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I was doing a little research, and I came across this Ancient History Encyclopaedia article which I thought was worth sharing:
Full disclosure, my father has a certain respect for these things, while my stepfather calls it “esoteric bullshit”. So I thought I would at least do my own reading. I thought this was an interesting quote:
The oral tradition of handing on teachings, along with initiations into certain levels of knowledge made in person by a guru, is perhaps the hallmark of esotericism.
It implies a certain elitism that you also see in Tibetan Vajrayana schools and Tantra traditions and in Zen and I believe Ch’an, that you have to have studied with a certain master in the lineage and have gotten his approval. Some parts of me rebel at that, maybe it is the scientist who believes in the free distribution of knowledge, or just the student from high school that dislikes secret clubs, or the reader of Osho who realises that priestly power structures are rarely a good thing.
It’s interesting that Theravada or Tibetan Gelugpa doesn’t seem to have an esoteric tradition... so is there really such a thing as a special empowerment that you need? Do you think it’s worth pursuing?
How do you as a Buddhist relate to the esoteric tradition?