I have often found that some of my readers think I have not known other spiritual paths beside Buddhism. So I thought it might be beneficial to share my past, and what led me to the teachings of the Buddha.
Having been Christian most of my life, I am sure many might think that some disaster happened in my life and I turned away from God. But this is not the case at all.
As I reflect back, my whole life I was searching for answers and a deeper understanding of this life. And for most of it, I looked to the Bible for teachings and answers. The more I studied, the more questions I had. And I came to learn that the Bible had gone through so many changes, additions, deletions and interpretations over the centuries, that I was not likely getting the truth. So I tried to go deeper, by reading the Nag Hammadi Library and studying the gnostic gospels. You see, I wanted to understand the real words of God and the true teachings of Jesus.
What I began to see is that there was much more to understand than what I had always thought. All of the constrained and disciplinary type of teachings that I had grown-up with did not logically apply.
And I think logic is the real key to what began my journey beyond scripture.
It was a few years after this that I became good friends with a woman who was an avid reader of Eastern philosophies. She studied Sufism, Taoism, Jainism, Hinduism and even the teachings of Osho.
While I was not attracted to any one of these in particular, I was constantly taken with her insights and wisdom. She had a very different way of viewing things and it always helped me with my personal struggles.
Finally, one day I was speaking to another friend about her and saying that I wish I understood more about these things. He suggested I stop at the book store and pickup a book on Buddhism.
Although I put it off for several months, I finally went to Borders and bought the book Buddhism Plain and Simple by Steve Hagen.
Once I started reading it, I could not put it down. Everything made so much sense. I kept feeling like slapping myself in the head and saying “duh, now I get it!”. A true “aha” moment in my life.
And I think one of the most appealing teachings was that we should investigate for ourselves, and believe nothing based on faith but upon our own examination.
“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” ~ Kalama Sutta
And this was the impetus of my journey into the Buddha dhamma (teachings).
And while I remain open to all other beliefs and practices, I find that the teachings of the Buddha offer practical lessons for me always. Lessons of acceptance, loving kindness, compassion, equanimity and peace.
Bless each of you, and thank you for walking with me on this journey.
I hope that my words may be of benefit to you, and that you may be encouraged to investigate and question for yourself.
May you be well, happy and peaceful.