What lineage did the Buddha hold?

I was checking out various blogs on the Engaged Buddhist Network and saw a post titled “What did the Buddha take refuge in.” It brought me back to something I’ve been thinking about for a bit now, and have spoken with others about it as well– what lineage did Buddha hold?

There are all sorts of Buddhist lineages and schools out there– Soto Zen, Rinzai Zen, Kwan Um Zen, Tibetan (there are many schools under this Tibetan umbrella as well), Nichiren, Pure Land, etc. Which one do you think the Buddha followed?

He didn’t follow any of them, he was a rebel and beat his own drum. He said, in not these exact words, I can see there are things happening here– people are suffering, and I am going to do something about it. He didn’t have a lineage, a teacher or guru, he saw what was wrong and did what he could to fix it.

It’s human nature to constantly label and call ourselves something, I guess we think it makes a part of something bigger than ourselves, to be included “in the group”. And while I do agree, we are all “one group” and are completely interdependent on one another, I think things like labels and titles may do more harm than good.

Labels put us in a box,  they single us out. Labels constrict us and can even make us small minded at times. We lose sight of the “bigger picture” when we put a stamp on something and say “that’s what that is, and it will always be that way.” It won’t always be that way, everything changes, constantly, such is the way of Samsara.

The Buddha once said…

How joyful to look upon the Awakened,
And to keep the company with the Wise.

Follow then the Shining Ones,
The Wise,
The Awakened,
The Loving,
For they know how to work and forebear.

But if you cannot find Friend
or Master to go with you,
Travel on alone –
Like a king who has given away his kingdom,
Like an elephant in the forest.

If the traveler can find
A Virtuous and Wise companion,
Let him go with him joyfully,
And overcome the dangers of the way.

Follow them,
As the moon follows the path of the stars.

What struck me was the part that says:

But if you cannot find Friend
or Master to go with you,
Travel on alone –
Like a king who has given away his kingdom,
Like an elephant in the forest.

That small paragraph alone strips it all down, just do it. Be the person that you can be, do what you can. Buddha did, so can you. And like a very wise man once told me….

“Yeah. be yr own man. the Buddha was.”


  1. I like what Tony has said and this goes for any religion.It all breaks off into little groups.A good look to read is Siddhartha by Herman Hesse,it gives you a little differant percertion.

  2. All schools of thought and religion have this same problem. They split and split and split again. In the end I believe the original message is ultimately lost when this happens.

    It is believed the last words of the Buddha were “Behold, O monks, this is my last advice to you. All component things in the world are changeable. They are not lasting. Work hard to gain your own salvation.”

    “Work hard to gain your own salvation.” I like that sentence. In the end all responsibility is put back on me. It doesn’t matter which school of thought thinks it’s right. It doesn’t matter what my sangha believes. In the end there are no excuses; “I was taught the wrong thing. I followed the wrong sangha. I did what others told me to.” No, in the end I am responsible for my own salvation. To compare to what you have written: In the end I have walked my own path and beat my own drum, just like the Buddha did.

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