The Worst Buddhist Ever

by Ragtimelil

I’ve spent many years of my life searching for a spiritual group or religion that I could belong to. I’ve never really found it but it has been an interesting journey.

I grew up with no real religious direction from my parents. My grandparents were staunch Southern Baptist. They were also racists. They were at heart kind people and kept quiet about their views in the 60s but I knew the truth

They dragged me to Sunday school as a child. The teacher taught us that old standby, “Jesus loves the little children...red and yellow, black and white……”
Unfortunately, the adults seemed to have forgotten that song.

The Early Years

I wouldn’t go near a Baptist Church when I got older. Not that all Baptists are bad people, but my experiences were not good.  I tried Methodist since they were nearby. They had a fantastic minister. The congregation kicked him out for his views and almost “spiritual” services. I left right after he did.

As I got older, I started reading about Hinduism and Buddhism and Theosophy, which I didn’t really get. I practiced yoga and meditated for a while. Then I’d start to forget to do it. So I drifted on. 

Native American

I started reading books about and by Native Americans. The book, Black Elk Speaks by John G. Nehardi really struck a chord with me. I read it several times along with Fools Crow by Frank Fools Crow and Thomas Mails.

I read Pathways by Thomas Mails which outlines some ceremonies that are acceptable for anyone to do and Rainbow Tribe: Ordinary People Journeying on the Red Road by Ed McGaa. I was so taken by his book I wrote him a letter and he even answered me.

 I came to realize, however, that no matter how much I related to the tales and teachings of Native Americans, I was not a Native American and there was no church to join. I could never learn all there was to know from books. In fact, some Native Americans don’t like sharing their religion with outsiders. I kept what I could and sadly drifted on.

Wicca and the Druids

(with apologies to Jo)

I read a lot about Wicca and Druids. Some of my best friends have gone this path. There are so many groups that it would seem that I could find my niche, but, sadly, I didn't fit here either. As much as I believed some of the same principles, there was always some little concept that just didn't feel right. Once again, I kept what made sense and wandered away.

The long awaited documentary A Very British Witchcraft looking at the origins of Wicca is due to be broadcast on More Four on Saturday 17 August 2013.
There are thirteen Esbats in the Wiccan Wheel of the Year. It's the night of the full moon. There are twelve Esbats in any Western calendar. They're all moon-ths or months.
Wiccan funerals are all about honoring the dead, but not in a way that assumes that they've gone. In fact, a place is set there for them.
Frightened by a supernatural presence? Feeling overwhelmed by other people's emotions? Or drained by a psychic vampire? Wiccans might raise the Tower of Light.
Eight Sabbats and 13 moons make up the Wiccan Wheel of the Year. They each carry a spiritual and practical significance.
Self-initiates into Wicca haven't the benefit of a coven to guide their path. As a High Priestess, let me point you in the right direction.

And Others

I read up on the Qabalah. That really impressed me. Some of the teachings fit right in with what I had been learning. It just was so complicated. I couldn't really grasp it and there were no teachers nearby. 

I would have loved to have gone to a Quaker service, but they were hard to find. They were always an hour or more away from me.

When I lived in New England I was always close to the Christian Science Church. They have a great newspaper, but I’m not totally sure I’d be a real believer. I’d love to visit a spiritualist service too but I’m not sure about that either.  

Buddhism

Once again I began to read about Buddhism. It seems you can be a Buddhist and still believe in any religion - as long as it holds love and compassion to be the essence of happiness.

Some say it's not even a religion but a philosophy. I read books by the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh. 

I read some history and biographies and interviews with practitioners. I’m certainly no expert, but  there seemed to be a variety of beliefs and practices. I could find just about any tradition that made sense to me yet the main message according to the well-known Dali Lama is love and compassion. I could agree with that.

It’s hard to believe but there is actually a Buddhist retreat center in the little town of  Willis, Texas. The monk who runs it is on an indefinite tour according to his blog. 

Farther Along

I tried again to meditate daily. I tried sitting and walking meditations  Unfortunately, I think I’m the “worst Buddhist ever” as someone on a web site said. I keep forgetting to meditate. I don’t know what else I should be doing. I did do a chant for 40 days but I did have to get out of bed a couple of times when I remembered just before falling asleep.

I don’t know where this journey is going to take me. I have to believe that I am a spiritual person. I see beauty around me in growing plants, and birds and butterflies. I try to be grateful for the blessings I do have. I try to be kind to others even when they really tick me off. I do believe there is something greater than we can even know. Someday I hope to understand. As the old song goes,

 

“Farther along, we’ll know more about it;

Farther along, we’ll understand why;

Cheer up my sister, Live in the sunshine;

We’ll understand it all bye and bye.”

Mississippi John Hurt

Updated: 10/17/2012, Ragtimelil
 
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frankbeswick on 10/23/2016

Good point. From examining Christian groups I have noted that very small churches/groups can be quite exclusive in their views, sometimes tolerating no differences of opinion. A friend of mine, a Baptist minister, was expelled by his congregation because of a minor difference of theology. He remains a Baptist but had to find another congregation that would accept him. Whereas, I have disagreed with the priests in my parish occasionally, but I would never dream of trying to be rid of them. And they, knowing full well that I have a mind of my own, would not want rid of me.

Ragtimelil on 10/22/2016

Thank you for the comment. Part of the draw of joining a group is for the social contact. Some groups are very outgoing but some bend over backwards to accept everyone and not interfere - leaving the new person adrift and as much alone as before. Just never found the right mix.

frankbeswick on 10/22/2016

I note that you have spent much time searching for a group to belong to. Is this the right path, for all groups you meet will contain varying views and people of different characters? I am a Roman Catholic, but I disagree with some other Catholics on specific issues, and I am not alone. And if there is scope for disagreement in a religion as tightly centralized as Catholicism, there is scope for disagreement anywhere. So what you need to do is not to seek a group with which you are in absolute agreement, but to decide what you think about the ultimate truth and select the group whose views come nearest to yours. Wishing you a fruitful and happy journey to the truth.

frankbeswick on 10/22/2016

Finding the ultimate reality is neither a matter of inside us or outside, for we are in it in a sense and it permeates us like air. But we are not the ultimate reality, for the Christian experience is that it is wholly other and transcends comprehension.

When we speak of Jesus we must beware of reducing him to a specific role or event, for he was what scholars call a master figure [as were Buddha and Zoroaster.] These master figures dwell within a culture, but transcend it, and they take their cultural heritage and transform it . They are not necessarily right about what they think, but they are strong characters, creative and powerful.

Ragtimelil on 10/21/2016

You make some good points.

I AM on 10/21/2016

We are each Sui Generis. Of our own kind. The problem with religions is that they are usually created by followers. Jesus was not a Christian he was a Jewish carpenter who chased the money changers out of the temple for worshipping graven images. Why is there a suggestion that if you see Buddha in the road kill him. It's not a litteral killing it's about creating a false image of something a worshipping that rather than the unique essence within each an every one of us. Money has perverted spirituality as the prophets of profit spin the teachings of great realized masters into something one can make money off of. Best to leave religion for the religionists and find the truth inside to share that with others for free!

Guest on 02/28/2016

There are also big differences in types of Buddhist and Hindu thought. There are the more cosmological and social housekeeping ideas and then there is the liberation idea (moksha, nirvana). The first one offers a way for people to organize social life, manage how you feel, what is a good life.

The second is more of a way inward. You'll see this more in Advaita Vedanta, Zen (Chan). The concept of rebirth is indeed that you are bound to karmic effects. In the housekeeping idea people strive to improve the karmic effects, to get more 'good' (the social world) and less suffering.

But when we talk about self-realisation or liberation the path is toward the end of karma all together, neither good karma nor bad karma. It's the end of 'calculated' action. You can compare it with wu-wei (Dao). The realisation of Self and the of cycles.

frankbeswick on 01/04/2016

Wittgenstein gave us the concept of family resemblance, by which he meant that rather than having ABC with one common element, A is like B, which is in another way like C and so on,so we get a chain of resemblance. So Christianity is like Hinduism in that in believes in God,but Hinduism is like Buddhism in that it believes in the wheel of life, but in this way Buddhism does not resemble Christianity. So Buddhism resembles Hinduism, but it is a philosophy, so in some ways it is closer to philosophical systems, but it is a religious philosophy.

Buddhism believes in rebirth rather than reincarnation. The difference is that in reincarnation the essential person is thought to be reborn, but in rebirth it is the consciousness with kammic [karmic] effects that is reborn, so what is reborn is neither you nor not you, to use Buddha's explanation. This is why the Dalai Lama, when asked about his rebirths, does not say that he is previous Dalai Lamas reborn, but that he is connected with them. I think that the root of this belief is that it preserves the essential consciousness, but that it accepts that our social selves in previous embodiments are over.

Veronica on 01/04/2016

I always think of Buddhism as a philosophy and not as a religion. I don't believe in reincarnation.

I agree with Frank that life is a journey. I find religion gives me a few pegs to hang my hat on along the way. At times when I wonder which way to go, it helps me choose the right one for me. I don't ever impose my way on anyone else. I don't assume that I have all the answers because I don't. I find guidance in it.

I hope your journey is a pleasant one.

Ragtimelil on 01/03/2016

I like that! Thanks for commenting.


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