Dzogchen is sort of the strange one in the bunch due to having the "direct transmission" feature somewhat comparable to shaktipat in Hinduism. The strange part is that, for some reason, most spiritual teachings seem to lack this particular feature
Typical spirituality is mostly about "theory and practice", with the teacher pointing out whether your practice is implemented correctly or not. Even the satori moment in Zen Buddhism is not about direct transmission.
Dzogchen's direct introduction works on a different principle from shaktipat.
Dzogchen teacher Acarya Malcolm, 2015:
"If one has received direct introduction, it is possible that you may understand something more clearly with such a text, but since direct introduction works with experiences, there is no way one can substitute this conceptual understanding for working with the transmission by means of working with various experiences until one discovers the basis, aka primordial state, for oneself and has stabilizes that knowledge [rig pa].
The reason? Direct introduction works with experiences to show what the foundation that lies below experiences, thoughts and concepts, i.e. the mind essence. This is extremely subtle and cannot be discovered merely through reading books, no matter how holy or profound. The error, quite frankly, is mistaking the fact that we are aware with that awareness being the mind essence itself. The awareness that we experience moment to moment is quite coarse, and is dominated by our "energy," our rlung or vāyu. The mind essence is much more subtle than any awareness we can experience.
Direct introduction, received from a master who knows what it is he is introducing, is indispensable — it sets up the foundation for our later discovery of our own state even if at the time the experience was too subtle for us to register it clearly. Anytime anyone participates in a direct introduction with a realized master in a whole hearted openly collaborative way [rather than passively expecting something to happen], they will in fact experience that moment of knowledge [rig pa] the master intends to introduce. Even if they do not "grasp" it at the time, they will have that experience to carry with them. In the beginning, our concepts are very strong, and our ability to see the mind essence is very weak. Therefore, our moment of rig pa we experience in the direct introduction is something like a small branch caught up in a torrent of a river of concepts — it is very easily swept away. But if we are patient, and we are diligent, we can again have that experience of the mind essence, upon which all future practice depends. Why? Because it was introduced and we had it once. There is nothing at all mystical about the process, it is straightforward and nonmagical.
The process of reading is too conceptual, the mind involved is too coarse, and therefore, it is impossible that we can experience the mind essence from reading a text. However, if we have experienced the mind essence reading books such as the Chos dbying mdzod and so on can reinforce our confidence which we can bring to our practice.
In order to experience the mind essence we have to cut through coarse concepts with various methods to re-experience the mind essence that we were exposed to during the introduction. This is why we have practices such as rushen and semszin, and supremely, Song of the Vajra."
""Receiving shaktipat from a Kundalini guru, for example,or satsang with an Advaita, etc., or Dokusan from a Zenmaster has nothing at all do with a direct introduction from a Dzogchen master. They are not even in the same ballpark. Different principles, different practices, different experiences, different results.
""Greg, direct introduction does not resemble shaktipat because shaktipat is a form of grace. Direct introduction is not a form of grace. It is a way of imparting knowledge.""