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Rime (pronounced Ree-may), in its spirit, is non-sectarian.

Rime is a movement within Tibetan Buddhism where a person studies not just one lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, but studies and learns from many. The point is to preserve many of the teachings and traditions and also to remove sectarian views. Rime is something useful for Tibetan buddhist practitioners, but I believe the spirit of rime is something useful for western buddhist practitioners as a whole.

The tradition that I follow focuses a lot of emphasis on lam rim (stages of the path to enlightenment), and  they say that one of the greatness of the lamrim is that one can understand all the traditions and see that they’re not contradictory. I’ve noticed that when I listen to teachings to the other traditions (Zen, Pali tradition, etc), everything sounds like a lamrim teaching. The different traditions may seem different on the surface, but they all compliment each other very well.

Setting a Foundation

At the same time, Rime doesn’t mean practice everything without having a core. All the great Rime practitioners, they learned from the other traditions, but they kept their tradition or lineage as the centerpiece of their practice. It was as if their main tradition was the masterfile, and teachings from other places were complimentary files. My teacher once commented, that western buddhist practitioners have a tendency  to want to learn about everything, which is good. However, it’s really about deepening our understanding. If we know a little about everything without having deeper understandings, we become a spiritual junk yard.

What the Dalai Lama Says

I also like the way that His Holiness the Dalai Lama, himself a great Rime practitioner, explains it. All the different buddhist traditions, they’re like staircases, leading up. One staircase might be Zen, another Theravada, another Tibetan Buddhism etc. If one can, its useful to learn about all the staircases, but eventually a time will come where a person has to pick a staircase. Otherwise, a person just spends time studying staircases and they never go up.

I’m not really sure when someone decides its time to follow a tradition and lineage, that’s a pretty personal decision. I think people should take as much time as they need to figure that out, but I think the point is that eventually they’ll have to pick if they’re serious about progressing.

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