Tradition

Tradition is something that continues in the way it’s always been. My family had a tradition for Christmas, the decorations weren’t to go up before Christmas Eve.  But traditions change. There is no tradition for Christmas for me now. The same is true of spiritual traditions. They are ways of doing things that have grown up over time.

In the New Kadampa Tradition I have seen traditions change as someone with more authority or personality chooses that the tradition does things this way. You have to accept this, but what happened to tradition? It has changed! So traditions do change. And of course if they did not, we would have only one tradition, not many. So what is the purpose of tradition and when can it be changed? Tradition brings safety. Practitioners feel secure in what they are doing. It also enhances learning. We learn by rote, following the same actions again and again. But what of the need in Buddhism to change, to question ways that have become accepted. You will not progress to freedom unless you can question the very ways that you have lived your life. So is not tradition holding that process back? Should we not learn our dharma and go individually to test samsara? Blessing, is the answer that tradition brings. Doing things in a blessed way. If this is right then following blessing will lead you to a path that will become tradition for you and others. And if the blessing has gone? Then find a new way, begin a new tradition.

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