On the path of awakening, it is quite common for people to spend too much time on the non-essentials, and thus, not enough time on the essentials. This is why it’s so easy to get sidetracked.

One way of getting sidetracked, which I see all the time on awakening-focused sites and forums, is the perpetual debate over the superiority of one awakening tradition over another. Some examples are…

– True Self vs. No-self
– Hinayana vs. Mahayana
– Buddha Nature vs. No-nature
– Awareness as Ground of being vs. awareness as transient consciousness
– Already awake vs. not yet awakened
– Practice vs. no practice
– Sudden awakening vs. gradual awakening
– Buddhism vs. pick-your-favorite-religion
– etc. vs. etc.

People spend HOURS spinning round n’ round over this stuff. And where does it get them? Nowhere.

And then there are those meditation gearheads, who spend all their time talking shop. They endlessly describe their experience to others, in the most technically precise terms they can think of, down to the tiniest little flickering phenomenon. But this becomes a sort of “who can see it better?” contest. This, too, is a big fat waste of time, and therefore, another way to get majorly sidetracked.

Your preferred tradition doesn’t matter, nor do your superior perceptive abilities matter. It’s not that either are total roadblocks on the path of awakening, but they are superior time wasters. They are activities in which we engage to (albeit unconsciously) put off getting to the task at hand.

Get over your tradition. Get over your wicked skills. Practice as best you can, look reality square in the face, and forget about defending a tradition or showing off your knowledge and/or skills. In doing so, you’ll avoiding getting sidetracked, and will eventually awaken to what you’ve been avoiding for so long – the truth.