about the authenticity of a teaching or a teacher, when in reality, in the first place, we should examine the teacher thoroughly and see if they fit the bill of an enlightened being. As many authors say, the primary and most important quality in a teacher is bodhicitta in action, they must be acting for others benefit.
padma norbu wrote:It is just really a lot of stuff that doesn't make much sense and there is little comfort in the worn out idea that it is beyond conceptual limitation. Other traditions say the same thing about God.
True, but with major differences that appear minor. For one, God is a belief that is often based on "knowing" one of the imponderables, such as the origin of the universe, its age, and so forth. Its beyond concepts but not experience, whatever is taught in Buddhism you can experience directly. Then you *can* put it into words, but you will realize in doing so that words are a limitation. However, once wisdom (the experience of emptiness) arises many things you've learned about and read will bear fruit immediately. Not only that, but all these texts that sound like contradictions and so forth, you will understand perfectly even while realizing the limitations of conceptual thought in expressing the inexpressible. It will no longer matter for you because, having experienced it yourself, any words that describe the ultimate truth will not merely be fingers pointing at a moon, but will cause you to remember and realize the moon again, because you've experienced it already and know for yourself that its true.
In essence, Buddhism deals entirely with what can either be known or experienced. There may be an element of faith involved, but its not an eternal blind faith, even if it might feel that way.
padma norbu wrote: The truth according to Dzogchen is so simple it's basically pointless; this is how things are and whether you like it or not it will be this way for eternity and there is really no escape.
I would say "this is the truth whether or not you like it, and there is nothing to escape from".
padma norbu wrote:The world has become a place of (in sequential order from hinayana to dzogchen): look but don't touch
I would say "Dont look, don't touch". Looking is in itself a form of attachment, and the goal of renunciation is to remove all attachments, all subtle attractions, even down to the habitual ways in which we think about things we are attached to. For example, once we conquer our attachment to an object, we will find our eyes are naturally drawn to it whenever its around, even if we have no desire for it and are not thinking about it. Thats still a level of attachment which we should seek to remove at the level of Hinayana.
padma norbu wrote:, touch but don't feel
I would say look but don't touch. Now you have to look at many things, but you are to do so without attachment, and whatever you do that appears to violate the 5 precepts, you are doing with bodhicitta for the benefit of another being, which frees you from doing something with attachment.
padma norbu wrote:, feel but don't care,
I would say look and feel, without attachment. Now you can let anything arise, any passion, thought, anger, emotion. But by this point (Vajrayana) you've ideally already experienced emptiness on the path of Mahayana, therefore have absolute Bodhicitta, and are ready to begin moving towards the non dual state. Here you see all things as pure. In Hinayana there is black and white, pure and impure. In Mahayana, there are grey areas because of Bodhicitta. Here all is pure. Dzogchen, pure and impure are transcended entirely.
padma norbu wrote: care but don't cling, correct your desire-passions but don't correct too much or you have strayed from the path. Rest in the present moment undistracted by thoughts, but of course you can think, too, because in fact if you don't, then something is wrong...
I believe the teaching about not thinking is taught in order to prevent people from forcing themselves not to think and believing that "not thinking" is Dzogchen. In my opinion, someone in the natural state might or might not be thinking, whatever the case they just let it happen and it makes little difference. Its not like if no thoughts arise, a Dzogchenpa is going to force thoughts, but in the same way, they are not going to go (Oh no theres thoughts!) and try to suppress them, which I believe is the intention behind this and what is trying to be avoided here.
In general though I feel that many people get into Dzogchen without really appreciating the "lower" vehicles, failing to realize that any vehicle can be practiced as a method of skillful means while realizing it as a manifestation of primordial wisdom, even Hinayana levels of practice. Recognizing our true nature mostly means seeing just how ignorant we are, not how realized we are. So, thats why many Dzogchen practitioners, for example, practice Vajrayana. And Vajrayana is great because Ngondro embodies the Hinayana and Mahayana levels if properly practiced, then leads you through Vajrayana towards the Great Perfection.
padma norbu wrote: Seems like a series of exercises to discombobulate your brain, really, and accomplish nothing except detachment with a pleasant disposition. One could easily argue it is just another opiate of the masses. This one is so powerful people are actually okay with sitting in cold caves in the himalayas with nothing but some robes and a mala.
Many people might use it as an opiate of the masses, sure there are people of blind faith, little devotion, little learning, no practice, who verge on being either orthodox practitioners which is a hilarious idea, or have no intention to realize ultimate truth for themselves or others. Its not an opiate because it just teaches the truth. It doesn't contrive some fantastic story about how Buddha is gonna come save us all. The message is- everything is suffering, heres the path, save yourself. Even believing in the Guru as Buddha is skillful means performed in order to save yourself, because in the end the Guru cannot liberate you, cannot make you Buddha, otherwise all Gurus would just do this, and everyone would be a Buddha. Its up to us.
Also the doctrine of emptiness is outright frightening to many people, which is why its not revealed to everyone even though in this day and age anyone could access it if they wanted. There are stories about Buddha teaching emptiness and people with heavy obscuration becoming terrified, vomiting blood and dying. Even if its symbolic, the message is clear. Buddhism is not for the light hearted. There is a Bodhisattva Bhumi called "Able to bear the truth". In other words someone believed that a person must have a high degree of realization to merely bear the truth because its that difficult. You won't find that kind of stuff in world religion-opiates.