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To Pick One Tradition Or Not To Pick One Tradition. That Is The Question

JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran

The Buddha said that all teachings are like fingers pointing to the moon.

They are not the moon themselves.

All traditions point to the moon, as far as I can tell.

Though none of them are the moon itself.

The moon is the direct realization of emptiness, it seems to me.

Therefore...

When someone says you MUST pick only one tradition, unless there's a practical reason for it, I feel like that's the work of the ego trying to construct an identity.

TiggerAnanda_Cheesecakeajhayes

Comments

  • DakiniDakini Veteran

    That's very interesting. There used to be several people here, including a moderator, who said they follow the basic teachings, read now and then from books on Buddhism, but following the basics and having one's own little independent practice is fine. And some people who don't live near a center don't have a choice but to do that, anyway. Aside from plugging into a wonderful source like our forum, here. :)

    I think Buddhism is about the basic principles, not choosing a tradition. There were no other traditions/sects/schools in the Buddha's day. For that matter, there was no "Buddhism", only the Dharma, the Path, the teachings.

    TiggerJaySonlobsterAnanda_Cheesecake
  • TiggerTigger Toronto, Canada Veteran

    I agree. I choose to follow the dharma of the Buddha....period!

    I don't fully comprehend the different traditions as I have mentioned before but I comprehend the simple dharma of the Bhudda.

    JaySonDakini
  • TravellerTraveller East Midlands UK Veteran

    I follow Thai Forest Tradition mainly the teachings of Ajahn Chah and Ajahn Sumedho, though I've studied some Zen and have some familiarity with Lam Rim as well. The more I've studied the different teachings the more I see the inter-connectedness of them all. Someone once told me that all turnings of the Wheel of Dharma are as inherently empty as everything else.

    JaySonpersonlobsterTigger
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran

    I can understand where you're coming from @JaySon. I have to admit though, I find it a bit confusing following a few paths. Personally, following one path works better for me. But as the Buddha said, you have to test it for yourself and put aside what doesn't work for you. So in that light, if following parts of different paths work for you, do it.

    But when I need clarity, I just focus on the Dharma itself.

    _ /\ _

    JaySon
  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran

    @Dakini said:
    That's very interesting. There used to be several people here, including a moderator, who said they follow the basic teachings, read now and then from books on Buddhism, but following the basics and having one's own little independent practice is fine. And some people who don't live near a center don't have a choice but to do that, anyway. Aside from plugging into a wonderful source like our forum, here. :)

    I think Buddhism is about the basic principles, not choosing a tradition. There were no other traditions/sects/schools in the Buddha's day. For that matter, there was no "Buddhism", only the Dharma, the Path, the teachings.

    Thus I have heard.... The Buddha had different sets of teachings for different individuals and groups. Different practices, prescriptions.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I've never seen anyone say you have to choose one within Buddhism. I've seen people say you can't easily choose 2 different religions, but people do it. Whatever works for you. Everyone has different ways of learning that work best. For those that learn best through reading, a self-practice can be ideal. I learn from doing. I need to be with people and experiencing things. I decided having a teacher/tradition was right for me when I ran into questions and problems I couldn't work out on my own. But I never felt like I had to choose one, for any reason. I read things from a lot of traditions, and a lot of religions. But for me, a primary focus is the best way for me to learn consistently. Otherwise I simply confuse myself, :lol:

    JaySonlobsterTigger
  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran
    edited January 17

    @Lonely_Traveller said:
    I follow Thai Forest Tradition mainly the teachings of Ajahn Chah and Ajahn Sumedho, though I've studied some Zen and have some familiarity with Lam Rim as well. The more I've studied the different teachings the more I see the inter-connectedness of them all. Someone once told me that all turnings of the Wheel of Dharma are as inherently empty as everything else.

    I also notice differences in teachings between Ajahns, at least between Ajahn Chah and Ajahn Brahm, the two I learn from. Also, every book I have on Theravada style Anapanasati is slightly different. Some have 4 jhanas, some 8. While many say to place single pointed focus near the upper lip, Brahm says to watch the breath in general at no particular spot.

  • TravellerTraveller East Midlands UK Veteran

    @Jayson, Yeah, I know what you mean. Different teachings work better for different people. AJahn Chah and Ajahn Sumedho don't emphasise Jhana at all just awareness which is the teaching I prefer, while Ajhan Brahm is big on Jhana. Horses for courses as they say.

  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran

    @Lonely_Traveller said:
    @Jayson, Yeah, I know what you mean. Different teachings work better for different people. AJahn Chah and Ajahn Sumedho don't emphasise Jhana at all just awareness which is the teaching I prefer, while Ajhan Brahm is big on Jhana. Horses for courses as they say.

    True. I don't see where Chah had ever glorified jhana as anything more than a tool used to gain wisdom.

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    When I first started out I didn't even know there were so many ways of going about it until I had already jumbled a few up.

  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran

    @JaySon said:

    When someone says you MUST pick only one tradition, unless there's a practical reason for it, I feel like that's the work of the ego trying to construct an identity.

    Is this an instruction that you encounter very often?

  • It is a question of emphasis and if being guided or requiring guidance, attuning to the path of a teacher, which may require a particular focus.

    For example some Zen teachers offer Pureland chanting of Amitaba as well as the rigorous dhyana of Zen. Tantra includes teachings from earlier schools, including its own adaptations and emphasis on later dharma interpretations.

    Personally my focus is meditation and dzhikr mantra. As I am on personal retreat for a few more days, my present emphasis is on hatha yoga which is taught by some monastics and at some centres as is Tai Chi BUT these are often associated more with Hindu/vedanta and Taoism ...

    For various reasons people study books, work without a Sangha or teacher, join the nearest Buddhist group, combine earlier affiliations or even unusual hybrids of martial teachings and Buddhism such as Shaolin and so on ... Perhaps even augmenting Christianity or Paganism with Buddhist teachings ...

    Nobody moons us unless we are an ass or stuck on a stick ... o:)
    http://newbuddhist.com/discussion/19152/milarepas-final-teaching-to-gampopa

    JaySondhammachick
  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran

    @Steve_B said:

    @JaySon said:

    When someone says you MUST pick only one tradition, unless there's a practical reason for it, I feel like that's the work of the ego trying to construct an identity.

    Is this an instruction that you encounter very often?

    I suppose not. But I also suppose I was branded deeply by it when I did.

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    edited January 17

    @JaySon said:
    When someone says you MUST pick only one tradition, unless there's a practical reason for it, I feel like that's the work of the ego trying to construct an identity.

    Over-identifying with one tradition could reflect that, but mostly I think it's pragmatic. The different schools do have different methods, practices and assumptions, and a mix and match approach can become confusing. There is also the risk of digging many shallow wells.
    Having said that I think it's useful to gain experience of a number of traditions, it gives a sense of the bigger picture and common themes. I've been involved in most of them over the years, it's been a fascinating journey.

    lobsterJaySon
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @Tigger said:
    I agree. I choose to follow the dharma of the Buddha....period!

    I don't fully comprehend the different traditions as I have mentioned before but I comprehend the simple dharma of the Bhudda.

    Simple is good, but what is your source for "simple dharma" - there always is one.

  • TiggerTigger Toronto, Canada Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:
    Simple is good, but what is your source for "simple dharma" - there always is one.

    @SpinyNorman my source thus far is Buddhist books. I like Thich Nhat Hanh and Ajahn Sumedho. For example, "The Mind & The Way" has been able to explain things to me that other people or books have not through simple examples and language as well as a Q&A at the end of every chapter.

    Simple buddhism to me is understanding and following the 4 Noble Truths and the Eightfold path...just living it.

    JaySon
  • TiggerTigger Toronto, Canada Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:

    There is also the risk of digging many shallow wells.

    Kinda like "Jack of all trades - master of none"

    Ananda_CheesecakeJaySon
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    @Tigger said:

    @SpinyNorman said:

    There is also the risk of digging many shallow wells.

    Kinda like "Jack of all trades - master of none"

    I was thinking more like "halfway to enlightenment in a dozen directions, but never actually getting there."

    lobsterTiggerJaySon
  • TiggerTigger Toronto, Canada Veteran

    Yes @Kerome, definitely more fitting =)

  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran
    edited January 17

    I've built up concentration by practicing the Theravada way. I now use that concentration in Lamrim. Also I find that the Metta meditation in Theravada is basically a simple form of Lamrim. Or at least they have the same effect on me of awakening universal compassion in me.

    Learning and practicing Lamrim has just been something interesting to do. To keep me sitting. But the effects I'm having are exactly the same as Metta and Anapanasati.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited January 17

    Picking this one...Picking that one...It matter's not to groundlessness .....

  • DakiniDakini Veteran

    @JaySon said:
    I've built up concentration by practicing the Theravada way. I now use that concentration in Lamrim. Also I find that the Metta meditation in Theravada is basically a simple form of Lamrim. Or at least they have the same effect on me of awakening universal compassion in me.

    Learning and practicing Lamrim has just been something interesting to do. To keep me sitting. But the effects I'm having are exactly the same as Metta and Anapanasati.

    The LamRim is a text, not a meditation form/style. So I don't know what you're referring to here, OP. The LamRim is part of the coursework that covers Theravada ("Hinayana") teaching as the first step in studying the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

  • eggsavioreggsavior Dagobah Veteran

    I practice alone. There are no temples/churches or groups or teachers near me. For a little while I was saddened by this and driven to find a sect to base my practice out of. Now I am slowly realizing that I don't NEED a sect. I prefer my practice to be simple and unfettered by discourse or dogma... If I have the dharma and mindfulness that is enough. To me, my own intention to live Rightly is more valuable than any additional practices or techniques. I don't know if I will "achieve" anything especially spiritual, enlightenment or something else. But I don't worry about that much. I just focus on compassion and trying my best, even if I am currently unable to "try to do" anything at all right now.

    TiggerlobsterSteve_B
  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran
    edited January 17

    @Dakini said:

    @JaySon said:
    I've built up concentration by practicing the Theravada way. I now use that concentration in Lamrim. Also I find that the Metta meditation in Theravada is basically a simple form of Lamrim. Or at least they have the same effect on me of awakening universal compassion in me.

    Learning and practicing Lamrim has just been something interesting to do. To keep me sitting. But the effects I'm having are exactly the same as Metta and Anapanasati.

    The LamRim is a text, not a meditation form/style. So I don't know what you're referring to here, OP. The LamRim is part of the coursework that covers Theravada ("Hinayana") teaching as the first step in studying the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

    I have the text by Je Tsongkhapa.

    Geshe Kelsang Gyatso has systematized the Lamrim into 21 meditations in The New Meditation Handbook.

    You should check it out.

  • TiggerTigger Toronto, Canada Veteran

    Good for you @eggsavior! I feel rather the same way. When I read the Dharma and practice meditation and mindfulness, I feel a sense of happiness, calm and peace but when I get wrapped up in what this means and what that means it gets a little daunting (for me anyway).

    I think if you keep doing what you're doing and practice the simple teachings of Buddha you will be happy with the results.

    JaySoneggsavior
  • DakiniDakini Veteran

    @JaySon said:

    I have the text by Je Tsongkhapa.

    Geshe Kelsang Gyatso has systematized the Lamrim into 21 meditations in The New Meditation Handbook.

    You should check it out.

    Sounds interesting.

  • nukedinukedi New York New

    In the many years that I've been practicing, I've gathered aspects of many traditions that have resonated with me and develped a daily practice around them. I couldn't really say that I'm a Buddhist, but I follow many of the teachings of the Buddha.

    It never ceases to amaze me when I look back at the many teachers I have met, how I have gotten from there to here and the sense it all makes to me.

    I am grateful for it all.

    lobsterVastmindTigger
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