- Generally speaking, numerous different types of teaching styles exist in the various traditions of mahāmudrā and dzogchen. In particular, it is unquestionably established that in the ultimate sense there is no difference between mahāmudrā and dzogchen. Nonetheless, according to their presentation, varying approaches have been taught concerning whether or not to regard appearances as being mind, whether or not thought is identical with dharmakāya and whether or not mindfulness should serve as meditation.
Some mahāmudrā followers teach that dzogchen is the type of sidetrack known as 'straying into the innate,' while the higher stages of dzogchen teach that mahāmudrā is flawed since everything up to and including mahāmudrā is considered to be 'views retaining assumptions.' Thus, each has its own specific emphasis.
For worthy practitioners, those who have sat at the feet of a qualified master and have recognized the innate suchness of the natural state exactly as it is, there is nothing to make classifications about. For them, everything is simply the display of dharmatā. Otherwise, when claiming that dzogchen is 'straying into the innate,' the essence of the innate is what the general vehicles call 'sugata-essence.' In mahāmudrā it is renowned as 'ground mahāmudrā' or 'mahāmudrā of the natural state.' Since everyone agrees that practicing the various types of meditation stages are the methods for realizing it, the dzogchen system is, therefore, not at fault.
Similarly, to call mahāmudrā a 'view of assumption' is aimed at inferior people who practice that way. Practitioners who realize the nature of mahāmudrā-as-it-is perceive the naked and innate face of mind free from concepts. They are not flawed by this fault since they don't need to depend on assumptions.
Moreover, the two opinions about whether or not thoughts are dharmakāya are in fact the same. The commonplace thought -- uninhibited deluded fixation -- is not regarded as dharmakāya, even by the mahāmudrā system. Similarly, the dzogchen system does not repress perceptions which have been embraced by the key points. So, in fact, they agree.
As for whether or not appearance is mind: all the key points are identical, in the sense that in the ultimate essence, appearance lies beyond the confines of truth and falsehood. It can manifest in any possible way as a mere relative expression of mind but does not consist of any essence whatsoever. Appearances, furthermore, need not be accepted or rejected and so forth.
Concerning mindfulness serving or not serving as the meditation: some deluded people appear to concentrate with rigid fixation and believe that keeping their mind hostage is the meditation of mahāmudrā. That is nothing but their personal fault. The authentic great Kagyu masters took self-cognizant mindfulness as their practice, which is identical to the primordially pure self-awareness of the dzogchen system. Thus, despite different terminology, there is no difference in meaning. Neither system, mahāmudrā nor dzogchen, considers that meditation is the conceptual mind that fixates on mindfulness.
In short, what dzogchen calls 'endowed with the threefold wisdom,' the wisdom of the primordially pure essence, the wisdom of the spontaneously present nature and the wisdom of the all-pervasive compassion, is described by the followers of mahāmudrā as the nonarising essence, the unobstructed nature, and the variously manifesting expression. It is unanimously agreed that they are 'different aspects of the same identity.'
Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche, Indisputable Truth:
- Self-existing awareness that is cognizant and nonconceptual is called rigpa. In mahāmudrā, it is called ordinary mind -- thamal gyi shespa. Ordinary mind is defined as dharmakāya that is not dependent upon the three conditions of bliss, clarity and nonthought. It is also beyond the four joys -- the four types of bliss.... The innate nature, dharmatā, which transcends these is called the 'mahāmudrā of empty awareness.' This is not different in the slightest from the view of dzogchen, the great perfection. Mahāmudrā's ordinary mind and dzogchen's self-existing wisdom that is cognizant and nonconceptual are totally identical.
Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Ground, Path, and Fruition:
- The path starts by determining the view, which in mahāmudrā and dzogchen is the pure mind just discussed. In order to manifest that pure mind, in order to bring it forth, you use the practice of meditation. In mahāmudrā and dzogchen meditation is practiced by resting in the view, which is that pure mind itself.... The style of meditation in mahāmudrā and dzogchen is meditation which is non-meditation. What is this non-meditation? How do we meditate without meditating? Whatever situation mind is in, whether there are discursive thoughts of good, bad, clean, unclean, and so on, if you drop all of these so that you are without even a whisker of the conceptual activity of mind, the nature of mind whatever it is will shine forth as non-stopped clarity and that is called self-arising rigpa. This does not need to be created or produced or purchased; when you let mind itself, just as it is, shine forth and stay in that, that is called self-arising rigpa.... That self-arising rigpa and thamal gyi shespa are the same thing.