I think the myths and legends found in Buddhism and Bon are important. They lend a sense of place and tradition. But when it comes to making truth claims on the basis of these myths and legends, this is where the trouble begins. For example, Virupa lived in the late 9th century. It is claimed he stopped the sun for three days while he and his two companions were on a drinking spree. You'd think that such a major astronomical event would be recorded somewhere in the world...but it isn't. Ergo, legend.shagrath wrote: ↑Sun Jan 12, 2020 3:00 pmThat is great thought. I agree with you 100%. Just like historicity of e.g. christianity or judaism. Faithful can say outrageous things from Bible, and then comes historian Bart Ehrman and slaps them with facts.Malcolm wrote: ↑Sun Jan 12, 2020 2:23 pmI think it is useful to divided our narratives into myths (Buddhas living in past eons), legends, (stories of mahāsiddhas, possibly historical people embedded in fantastic stories, Milarepa comes to mind, Gyerphung Lodpo, 25 disciples of Guru P, etc.,) and history (things that can be verified with empirically available facts). If people structured their thinking to slot parts of narratives into these different categories, then this would go a along way towards eliminating sectarian conflicts.
Two things come in mind:
1. Do you think that learning history is detrimental for dzogchen practice? Does one can go further into practice not caring about it?
2. What authors would you recommend for scientific approach to history of bön, dzogchen, nyingma, mahamudra, tibetan culture, etc?
But when we find evidence in Indian treatises refuting Śṛī Simha by name, we have to conclude Śṛī Simha was at the head of a genuine movement within Indian Buddhism in the mid-8th century called in Tibet, "rdzogs chen," and that whether one wants to accept the traditional accounts as facts or not, no one can deny the existence of Śṛī Simha nor can they deny he was the teacher of Vairocana. One can certainly debate what Dzogchen might have constituted at this early period, but we cannot deny that what took shape in Tibet as "rdzogs chen" is grounded in Indian Vajrayāna of the mid-8th century. The contemporary record of Bonpo documents from the same period (eighth century) however, do not reveal any teachings even remotely resembling Buddhism, let alone rdzogs chen. The conclusion most students of history will then draw is that the Bonpos borrowed and adapted much Buddhist material to their own set of cultural narratives, much as Taoists in China borrowed and adapted much Buddhism to their own cultural narratives.
This does not mean that Buddhists did not borrow Bonpo innovations in Dzogchen. As I point out in the intro to my forth-coming translation of the Blazing Lamp Tantra and its commentary, the scheme of six lamps is utterly absent from any Nyingma tantras in the Nyingma rgyud 'bum (for example, the term dkar 'jam rtsa is absent, etc.). On the Buddhist side of things, the six lamps seem first to appear in Longchenpa's Lama Yang thig and Zab mo yang thig in a set of texts called snyan brgyud. Since we know that there was interaction between Buddhists and Bonpos, especially between Nyingmapas and Bonpos, and since we know that Zhang Zhung Snyan Brgyud was written down after the seventeen tantras were revealed, but before Longchenpa, and given that the six lamps form a major part of that ZZNG textual cycle, the appearance of a similar list (though not precisely identical in all details) in Longchenpa's oeuvre bearing the title "snyan brgyud" leads one to speculate that Buddhists borrowed the scheme of six lamps from ZZNG and modified it to suit themselves. However, it is notable that in the Seven Treasures, there is no presentation at all of six lamps, only four. At present, the schemes of four and six lamps are very standard in various Buddhist Dzogchen curriculums. The scheme of six lamps earned its Buddhist canonicity from Longchenpa and also from the 15th century Zhitro cycle of Karma Lingpa.