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= The Importance of Emptiness and Nāgārjuna's Madhyamaka in Dzogpachenpo =

From Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso:

"Furthermore, since one must rely on Nagarjuna’s reasonings in order to realize the essence of Dzogchen, it is the same for Mahamudra. Those who studied at the shedras (philosophical universities) in Tibet studied 'The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way' and Chandrakirti’s 'Entering the Middle Way' and other similar texts over the course of many years. Mahamudra and Dzogchen were not studied, however, because it is the Middle Way texts that are filled with such a vast array of different arguments and logical reasonings that one can pursue the study of them in a manner that is both subtle and profound. 

In the Mahamudra teachings as well, we find statements such as this one from Karmapa Rangjung Dorje’s Mahamudra Aspiration Prayer:

'As for mind, there is no mind! Mind is empty of essence'
If you gain certainty in mind’s emptiness of essence by analyzing it with the reasoning that refutes arising from the four extremes and with others as well, then your understanding of Mahamudra will become profound. Otherwise, you could recite this line, but in your mind it would be nothing more than an opinion or a guess.

If you study these reasonings presented in 'The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way', when you receive Mahamudra and Dzogchen explanations of emptiness and lack of inherent reality, you will already be familiar with what is being taught and so you will not need to learn anything new. Mipham Rinpoche composed a brief text called 'The Beacon of Certainty', in which he states: 'In order to have perfect certainty in "kadag" (primordial purity) one must have perfect understanding of the view of the Consequence or Prasangika school. Kadag, or original, primordial purity, is the view of Dzogchen, and in order to perfect that view, one must perfect one’s understanding of the Middle Way Consequence or Prasangika school’s view. What this implies is that the view of Dzogchen kadag and the view of the Consequence or Prasangika of Chandrakirti's school are the same."
From Tulku Tsullo's instruction on the view of Dzogchen:
"Therefore, whether in sutra or in tantra, there is consensus that the only direct antidote to the ignorance of clinging to things as real - which lies at the root of our karma and disturbing emotions - is the wisdom that realizes emptiness. So for Dzogchen practitioners, too, it is extremely important to realize emptiness."
The sgra thal gyur tantra states:
"Nonexistent therefore appearing, appearing therefore empty. The inseparable union of appearance and emptiness with its branches."
Zilnon Zhepa Tsal said:

"How could liberation be attained without realizing emptiness? And how could emptiness be realized without the Great Perfection [Dzogchen]? Who but I offers praise such as this?"
The Dalai Lama states:

"We need a special form of wisdom - the wisdom that realizes emptiness - to act as the direct antidote to the cognitive obscurations. Without this wisdom, which can be realized through the Great Perfection... we will not have the direct antidote to the cognitive obscurations. So this point is conclusive."
Khenchen Rigdzin Dorje [Chatral Rinpoche's heart disciple] states:
"The Madhyamika consider the Prasangik as the perfect Rangtong view. The Dzogchen trekcho view as Kadag (primordially pure view) and the Prasangik view is the same. The emptiness is the same, there is no difference... It is important to understand that the words primordially pure [kadag] is the Dzogchen terminology for the Prasangic Emptiness. [The ancient Nyingmapa Masters like Long Chenpa, Jigme Lingpa, Mipham, were] Prasangikas [Thalgyurpas]... the Prasangika Madhyamika sunyata [tongpanyid] and the Dzogchen sunyata are exactly the same. There is no difference. One hundred percent [the] same."
Longchenpa says:

"This system of the natural great perfection is equivalent with the Consequentialist [Prasangika] Madhyamaka’s usual way of considering freedom from extremes and so on. However, emptiness in Madhymaka is an emptiness counted as similar to space, made into the basis; here [in Dzogchen] naked pellucid vidyā pure from the beginning that is not established; that, merely unceasing, is made into the basis. - The phenomena that arise from the basis are apprehended as being free from extremes, like space."
David Germano:
"While a detailed analysis of the relationship of these classical Great Perfection texts to the Madhyamaka Prasangika tradition is quite beyond the scope of my present discussion, at this point I would merely like to indicate that even in The Seventeen Tantras (i.e. without considering Longchenpa's corpus) it is very clear that the tradition embodies an innovative dialectical reinterpretation of the Prasangika notions of emptiness, rather than a mere sterile 'diametric opposition' to them that Karmay suggests."

Ju Mipham Rinpoche states in his Madhyamakālaṃkāra:
"Without finding certainty in primordial purity (ka dag), just mulling over some 'ground that is neither existent nor nonexistent' will get you nowhere. If you apprehend this basis of emptiness that is empty of both existence and nonexistence as something that is established by its essence separately [from everything else], no matter how you label it (such as an inconceivable self, Brahmā, Visnu, Īśvara, or wisdom) except for the mere name, the meaning is the same. Since the basic nature free from the reference points of the four extremes, that is, Dzogchen (the luminosity that is to be personally experienced) is not at all like that, it is important to rely on the correct path and teacher. Therefore, you may pronounce 'illusionlike,' 'nonentity,' 'freedom from reference points,' and the like as mere verbiage, but this is of no benefit whatsoever, if you do not know the [actual] way of being of the Tathāgata’s emptiness (which surpasses the limited [kinds of] emptiness [asserted] by the tīrthikas) through the decisive certainty that is induced by reasoning."

Chögyal Namkhai Norbu states:

"...Madhyamaka explains with the four 'beyond concepts,' which are that something neither exists, nor does not exist, nor both exists and does not exist, nor is beyond both existing and not existing together. These are the four possibilities. What remains? Nothing. Although we are working only in an intellectual way, this can be considered the ultimate conclusion in Madhyamaka. As an analytical method, this is also correct for Dzogchen. Nagarjuna's reasoning is supreme."

"That view established intellectually we need to establish consciously in dependence upon one’s capacity of knowledge and on convention. The way of establishing that is the system of Prasanga Madhyamaka commented upon by the great being Nāgārjuna and his followers. There is no system of view better than that."

From Jigme Lingpa:

"I myself argue ‘To comprehend the meaning of the non-arising baseless, rootless dharmakāya, although reaching and the way of reaching this present conclusion 'Since I have no thesis, I alone am without a fault', as in the Prasanga Madhyamaka system, is not established by an intellectual consideration such as a belief to which one adheres, but is reached by seeing the meaning of ultimate reality of the natural great completion."

Chokyi Dragpa states:

On the path of trekchö, all the rigidity of mind's clinging to an "I" where there is no "I", and a self where there is no self, is cut through with Madhyamika Prasangika reasoning and the resulting conviction that an "I" or a "self" does not exist. Then, by examining where mind arises, dwells and ceases, you become certain of the absence of any true reality."

Again from Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso:

"The great scholar and master, Mipham Chokle Namgyal, said, 'If one seeks to master the basic nature of alpha purity, or kadak, it is necessary to perfect one’s understanding of the view of the Prasangika, or the Consequence School.' Alpha purity describes the basic nature of mind as it is expressed in the dzogchen descriptions. If one wishes to realize dzogchen, alpha purity, or trekcho, as it is also called, then one must perfect one’s understanding of the Consequence School. That is, one must realize that the nature of reality transcends all conceptual fabrications; it cannot be described by any conceptual terms. This is the aspect of the 'expanse.' If one recognizes this, then it is easy to realize the mahamudra because, as Milarepa sang:

'The view is original wisdom which is empty
Meditation clear light free of fixation
Conduct continual flow without attachment
Fruition is nakedness stripped of every stain.'"

From Acarya Dharmavajra Mr. Sridhar Rana:

"The meaning of Shunyata found in Sutra, Tantra Dzogchen, or Mahamudra is the same as the Prasangic emptiness of Chandrakirti, i. e. unfindability of any true existence or simply unfindability. Some writers of Dzogchen and Mahamudra or Tantra think that the emptiness of Nagarjuna is different from the emptiness found in these systems. But I would like to ask them whether their emptiness is findable or unfindable; whether or not the significance of emptiness in these systems is also not the fact of unfindability- no seeing as it could also be expressed. Also some Shentong scholars seem to imply that the Shentong system is talking about a different emptiness. They say Buddha nature is not empty of qualities therefore, Buddha nature is not merely empty, it also has qualities. First of all the whole statement is irrelevant. Qualities are not the question and Buddha nature being empty of quality or not is not the issue. The Buddha nature is empty of Svabhava (real existence). Because it is empty of real existence, it has qualities. As Arya Nagarjuna has said in his Mula Madhyamika Karika: 'All things are possible (including qualities) because they are empty', Therefore the whole Shentong/ Rangtong issue is superfluous. However, in Shentong, Buddha nature is also empty and emptiness means unfindable. In short, the unfindability of any true existence is the ultimate (skt. paramartha) in Buddhism, and is diametrically opposed to the concept of a truly existing thing called Brahman, the ultimate truth in Hinduism."

from Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche:

"The practice of tregcho is essential when it comes to realizing the originally pure nature of mind and phenomena. This nature is emptiness, the basic state of the Great Perfection. For this reason, a thorough grounding in the view of Madhyamaka can be a great help when receiving instructions on tregcho. With the correct view of emptiness, one can meditate effectively on original purity [ka dag]."

and a final warning from Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso:

"If we still believe in existence, if we have some type of belief in something substantial, if we think that there is something that truly exists, whatever it might be, then we are said to fall into the extreme called eternalism or permanence. And if we fall into that extreme, we will not realize the true nature of reality."

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