gad rgyangs wrote: Namdrol wrote:
gad rgyangs wrote: the dzogchen presentation of the basis, what exactly it is or isnt, and how things arise from it, is intimately related to questions of just what a sentient being is, just what we are, what our awareness is, where it comes from, etc. none of this stuff is trivial.
Things dont rise from the basis. They arise from non-recognition of the basis, i.e. the parikalpita- avidyā.
what is it that fails to recognize the basis?
I have explained this now several ways. So, I'll try again: there are no sentient beings at the time of the latent basis, because all sentient beings, theoretically, acheived some kind of buddhahood in the last eon. The notion of the basis in Dzogchen man ngag sde is very similar to the Hindu idea of Pralaya. [In fact, in the term kun gzhi, ālaya, kun = ā, gzhi = laya. The term kun gzhi is distinguished from the term gzhi in Dzogchen, as you can easily find out, but the fact that gzhi is desceribed as the bardo of samara and nirvana is nothing if not telling. If someone is taking a text critical approach, they will note that there is a movement in Buddhist tantric texts in India in the late 9th through the 10th century in such texts as the Samputa tantra and the Kalacakra to borrow and repurpose some Samkhya concepts. Hence Dzogchen use of the term prakriti, etc.]
After the collapse of the previous universe, there are no buddhas and sentient beings -- and this is called the bardo of samsara and nirvana. Present in the latent basis however is a neutral awareness
which does not know itself.
Because of traces of action and affliction remain from previous universe, the basis is stirred, lights shine out, and they are either recognized or not, resulting in samasara and nirvana.
This neutral awareness is what happens when someone acheives an incomplete full awakening, for example an arhat or some other form of lesser iberation that can "return to the cause". This is why Dzogchen makes such a big deal about Dzogchen Buddhahood being one that "does not return to the cause".
have sentient beings existed since beginningless time alongside the basis, but not arising from it?
The Dzogchen answer is no. Sentient beings newly arise at the end of each bardo of samsara and nirvana.
How do they arise? They arise when neutral awarenesss in the basis makes the error of not recognizing the display of the a basis as its own display. The imputing ignorance results in self and other, the ālaya forms, the twelve links start up, samsara and nirvana divide. Etc.
As I mentioned above, Dzoghchen texts do not distinguish whether this neutral awareness in the basis is multiple or singular.
So this question is left for us to solve on our own: either the neutral awareness of basis is multiple, not entirely satisfying for a number of reasons, but this explains how there are individual mind streams from the start; or it is singular (not entirely satisfying for a number of reasons), but gets warped by the presence of trace afflictions into individuated sentient beings; or is it neither singular or multiple (not entirely satisfying for a number of reasons) and gets warped by the presence of trace afflictions into individuated sentient beings. In the last two scenarios, the inability of awakened people to completely eradicate all traces of afflictions leaves traces of affliction left over, where they act as seeds for new sentient beings. There is a passage in the Gongpa Zangthal that describes wisdom as "the accumulator of traces".
do the basis and sentient beings have a common origin?
No, the basis is self-originated wisdom; sentient beings arise from the condition of ignorance. The cause of their arising is the non-recognition of wisdom. Hence the term "buddhahood that returns the cause".