Within a major religion such as Christianity or Buddhism, there are hundreds of lineages or sects to choose among.
In Western religion, seeking a spiritual home is often thought of in terms of truth. One looks for the right sect that has the true answers.
Finding a home within Buddhism is a matter of individual “fit” rather than ultimate correctness. Buddhism is a pragmatic religion. It is concerned mainly with methods, rather than truth. Because we are all different, different methods will be useful for us.
I believe that all Buddhist sects are valid. However, they offer different teachings and practices, and have different styles or “flavors.” What matters is finding one that offers what you need, as a unique individual, to move in the direction you want to go.
This typically takes several years of exploration. It involves finding out:
- What style of teaching and practice do I find inspiring? What motivates me to practice?
- Where am I at, spiritually? What am I currently capable of? What are my strengths and weaknesses?
- What are the different directions I can go from here? Among those, which direction do I want to go?
- What tools are available to take me from where I am to where I want to go?
- Which Buddhist teachers and lineages offer those tools? Where do I feel a heart connection? What do I like?
I will discuss these questions further in the next few pages. But you might like to stop now and spend a little time thinking about your current answers.
It could be helpful to write them down, perhaps in a diary, and save them. When you read them again in a few months or years, you will learn something about yourself. You will see that your answers have changed. You will have moved, in a direction. That will help understand where you want to go next.