In Tibetan Buddhism there is a very large concern about the lineage of teachings. However, in Dzogchen, lineage, while a concern, is not an over-riding concern. Why is this so? It has to do with what "lineage" really means. Chogyal Namkhai Norbu has always stated that three lineages i.e. so called "mind lineage of the Jinas", the "symbolic lineage of the vidyādharas" and the "oral lineage of persons" are all intrinsic to any authentic transmission of Dzogchen.
A commentary on the Gongpa Zangthal by the Kathog master Shakya Gyaltsen defines the very close lineage of Dzogchen as follows:
The very close lineage of Dzogchen combines all lineages in the root Guru who demonstrates without error the instruction of tregchod and thögal.
The consequence of this is that we practitioners who have made connections with authentic masters of Dzogchen never need to think that we are somehow separated by many centuries from the Buddha, Garab Dorje, Padmasambhava and so on. The direct knowledge and personal experience of vidyā that our masters embody and show us viscerally is the very source of all Dzogchen knowledge and practice. Without that personal experience of vidyā even the most profound words of any Dzogchen text is just so much drawing on water— completely ineffectual, mere conceptual contrivance. Without that personal experience of vidyā, the extremely close lineage is not present on any level.
Our root gurus serve only to bring us into an encounter of self-recognition, to help us decide one thing, and to encourage us to continue in the confidence of liberation-- this is their only goal and purpose.
When we have that personal experience of vidyā — at that point, all other notions of teacher, Dharma, lineage, and so on, while worthy of respect and veneration, become secondary to the imperative of the wisdom of vidyā that causes us to transcend and exceed the notions of stages and paths, relative indicators of progress and so forth. Paradoxically, this renders the acute agony of the sufferings of sentient being in samsara all the more painful because of how close they actually are to the solution of their own misery. If they only opened their eyes and saw, they would see their actual condition that does not depend upon intellectual acumen to discern.
Well, sentient beings, you are not going to get there by reading a few confusing words on someone's blog. So I hope you find a good teacher! There are quite a few of them out there these days.
by Malcolm Smith