So at first I thought - perfect, this thread is totally for someone like me. New to Dzogchen, preparing for preliminaries, this should answer all my questions!!
Here is my play by play commentary.
Page 1 - wait, do I need these preliminaries or not? Answer: NO, it's a rope, NO, it's a tree, NO, it's a fan, No you're all wrong, it's a wall. Ugh...where's the ELEPHANT?!
Page 4 - wow, this thread is the most confusing thing I've ever stuck my eyes in.
what IS dzogchen?!?!?!?!?! Is Ngondro truly useless??
Page 10 - I give up. This IS the big kids' club. I'm hopeless, I'll never understand this...
Page 14 - No, I changed my mind. I don't give up. Screw the confusing willy-waving, I can (somehow) understand this too. Ok, back to the basics, the good points: preliminaries are ok, no preliminaries are ok. Got it. Different paths, different methods, different minds. One primordial state. Got it. It's like driving a car. You can just drive it if you need to, you don't need to know the inner mechanics of fuel-injection to make it go from point a to point b. But if you break down.. ok ngondro is a FOUNDATIONAL preliminary useful for many practices.
Page 17 - Ngondro is only useful if you are going that way. THAT way is determined by your path and teacher's instructions. My teacher wants me to do Ngondro as the rest of our sangha, but never said anything about not being able to take dzogchen teachings. So this must be like two different ways to learn a language: through good old fashioned grammar, OR through pure immersion. Regardless, speaking the language IS speaking it. NO artificiality there. The concepts I want to speak are already in me, I just have no vocabulary yet in the new language to speak them with...
Page 20 - ok, I think I have the hang of this mess of a thread. It's not that any one way is right, it's just that there are many roads to Rome, and the point is to go to Rome. The new language is that of stillness, I have many options to benefit from. My teacher is wise, I will do what he advises and if he says, Ngondro is useful for me, then I trust it. But I can also seek out methods which also resonate with the Dzogchen that already is. I am. That is enough to wake up.