Whenever I read in Dharma discussion boards and groups it always strikes me how much more serious Western Theravada practitioners seem to be about their practice than followers of Mahayana/Zen or Vajrayana. You find much more discussion on actual meditation practice and exchange of personal experience between Theravadins than you’ll read from the Mahayana crowd.
Actually, you don’t really see much exchange about actual practice from Mahayana folks at all. They seem to generally be more interested in posting quotes of their favourite Zen or Tibetan Buddhist teachers or engage in pointless discussions about correct understanding of Dharma terms than discussing actual practice. They talk more about their orthodox ideas of “how Dharma has to be done” than actually doing it.
Western Theravadins on the other hand seem to be much more concerned about their meditation practice and deepening their understanding thereof by seeking exchange with other practitioners.
As a Vajrayana practitioner this has always puzzled me because I never saw the point of following Theravada when you have Vajrayana teachings and practices available. However, my perception of this has probably been biased because I early on had the good fortune to meet a pragmatic and non-dogmatic Vajrayana teacher. I also started to read the very precise classic Mahamudra manuals when I started to fully immerse myself in the practice so I never had any other impression of Vajrayana than being extremely practice-oriented and precise in the instructions.
Looking at the state of Vajrayana and Mahayana in the West besides my own experience however gives a completely different picture. Compared to the “call to action” approach of Theravada teachers with a clear outline of what to do, the wide majority of Mahayana, Zen and Vajrayana teachings of today is incredibly blurry. It is not presented as clearly outlined path to follow at all. Often, it seems to be more of a religious denomination than a spiritual practice to achieve a transformation of mind.
So I wonder, do you have made similar observations? And why do you think, Theravada is more appealing to serious practictioners in the West so far?
May all beings be free.