mint wrote:I've accumulated so much learning and experience about Catholic faith and praxis which serves me no good as a Buddhist or Dzogchenpa.
I don't agree. All religions have dharma in them. Buddhism is unique, in that its view and methods are more sophisticated and all-encompassing than others (sorry, just my humble opinion
). But Buddhism is above all based on method.
Not dogma, not belief. Tantra makes use of all possible techniques used in every other religion or metaphysical/magickal system - all to the end of realizing the inseparability of form and emptiness.
So I think it might be interesting, given that you have emotional ties to Catholicism, to examine the techniques of that religion as skillful means. It seems to me that the main technique in Catholicism is a sort of "guru yoga" on Christ. Now I don't know if it's possible to actually attain liberation through guru yoga practiced with an eternalist view (although I'm keeping an open mind), but it's clear that Catholicism has produced incredible siddhas (i.e. saints) through this method.
mint wrote:No matter what I've practiced, though, I've always approached it genuinely, hoping to subdue ego and experience the ultimate reality of Truth.
This is wonderful.
Keep doing that and you'll succeed. At the same time, Mint, you really must identify which attitudes and thoughts are undermining your practice (be it Catholic, Buddhist, whatever) and start to let these go.
mint wrote: Buddhism and Dzogchen truly do feel what I've been searching for all along, but how can I embark on this path when I can't experience peace with my past as a Catholic or with the Catholic Church or my old Catholic friends?
Your Catholic past will not
be resolved through choosing to follow either path. Neither will it be resolved through not choosing a path. Because whatever you choose (or don't choose), it sounds like your own thoughts are what's driving you crazy. Notice how you go back and forth - this is classic dualistic mind creating suffering. If you remain respectful and reverent concerning Catholicism, will your Catholic friends reject you?
mint wrote:I've got to face up to that challenge in addition to attempting to resolve in my own way the theistic impulse which I've only managed to suffocate discreetly in order to seem a more fitting practitioner even though I could not really argue against the impulse itself.
Understand how the theistic impulse is channeled in the context of dzogchen/vajrayana practice - again, skillful means. Dzogchen doesn't reject anything, and your practice of Vajrayana will never be successful if you don't embrace your theistic impulse.
Of course, you need to maintain the proper view regarding this - and I think you've done sufficient study of Buddhism to have a basic understanding. But let me repeat - you do not need to give up "theism" to practice Buddhism - you just need to understand it in its proper context as a skillful means.
By the way, if you really have a theistic impulse and you know how to use it, you're better off in Vajrayana than many atheistic intellectuals who come to Buddhism with no theistic background.