I try not to discuss Religion and Politics. Both are things I am sort of still finding my way with. I'm breaking my rule today and I'm going to talk about Buddhism because I feel the need to explain myself a bit.
I was raised sort of Catholic. Sort of because I wasn't ever made to go to Catholic school or even go to mass very often. We went on Christmas Eve and for weddings and sometimes Easter or when a mass was dedicated to my grandfather who passed away when I was eight. I was christened but never had my first communion. See, my father was sent to Catholic schools and made to go to mass every Sunday and pray the rosary and all that. My sisters (they're 10 and 11 years older than I am) were sent to Catholic elementary schools and had a strong Catholic foundation as well. By the time I came along my mom and dad decided they didn't want to force any religious dogma down my throat and wanted me to decide for myself.
Throughout my twenties I was constantly searching to fill that spiritual side of me and it wasn't an easy process. I have always had a hard time with the Christian idea of faith and I had a hard time blindly putting my trust in Christianity. Believe me, I tried... I wanted to believe in all of it... my life would be much simpler. I went to church, I researched, I tried different forms of Christianity. I studied the Bible, I asked for forgiveness, I prayed. I asked Jesus Christ to enter my heart in tears... I wanted to have that faith, I wanted to find peace.
It just didn't happen for me. I moved on to different religions but everywhere I turned there was this mysticism that didn't make sense to me. It wasn't until I really discovered Buddhism that something finally made sense.
There is a lot of mysticism in today's Buddhism. Some of today's Buddhism, that is. But when I stripped away all of that mysticism and looked at what the Buddha actually taught I felt like I had found home. I finally found something that made perfect sense... something that I didn't have to blindly follow... something that actually taught me to open my eyes and make my own decisions. It wasn't about golden statues, self-deprivation, and the lotus position. What the Buddha taught was the Middle Way. He taught his followers to open their eyes and make the right choices. Not the easy choices, not the safe choices, not the popular choices... the RIGHT choices. He taught his followers not to follow him! He taught them to see things as they really are, to learn compassion, and to say what they truly mean and never lie. Sure, it's a little more detailed than all that but essentially the Buddha taught his followers to stay away from extremes and to do the right thing. All the time... even when it's hard.
My family seems to be a bit confused about my choice to study Buddhism. I have to think it's because they don't understand it. Unfortunately, I get a bit tongue tied when confronted with their questions. Hopefully this post can help me explain to them a bit... or maybe I'll just have them read it. ;)