monktastic wrote:Now this sounds like fantastic advice. Dzogchen and Mahamudra masters insist that the realization gained through Madhyamaka is equivalent to their own, but as far as I know (which is almost nothing), Madhyamaka does not require Direct Introduction. Come to think of it: doesn't that contradict the requirement of DI
Not entirely. Without being certain, what I understand from the claims is that the view
of Madhyamika and the prajnaparamita sutras is equivalent to Mahamudra - however, the methods for entering such realisation are not.
Generally speaking though, I tend to take Vajrayana analysis of sutra methods with a grain of salt - If you look at east-asian Madhyamika for example (you should be able to find some of the writings of Sengzhao online, if nothing else than via google books excerpts), you can see clearly that while there is an initial method of analysis, this goes no further than to satisfy the intellect that the intellect is indeed a fundamentally flawed instrument for awakening. The actual method for there on is to let go of all views and rest in non-abiding. If you look at some of the Indian Madhyamika works that never made it to Tibet (such as Nagarjuna's commentary on the Prajnaparamita sutra - in many ways a magnum opus of Madhyamika) it is made clear that ultimately prajnaparamita is gained through the method of no-method - and is in fact both non-conceptual and
A lot of this was in fact a major inspiration for many of the later Chan masters. And reflects a fairly different approach to Madhyamika than found in Vajrayana where it is mostly utilised and seen as an analytical tool and method.
Even so, though I am myself quite the ekayanin and I do believe that while the highest view expressed by the different schools of Zen, Madhyamika, Mahamudra etc. are all spoken from within the same heart-realm of the Buddhas, I don't think it necessarily follows that all these paths are necessarily the same, even if they often sound very similar. This is seen by how often Dzogchenpas, mahamudra teachers and so forth disagree even about their own special means for Buddhahood in one lifetime being equally useful.
Actually, I think there is a fundamental flaw in comparing schools vs. each other. Really, if any comparisons are to be made, it should be comparing gurus. What kind of means can they provide tailored to their students? how sharp is their discernment of the students situation? can they recognise special turning moments and act accrdingly? do they know how to inspire? Can their very presence deepen the practise of the student? Do they know not only how to open a student to the gateless gate, but also how to mature and deepen him to the very depths?
I'd take a guru proficient in all these but trained in a 'lower' vehicle any day of the week than a middling guru from a 'higher' yana. Here is the standard from someone like Foyan Qingyuan:
"I see through everyone. If I've seen people, I know whether or not they have any enlightenment or understanding, just as an expert physician recognises ailments at a glance, discerning the nature of the illness and whether or not it can be remedied. One who knows this only after detailed inquiry into symptoms is a mediocre physician."
We find similar boasts from Linji:
When followers of Zen come to see me, I have already understood them completely. How can I do this? Simply because my perception is independent - externally I do not grasp the ordinary or the holy, internally I do not dwell on the fundamental. I see all the way through and do not doubt or err anymore.
Quite the claims! And what a supreme blessing for the student to find such a teacher.
I don't really care for whether or not Chan only goes to irreversibility or whether one method teaches a special buddhahood the other buddhahood-in-one-lifetime teaches. If you've made it that far, you have a direct hotline to any one of the Buddhas of the ten directions anyway. If everything is not clarified in this lifetime, it surely will be in the next and either way you won't be found wanting in this one. Far more important to find what is appropriate for us than to hang ourselves on following the most 'supreme' path or get stuck on how fast a path is, etc. True Bodhicitta has little regard for time - it simply seeks to accomplish vows wholeheartedly.
But to find a truly qualified teacher who can tailor skilful means especially to your situation - that is to me the supreme teaching higher than any yana set forth in shastras and upadeshas. Sure we can compare the teachings of one dead guru to another and fit them into the formulas of higher and lower. But really, these withered leaves left behind represent only a very small part of any given teacher's legacy.