1. In Dzogchen we visualize the guru as all our teachers. I have asked numerous times if this means people from other traditions as well and the answer I invariably get is: "ALLLL teachers." The reason this question is important to me is because when I think of the chain events that got me here, well it probably has a lot to do with random new age stuff I read in high school, some of which are no doubt fraudulent, but nevertheless I did learn from enough to break out of old belief systems and onto the next thing.
2. In Dzogchen, we are not limited, we can do any practice. Tibetan culture itself is a mix of many things. Though I might use Tibetan Mo methods of divination, I feel like a different method is not appropriate. Similarly, we have various practices to help with our minds, bodies and relative existence. Some of these have been mixed into the Tibetan culture from Hindu or Bonpo sources or elsewhere, but we think of them as Tibetan and part of our lineage, so that seems okay. We make offerings so as not to disturb local spirits with our practice and we invite demons to feed on us in Chod. There are other traditions out there that deal with spirits and demons and have practices to help with our minds, bodies and relative existence, too. If we are not limited and see something has immediate benefit, do we rule it out because it was not part of our lineage and absorbed into Tibetan culture a long time ago?
3. There's a guy over on Tribe.Net that seems very knowledgable and by his profil pic, he may be a lama. In his profile, he says he is:
Buddhist liturgical scholar and dagger priest
kundalini yoga practitioner and inner medical tantrika
crisis care psychologist ( mainly yoga psychology, not the western kind )
force-sensitive and force-guided
nonsectarian student/ practitioner/teacher of Great Perfection and Great Seal ( Atiyogatantra and Mahamudra )
pipe carrier of the Lakota Sioux
mage guardian ( in Sanskrit, that would be dharmapala-guru )
He claims to have also received transmission 34 times. He is very knowledgable.
4. Jetsumna Ahlon Lhamo, who IS a recognized tulku by HH Penor Rinpoche (to my surprise, but I have seen the video of the ceremony!), made several "emergency trips" to Arizona to keep out the "other world." She said the Native American tribe there that was responsible for that was apparently not doing a good job. (weird)
5. I know jack squat about Native American culture, but apparently people think there is some big similarity between Hopi and Tibetan cultures and that they may share a common ancestry.
6. I saw a Kabballah book on the shelf of Tibet House. I asked Tashi about it and he said, "Yes. Very old." I asked him if they were selling it because they felt it had any similarity to Tibetan Buddhism, but he didn't seem to understand the question. Or want to answer. I vaguely remember reading about a few meetings of a rabbi and a monk or lama in which a lot of people were surprised by the amount of seeming overlap in teachings.
7. Many say the Kabballist Tree of Life and the Trikaya seem very similar and especially in relation to the Dzogchen view of self-originated primordial wisdom. Briefly, both deal with emptiness and fullness and an infinite source with unimpeded rays leading to the creation of this world. Both also say "everything is perfect" and that we are ignorant and must return to the source to gain real wisdom, which is beyond concept and limitation.
8. Snow Lion sells some DVDs of this woman Prema Dasara whose websites are http://www.traveling-light.net and http://www.taradhatu.org/about/blessings-from-the-lamas ...that last one has quotes from various lamas about how wonderful the work she's doing is... Basically, the reason I bring her up is because she's very into the 21 Taras and has created some teaching showing how the 21 Taras coincide with the 22 major arcana in the Tarot. Seems odd, right? Odd that she seems to have the backing of Snow Lion and various monks. But, this isn't the first time Tara has been linked with the tarot. I've read about such theories before. This woman seems to be way into it, though. And the Snow Lion website says "Prema Dasara has been practicing Buddhism under the guidance of Tibetan masters for many years. She is an international teacher and performer of sacred dance. She trained in Asia with masters of the sacred dance traditions of India, Nepal, Tibet and Bali. Her work is timely and timeless, and is considered to be a bridge between eastern and western expressions of ancient wisdom." Check out some of the CDs she offers at her website: http://www.traveling-light.net/emporium-CDs.shtml
9. Tarot is a big part of occulty Kabballah (they spell it "Qabalah"), too. The guy who made The Buddha Tarot seems to think the Buddha's life story is comparable with the "journey of the fool" through the 22 major arcana. I don't think so. Other systems based around the Qabalah, such as Thelema, have often had members or "advanced practitioners" claim that there is a lot of overlap with Tibetan Vajrayana. There are quite a few people who are involved in both Vajrayana and Thelema or some other Qabalah-based Western Mystery Tradition, as it's called. One guy recently wrote a book called Tantric Thelema. There are some similar ideas between the two, but I don't know how to explain it adequately without making this even longer. Briefly, Nuit is the all-encompassing queen of space similar to the Mother of the Victorious Ones, Arya Tara, and her lover is Hadit, the pinpoint of personal experience and volition which could be compared to a heart-drop, for example. Here is a picture of Nuit whose breast is feeding the caduceus of the Tree of Life and chakras and central channels. You can see how she is emptiness and Mother in one. Someone else painted this, so I'm just regurgitating ideas that are out there.
10. Neal J. Pollock, who reviews a lot of Tibetan Vajryana and especially Dzogchen books over on Amazon.com is apparently part of the Rosicruician organization which our friend username on this Dharmawheel forum says is linked with very dark forces and has intention to cull the population down to some very low number (I forgot). When he first said this, the first thing I thought of was the Georgia Guidestones, but having studied with a group that used a lot of Rosicrucian material in my past (the same organization in which I studied the occulty Qabalah) and probably being a lot more familiar with it than him, I took this with a grain of salt. But it did remind me of what I remember from the new agey Rosicrucian-ish Qabalah groups that there is a spiritual war going on which involve a hierarchy of various beings just kind of planted in space and watching everything. Pretty creepy. I remember lots of discussion of people meeting with them or seeing them in visions while they were scrying on the tree of life or whatever.
11. The Rosicrucian type of groups also try to find familiarity with Hinduism and Buddhism and there does seem to be some kind of overlap with the Tree of Life, caduceus, chakras and solar, lunar and central channels. Of course, that doesn't mean anything other than perhaps the Rosicrucians pillaged ideas from other cultures and slapped them all together (which is my feeling)! Still, if they are using the same ideas and energy and whatnot, I wonder if anything similar results... or if there is a corruption which just works against you somehow. I know a lot of Dzogchen students came from Hindu yoga practicing backgrounds and they don't generally put it down as "bad," they just put it down as incomplete.
12. In the DVD with Robert Thurman and Deepak Chopra (which I streamed on Netflix out of curiosity and was one of the worst things I had ever seen), Thurman keeps saying that there is no difference between Hindu and Buddhist thought, but that it is semantic. Oh boy!
13. Then there is Kennard Lipman, the guy who spent a lifetime studying and practicing Buddhism and Dzogchen and translating who is now a rabbi enjoying the mystical tradition of the Kabballah, but still feels like it's a good idea to release new translations of Buddhist texts. How odd.
I am not interested in following these other traditions. Just curious what others think. There seems to be a lot of friendly acceptance among Tibetan lamas of other ideas and it just makes me wonder if perhaps these other traditions are part of those other paths that wind slowly up the mountain. I know most people who came to Dzogchen did not come to Dzogchen first, but spent time in other organizations such as these before finally stumbling onto Dzogchen and going "wow!" The downside of this, of course, is now we have a head full of ideas from other traditions and want to compare them, just as I've done above.
In your opinion does "unifying all teachers" include these sorts of new age teachers? I don't really think about it much, personally. I just abstractly unify them and I usually kind of see Namkhai Norbu's face and Lama Tsering Everest's face since they are the two I've taken refuge with.
My general feelings on all of this are:
• Is there anything to all this? maybe...
• Does it matter? not really...
• Makes more sense to stick with one path... but, if we are not limited and can do whatever is useful for us, is there really anything wrong with all this? Other than confusing yourself and others?
Finally, that took me forever to write and I did the best I could mentioning all the things that came to mind, but there is more and it is more involved than that. I can't go back and edit it for any more clarity. Essentially this is just a post about the bold parts in the top and bottom of the post, with some additional details in the middle to explain what I mean.