Posted here in reply to Jax because the other topic was locked:
Quote from Jax: "Quoting Hinayana views doesn't help. The absence of self doesn't nullify the reality of Samantabhadra and the Kunje Gyalpo, the changeless nature. Samantabhadra is embodying as ordinary self in order to play in the sport of Buddhas. This is known in Gnosis. The self is the Dharmakaya without the least separation. Perhaps many have not studied the Uttara Tantra, known as the "Changeless Nature" Dzogchen is much closer to non-dual Shaivism than many suspect. Dzogchen is not Buddhist. Especially not Bon Dzogchen. The Bon had to kiss-ass to the Buddhists in order not to be completely banned, hence the Buddhist-like interpolations. The dissolution of the skandhas is only the dissolution of a projection of mind. Who is the projector when the dream of self, constructed of the five skanndhas is no more? Who is this Kunje Gyalpo that manifests a mandala of tsal and rolpa? Is it not the Dharmakaya King? Dzogchen is NOT the view of Madhyamaka, as Dzogchen is a "confirming negation" the confirmation is the Being of Rigpa. Dzogchen was criticized by the Sarma schools for this reason and was criticized as not even being Buddhist. They were right, Dzogchen is not "Buddhist"."
My reply: The question of five skandhas disappearing is out of question when five skandhas themselves are Buddha-nature: ""Ananda, you have not yet understood that all the defiling objects that appear, all the illusory, ephemeral phenomena, spring up in the very spot where they also come to an end. Their phenomena aspects are illusory and false, but their nature is in truth the bright substance of wonderful enlightenment. Thus it is throughout, up to the five skandhas and the six entrances, to the twelve places and the eighteen realms; the union and mixture of various causes and conditions account for their illusory and false existence, and the separation and dispersion of the causes and conditions result in their illusory and false extinction. Who would have thought that production and extinction, coming and going are fundamentally the eternal wonderful light of the Tathagata, the unmoving, all-pervading perfection, the wonderful nature of True Suchness! If within the true and eternal nature one seeks coming and going, confusion and enlightenment, or birth and death, one will never find them.""
So the problem is not with five skandhas, it is that when five skandhas are viewed wrongly they cause suffering, but in actual fact after realizing anatta we discover that the five skandhas are Buddha-nature (or Zen Master Hui-neng and Dogen's Impermanence is Buddha-nature). This is not the same as subsuming all as One Mind.
Hinayana view should not be poo-pooed but we must understand what is essential/important about it and what is inadequate or lacking. Right in the Pali Canon, which is the original teachings that the Buddha actually taught (the latter Mahayana and Vajrayana texts came from visions of unknown authors possibly of the Sambhogakaya realm and are not the exposition of the historical physical appearance of Buddha, and I have no qualms about your statements regarding Dzogchen tantras having no Indian origins and so on or if it is solely the writings of Tibetan masters - as Loppon Namdrol have said, this shouldn't be a concern as wisdom is more important than authorship), the Buddha already taught that no subjective self or being, and the self of phenomena can be established as truly existing. This view is already more advanced than that of the Advaita Vedanta because from this, one moves on from One Mind (non-dual insight and experience but inherent view) to Anatta and No Mind (non-dual, non-inherent). For already in the Upanishads and the Samkya teachings (which already exists in Buddha's time) already teach about the luminosity of mind but reifies it into the Atma or the Source (such views which he criticized in suttas like the MN 1: http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/ ... ha-on.html
), so the Buddha's view is a refinement of that view, the teaching of anatta is a sort of timely reaction to that teaching as well as being the wisdom that allows one to be liberated from all afflictions as well as the cycle of birth and death in samsara since what the Buddha calls the "I Am conceit" is what is driving the cycles of samsara.
However the arahants only realized the emptiness of the subjective self and in the Abhidhamma they reified the dhammas to have some ultimate ontological reality (the 'smallest ultimate units' objective phenomena). This is in fact, in opposition to a number of Pali suttas which clearly talks about the insubstantiality, corelessness and emptiness of everything that dependently originates (e.g. Kaccanagotta Sutta, Phena Sutta, Kalaka Sutta, etc). It is at this juncture that the whole Prajnaparamita class literature (the first Mahayana scriptures to ever appear) plus the Nagarjuna's teaching of the Middle Way (Madhyamika) arose, as a reaction to the Abhidhamma substantialization of phenomena. Nagarjuna is in fact not teaching something new or outside the Buddha's discourses in the Pali canon, but simply expounding and expanding on the suttas such as Kaccanagotta Sutta that the arahants have overlooked.
So when we look at Hinayana and Mahayana view, what essentially sets them apart is the twofold emptiness. The Hinayana focuses on the first emptiness: the emptiness of a subjective self in order to overcome afflictive suffering, while the Mahayana emphasizes on the need to realize the twofold emptiness to overcome all knowledge obscurations preventing omniscience.
Then comes what is called the "third turning of the dharma wheel", that of buddha-nature which we can say is the inseparability of luminosity and emptiness. Why is this necessary and under what circumstances had those teachings arose in? I think it is safe for me to say that if one engages solely in using Madyamika dialectics, although it is not difficult to gain an intellectual conviction on the truth of emptiness, nonetheless this is different from actually discovering experientially and non-conceptually what the nature of mind is.
So practically speaking, it is important for one to gain an experiential and not just intellectual conviction on the nature of mind. And this is how the teachings of Dzogchen and Mahamudra arose - to lead adherents to an experiential realization that can truly liberate. And when we discover emptiness, it is not an intellectual idea of emptiness, but we discover the nature of mind as this vivid undeniable luminous clarity and presence which is nonetheless empty without anything to be established. This is the only way to liberate from all views, clinging and afflictions.
But at some point through focusing on the luminous presence of mind, there arose again adherents who reify such into the Self, a truly existing Absolute or unchanging and independent essence... We then misinterprete the late Mahayana sutras on the Tathagatagarbha through the eternalist lens. Such as some of the more extreme proponents of the Shentong school (but such eternalist view is actually also common outside Vajrayana, in Mahayana and Zen, in some Theravada teachers and so on). What they teach is in fact the One Mind, no different from the Advaita teachings.
So after going a full circle so to speak, we sort of "forgot" the Buddha's original teachings. We forgot the circumstances in which the views develope, we forgot the core of dharma, and by focusing only on the luminosity of mind we already miss the entire point of the Buddha's teachings. He isn't here only to teach the luminosity of mind as that has already been well covered in the Vedas and Upanishads.
Worse still, ignorant followers of the "third or fourth turning" (many whom are actually eternalists) may then poo poo the "lower yanas" view by saying things like "oh yours is just hinayana, oh yours is just nihilistic madyamika view" and "mine is the great middle way, the luminous presence of mind" blah blah. Not knowing that right in the beginning, in the Pali suttas or the Hinayana teachings, the luminous essence of mind is already taught by the Buddha: "Luminous, monks, is the mind..." but the point of his teaching is not just about the luminosity: it is rather the inseparability of luminosity and emptiness and how this leads to liberation.
In view of this, it is not surprising that Thusness told me years ago:
(10:42 PM) Thusness: Many practitioners wants the direct path and ended up neither here nor there.
(11:37 PM) Thusness: Buddhism is going through a period of great distortion
(11:38 PM) Thusness: Even the most clearest teachings can be distorted
(11:39 PM) Thusness: One vehicle against another
Understand that the Buddha's emphasis in all the suttas is not about the "luminous presence" but clearly more about overcoming our deluded papanca (proliferation) and views pertaining to a self, and by contemplating on anicca, dukkha, anatta and the pratītyasamutpāda (dependent origination) and gaining the direct vision and insight into the empty nature of dharma (the dharma eye) will we be able to experientially overcome all such delusions which leads to clinging, craving and suffering.
We also forgot or fail to understand that right in the very basic yet essential teaching of anatta can be found the clearest non-dual teaching (see Bahiya Sutta and my commentary on that: http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/ ... sutta.html
, and btw contemplating on Bahiya Sutta was what led to my experiential awakening to the truth of anatta) - but it is not the "substantial non-dualism" of the Advaita Vedanta, but the "insubstantial non-duality" by realizing-experiencing the fact that there is no agent, no self, perceiver or seer behind the process of seeing - that in seeing always already there is just sight, the experience of shapes, colours and forms without a seer. Absolutely no subject and object. Not even a "One Awareness manifesting as everything". Every mind-manifestation or dharma is already implicitly non-dual and self-luminous without even any need of emphasizing it! This is where the Zen abbot slaps the floor. The radiant world references itself, not to a Source. The answer to "All dharmas resolve into One Mind. One Mind resolves into..." Three pounds of flax.
By not understanding the very fundamental teachings of the Buddha, many teachings arose to fill in the gaps of the lack of understanding. People did not understand emptiness of phenomena, so Madyamika arose. People did not understand non-duality, so teachings like Yogacara and later Dzogchen and others arose. People only had conceptual understanding of emptiness and not the experiential realization on the nature of mind as the inseparability of luminosity and emptiness, so the Third and Fourth turning arose... And so on.
Yet it does not mean all these things are lacking in the very basic, foundational, teachings of the Buddha in the Pali Canon! It only means they are not understood or are misunderstood, thus necessitating the emergence of the latter doctrines. About this point, many do not understand... It has taken me and Thusness many years of practicing and experiencing to really appreciate the very core and foundational teachings of the historical Shakyamuni Buddha. Without going this process of refining insight, we too would have poo-pooed on the "lower yanas" as being unimportant or silly and went the way of the Advaita Vedanta and I am not saying this because I am biased towards Buddhism. There was a time years ago when I was actually reading more on Advaita than Buddhism since it resonates much more with my view and experience at that time. I have appreciation for their teachings (both traditional Advaita and neo-Advaita) as they have been helpful and insightful for me at that time.
But now, the basic foundational teachings of Buddhism holds much more appeal to me due to my current insight and experience. Those teachings hit the bull's eye, so to speak. You then start to truly appreciate the depth and subtlety of Buddha's teachings, and will naturally overcome the fetter of "doubt" pertaining to the Buddha (which includes doubts that the Buddha is the foremost teacher of the right Dharma) apart from the fetter of self-view.
You can then doubtlessly roar the lion's roar that the Buddha is the foremost teacher of men and devas (see the shorter discourse on the lion's roar by Buddha http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .ntbb.html
which explains that the only crucial difference between Buddhism and that of other doctrines is the rejection of self-view and doctrine of self)
Experientially speaking, the progression of insight and the refining of view has already been summed up in the Thusness Seven Stages of Realization-Experience (from one mind to Anatta to Shunyata of phenomena is Stage 4, 5, 6): http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/ ... ience.html
What you said regarding Dzogchen being incompatible with Nagarjuna's Middle Way does not accord with for example what ChNNR has said, who said that essential Dzogchen view is similar to Prasangika Madyamika except the latter is through intellectual inference.
As for your mistaken conception that Dzogchen is not Buddhism, Loppon Namdrol wrote a good article in http://www.atikosha.org/2011/01/dzogche ... dhism.html
I really wish to paste his article here, but doing so will make my already lengthy post extremely lengthy.
Lastly I shall quote from Zen priest/teacher Alex Weith from his very well written posts based on his experiential insight into Anatta:http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/ ... ex%20Weith
"Just for the sake of clarification, I would like to make it clear that I never said that "these luminous self-perceiving phenomena which are craving-free and nondual are the Ultimate", if there could still be any ambiguity about that.
On the contrary, I said that what I used to take for an eternal, empty, uncreated, nondual, primordial awareness, source and substance of all things, turned out to be nothing more than the luminous nature of phenomena, themselves empty and ungraspable, somehow crystallized in a very subtle witnessing position. The whole topic of this thread is the deconstruction of this Primordial Awareness, One Mind, Cognizing Emptiness, Self, Atman, Luminous Mind, Tathagatgabha, or whatever we may call it,
As shocking as it may seem, the Buddha was very clear to say that this pure impersonal objectless nondual awareness (that Vedantists called Atma in Sanskrit, Atta in Pali) is still the aggregate of consciousness and that consciousness, as pure and luminous as it can be, does not stand beyond the aggregates.
"Any kind of consciousness whatever, whether past, future or presently arisen, whether gross or subtle, whether in oneself or external, whether inferior or superior, whether far or near must, with right understanding how it is, be regarded thus: 'This is not mine, this is not I, this is not my self.'" (Anatta-lakkhana Sutta).
"What I realized also is that authoritative self-realized students of direct students of both Ramana Maharishi and Nisargadatta Maharaj called me a 'Jnani', inviting me to give satsangs and write books, while I had not yet understood the simplest core principles of Buddhism. I realized also that the vast majority of Buddhist teachers, East and West, never went beyond the same initial insights (that Adhyashanti calls "an abiding awakening"), confusing the Atma with the ego, assuming that transcending the ego or self-center (ahamkara in Sanskrit) was identical to what the Buddha had called Anatta (Non-Atma).
It would seem therefore that the Buddha had realized the Self at a certain stage of his acetic years (it is not that difficult after all) and was not yet satisfied. As paradoxical as it may seem, his "divide and conquer strategy" aimed at a systematic deconstruction of the Self (Atma, Atta), reduced to -and divided into- what he then called the five aggregates of clinging and the six sense-spheres, does lead to further and deeper insights into the nature of reality. As far as I can tell, this makes me a Buddhist, not because I find Buddhism cool and trendy, but because I am unable to find other teachings and traditions that provide a complete set of tools and strategies aimed at unlocking these ultimate mysteries, even if mystics from various traditions did stumble on the same stages and insights often unknowingly. "