There Are Two Types Of Spiritual Paths
– one ‘loose’ and the other ‘tight’
In this context, ‘loose’ means relaxed, and ‘tight’ means having little room to manoeuvre. One could say that ‘loose’ is accuracy in skilful practice, and ‘tight’ is accuracy in liberation.
We could even say that ‘loose’ is the beginning of the book, and ‘tight’ is the realisation of the end of the book.
Starting from the beginning of the book, we gradually build a firm foundation.
Starting from the end of the book, the realisation is pointed out and we use skilful practice to sustain it.
Here we have to remember the Buddha’s words, “Not too tight and not too loose.” The path that happens to come our way – or the path that we lean towards – will be dictated by our temperament and background ie karma, including the practices we engaged upon in previous lives.
In Buddhism, the ‘loose’ path is the Mahamudra; it is safe, steady and gradual, and builds a firm foundation (although if one is fortunate enough to meet a precise teacher, that path can be swift). The ‘tight’ path is Dzogchen; it is direct and clear, but is only for a certain type of student as the onus is on us to sustain it.
The aphorism, “Not too tight and not too loose” is extremely important in order that we avoid becoming too fixated on either of these paths: we have to know how to adjust our practice according to whether we feel sleepy or speedy.
All spiritual traditions have their exoteric and esoteric aspects (and this can, unfortunately, create misunderstandings).
Both Mahamudra and Dzogchen lead to the same point of pure consciousness.
The methods are just different.