deepbluehum wrote:I gave you one. It's pretty simple. I guess you didn't want that one.
No, you didn't -- you made a vague and non-specific reference to the biographies of four persons.
Which Gnostics? Which texts? You would be on firmer ground arguing for pre-Muslim Iranian influences such Zorastrianism on Dzogchen. A possible Manichaen influence would be the notion that our bodies contain a "spiritual light". But this spiritual effulgence can easily also been seen as an influence from Shaivism where primordial sound flashes forth as light and then rays ( see Padoux, Vāc, The Concept of the Word in Selected Hindu Tantras). Or, as I perfer to view it, the Dzogchen tantras do not necessarily owe any debt to any tradition, but instead are the product of the realization of Buddhist yogis.
As I said, those who make arguments for external influence on Dzogchen, apart from its obvious grounding in Buddhadharma, do so very speculatively and with a lack of textual support.
I'm referring to the story that Garab Dorje's mother bore him in a virgin birth. Then he was a spiritually precocious child who won debates with monks. Jesus' mother was a virgin; he was spiritually precocious and won debates with the Saducees. This story is a retelling of Horus/Isis.
But I agree with the other influences you cite. Those are all at play, better yet interplay.
The way I see it is there's no beginning to dharma. All we have is an old conversation between many old traditions. There is no neat boundary for anyone to live in. Take the Black Throma system. It's Dzogchen right? Well how come the Mahamudra lineage has a practice of Vajrayogini arising without seed syllables or mantras? There's no real line there. Even the mind/nature of mind thing is just efficiency.
You have Dzogchen Tantras, but Bon Dzogchen don't need 'em. Why did they come out, what is there point? By the 8th Century Buddhism was in trouble and the Vedic world was making a huge comeback. Makes sense to produce some new and improved Vedas. Just sayin'. Just sayin' we can't really know. Padmasambhava did refer to Vima's as the pandita's system.
What is essential to dharma ain't documents, as Malhotra points out. It's the living transmission from someone who embodies that knowledge. And it is knowledge, directly perceivable by anyone who puts in the time with the methods. When we are talking about the direct perception of objective reproducible truth, the history behind the method is only an interesting aside. What is the story behind E=MC2 or the discovery of Penicillin? Who cares.
This brings me to how the West was won and why the East has a powerful lesson to learn from the West. The real freedom that we all want as Westerners and Easteners, in both senses, will happen when the East really does look at these methods as scientific and gives up on the silly guru devotion, exclusivism, protectionism, divine authority, etc. For example, Malhotra criticizes the West for only looking for factual historical records in texts, whereas, the East relies more properly on the living guru. I think there's a deeper lesson there from the West and science, that, IF, the practice, experiment, etc., IS IN FACT factual, then one SHOULD, be able to reproduce the results by reading a cogent report, i.e., from a scientific journal, or from an instruction manual. This is the precise Western methodology that has allowed peer review of scientific experiments. If a scientist wants to reproduce an experiment, she does not have to go bow to the scientist and request the method. She can read it in Scientific American, etc. Then, she can give the report on her findings, and if they match, then, the results are given more weight.
Thus, to have a report arise not from factual circumstances, but from a revelation, is instant bunk. I believe, that the methods of Buddha, Hindu and Buddhist tantra and Dzogchen do involve factual matters. Thus, I do not recognize divine ownership. Mythic stories about dharma origins and mythic encoding are a time capsule of medieval culture and before. It is no longer necessary. I hold that all methods, if they are factually efficacious, should be reproducible from texts, as is the case with the Pali methods. I feel this is EXTREMELY important to the survival of dharma in the West. It is not about watering dharma down or appropriating it. It is about cleaning it up, and potentially making it work much better.