Beatzen wrote:1. Would that make certain aspects of Tibetan Buddhism a 'counter-reformation' in regards to the Mahayana development of the Bodhisattva Ideal, or a being who forgoes parinibbana to work toward liberating all beings in future lifetimes?
What does the first part of this question even mean? What is a counter-reformation?
Since Tibetan Buddhism is more of a path of moral/ethical self-edification than of self-knowing
A false statement from the start. This is just completely incorrect.
4. I know from my studies that Dzogchen and Mahamudra practitioners consistenly refer to "the natural state". How is this natural state different from Zazen samadhi, and how is the insight gained in the tibetan natural state "superior" to insights into selflessness gained in Zazen samadhi?
I practiced Zen Buddhism formally for about ten years. My main Zen teacher was Daido Roshi although I did not formally belong to the Rivers and Mountains Order and I had been practicing with a Gay and Lesbian Zen group in Washington DC for about 4-5 years before I did my first sesshin with Daido Roshi. I have now practiced Tibetan Buddhism for about 13 years.
Zazen is based on the mind. Wisdom insight arises primarily based on the emptiness aspect of the Prajnaparamita. In general Zen and Chan have no or limited use of what would be termed energy practices (at least publicly but Kwan Um is a public exception and anyway Zen does
have some energy practices). Amazingly there is only a moderate emphasis on interdependence in my experience but it is definitely there. From the Tibetan Buddhist perspective zazen is all shamatha and I have to always remind people in conversations that it is a classical case (ultimately) of the unification of shamatha and vipashyana. Tibetan Buddhist teachers also tend to think that Zen is based totally on emptiness (however this is not true). Zen is almost entirely sutric, at least outwardly. The perceived world is functional and is more or less really composed of atoms, etc. (essentially the Vaibhasika view but Zen is also heavily influenced by Mind Only teaching).
Tibetan meditation runs the gamut from traditional analytic meditation, basically skips over zazen as it is presented in the Japanese and Korean traditions (but possibly not the Chan tradition - I haven't had Chan instruction) and then focuses directly on wisdom or an example wisdom experienced during empowerment. Practitioners develop familiarity with that wisdom or example wisdom during deity yoga practice where the deity is an example of a fully enlightened Buddha manifesting in some form that can be glossed as highly symbolic. The peaceful deities in particular are often more accessible as they can often be seen directly by beginners in this tradition as Buddhas and Arya Bodhisattvas. In fact they are an example of ultimate wisdom manifesting in a relative way through the mind of the practitioner. So deity yoga samadhi could
just be at a mind level for a practitioner and in this sense is no different from zazen samadhi esp. if the practitioner is basically just doing samatha (so shamatha based on a mental image of a deity or on an external physical representation like a statue or a thangka). However Tibetan Buddhist meditation also directly uses the human energetic body. This is done in a different way that in yoga and in Taoism and has different results. Basically the starting point in Tibetan Buddhism is the vision of the Avatamsaka Sutra - they entire universe is a manifestation of the Buddhas and it is our perception that causes beings to experience it as a place of suffering. Interdependence is mostly but not entirely glossed - it's exposition tends to be muted.