Traditional & Eclectic

Whenever I talk with someone who is deeply committed to a particular practice or path, a double response comes up in me. One voice says “ha! I know approaches that can resolve those things in a flash!” and another says “I am not that committed, I’ll never get anywhere because my focus is too spread out and I jump from one thing to another”.

Some beliefs behind these may be…

“They should know what I know”, “I know better”, “They are not using the most effective approach”, “They should be more open minded”

And “I need to stay with one thing to get anywhere”, “I am not staying with one thing”, “They are more dedicated than I am”, “My focus is too spread out”, “I am not sticking with tried and true approaches”.

Of course, both the traditional sticking-with-one-thing approach and the more eclectic and integral one have their value and merit.

One is tried and true, well formed, clear, giving predictable results. Although it is sometimes a little narrow, not making use of tools and techniques from outside the tradition which may work well for them. It is a little like a horse with blinders – focused but partially blind.

The other is wildly eclectic, using whatever works, cross training through combining practices, willing to modify, let go of, and adopt practices depending on what is available, experience and what seems to work the best. At the same time, it is definetely not a tried and true approach, it is more risky and often less proven by time, it can be a little scattered at times. There is a wide view, yet also maybe not a clear path.

A pretty safe way may be to (a) follow a traditional practice over time, with the guidance of an experienced teacher, and (b) add onto it various other techniques which may help in specific areas. The main course is solid and stays the same, while the side dishes and garnish change according to what is available, what seems to work, and just plain curiosity and sense of adventure.

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