All roads lead to the same mountaintop.
Be a lamp unto yourself. Work out your liberation with diligence.
We all have a responsibility; to ourselves and to others, to those we never met and those that we spend our daily lives with, to strangers and to lovers, to aspire to our own liberation. Damn, those words sound far too lofty to be coming from me. I am a bag of wind.
However, it seems to me that we are often stuck in the middle of a pissing match between opposing (really?) schools and sects. Teachers and roshis engage in a Dharma Combat that seems more appropriate for the Jerry Springer Show than for a meditation hall.
Organizational Buddhism is fine but don’t get too wrapped up into the hype that it sometimes represents. When someone, Roshi or not, tells you that their path is the correct one and all others are wrong – they are stifling your growth and building their own ego. For me, the truth seems simple. The mountain has many paths to the top but not every one is right for every practitioner. We choose our own route. Take the time to learn about the other paths and incorporate what seems right into your own practice. Ignore the boundaries that the patriarchs and the past have placed upon us. Ignore whether or not it is “authentic” or not. Ignore whether or not your practice is the same practice that your sangha-mates participate in. If your practice includes other religious and spiritual outlets, then go with it.
In the long run, all of us (Roshis, monks and lay persons) are walking bags of dung but even dung-sacks deserve a practice that is individual to them. Be a Buddhist pirate and pillage these schools for what is useful to you and leave the rest. Settle down with one if you pillaging days are over but remember that it may only be temporary. It may be time to take to the seas again.
Pirates are awesome.