When I was a wee turd growing up in Waldron, IN (population 269, including the town cat), my parental units frequently trotted me to church. I have to scratch my silver pate, and wonder why? Dad wasn’t particularly religious, and certain aspects of Christianity chapped his ass mightily (i.e. homosexuality is a sin, for one.) Mumsy’s parents never took her to church, but for some reason, we attended. And for an even stranger reason, as a 4 or 5 year old child, I felt like I belonged in that sanctuary. I actually wanted to be there!
Fast forward to high school. Mumsy hauled my carcass out of bed every Sunday, and I used church mostly as a social hour–pass notes to the other girls in the back pew, watch to see if anyone was digging for gold (picking the nose), and head back to the nursery to play with the toddlers when the sermon commenced. I had been a highly gung ho Christian as a kid, but was less so as a teen. Why? Well, I was a teen–enough said there, right? Mostly, however, I had begun to question certain tents of my faith. Like, no one can go to heaven if they don’t accept Jesus as their savior. Now in order to do that, one has to have the cognition to grasp the whole concept of Jesus, something a cognitively disabled person would be sadly unable to do. So all cognitively disabled folks who couldn’t understand the concept of Jesus were doomed? What? I don’t recall any caveats to that idea-ya either did or didn’t accept Jesus. Ya either went to heaven or to hell. How could that scheme be cooked up by a loving God? And on and on, until I just couldn’t buy any of it anymore at all. So I waved goodbye to Christianity.
As a college student, partying was one of my top priorities. And I did it.up.right!!!! Despite my addle brained state at the time, I was still fascinated with religion, though I no longer had one. I took a class about world religions, and immediately fell head over heels in love with Buddhism. But where to go be a Buddhist? There was no Internet, only a local magazine sharing some of the religious options around Indy. I investigated nondenominational churches, but they usually brought up my old pal Jesus. Being uncomfortable with that whole scene, I kept trying various forms of Buddhism as I discovered them. I read and read until I thought my eyeballs would pop out, learning about the Dalai Lama and his teachings. In June of 2004, I heard Nicheren Buddhist chanting for the first time. It was mesmerizing, and my soul sat up and looked around. Once I began chanting myself, I was hooked. I joined the Soka Gokkai International, and never looked back.
My Buddhist practice is interspersed with other religious deities and whatnot–anyone else a Ganesha fan? I totally dig Hinduism, but it isn’t my main spiritual squeeze. I enjoy using what works for me from other spiritual paths, combined with Buddhism.
What do I get out of having a spiritual path that I use daily? I truly don’t feel right without one. I feel like a Reese’s Cup without the chocolate–without that one ingredient, it just isn’t a Reese’s Cup. And life without a connection to the Divine simply leaves me empty and sad.
Having a strong spiritual path provides me with a way of viewing the world. I can make sense (or do the best I can) of the Universe using my Buddhist framework. It gives me a method of turning negativity and chaos into positivity and peace. Not that it is an easy task–ha!ha!ha! Donald Trump has challenged my Buddhist practice like about nothing else. And in spite of being Buddhist, I still want to slap the orange right off his face. Never claimed to be perfect, did I?
My practice also provides me a sense of control over my life. In Nichern Buddhism, we believe that by chanting, we influence our karma and can change any situation. Sometimes changing any situation means seeing it in a positive light, rather than being all pissy. And we all know that changing one’s internal landscape transforms our external too. May sound like bollocks, but hey–works for me! The vibrations of our voices have immense power. Firing up my big cake hole for some daily chanting certainly blows my skirt up!
If you would like to explore religion and spirituality, but have no clue where to begin, then here ya are: https://innerself.com/content/personal/spirituality-mindfulness/religions-a-beliefs/6162-choosing-a-spiritual-path-overview-of-world-s-great-religions.html. This explains the major tenets of popular religions, and in plain English. You can also schedule a session with me, one in which we investigate what a happy spiritual practice would look, smell, feel, and taste like to you. Using my intuitive and counseling skills, we will create a path for you. Sound dandy? Swell! You can reach me at 317-440-8783.