Rimé or “non-sectarianism” is a very attractive terminology. Sometimes, people call themselves “Rimé” practitioners so that they are perceived as above all lineages. But Rimé is not a fashion statement nor a branding exercise. There are also many people who misunderstand Rimé, thinking that so long as they believe in anything, follow everything and go everywhere, they are non-sectarian. Some of them even criticise those others following a particular lineage or a particular spiritual belief as being fanatically sectarian.
So, what is authentic Rimé? What is the real meaning of spiritual freedom? What is the importance of a lineage, and why is it important to protect a lineage for now and for future generations?
To my understanding, if you misunderstand Rimé, it would make you homeless. You would end up wandering everywhere without a direction and getting nowhere, going around collecting lineages, collecting teachings and collecting gurus. Besides being a great collector, I am not sure what other benefits you would get.
Authentic Rimé actually means the respect for every lineage, every teaching and every spiritual belief and not only that, the genuine appreciation would make you leave these beautiful lineages, teachings and beliefs alone, without any motivation of interference and conversion. Authentic Rimé doesn’t mean that you practise everything, that is every religion and every lineage, because even though you would like to, your life is too short, you cannot do it. So you have to practise whatever your lineage is, and yet at the same, you must have a genuine respect for other religions and lineages, feeling deeply appreciative that there are so many different varieties of beliefs and lineages coexisting with your own belief and lineage. The genuine respect and a deep sense of appreciation must be there in order to be an authentic Rimé practitioner who practises his or her own lineage.
Spiritual freedom is very much connected with this understanding of authentic Rimé. Spiritual freedom means that you don’t dictate what others should believe in, you don’t interfere with what other spiritual lineages are teaching, and there is no forced conversion. If you convert either by force or by any other softer methods, there is no spiritual freedom. So I would say that spiritual freedom means no conversion. Spiritual freedom is to let karmic connection takes you on your spiritual path, and there is no manual, manipulative or fabricated conversion.
When your karma turns to this spiritual lineage, that is the lineage you follow because it’s your destination. For example in Buddhism, Lord Buddha gave 84,000 methods, and each has its own karmic connection with different beings. Even though Buddha gave such a huge variety of teachings, each has its own beauty. So therefore, whoever following one particular lineage needs to be protecting this lineage, without harming and interfering with other lineages. This is a great service to the Dharma.