Q: I am a Zen Buddhist practitioner, and I live many states away from the order with which I practice, so most of the time I practice alone, even though there is a large community of Tibetan Buddhists and teachers nearby. I feel an affinity with Zen Buddhism, and I wonder about that attachment. Am I missing something by not opening myself to the teachings of those where I live?
Narayan Liebenson Grady: I don’t think it’s a question of missing something, unless you feel it would be beneficial to have a community to practice with that’s geographically closer so you are not so alone. I see this more as an affinity based on one’s karma, and the inclination to practice in one tradition over another to be an alignment with a particular vocabulary, set of rituals, and atmosphere. Often it is our connection to a teacher that draws us into a particular tradition.
Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche: Among all the approaches of buddhadharma there is no conflict in the wisdom teaching that all beings have awakened nature, a nature pure and boundless. Failing to recognize this nature, one suffers; in recognizing this nature, one is liberated from suffering. One who fully awakens is referred to as buddha. Meditation supports the moment-to-moment recognition of this nature and its full maturation and expression in a life that benefits others. In relation to this pure and open space of being there is no author, no owner or name, and no divisions or schools.
Zenkei Blanche Hartman: When you refer to the order with which you practice being many states away, I wonder whether you have a relationship with a teacher there? If so, I would suggest that you explore this question with him or her, especially if you have taken refuge or received the precepts in that order.