Tradition or truth?

After the initial awakening when I was sixteen, I sought out books of people who may have had something similar happen – mainly Christian mystics, Buddhism, and Taoism. (This was before the internet and I didn’t have any spiritual teachers nearby.)

In Taoism, I found the most resonance. I could see that these people got it.

Within Christianity and Buddhism, I could see that whether or not these people got it, they often seemed to value tradition over truth. They would clothe what they said in traditional wording and even in traditional ideology, and that obscured the simplicity and clarity of awakening.

So the question is: do we value tradition or truth the most? Are we willing to sacrifice the simplicity and clarity so we can be more aligned with tradition? Or the other way around?

Of course, there doesn’t have to be one or the other. The ones with the most clarity and flexibility in how they express it can often do both.

From this, something else quickly became clear to me: traditions are about maintaining themselves. That’s their primary and obvious purpose. If there is genuine spiritual insights, guidance, and expression there, then that’s a bonus.

A caveat

I hesitate writing about this because it can easily be understood in a way it’s not meant. The truth this is about is not one found in words, and if we take it as something that can be found in words, it becomes an ideology. And if it becomes an ideology, it just becomes another tradition, even if it’s our own personal one. And if it becomes a tradition, then the main purpose of it easily becomes to maintain itself.

So as usual, this is something to be held very lightly. There is often a great deal of value in traditions. I am immensely grateful for them and the people maintaining them, and have benefited greatly from them.

It’s just that when we notice what we are, it’s free of traditions. All of them may point to it, but it cannot be contained by any of them.

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