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Schools of Buddhism => Vajrayana => Dzogchen => Topic started by: Bodhicandra on September 27, 2010, 02:59:07 am

Title: Philosophy of Dzogchen and Zen
Post by: Bodhicandra on September 27, 2010, 02:59:07 am
I've just stumbled across a very interesting philosophical essay on "Zen and Dzogchen: Unifying the Ground and Result" (interesting for those who enjoy this kind of writing, that is  :D ).

It's here: http://davidpaulboaz.org/Stromata/Zen_and_Dzogchen.pdf (http://davidpaulboaz.org/Stromata/Zen_and_Dzogchen.pdf).

If you are new to Dzogchen, don't be put off by the dense logic and technical terminology.

The actual practice of Dzogchen (in my experience) minimises the use of concepts and technical language. This essay is about Dzogchen, it isn't teaching Dzogchen.
Title: Re: Philosophy of Dzogchen and Zen
Post by: humanitas on October 04, 2010, 08:13:30 pm
You musta been thinking of me when suggesting not to be put off by the dense logic.  :)

this is a fantastic excerpt:

Therefore, the Ati Yoga of Dzogchen and the Mujodo no taigen of Saijojo Zen exemplify
the archetypal primordial wisdom teaching that has always arisen as part of the nondual
Primordial Wisdom Tradition of self-conscious species in this, and other star systems for
eons (Norbu, 1999). This great ecumenical teaching does not, under the guidance of a
qualified master, suffer the dualistic limitations and religious dogmas of the limited egoic
structures that have conceptually unpacked the teaching on their various exoteric and
esoteric paths to liberation. However, as the heart essence of the teaching is dependent
upon direct "heartmind to heartmind" transmission from master to prepared disciple,
realization of the great ecumenical teaching requires this very relationship within the
context of a specific tradition (Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist, Islam) and the wisdom
personality of an individual living master or masters abiding within that tradition.
Shakyamuni the Buddha, Jesus the Christ, Padmasambhava, Longchen Rabjam,
Shankara, and many other Buddhas and adept realizers, past and present, appear in their
avataric Nirmanakaya forms in different times and places to transmit this great nondual
primordial wisdom teaching to those teachers and students who have recognized the
love-wisdom imprint, and have prepared to receive it. These sublime avatars embody
and transmit the primordial presence (vidya, rigpa, Atman, Christos/logos) of the "Buddha
Nature" or the "Christ Nature" or the Atman that lives, awake, if cloaked (maya), within
each human form. "We must never forget the Tathagatas . . . the thousand Buddhas.
There exist many, many ways for realized beings to manifest themselves and for the
teaching to arise" (Chögyal Namkhai Norbu).

This blew me away.  I've been trying to put this to words for almost a decade, and it finally just scratched a mental itch I've had (feels like) forever.

Every culture around the world has some way to have dharmic energy because all people share certain common features that come with being human.  We all yearn till we don't, we all want till we don't, and we crave and cling to life itself.  This is a powerfully unifying quality for the human race.  Buddhas can't have JUST appeared in China, India and Tibet, can they have?  This was something that always bugged me somehow, I see how it was like a piece of grit in the folds of my mind. 

I find it is so important to respect all cultural formats for "self-improvement" because there is kindness in every human being... 

:headbow:
Ogyen.
Title: Re: Philosophy of Dzogchen and Zen
Post by: Bodhicandra on October 05, 2010, 01:00:17 am

Every culture around the world has some way to have dharmic energy because all people share certain common features that come with being human. 

I absolutely agree. One can read about Christian mystics who had obviously also 'got it' - St. Francis of Assisi, Julian of Norwich (a lady), the unknown author of the Cloud of Unknowing (the most Dzogchen-like writing I know of by anyone from another faith).

Also, one begins to feel the local 'presence' of the Nyingma masters. It is said that Padmasambhava visited Britain and possibly left terma teachings here - near where we have our retreat houses? I feel very close to him and to Longchen Rabjam.
Title: Re: Philosophy of Dzogchen and Zen
Post by: humanitas on October 05, 2010, 10:44:07 am
I feel like you Bodhicandra, with a strong connection to Padmasambhava, but really strong to Yeshe Tsogyal!  I also agree about what you say, it's not like dharma is exclusive to Buddhists, simply focused on as central to Buddhism.

Other religions focus on other central figures, but this does not mean they do not experience the same human realization spontaneously.  This just means the whole rainbow of dharma. 

I think it would have been very exciting to our lineage masters to find the common ground with other religions and for all to practice tolerance.  They would have probably cried with happiness. 

Just a thought, and I'm no master, so I could be completely wrong.  :teehee:
Title: Re: Philosophy of Dzogchen and Zen
Post by: zen-zen on October 09, 2010, 10:12:05 am
I simply love your thought and written words up there humanitas.  :namaste:
Title: Re: Philosophy of Dzogchen and Zen
Post by: santamonicacj on October 09, 2010, 10:32:15 am
....the unknown author of the Cloud of Unknowing (the most Dzogchen-like writing I know of by anyone from another faith).
I haven't heard of "Cloud of Unknowing" before. How long is it?

I stumbled across "I Was a Monk" by John Tettemer. He was an American Catholic priest that was teaching religious philosophy at the Vatican in the 1930's and then got sick. As he was recuperating he had this very weird religious experience that sounds to me like he stumbled on Mahamudra/Dzogchen. It freaked him out because it didn't happen during prayer and it was contrary to what he had been taught. He realized that, unlike Catholic doctrine, we are never separated from Truth. He ended up leaving the Church because of it.

Later he ended up at an extra on the movie "Lost Horizons" playing a Tibetan monk. Kinda funny.
Title: Re: Philosophy of Dzogchen and Zen
Post by: Bodhicandra on October 09, 2010, 05:12:19 pm
....the unknown author of the Cloud of Unknowing (the most Dzogchen-like writing I know of by anyone from another faith).

I haven't heard of "Cloud of Unknowing" before. How long is it?

In the edition I have (http://www.amazon.co.uk/English-Mystics-Fourteenth-Century/dp/1856260232/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1286664038&sr=8-1) it is 41 pages long.  Below I've typed out a few interesting excerpts. It was written some time in the 1300s in England (around the same time as the great teacher of Dzogchen, Longchen Rabjam, was writing in Tibet). The author has successfully hidden his / her  identity all this time.

But first, let me remind you, briefly, of some of the major points of Dzogchen view and meditation which (in my view) are also present below :

The 'Cloud of Unknowing' is a meditation handbook; instructions for a real practice. It even ends with the same kind of enjoinder to secrecy that Tantric texts use.

If you are a Buddhist, try reading the text below substituting for "God" the concepts: "Awakening", "Total Awareness" or (in the words used in the tradition I follow) "Openness, Clarity and Sensitivity".

I've preceded the quotes below with the (translator's) chapter headings, because the these themselves are quite illuminating.
----

The Cloud of unknowing
Lift up your heart to God in a humble impulse of love and aim for him alone, not for any of the good things you want from him.
...
When you first begin you encounter only a darkness and, as it were, a cloud of unknowing. You don't know what is happening, except that your will is starkly and strenuously bent upon God. Whatever you do, the darkness and cloud come between you and your[sic!] God and prevent you from seeing him clearly by the light of intelligence and reason, nor can you experience him emotionally in the sweet consolation of love. So prepare yourself to wait in this darkness for as long as you can ... if you are going to experience or see God in this life it can only be in this cloud and in this darkness.

We cannot know God with the intellect
Every single rational creature has two faculties: the power of knowledge and the power of love. God is always quite unable to be comprehended by the first faculty, that of intelligence, but he is totally and perfectly comprehendable by the second, the power of love.

The cloud of forgetting
If you are ever going to arrive at this cloud and live and work in it as I direct you, than just as this cloud of unknowing is, as it were, above you and between you and your God, so you must put a cloud of forgetting between you and everything that God has made. Perhaps it may seem that you are very far away from God because of this cloud of unknowing between you, but surely it is more accurate to say that unless you have interposed this cloud of forgetting between you and the whole of God's creation you are even further away from him. Now, whenever I mention 'the whole created world' I do not simply mean the things and people created by God but also all the things that they have created in their turn and everything connected with each one of them. I make no exception for any single creature, physical or spiritual, and I won't exclude any one of their characteristics or effects, good or bad. All, in a word, must be hidden under this cloud of forgetting through contemplation.
...
So long as there is anything at all in your mind except God, you are much further away from him. Yes, I really mean it!

Trample on your thoughts!
If a thought rises to the surface of your mind and persistently interposes itself between you and that darkness, demanding of you: "What are you looking for and what do you want?", you must answer that it is God that you want ... and if this mental irritation goes on ... say :'Down with you'. .. And then the intellect will impress on you the miraculous kindness of God and, again, he wants nothing more than to get you to listen to him. Because soon he will bring your old hopeless way of life to your attention and ..before you know it your mind will be completely distracted and scattered all over the place.

The reason why you became distracted was that at first you listened willingly to the part of your mind that forms concepts, then you responded to it, entertained it and let it take over.

The active and the contemplative life
This is why I insist you suppress any interesting or clever ideas in the cloud of forgetting, however holy or promising they seem, even if they would appear to help you in your contemplation. Because it is love and not knowledge that will enable us to reach God in this life. All the time we are living in this mortal body, the clarity of our perception of spiritual matters is always distorted by some kind of illusion and this applies particularly to God.

A naked awareness of self
Make sure there is nothing stirring in your mind and will but God alone. Try to hack down all knowledge or experience of anything less than God and trample them thoroughly under the cloud of forgetting. You must understand that in contemplation you not only have to forget all other creatures apart from yourself (what they have done - and even what you have done yourself!) but that you must also forget yourself and all the good works that you have done for God's sake.
...
So stamp down all knowledge and experience of anything whatsoever; above all you should concentrate on forgetting yourself. Your understanding and experience of everything else depends on your knowledge of yourself and it is far easier to forget other creatures once you have laid yourself to one side. If you try really hard to prove this you will discover ... there remains between you and your God a naked apprehension of your essential being. This must go too before you can experience true contemplation.

----
Just an afterword: Don't take the above as being the same as Dzogchen - we treat thoughts and concepts rather more kindly, for example. But just appreciate the similarities in intent and in approach.

Title: Re: Philosophy of Dzogchen and Zen
Post by: Lobster on November 03, 2012, 10:31:18 pm
Quote
Also, one begins to feel the local 'presence' of the Nyingma masters. It is said that Padmasambhava visited Britain and possibly left terma teachings here - near where we have our retreat houses? I feel very close to him and to Longchen Rabjam.

That's right. Our practice changes the nature of the impossible, paradox realm, to the real. Where you stand, a Buddha is near. :jinsyx:
Title: Re: Philosophy of Dzogchen and Zen
Post by: MikeL on January 04, 2013, 01:15:46 pm
Mmmmmm, . . . maybe "philosophy" is really not quite the right choice of words for the title of the thread. 

Both approaches to "the Truth" report sudden realizations, both largely eschew elaborate practices and deities, and both can use nonmeditation without objects.  Coming from one practice to another can provide (I think) "a leg up" on the other.   Both have impressive track records when compared to some other so-called spiritual approaches.  I've loved and hated them both.   :namaste:

Of course, there are notable differences between the two. Most realized Zen masters have said that it takes a great deal of effort to move forward to full realization, while dzoggies like Rabjam have said that any effort is misplaced and counter-productive.  Both of those notions are probably articulations of the ineffable. 

I'd add-in Advaita and Kashmir Shaivism sharing similar message or approaches.  Also, Zhangzhung and the Bon religion. 

I think it's important to see such connections.  It's all One, isn't it?   :wink1:

If there is only one fact in reality, then the Japanese calligraphy of a drawn Zen circle may be a particularly apt metaphor for us.  A  number of other zen arts can also provide transcendent insights. Any of the Japanese disciplines (martial, artistic) that end in "-do" were meant as a means of self-realization. 

Be well.
Title: Re: Philosophy of Dzogchen and Zen
Post by: Yellowbellied Sapsucker on March 19, 2013, 11:31:55 am
Hey, this is an interesting topic which caused me to register to this forum. I have to collect my thoughts about what I want to say, so I'm just commenting as a way of "bookmarking" it for my account here.

I've been working with Tibetan Buddhism and Dzogchen for a while now and only recently started to feel like I was making some progress. However, even now, there is a lot of pain and frustration I feel about my difficulties and expectations of myself, the difficultly of maintaining a practice schedule, of sitting long enough when I do deity practices and why I seem to not get many results (always leads me to blame myself)...

Then, I found myself recently interested in Zen again, for some reason, after a 15 year hiatus, and suddenly, it is like a breath of fresh air; a whole new way of looking at the world. I also seem to understand Zen better than I did back then. It seems to explain some Dzogchen teachings that can sometimes scramble my brains if I think about them. But, it also seems to be saying something different from Dzogchen, something which seems easier for me to focus on in this present life of mine. In fact, Namkhai Norbu has said they are different and have different realizations (unless I am remembering wrong, but I don't think so). Perhaps Zen is the method for me, even if my Dzogchen teacher says it is not quite what Dzogchen teaching is trying to teach.

It is funny, though, because I realize Zen students have the same frustrations I have been going through. It's probably just part of sticking with one thing long enough.

I am going to keep reading and learning about Zen through practice in addition to my other non-Zen practices. I'm not going to give one up for the other and bounce around accomplishing nothing, but it does seem like Zen exposure is helping me see things in a new light which has improved my general outlook.

 :listen: Open to any feedback until I can figure out what more I might say on this topic.
Title: Re: Philosophy of Dzogchen and Zen
Post by: Monkey Mind on March 19, 2013, 03:48:08 pm
Welcome to FreeSangha, YBSS
Title: Re: Philosophy of Dzogchen and Zen
Post by: Yellowbellied Sapsucker on March 19, 2013, 07:26:27 pm
thanks!
Title: Re: Philosophy of Dzogchen and Zen
Post by: dyanaprajna2011 on March 23, 2013, 09:21:34 am
I've noticed some major similarities between Zen and Dzogchen.  There are differences, of course, but they are both rooted in the teachings of the Buddha.  Jonang is another one that comes close to the same.

As far as dharma being found in other religions, I have an interesting story along those lines.  A few years ago, a friend of my fiance got me a book for Christmas, about a study of the journals of famous Quakers.  I read this book, and thought that it was basically Zen using Christian terminology.  I was quite impressed with it.  I've also found traces of dharma in such views as that of Catholic monk Thomas Merton, to the Naqshbandi school of Islamic Sufism, to even ancient Greek philosophers such as Plato and Hereclitus and Parmenides.  The dharma truly is everywhere, if we only know where to look.
Title: Re: Philosophy of Dzogchen and Zen
Post by: Spiny Norman on March 23, 2013, 09:27:37 am
A few years ago, a friend of my fiance got me a book for Christmas, about a study of the journals of famous Quakers.  I read this book, and thought that it was basically Zen using Christian terminology. 

Interesting.  I attend Quaker meditation meetings and I've noticed some parallels with Buddhism.  The language is different but in some ways it seems to be pointing to the same experience.
Title: Re: Philosophy of Dzogchen and Zen
Post by: sahaja on March 25, 2013, 01:40:35 am

Philosophy and logic?
A waste of time.

Why bother? It won't do any good.



I've just stumbled across a very interesting philosophical essay on "Zen and Dzogchen: Unifying the Ground and Result" (interesting for those who enjoy this kind of writing, that is  :D ).

It's here: [url]http://davidpaulboaz.org/Stromata/Zen_and_Dzogchen.pdf[/url] ([url]http://davidpaulboaz.org/Stromata/Zen_and_Dzogchen.pdf[/url]).

If you are new to Dzogchen, don't be put off by the dense logic and technical terminology.

The actual practice of Dzogchen (in my experience) minimises the use of concepts and technical language. This essay is about Dzogchen, it isn't teaching Dzogchen.


I read "Zen and Dzogchen: Unifying the Ground and Result" after reading that post. I'd come across it several times this past year and thought to read it - some day. Maybe after i'd read the hundred or so books and papers i've downloaded. The advantage with this one is it's only 12 pages long! Not difficult at all, because even with the terminology it is in itself a glossary and ties the terms together and gives a bit of an overview and comparison of the schools. At least according to the author's view.

From page 9
"We must never forget the Tathagatas . . . the thousand Buddhas. There exist many, many ways for realized beings to manifest themselves and for the teaching to arise" (Chögyal Namkhai Norbu).

As Norbu says, there are many ways realized beings can manifest....perhaps within the sambogkya or within a physical body. Funny though, how humans will believe anything if it happened a thousand years ago or far away but never if it happens to their next door neighbor.

From page 8
"Therefore, the perennial Buddhist hermeneutical problem regarding sudden versus gradualist liberation is a false dichotomy. The above mentioned traditions all permit sudden enlightenment while utilizing a gradual path."

There are those who hold to the idea that all paths lead to the same place. Or as above, at least, that either method, gradual or sudden, or any school, at any time, one may 'reach the goal'.  Is Dzogchen presented as the only way, or just one more of many ways?

From page 9
"Is one nondual tradition ultimately superior to another? It depends on the view, relative or absolute. Sectarian bias, from gross to subtle, is natural to the relative view. As to the absolute view, “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one remains silent”.....

I don't know what that is trying to say, or the rest of the paragraph either. Up to the viewer? Dependent upon upon what you want to believe? How about just is one tradition superior to another, dualistic or not? Is Dzogchen the superior, highest path many hold it to be?
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