One Size Never Fits All

There is no single, definitive tradition in the buddhadharma, because there are all kinds of sentient beings who have their own interests and dispositions. For that reason, there has to be a wide variety in methods for traversing the path. Mind is not a definite, concrete thing. For that reason, the methods for relating to the mind also cannot be concrete and universal.

The main objective of the dharma is to tame our minds—to bring peace and happiness to our minds—but there needs to be a wide variety of methods available for different sentient beings. For example, some beings might give rise to bodhichitta, the wish to attain enlightenment, through meditating on emptiness. The meditation on emptiness might be an avenue for them to connect with the altruistic heart of bodhichitta. On the other hand, other beings might not be able to connect with bodhichitta through contemplating emptiness. So there’s no universal rule, no definitive set of methods. Again, it leads back to the state of mind: since there’s no definitive, universal state of mind, there can never be any definitive, universal set of methods.

At the same time, there are traditions within Buddhism that are very beneficial and carry great blessings, because they are the traditions of highly accomplished spiritual beings. These blessings are special and should be seen as sacred and beneficial. That’s why we respect the teaching styles and methods of the great spiritual masters of the past. They don’t have to be regarded as concrete rules, but at the same time they do carry supreme blessings.

—17th Karmapa