1. What do you think it is about Vajrayana that makes it appeal to so many Westerners?
In my opinion it is the possibility that Vajrayana has the potential to achieve enlightenment within one lifetime that lends an appeal to Westerners.
2. Which of the three paths—Theravada, Mahayana, or Vajrayana, appeals most to you? Why?
Mahayana appeals most me, especially the Zen teachings. It resonates with me because generally I like to believe that we are all one entity. Yes, we have many names for things and there is much suffering in this world, but in understanding that I see in all people regardless of religious background an ability to change under pressure.
This spiritual dexterity, in my opinion is frequently put to the test during crisis through which we as a sentient species constantly rise to a higher vibration causing spiritual revolution. To me the Creator is a loving god and gives us the ability to realize our desires for peace and understanding. In other ways the Creator appears to be cruel, but to me that is just His way of teaching people things and through the process of discovery this is how we unify and support each other. Mother Earth sustains us and asks little in return but we continually abuse Her and profane Her without the respect and dedication that we use the names of the other deities, or the way in which we revere Her. It is my belief that as the 14th Dali Lama said, it is possible to be of one faith and practice the rites of another as well, that we don't give ourselves enough credit for our abilities.
Whether one views these concepts through the Christian Holy Trinity, the enlightening of the Buddha or another other spiritual vehicle it is always possible to reach someone who is lost. That is why I firmly believe in the universal salvation we are offered in whatever mood it is delivered to us. I myself know that it is possible to fall very far from the pinnacle of goodly existence and still be given the opportunity to ground myself, center myself, love myself and more importantly light a path for others. I was always told I could do anything and that with my smarts I have the ability to be what I want to be, it is only now after I searched myself and considered the calling I've been given that I realize I always wanted to be a Priest but was too cowardly to accept the mantle. Now that He has called me I live for Him and to make others realize we can live in peace. Gnostic, atheist or whatever disbelievers call themselves they are always willing to consider the idea of a Higher Power which gives them a method to live on eternally if only in their works.
My view is that The Creator gives them this methodology as a means of understanding Him directly and in it's way becomes another religion. Mahayana resonates with me because it is structured but not too much so, doesn't involve having to travel to Asia to assimilate and offers a set of rituals that when properly performed provide a great deal of emotional relief and spiritual clarity through understanding the totality of the divine.
3. Are there practices in Vajrayana which could be beneficial to all sentient beings? If so, which ones?
The entire concept of shedding oneself of imperfections is very beneficial. If it were possible to completely bring this sect temples, teachers and all all around to world and not too much of it's secrets made common knowledge it has serious potential to stand up and give Buddhism global presence. Keeping a secret is also a virtue that many of us should learn. I fear however that over time Vajrayana might become diluted as secrets are made too popular and that if it is followed improperly it has the potential to develop a seriously flawed offshoot. That said, what do I know of Vayrayana? I am merely a student with limited exposure to it.
Rev. Scott Luxon
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