Ugi: Just recently I told a friend that modern Zazen is pretty much Atiyoga without pointing-out instructions.
I have immense love and deep karmic connection with zen but at the same time I think honesty is more important than allegiance for training systems, i.e. traditions. Getting disillusioned about that was really hard for me back in the day. I sizzled on a frying pan for months with that.
So far, I have met only one buddhist mahasiddha in my life and that was Harada Tangen Roshi of Bukkokuji. He was the only zen buddhist buddha I’ve met, who had attained mahamudra, who was done, on the other shore. His photos and talks can be found online. He was nothing like the rest. A completely different kind of being! Even though I have trained with other really exceptional zen masters, who were great examples and had truly great spirit, I cannot say of them what I say of Tangen Roshi. I received transmission and verbal pointers from them but not the experience, and this I think makes it not “pointing-out instructions” as they are understood on vajrayana. Tangen Roshi on the other hand was a walking, living, breathing and talking pointing out instruction. He didn’t need to make any effort to point out. Question arises how did he attain buddhahood when most zen buddhists don’t? According to himself it was his post-war desperation, immense self-based suffering.
Pointing out instructions or direct introductions means that a teacher takes the student by the hand and shows it to him/her. Whether this is done symbolically (by holding up a dharma object for example), verbally, through touch or in silence, the main element in pointing out the nature of mind is energy. It is the energy of the awake mind that makes it happen, or not, if it is not there. This is why you can’t have any passerby read Longchenpa’s book aloud, hold up a vajra or slap people with a sandal and have people recognise their basic state, because that realisation and energy that comes with it, is absent. Without awake mind it is just theatre.
There are different types of atiyoga. There is the atiyoga before emptiness of all phenomena and after it. However,during the pre-emptiness stage, if and when the fog of substrate consciousness is not separated from the mind that is utterly clear and bright, that is not atiyoga… But that’s exactly what you see in zen dojos around the world. That is not fit to be called zazen either because zazen is supposed to be buddhanature recognition.
What always strikes me - whether it is in Zen or Mahamudra or Dzogchen - is the fact that great masters of all times always mentioned the poor state of Dharma practice in their respective times.
Reg. proper dharma in main stream. I don’t think anyone really even tried to make dharma main stream, like international. Many did try to make it main stream locally. They had compassion, no doubt about that, but whether any past master really tried to create and spread a system that would awaken, awaken more and fully awaken any devoted individual despite of gender, nationality and social status, I think that thought, if it ever even popped up in their minds, didn’t get far because of instant and obvious limitations and obstacles.
Internet and English as the most spoken language in the whole world makes a huge difference. They weren’t there until few decades ago. Also, when it comes to traditional buddhist dharma, there are still more people who only speak about their practice with their teachers, who would never even imagine discussing their practices or experiences in a blog or youtube, than those who do. There are also the vows of secrecy, that pretty much seals most of tb practices from the outer world. Also due to how they’ve been structured methods themselves in most cases require full time and attention, in the past basically becoming a monastic, to produce even some fruit.
At the same time, like you say, in all traditions and lineages has been adepts who complain about the low level of realisation in dharma.
Now, for the first time in history, it’s a different opportunity but it remains to be seen what the need is.