Reality is always more than and different from what any spiritual tradition can capture. That’s why any sincere exploration has to go beyond the confines of any one tradition, and even all of them combined.
That doesn’t mean that traditions are useless. They can be very helpful.
They can be a good place to start and – for some – can be a good support throughout the process.
They can give us pointers and practices helpful in our own exploration. Some of these may be helpful at certain phases of the process and some – the more basic ones – throughout.
They give us a community of fellow explorers. In the best case, we feel less alone, can share experiences, and find support.
They have guides who can give us practical support in our own exploration.
As for myself, I didn’t belong to any religion or spiritual tradition as a kid. So when the awakening happened in my teens I was free to explore any and all traditions to find fellow travelers, pointers, and guides.
I did naturally seek out traditions at first. I found glimmers of real wisdom from mystics and teachers in the past, and especially from Taoism and Christian mystics. But as for what I found in person, it was mostly disappointing. Mostly, I found people without any real experience or awakening repeating what someone else had said.
The real insights and personal experience was something I found in people outside of the traditions. I found it in a dear friend (BH) who has remained a close friend. And I found Jes and Hanne Bertelsen from Denmark who clearly spoke from experience and awakening and draw from the wisdom of several different traditions.
Later, I found it in Adyashanti who was trained in Zen but does his own thing. I belonged to Center of Sacred Sciences in Oregon for a while and they draw from all the different traditions. And when I earlier – in my twenties – lived at a Zen center, there was a mix of traditional practice and a more innovative approach – specifically the Big Mind process developed by my teacher there.
I am profoundly grateful for the traditions. They pass on wisdom and experiences by innumerable awake and clear people. (And sometimes things less from clarity!) They offer people a place to learn and practice. They offer a community. They offer guides. I have gotten a lot out of practices, pointers, guides and more from traditions. And I admire people who are happy within a tradition and stick with it for the long term.
At the same time, it doesn’t seem to be for me. For me, it makes more sense to draw from whatever I find and delve deeply into one thing at a time and then keep exploring. Reality is more important than any tradition and I also know that traditions offer valuable support in this exploration.Read More