TMI—the abbreviation for ‘“too much information” is an apt descriptor for the affliction many experience in studying Vajrayana Buddhism. This tradition seems so complex with all the three of these, the four of those, the five of these, etc.,… The many numerical assignments, originally intended to assist study and memorization by monks and nuns, fall a bit flat for Westerners seeking the simplicity of Buddhism.

Ken Wilber said something to the effect, “Vajrayana Buddhism is very simple in its complexity.” All the years I have spent studying Buddhism and other world religions have made me realize every tradition is self-filtering by virtue of its unique structure. The outward form of a spiritual path provides a vetting system for the sincerity and capabilities of the aspirant. Accessing the complex Vajrayana system requires a certain kind of mind. It is not for everyone.

To say a tradition is not for everyone is the antithesis of traditions that proclaim “the one true way” for all. I always found this a rather silly proclamation. If something is for everyone, then everyone would be interested. It is actually more relaxing to realize any path is only for those who find it helpful and can practice. Otherwise, it is just a distraction. I am happy to know what inspires me does not necessarily inspire others.

So, if you are overwhelmed by the structure of Vajrayana Buddhism, just relax into it and find what piques your curiosity. You can trust that inquiry and you will find your way. Just remember one cannot access the enlightened mind of all the buddhas through words and concepts anyway. Look beyond the packaging and you will behold the light of your pure awareness reflected there. On the other had, if nothing in the tradition gets your spiritual juices flowing, look elsewhere.

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