Johnny Dangerous wrote:
While the article is as sensible as everything he writes, I wouldn't say "The Buddha never endorsed non duality", there are plenty of phrases from the Pali Canon that could be said to go in that direction.
That's fair. Here's how Bhikkhu Bodhi put it:
The teaching of the Buddha as found in the Pali canon does not endorse a philosophy of non-dualism of any variety, nor, I would add, can a non-dualistic perspective be found lying implicit within the Buddha's discourses.
There are, of course, different definitions of non-duality, and the passage you cited may not address the kind that he (or I) normally associate with Mahayana or Advaita.
Anyway, the point I'm making is this: Dzogchen probably incorporated Buddhist terminology only after arriving in Tibet. If you want to claim that your tradition is legitimately Buddhist, that's something you have to do. Similarly, Advaita had to use the terms Atman and Brahman, and map them at least partially to the Hindu descriptions given before. "Well sure, we still have a self! But, uh, ... it is seen to have always been an illusion."
I'll go ahead and reiterate comparisons I made earlier:
When the reflection of Atman falls on avidya (ignorance), atman becomes jīva — a living being with a body and senses. Each jiva feels as if he has his own, unique and distinct Atman, called jivatman. The concept of jiva is true only in the pragmatic level. In the transcendental level, only the one Atman, equal to Brahman, is true.
More-or-less directly translated in Buddhist jargon: when Buddha-nature encounters ignorance, ego manifests. Each ego feels distinct, but this is only the way it looks from the relative level. On the absolute level, only the one Buddha-nature, equal to the Dharmadhatu, is true.
And once again, Dharmata:
In its very origin suchness is of itself endowed with sublime attributes. It manifests the highest wisdom which shines throughout the world, it has true knowledge and a mind resting simply in its own being. It is eternal, blissful, its own self-being and the purest simplicity; it is invigorating, immutable, free... Because it possesses all these attributes and is deprived of nothing...
How Buddhist does that sound to you? Meanwhile, Atman ("Self") and Brahman:
Atman is the fundamental, ultimate, eternal, immutable pure consciousness. Thus, it appears that Brahman is the ultimate reality behind all world-objects and Atman is pure spirit in all beings. Truly speaking, both Brahman and Atman are not different realities. They are identical. For practical purposes, they are referred to separately, which they are not. They are the eternal, all-pervading realities underlying all existence. They are two different ‘labels’ for one and the same reality behind all the objects, all matter, all beings of the universe.
The Mind in terms of the Absolute is the one World of Reality and the essence of all phases of existence in their totality. That which is called "the essential nature of the Mind" is unborn and is imperishable. It is only through illusions that all things come to be differentiated. ... therefore all things ... are only of the One Mind.
Oops, sorry -- that last one was from the same semi-canonical Mahayana scripture
Anyway, it would be silly for me to say that Advaita is identical to Buddhism -- there's no one thing called Buddhism. But it's not such a stretch to say that its fruit and methods (if not jargon) fall within the spread of Mahayana.
Ultimately there is no Self standing apart from reality; it's just a label Advaita adopted to fit within Hindu soteriology. Just as in Buddhism, it must be seen through.
Edit: it's unfair for me to say that Advaita "adopted" the label. What I should have said is that it had to keep the label, even if it didn't jibe with the average Hindu's notion of an independent, substantial soul.