Quora answer: What’s the difference between Dzogchen and Mahayana Buddhism?

Feb 04 2012

As has been pointed out DzogChen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dzogchen) spans Tibetan Buddhism and Bon. Thus it has relations with what is Mahayana Buddhism and the Tibetan equivalent of Taoism. However, in their competition just like Taoism, Bon became a lot like Buddhism.

I spent about a year reading this literature trying to figure out the answer to this question. So this may not be right but it is at least based on a hearty attempt to understand this tradition.

For the most part I was very disappointed in the DzogChen ‘classics’ that have been translated and are now available. Sometimes because of their content and sometimes because of the low quality of the translations. One thing that I do not like is when a foreign religion is presented as a species of Western philosophy which happens all to often. And I am afraid that this is part of the problem here.

So in order to understand the answer to this question requires quite a bit of background, some of which I have covered elsewhere, so I will not belabor these points here but merely mention them. My understanding is based on the first text of DzogChen in a classic translation by Manjushrimitra, and Beacon of Certainty by Mipham. But there was only one other book that I thought was decent and it was in the Bon tradition. That book was Unbounded wholeness: Dzogchen, Bon, and the logic of the nonconceptual By Anne C. Klein, Tenzin Wangyal

So my take on the subject is deeply influenced by this book which is the best I read out of all the secondary texts on the subject.

But in my reading I kept coming back to the work of Manjushrimitra (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ma%C3%B1ju%C5%9Br%C4%ABmitra) as being the key to this tradition. Slowly I started to get a handle on what he was saying and it is very interesting.

http://www.amnyitrulchung.org/lineage/masters/Manjushrimitra/

The crux of the matter is that Manjushrimitra does to Mahayana Buddhism what Nagarjuna did for Mahayana Buddhism in general. Thus in some ways Manjushimitra is just like Nagarjuna but applying his logic to Buddhism itself and the idea of the Two truths, just as Nagarjuna applied his analysis to the relation between Illusion and Buddhist Emptiness. The reason it can be practiced by both Buddhists as the ultimate school and truth and by Bon is that it is a heresy of Buddhism that denies the Two truths (mundane and absolute, i.e. emptiness).

Be sure you do not read Mañjuśrīmitra. Primordial experience. An Introduction to rDzogs-chen Meditation. (Translated by Namkhai Norbu and Kennard Lipman in collaboration with Barrie Simmons. Shambhala, Boston & London, 2001) first like I did. It is a very bad translation. There is another more traditional translation on the web which makes much more sense as a whole. This book was translated as each sentence was separate from all the others and makes no sense at all.

Better to read this more traditional translation.
http://www.dharmafellowship.org/library/texts/cultivation-of-enlightened-mind.htm

I would also be aware that the work of ELÍAS MANUEL CAPRILES ARIAS at http://webdelprofesor.ula.ve/humanidades/elicap/en/ is tainted by reducing Dzogchen to a form of Western Philosophy which I think is merely a form of Orientalism. However, his work contains a lot of useful information as long as you don’t accept his conclusion that DzogChen is basically saying what Sartre said.

Now that we have my prejudices out of the way, we can start laying the ground work for understanding the relation of DzogChen to both Mahayana Buddhism and the equivalent of Taoism or Shintoism, i.e. Bon. I think some how the Bon version of Dzogchen did not get as corrupted as the Buddhist version and thus still makes sense. I am assuming that Mipham was right in his Beacon of Certainty and that he did not lose the thread between his time and that of Manjushrimitra. I am also assuming that Tenzin Wangyal is essentially the only person I could find who seems to have stayed on the same wavelength that is alive today. If this is not true then I really don’t know what to make of the rest of it, because it is really a mess. I kinda assume that the anti-Dzogchen elements basically succeeded in stamping it out in Tibetan Buddhism and that what we have today in Tibetan Buddhism is a sad shadow of what Dzogchen once was. However, if DzogChen has the character that I have interpreted it to have then it is incredibly important, and at least in the work of formulating this hypothesis, true or not, I learned a lot.

So we have to start at the very beginning. Buddhism is a heresy of the Indo-European tradition, i.e. the Hindu branch in India along with Jainism. Basically the way things work in traditions is that there is some set of primordial opposites that get produced, and the tradition tries every single variation and permutation of these in some random order. Structuralism assumes that over time every possible combination of these primordial structural distinctions will be tried and that they form a field, and that any one of these configurations can only have meaning in relation to the whole field of possible configurations. This goes on with competing views within society until someone stumbles on the idea that beyond all possible permutations there is another possibility that is not part of the field, and in fact has no place in the map of the field, and that is nonduality. It is only accessed by what is called supra-rationality. And since our worldview is basically dualistic and its only recognized limit is contradiction, paradox, absurdity and its principle is non-contradiction and excluded middle, this nondual possibility means nothing to us, we say, but then historically we have killed anyone who held this kind of opinion or belief, so it must have some importance. Its importance is that once you go into nonduality, all duals cease to be effective and power systems tend to crumble. So a good example is Meister Eckhart, who was targeted by the inquisition, but they did not get to him before he died. He definitely had a nondual position and the only reason he escaped the inquisition is that death claimed him first unlike many others who were put to death.

Now Nondual means Not One! Not Two! The best introductory book on the subject is that of Loy called Nonduality.

The only problem with Loy is that he considers Monism to be nondual, and so we definitely reject that idea. Monism and Duality are themselves duals, so nonduality has to be nondual all the way down, not just at the surface level of concepts.

Now the dynamic which has played out in the major traditions we know is that there is dualism such as that in confucianism, and eventually someone comes up with the concept of nonduality as in Taoism, and then this causes problems because no set of dichotomies can capture the nondual position which is outside the combinatorial field but precisely nowhere, nowhen. Basically dualisms cannot handle this position and it escapes their net, and so it is very dangerous and disruptive. In China we see this in a pure form because Chinese is a non-Indo-European language with no Being in it and also based on Masses with a Mass logic. So it is a kind of pure case, and with the recent documents that were discovered that gives us insight into court Taoism we know a lot now about the dynamics between Confucianism and Taoism that was eventually suppressed in the tradition. There was developed in the Chinese tradition a rapprochement between these two irreconcilable views with the idea that you were a confucian as long as you were in office but became a Taoist when you left service among the upper classes. This dichotomy was reinforced by the destruction of all the court Taoism texts. So nonduality as the ultimate heresy was pushed to the periphery. But still played a cultural role as an escape valve from the pressure cooker of Confucian dualism. Also Confucianism had some pieces that could be interpreted nondually and so it was possible if you were really smart to be a Confucian Taoist as we see in Knowledge Painfully Acquired by Lo Chen Shun.


The nondual in Taoism is the Void, which is basically empty space and called Wuji, the absolute (literally no ridgepole) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wu_wei) or Wu Wei NonAction (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wu_wei) It does not mean doing nothing, but means acting with the Tao or Way in a way that produces Te or virtue. (in more modern texts these transliteration ‘T’s are ‘D’s) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tao)

In a completely different Indo-European tradition in India, the Buddha had a similar idea that was outside the combinatorics of structural distinctions in the Hindu tradition. But here there was a different factor because the Indo-European is unique among languages because of the grammatical presence of the concept of Being (Sat). Buddha believed that the ego had no Being, and was thus Empty. He did not claim this for the other Dharmas (Tattvas). But this was a crucial turning point in the Indian intellectual history. This was amazingly disruptive within the Indo-European tradition. This is because unlike in Taoism Buddhism was a rejection of the central concept and central grammatical construct in the Sanscrit and other related Indo-European languages that were dominant in northern India. But on the other hand there was also the non-Indo-European influences of the marginalized Tamil and other languages. We can see that in the adoption of the idea from the Tamil tradition of Tattvas as a central concept called the Dharma. How deep this influence from the south was I don’t know but it could be that the idea of confronting Existence and escaping Being could have come from the relationship between northern and southern cultures. But it is more likely that it was a sui generis discovery which then called on those resources after the discovery was made. For instance it is interesting that Buddhism continued to be strong in Shri Lanka and other southern countries like Thailand. Buddhism was definitely a counter cultural trend that appealed to non-Indo-European speakers who had interaction with Indo-Europeans who considered themselves superior and were dominant politically and culturally in India.

Eventually Hinayana Buddhism transformed into Mahayana Buddhism as some of the contradictions within Buddhism. So for instance all Dharmas were seen as Empty. And the ideal of the BoddhiSattva replaced the idea of the Buddha. And Buddhism became more and more philosophically sophisticated. This was helped by the fact that although Sanscrit was an Indo-European language it had a Mass Logic rather than the Syllogistic Set based logic, and so Sanscrit could handle very sophisticated ideas of pervasion relationships unlike Greek Logic. There were many kinds of Mahayana philosophical schools as the tradition explored the space opened up by introducing a nondual idea of emptiness at the center of an Indo-European worldview. Buddhism carried over a lot from the Indo-European Hindu worldview, and transformed it in light of the rejection of the concept of Being and the fundamental turn toward existence as primary while Being was seen as an illusion (Maya, Mara). This challenged the central concept within Hindu philosophy SAT or Being. SAT CITTA ANANDA. Being Consciousness Bliss. Atman was seen as the ultimate transhuman actor of consciousness (What is seen through everybody’s eyes) and the Buddhists declared ASAT and ANATMAN negating these key concepts of Being and the WorldSoul. The key character in this challenge of the Buddhists to Hindu assumptions was Nagarjuna. He was a skeptic that just deconstructed everything and tried to show that everything was empty. But his major success was the attack on logic itself, showing that there were primordial discontinuities in logic between AND, OR, NOT where emptiness lived, so that emptiness could not be separated from Logic itself. This convinced the Indians that they could not escape nondualism and so under the auspices of Shankara’s reinterpretation of the Upanishads based on the idea of emptiness AS Being they reabsorbed this dangerous philosophy and thus saved logic, and Buddhism faded away in India. But it continued to be strong in South Asia, China and Tibet, all non-Indo-European contexts to which it was transfered and which it found to be a natural milieu because of the lack of Being as a central concept in those languages and cultures.

What is significant is that in Tibet the Buddhist tradition lived on as it waned elsewhere and continued to have very erudite scholars and great philosophers who continued to develop the Buddhist tradition understanding it and adding to it Tantric strands taken over from Hinduism. In Tantrism you actually visualize deities and other powers and then see them as Empty, so it mixes in a strange way the projection of the illusions of Being and the philosophy of Emptiness. It is out of Tantrism in Tibet that Majushrimitra comes. He is trying to give a foundation for the MahaMudra and other Tantric practices. In a way Tantrism is the reabsorption of Maya back into the religion, but to reabsorb it you ultimately need to go to the next higher meta-level and at that meta-level the two truths must go. So what Manjushrimitra does is basically reapply the logic of Nagarguna back to Buddhism itself and denies the duality of the two truths, so that in fact Buddhism evaporates. And at the same time the difference between Void in Bon/Taoism and Emptiness in Buddhism evaporates. It is thought of as the supreme school of Buddhism because it is something that takes you beyond the limits of Buddhism back to something more like Taoism. It is as if in DzogChen Taoism swallows up Buddhism instead of the opposite. There are some schools in China like Tien Tai and Hua Yen of Fa Tsang that come close to doing the same thing, by keeping distinct the ideas from Buddhism and Taosim but finding a middle way between them. One of the most interesting characters in this movement is StoneHouse who was a Taoist and Zen Monk and Hermit who wrote poetry. In his poetry there is sometimes one line of emptiness and then the next line of Void. This kind of fine distinction between emptiness and void and its interleaving is a very sophisticated way of looking at existence, and I believe that unadulterated DzogChen is a philosophical counterpart of this kind of sophistication that goes beyond Buddhism to re-appropriate Taoism. And similarly it can be used to go beyond Taoism to re-appropriate Buddhism. It hints that there is a deeper kind of nonduality that goes beyond both Emptiness and Void. And if this is true this is very deep. We can call this the fourth turning of the Wheel of Dharma. The first was Hinayana, second was Mahayana, third was Tantrayana, and fourth is DzogChen/Hua Yen/Tien Tai which although very different from each other are all pointing to this next level of nonduality.

Now what I want to do is attempt to consider the relation between this fourth turning of the Wheel and what I call the Homeward Path, i.e. the idea that the Western Worldview has at its center a nondual core. We just mention briefly that the equivalent of this in the West is Sufism within the Western nondual heritage of Islam. Islam is just as disruptive in its nonduality within the extreme dualistic tradition of the West as Buddhism and Jainism was in India. This nondual aspect is only seen in Sufism, not in normal Islam which is just as bound to Aristotelianism as the Western Worldivew, because it is basically the same as the Western worldview, i.e. a thin veneer of religion over a deep foundation of Greek and Roman culture. Only difference is that it did not have its own Inquisition and it accepted the Christian Heretics in droves, and thus Sufism became a medley of non-dual beliefs that was allowed to persist at the heart of the Islamic religion. But this is not the core of our argument but only a side light to show that this problem of the advent of non-duality affects the Eurocentric Indo-European branch too. Developing a non-dual heresy is a global cultural phenomena within sophisticated cultures.

Now if we think about this Fourth turning of the wheel and the fact that there may be a deeper nonduality beyond Emptiness and Void, in relation to the Western worldview this give us a very interesting view of the possibilities of our worldview. The Western worldview is fragmented and dualisitic outwardly, but inwardly nondual. Tibetan Buddhism has transfered itself to the USA due to the Chinese invasion of Tibet. Tibetan Buddhism because it is a continuous living tradition from the Buddha down to the present day has a lot of vitality. But, of course, because it is very old and has a lot of things mixed up in it from different periods this form of Buddhism is a real mess. And the fact that DzogChen does not seemed to have survived whole within it, at least judging from the texts, makes the whole thing somewhat problematic. However, we hope that somewhere in there a thread of the fourth turning of the wheel exists. However, we can at least point to one one Bon practitioner who seems to be elucidating the same point of view as Mipham and Manjushrimitra. The key is that because the fourth turning is free of any particular nondual surface phenomena such as we see in Buddhism or Taoism that can be dual to other nondual approaches. The Fourth Turning is purely nondual and it is not even dual with other non-dualities. So it is a fundamentally trans-religious approach. When this comes into contact in some real way, being embodied by someone who is in a line of transmission, with the Western worldview then interesting things should happen, because the Western worldview has a nondual core. The Homeward Path is the embodying of the fourth turning at the core of the Western worldview.

Buddhism is a fundamentally Indo-European phenomena. Because the West has eliminated physically anyone who advocated anything like nondual paths before this is why in modern times when traditional religious views have waned there is a fascination with nondual religions. Among these Buddhism is the one which was from the first adapted to the Indo-European worldview and has a structure based on the levels of nonduality within that worldview. So when DzogChen/Tien Tai/Hua Yen (the theory behind Chan/Zen) comes to the West it immediately goes to the core of the worldview. But since the fourth turning is not dependent on any religion, and the Western worldview is so based on religion as a determining differentiation, it is as if this fourth turning completely slips though the net of distinctions that the Western worldview is based upon. It does not matter what Nondual tradition you adopt, the matter of the deeper nondual is the same for all of them if it can be indicated in any of them. Buddhism has found several ways to indicate the fourth turning. Sufism has its own ways of indicating it. But whether you are Buddhist, Sufi, Taoist, Bon, or any other truly nondual way, the forth turning level is the same, it is utterly nondual even in its nonduality. So it is impossible to pin down in any one Nondual Way. In this way Tibetan Buddhists, Bon practitioners, Sufis, Taoists, Zen Buddhists, etc are all on the same path in some sense. Of course, it is mandatory to be on some particular spiritual path in order to make progress. In other words this is not a repudiation of Non-dual paths, and also it is not saying that all Spiritual paths end up at the same place, because they don’t. But it merely says that the Fourth Turning of the wheel indicates a state which can be attained in any Path where the nondual nature is perfect and whole and utterly nondual in every respect. Such a nonduality cannot be captured by any one path. And it is expected that this path when embodied and transmitted will have profound effects on the Western worldview because of the worldview’s nondual core.

So now lets talk about the nondual core of the Western worldview for a little while. The concept that has always been prominent in the Western worldivew is that Being is One, there is one supreme concept built into the language, organizing everything which is unified and totalized. Being is the highest concept but also the most empty, but on the other hand it actually organizes everything though the aspects of Being which are Identity, Presence, Truth and Reality. But when we look more carefully we see that Being is in fact Being is fragmented into the Meta-levels (Pure, Process, Hyper, Wild, and Ultra). And due to this fragmentation of Being we can show that Emptiness is there in the discontinuities between the meta-levels or kinds of Being, and between the aspects of Being. Basically anywhere that there are fundamental discontinuities we can posit the presence of emptiness as the discontinuity. So just like emptiness is there in the fundamental distinctions between the logical operators so to it is there between the discontinuities between the kinds of Being. And thus emptiness is present in the core of Being, i.e. in its meta-levels.

Another important point is that the meta-levels of Being are like stairs to nowhere. It turns out that there is a phase transition as you go up the stairs of the meta-levels at the fifth meta-level into existence. Ultra Being is what being looks like from the point of view of Existence, i.e. a singularity, and because of the uniqueness of Being in Indo-European languages alone we can see that singularity as a unique feature of this family of languages. But also at the Fifth meta-level we see two interpretation of existence that stand out as Emptiness or Void, and Ultra Being is the Domain Wall between these two kinds of nonduality.

This shows up in DzogChen. Void is like Spacetime without anything in it. Emptiness is defined by interiority. So Void is the the physical lack of anything except the singular existence of spacetime everywhere. This is why the Taoists only believe in nature and the alignment with nature and they reduce consciousness and sociality to nature. This can be seen in the works of the court Taoists recently recovered. On the other hand Buddhists do not believe in the physical reality of the world, but reduce everything to consciousness which at base is seen as empty. All things are empty because they are transient states in consciousness, and they have no reality beyond that. Physical things are reduced to their phenomenal appearance in consciousness and then are seen to be empty aggregates. Of course, both of these views are true. But the interesting thing is that we know from studying Bose Einstein condensates that there are different kinds of singularity. You can have point singularities, vortices which are around string singularities, and you can have two dimensional singularities which are domain walls. Space can be broken up into different pockets with different characteristics separated by domain walls. Ultra Being is a singularity that with respect to Void acts as a domain wall that produces various cells of interiority which have the character of emptiness. Basically Void is unstriated nonduality and Emptiness is striated nonduality. Both of these kinds of nonduality separated by illusory domain walls of Ultra Being, i.e. dual kinds of nonduality, both are the same, and that sameness is what is indicated by DzogChen, Hua Yen, Tien Tai and other paths that indicate the fourth turning of the wheel of the Dharma. Notice that the turnings of the wheels of the Dharma are a lot like the meta-levels of Being. However, Existence is unstriated while Being is striated. So Existence in itself has no differentiation into Emptiness or Void. Rather these are different interpretations of Existence as intrinsically nondual. However, be that as it may we can still see that Hinayana Buddhism corresponds to the level of Pure Being, i.e. with Nirvana and escape from the wheel of Samsara we are trying to reach some sort of permanent state of non-being free from birth and death. With Mahayana we have something like Process Being where the goal is that of the Bodhisattva and not the Buddha. In other words the Bodhisattva vows to enter Nirvana only after all other Sentient beings have entered, so the Bodhisattva takes part in the infinite process of the unfolding of Karma and has resigned himself to continual rebirth inorder to help all other beings, thus attaining humility and compassion. And in fact this is seen as a higher kind of enlightenment than Nirvana. There is no thought of Pari-Nirvana anytime soon.

Tantrayana is a lot like Hyper Being. I really don’t understand why Buddhists would want mess with illusion again doing tantric practices, once illusion has been left behind. Calling up images of deities only to see them as empty seems counter productive. But if you put this in the context of Hyper Being or what Derrida calls Difference then I can make from sense. If Emptiness is Form and Form is Emptiness then playing with the relation between form and emptiness is certain to give you more insight into the distinction between the two and how that distinction keeps slip sliding away. However, playing with this distinction can devolve into Magic. So there is a danger.

Now when we come to the Fourth Turning we are really in new territory that has not been explored completely. But this is a lot like Wild Being. When we say that these kinds of emptiness are a lot liken the kinds of Being what we are really saying is that these various kinds of emptiness are the antidotes for the sorts of illusion represented by the particular meta-level of Being. In other words Emptiness has an antidote for each kind of Being. Wild Being is the most fragmented, and the most difficult to think kind of Being. Its image is the Mandelbrot Set. The emptiness is the lack of continuity between the points in the Mandelbrot set that comes from Complex numbers and the loss of the unity of the conjugate that occurs in the advent of imaginary numbers. At this level each point has a line of flight, that is its acceleration toward infinity, which gives it an intensity that represents the coloring of the Mandelbrot set. In the Mandelbrot set you can see how the pattern is shot through with emptiness. You can also see how that permeation by emptiness is infinitely deep, it is at every level no matter how much you zoom in. And there are equivalent three and four dimensional analogs at the levels of the Quaternions and the Octonions. This is the analogy for Wild Being. Wild Being is very hard to think. It is basically a two dimensional imaginary plane. In Western Philosophy this level has been explored by Deleuze, but also John S. Hans, and others who have tried to develop philosophies at this level of Being. What is clear is that at each of these higher levels of Being the cracks and discontinuities in Being become more prevalent and thus the emptiness is much more easy to see. So at the Hyper Being level there are discontinuities that appear in the play of DifferAnce, but at the Wild Being level the whole imaginary plane is shot through with separation between the points that each have their intensity and line of flight acceleration.

This brings us to a speculation that beyond this fourth turning there is a fifth turning, that we have not gotten to yet which is like Ultra Being. We will not explore that here but the possibility of yet another turning is important to recognize.

So back to the question. The difference between Mahayana and Dzogchen must take into account that between the second turning and the fourth turning there is the tuning of the wheel of the Dharma related to Tantrayana. Dzogchen is a specific departure in an orthogonal direction from Tatrayana. And so there is no specific difference between Mahayana and Dzogchen, outside of the difference between Mahayana and Tantrayana and between Tatrayana and DzogChen. To understand this difference in question we must understand the other differences. These differences between the different turnings of the wheel of the Dharma are the striations of emptiness, its own fragmentation into kinds. But Existence has no differentiation, and so that means that these kinds of emptiness only appear to be there in response to the specific needs of the kinds of Being, each kind of Being needs its own antidote. The difference in these two turnings of the wheel of the Dharma depends on the depth of illusion (Being) that you are addressing.

This takes us to the concept of the Alayavijyana (Storehouse Consciousness) as we see in the Awakening of Faith. In that storehouse is laid down the seeds of karma and we can see that these seeds are probably working at the Wild Being level. The Seeds are intensities laid down within the emptiness itself which later sprout forms. Here again the Mandelbrot set gives us an interesting model. The points in the Imaginary plane do not move, but it is only their self iteration that allows us to measure their escape velocity toward infinity along their recursive line of flight. But when we look across the various points that are near each other we see the pattern that they make together which is fractal, and changing at each level of zooming in, and this zooming in goes on forever. The patterning never ends is ever changing now matter how deeply you go, but none of the points ever change or move, they are there frozen forever, there intensity is only recalled when they are recursively iterated upon. This model of the Storehouse Consciousness is the way the relation between karma and emptiness are understood. Normally you would think that with emptiness there can be no Karma which requires continuity and substance to carry the fate of the reincarnating individual. But here we see that it is possible for those seeds of karma to be laid down in the emptiness itself, only activated again to form a pattern with adjacent points if their recursive iteration allows them to be reactivated.

Now back to the Western Worldview. For each meta-level of illusion, i.e. Kind of Being there is an antidote with a turning of the wheel and a reinterpretation of emptiness. There is a perfect isomorphism here because Buddhism came from the Indo-European wordview and retains its internal structure with respect to the levels of nonduals within its core. Those nonduals are Order, Right, Good, Fate, Sources, Root. So Buddhism addresses each of these levels with a kind of Emptiness. The emptiness disrupts the dualistic surface phenomena of the worldview and allows the inner light of the worldview’s core to shine through. The positive fourfold of the worldview is Heaven/Earth//Mortals//Immortals as defined by Socrates and taken up by Heidegger. However, it is the negative fourfold given to us in the theogony of Aristophanes in the Birds which says that the first principles were Chaos, Abyss, Night and Covering. When we reverse these we get Order, Ground, Light, and Uncovering (Aleithia, Process level truth). So the first nondual is Order which is one of the first principles on which the worldview was founded. The successive nonduals take us deeper into the core of the worldview. Grounding is the attempt at self-grounding of the worldview in Being which always turns out impossible, and thus emptiness appears as this impossibility go ground ourselves and thought. When the emptiness disrupts the surface dualism then it is seen as a burst or Novum of White Light. This is the light of consciousness itself with which the emptiness is identified. Finally, the emptiness unlocks the truth at each of the meta-levels of Being. And that Truth is simultaneously  a Reality, Presence and Identity. This is called Prajna.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisdom_in_Buddhism)

Because Existence itself is unstriated. In some sense there is no difference between the kinds of emptiness that appears in response to the various meta-levels of Being. So in a sense there is no difference between Hinayana, Mahayana, Tantrayana, DzogChen, etc. These differences are only apparent because emptiness itself is only striated to the extent that the homeopathic medicine for each deeper sort of illusion supported by the meta-levels of Being are different. We are talking here of deeper and deeper miasms of illusion with each level having its own homeopathic level of cure. Emptiness is reinterpreted in the context of each deeper miasm to which it brings a homeopathic cure. But Existence itself is unchanged by these reinterpretations in light of the meta-levels of Being.

Now when we bring this back again to the Western worldview and its fragmentation, darkness, groundlessness, disorder and conflict, and covering up of the truth through the nihilism it produces, we see that the emptiness at each level of Being has the cure for the Maya/Mara that exists at that level, and each of the levels in turn. Thus the five turnings of the wheel of Dharma correspond to what is necessary to unlock the nonduality at the core of the Western worldview itself. And by the way, each of our selves are built on that same structure because we are beings-in-the-world, In other words the Worldview is the same structure as that of our Self. So deconstructing the worldview though the various turnings of the wheel of the Dharma is tantamount to the deconstruction of the self by a homeopathic tincture or a ruse or skillful means of one kind or another appropriate to the situation of the person who is seeking enlightenment. Now if we posit that DzogChen is the fourth turning of the wheel of Dharma, then we can know that there is at least one more turning of that wheel before it goes full circle. That is the fifth turning which accesses the deepest level of nonduality. It is interesting that this turning does not appear to have happened in the history of Buddhism so far. Buddhism in DzogChen transcends itself. The only place to go after that is back to the immanence within itself. The fifth turning of the wheel of Dharma is that which brings it back to the beginning. It answers the call of Ultra Being by revealing beyond the deeper nondual of manifestation, the essence of manifestation. For this terminology we should look at M. Henry’s Essence of Manifestation who basis his work on Meister Eckhart and his theory of the Godhead and its emptiness, which is like a boiling desert with no limits. If we call the deeper nondual between Void/Emptiness manifestation, then there is only beyond that the Amanifest. In the Amanifest the singularity of Ultra Being as the existence of Being evaporates. Emptiness and void become the same thing, and as is said in DzogChen “Mind is like Space.” The source of manifestation is not the unmanifest, the so called Essence of Manifestation, but instead the even deeper nondual of the Amanifest.

What all of this says is that in the difference between DzogChen and Mahayana arises the Tantrayana. And out of Tatrayana arises DzogChen a heresy of Buddhism, that is freed from the constraints of any one nondual way, and thus is practiced by Bon practitioners as well. But freedom from the specific nondual paths is not the end of the story. There is a fifth turning of the wheel yet to be discovered and explored which I call the Homeward path, it is the path back to the nondual heart of the Western worldview beyond all its superficial dualism. Stand in that core and you are finally at home with your Self.

 

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