Since there are many options now for Dharma practice in the west, its inevitable that someone will run into many traditions. While some try out different traditions, and then settle with the one that “fits” them best, others take what they’ve learned and try to reconcile and put them all together.
Zen Priest and Theravadin Monk
In this interesting interview with Gil Fronsdale, he talks about how he works with two traditions. He had practiced in the Zen tradition for 7 years and had ordained as a Zen priest, and had gone to Japan to deepen his practice. While waiting for a visa, he went to Thailand and encountered Theravadin Buddhism. He then became a monk in Burma for several years.
In this interview, he talks about how he reconciles these different traditions, and the difficulties he’s had with working with two traditions.
My Experience With Different Traditions
For myself, the best advice I’ve received regarding this came from a friend of mine who is a Vietnamese monk. He mentioned that there are various meditations and practices in the different Buddhist traditions, and many of them complicated, making it difficult to sometimes put it all togther.
As time goes, even if all these meditations seem to become too heavy or complicated to continue, one thing I could always focus on, to unify my practice, is keeping ethics. That is the thing that every practitioner strives to keep, whether they’re a lay practitioner, a novice monk, a fully ordained nun, or a high lama that sits on a throne. As I’m come to learn, this is the fundamental practice that binds all the Buddhist traditions together.