Son wrote:Just because my concept of tradition is entirely different from your concept, does not mean that my view is the "macro" one. In fact, I take the approach that is neither microscopic nor macroscopic, but simply practical. Ergo, practice, the lifeblood of all tradition.
Again, to be clear, in my concept trails are simply means and practices which help progress our enlightenment. Tradition is how we are guided to them, through them, and passed them, to the glorious summit beyond. Seeing things this way, I say, is Ekayana.
"Means and practices" are very much part of "traditions." For example, we can speak of the Vajrayana Tradition(s), in their totality, having different "means and practices" than the "Theravada Tradition(s)." A teacher in a Theravada tradition will likely not be able to guide someone on the Vajrayana Path, and vice versa. This is not a judgement as to which is better or worse, just a statement that strikes me as fairly obvious, and demonstrates that means, practices, and teachers are all "of" a tradition, or a path.
Son wrote:When Lord Gautama revealed Dharma to the world, he did not set people in differing traditions. He pointed the way to the top of the mountain, and he encouraged every single step toward the top, regardless of what trail those steps may fall upon. Now, if one tradition leads you mostly up the east side of the mountain, and another leads you mostly up the west, you will not be able to follow both traditions. However, following your own way and your own trails up the mountain, it can be very useful to listen to several traditions. This has always been my experience. This is the Ekayana.
Ignoring historical development, and the quasi-mythological creation stories of Vajrayana, or even Mahayana (Nagarjuna and the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras, for example), I am sure that Gautama gave a variety of instructions to a variety of disciples. In a very general sense, I think he is known to have given various responses and instructions to householders, and to monks, and to kings/rulers/officials, etc. These are not "differing traditions," as much as expedient means to suit a variety of circumstances and beings. I see the various traditions in much the same way, but in a wider, and more historical, sense.
As you've noted, if one tradition leads up the East side, and one up the West side, you won't be able to follow both. This would apply to paths, and to guides as well, wouldn't it?
Trails are by their very nature made by others, by those that have come before you. If you are going to create your own trail, you are by definition creating one that wasn't there before. You are "blazing a new trail," as they say, eh? "Listening to" several traditions, is fine--in my allegory, I referred to looking at the map of the whole mountain while one was already half way up a trail. Appreciating the myriad of ways is wonderful and nourishing, I think. But actually climbing the mountain, well.... if one were blazing their own trail, one would make a decision, based on reviewing the map, that a different trail may in fact be better at a certain point. At that point, you would need to get from Point A/Path A/Tradition A to Point B/Path B/Tradition B. If you've ever blazed a trail up a mountain, I think you can understand that it takes more effort, and likely more time, than following the trails that already exist. Sometimes the effort is worth it, don't get me wrong...sometimes one needs to reconnect, and each person is different. But as you have noted, one can't be in two places at once.