Malcolm wrote:It is best if we agree to disagree.
Sure, no problem.
It could only be gradual if you consider sems sde gradual (it isn't).
No, it's the presentation of the teachings going first through Semdé, then Longdé, etc. which is gradual. This is not how this Testament is usually taught.
Instead, it is scheme outlining the intention of the three series in very broad strokes.
Only in ChNN Rinpoche's view, not in that of other masters and commentators.
Dzogchen is a kind of knowledge: you either have it or you don't.
Sure but it's also a Path.
To the extent that there is a path in Dzogchen, that path consists of discovering what you have not discovered.
Not only, it deals with becoming familiar with what you were not. The DC usually forget about the Tsel of Rigpa and the related practice. This is the core of Dzogchen through Semdé, Longdé and Men-ngakdé.
This is the reason for the special preliminaries as I am sure you will agree.
Yes sure, but not only, these preliminaries have purposes too.
So, there is a path to discovering this knowledge, but it is not really gradual in the sense of gathering the two accumulations and so on as in sutra and tantra.
The understanding is not gradual, nobody said so. But it takes an entire life to become so familiar with the dynamic nature of the state to reach its ultimate expression. So it's gradual. Those who went from the 1st to the 4th vision are more than quite rare in the entire history of Dzogchen. For the 99,99 per cent remaining, including giganticly advanced masters, there is a path to follow. This Path is explained in the entire Dzogchen literature and it's its purpose. Any Path is gradual, even terribly abrupt ones. This is why Trekcho is a View and Thogel a Meditation (or a Path depending on authors).