I'm not posting this to cause a stir, but really, I just want to know what everyone thinks.
Lately I've been trying to decide which buddhist path is right for me. I started to get lured into Vajrayana (Tibetan) Buddhism, but then decided it may not be for me. So what I wanted to ask is, Why does it feel, at least to me (again, not trying to start a flame war here), that Vajrayana Buddhism appears to boast that they're the only real way to achieving nirvana?
Okay, I've just re-read what I wrote, and I really don't mean it to come off sounding like that, but I don't know what other way to phrase what I'm trying to convey here. I feel like Vajrayana Buddhism comes off as, perhaps, like Catholicism comes off in Christianity. Does that make sense? Like, they have the Pope, and everything is very old school and ritualized. Only difference is, in Christianity it's thought everyone will get to heaven as long as they are good and accept Christ. But with these different sects of Buddhism, I feel as if it's presented as if there's some sort of... snobbery? Is that a good word? Like, if you don't have a Vajrayana Guru to follow, you just won't become enlightened. Sure, in this life you may subscribe to a Theravadan way, but that's just temporary and maybe your next life you'll be "lucky enough" to have a Vajrayana Guru.
Does this make sense? Again, I'm not trying to put Theravada Buddhism down, I'm merely relaying what I'm perceiving to be going on within the communities (very subtly, at least). That's the impression I get as a new-comer to Buddhism.
Also, I just want to close with that I love Thervada tradition and am asking all of this because I was thinking that this path may be the path I do want to pursue. I have a lot of fascination with the Thai Forest Tradition, and I soon want to take refuge in the 3 jewels. But then the whole Vajrayana tradition throws me off, because I keep thinking that I need to have a guru or it's not "real" and I am not really learning anything. You know? Basically, I'm very confused and almost consumed by guilt that I am straying from the Vajrayana path.
Any insights/help would be much appreciated.