As I’ve noted before, on my Dutch blog people respond very critically. This is often annoying, but they also sometimes ask great questions.
The question asked in this case was: doesn’t your present path contradict your earlier assertion that we need to balance certainty and uncertainty?
The answer is – as it often is – yes and no.
Yes, this year I was planning to take it easy, find my place in the spiritual market place. Instead I fell for the first tradition I came accross. It’s not much of a coincidence though: Gelugpa Buddhism is the one tradition I have known for years was most likely to be the Buddhist tradition I’d feel at home in if I were to ever become a practical Buddhist. And Buddhism in turn is the one religion I’ve always felt most at home with.
I tried out Nyingma Buddhism for about 45 minutes last Saturday and though there was nothing I could find wrong with them, I felt like I was cheating on my boyfriend or something (not that I have one of those). So I left. The fact is, however much I may not have wanted to commit, I’m the type of person that does in fact commit. Just like I’m not looking for a superficial flirt, I’m not the kind of person to just pick and choose from any spiritual tradition either.
After all, I spent 17 years in the Theosophical Society, never even considering trying anything else. I only left (well not quite yet, but emotionally I did) when that path really no longer worked for me.
Buddhism works for me. I’m not ashamed to say that it simply makes me feel good. It’s also a great relief to find a tradition in which instead of being learned out, I’m an absolute beginner. No chance of being ‘finished’ with this tradition even till the end of this lifetime.
I do have some issues with the FPMT tradition. The teachers are mostly traditional Tibetans. The result is in many details not exactly fitted to the Western mind, nor to my own. However, I’d rather study in a tradition that sticks as close to the tradition as possible than in one that tries to adapt to the Western spirit too quickly. I can do my own adapting well enough. When the tradition gets on my nerves too much, there’s always Lama Yeshe…
Of course the ideal teacher is just like Lama Yeshe: thoroughly grounded in his tradition, yet so like the Buddha in teaching skills that he or she can adapt what they teach to the hearers very specifically. However, I can hardly blame these teachers if they’re not like that every single minute of the day.
Ultimately it’s about emotion: this feels right and there’s no use being unfaithful to my own sense of what’s right.
While I’m talking emotion… Spiritual growth is to a large extent about cleaning up the emotions. Purifying, letting go… in practice it’s quite tiring. Committing to a tradition means committing to a specific set of people, learning the traditions, meditations and rituals of that tradition. Anyone who tries to combine several traditions will have to split their emotional energy between those traditions. The result is less energy can go into either.
There are probably people for whom that is still the best path. They feel there’s something so vital missing from one tradition that they need to find it somewhere else. Or they have already made an emotional tie in one tradition, comparable to mine with theosophy, are ready for something new, but are not ready to let go of the previous tradition.
I am not about to judge what people end up doing. I’m just saying: for me it works to pick just this one lineage. If that makes me inconsistent, so be it. All I do on here is share my thoughts on my path, I never promised consistency.