FWIW I read your post about 3 or 4 times - I am only replying as I think it may be of help. If it's not, ignore it.
It's worth a lot - Thank you very much for considering my post so carefully, and then responding from a sincere motivation to help. Please ignore my question as it is, of course, my projection and lays bare my proclivities rather than being a commentary on yours.
I enjoy your posts, Paul, and the fact that you often link to interesting books as well. Also, your sage re: being of help or not, are, as I'm sure you're aware, almost the exact words spoken by HH The Dalai Lama, which I just love. "If it helps, great. If not, forget it!"
And so is Dzogchen. Read nearly any book by Tulku Urgyen and you'll see that he says there are never, ever conceptual thoughts (namtok) in rigpa.
I love Tulku Urgyen and am familiar with his explanation that you refer to - and it raises a very interesting point - one that I'd love to be corrected on if I'm missing it.
I don't think Tulku Urgen means for a second that in our recognition of the basis, thought can't arise, and that this is the point of Dzogchen - i.e. Stopping thoughts. One aspect of the basis is compassion, responsiveness, energy - however you translate it - and it doesn't stop.
I tried to pre-empt this answer you've given in my post - but knowing that you read it carefully, I understand that your response in spite of my efforts, is because this is how you see it. So I'd love to be corrected if I've misunderstood what seems to me an important point.
My understanding is that thoughts arise continually, extroverted expressions of the dynamic energy of the basis, as Tulku Urgyen puts it IIRC. If
there is recognition of the basis, then thoughts arise as wisdom, if not, namtok.
But if cognition couldn't arise while in the state of contemplation, then how could we function? Are our teachers, who are pretty much (if not continually) in the "state" or recognition of the basis devoid of thoughts while they are teaching, editing texts, etc. etc.?
My understanding is that the key point, is whether or not this dynamic energy has the power to distract us and suck us back into ordinary thought patters with all of their darkness, diffusion and endless capacity to create karma.
So, having said that - I really do value your input, and would love to further discuss (especially if I've misunderstood, I would like to be corrected so I can learn) the role of thoughts in the process of contemplation - but unfortunately, with regards to the question that spawned this thread, I'm no closer to understanding whether or not freewill exists in Dzogchen.