Hello, I have some questions regarding Buddhism today that I hope the folks at this forum can answer. I am not sure how common my question is, so forgive me if this is something you've heard many times before. First let me give you some preliminary data about myself so you know where I am coming from.
I am a white American (this information does pertain to my inquiry), 23 years of age, and I am highly interested in Buddhism. However, I am not a Buddhist per say (yet.) I adhere generally to the so-called Traditionalist School of thought, guys like Rene Guenon, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Frithjof Schuon, and so forth for those who are unaware. Therefore I am fairly open to a variety of the worlds great spiritual traditions and am looking to find my path so to speak. Buddhism is among the paths I am more interested in, along with Daoism. I was lucky to have had a transcendent mystical experience at the age of 18 that forever changed my life and put me on the path toward enlightenment, which I look at as the central goal of my life. Various other motivations most people have, such as financial success, the pursuit of pleasure, finding a spouse, starting a family, gaining society's respect, etc. have very little appeal to me. Due to these circumstances, I often ponder taking my quest a step further and becoming a monk or ascetic, probably sooner than later since I imagine youthful vigor is helpful for practice. This is what my questions are in regards to:
The two forms of Buddhism that I am most attracted to are Zen and Vajrayana. What I want to know is, of these two traditions, which is the most alive and potent today? Which, in your opinion, offers the most realistic chance of true spiritual progress and enlightenment? Of these two schools, which do you think would be most accommodating to a white Westerner joining and being taken seriously? Some may suggest that if I were serious about becoming a monk to do so in the United States, but I have my fears that I'd be getting sort of the equivalent to McDojo martial arts in regards to monastic experience, ie unauthentic and uninspired (I could be wrong about this of course.) So really, if my desire were to study Buddhism in Asia, based upon these schools my choices would essentially be to study Tibetan Buddhism in Dharamsala or elsewhere in India, study Chan in China, Seon in Korea, or Zen/Shingon in Japan. Of these, which is the most realistic choice for a Westerner, if any? I wonder because I know all these nations have modernized, secularized, and lost their original spiritual potency to some degree, though I imagine to a lesser extent than here in the West.
I know that is a lot to answer and perhaps has a ring of idealism or naivety to it, and so it does, but I am sincere in my heart. I greatly appreciate any advice anyone can lend me on these topics and in regards to my personal situation.
Thanks in advance.