gregkavarnos wrote:Again a very skewed view on lineage. This is how the lineage system can be misused, it is not the aim of the lineage system. ... Milarepa and Gampopa? How much worldly power can a cave dwelling hermit actually practice?
Before the rise of the Kagyü school Rechungpa was believed to be the primary disciple of Milarepa, something that later was changed, although Gampopa was a monastic and spent only a year with Milarepa. Why? To strengthen the legitimacy of the Dakpo Kagyü. Gampopa also studied with other masters, but Milarepa is emphasised as the lineage master, because he was famous. Again, it's about creating legends and not about the actual sources Gampopa relied on. And this is the difference I'm talking about, between lineage and tradition. Highlighting a lineage is about propagating a tradition, creating a myth of origin, and giving a few people within the tradition special positions. Teachers who transmit different practices usually do so to a community of people as that is a reliable way to preserve the teaching. Vajrayana has this story about secretly whispered teachings, while in fact it is just part of the style of Tantra, nevertheless it is spread far and wide since the time it appeared in India and it's not hidden at all. Now you might say that still there are minor lineages that only a few people know of. However, when people here about very secretive transmissions, it is usually about claiming an immediate legitimacy to a new or neglected teaching - or you can say, to inspire faith, which is practically the same.
I agree that the tulku system has restricted the development of lineages, on the one hand, yet at the same time it also acted as a safeguard for the preservation of many practices. Thing is, nothing can 100% protect the practices and teachings from political currents better than a transmission lineage. Many practices were maintained outside of the political influence of the ruling spiritual elites of Tibet by beng passed from teacher to student. How, for example, did the Jonangpa manage to survive, or even many of the Bon teachings if not via whispered lineages?
A lineage, a linear transmission of authority from one man to another man, is actually easily corrupted or eliminated. Having a community of people is different, it can adapt and individuals are replaceable. Convincing a community to change their views is more difficult than changing one man's ideas. Although it is true that both centralised and decentralised organising have their advantages, the survival of a teaching is more likely with a larger number of dharma-bearers. I'm not very familiar with the history of the Jonang school, but it seems they have survived because of remote monasteries and not because there was a single hero preserving the teachings alone. At the same time, they were suppressed by a tulku lineage holder possessing political power - although blaming a single man is unfair, it takes a leader to have unquestioning followers.
Recorded commentaries exist and are due to the presence of the teacher that wrote them. The teachers received the instructions from...
You assume all commentators were members of a secret lineage. If there had been such a thing then uncertainty and variation in interpretation could not have occurred, not to mention all the changes over time.