Thursday, January 12, 2006

In the Beginning. . .

Being raised in the religion formerly known as RLDS (now called the Community of Christ) I feel like I was given enough of a Christian education to realize that there are some serious short comings in that belief system. Now if you’re coming from a Christian background and still subscribe to that belief system, just relax and calm down I’m not saying your wrong (heh, unless you tell me that I am).
One of the most fundamental thing about Christianity that I can not subscribe to is the concept of an eternal afterlife. Not that there is one, but that there is a place that you go as a result for living 70-100 years. Assuming that the Christian God is a fair and just god then it is incomprehensible that a person would be rewarded or punished for eternity for only living 70-100 years. One hundred years is no where close to eternity that is not fair, just or equal. Once I realized this then Christianity fell from me like shackles.

That was back in 1995 or 1996 I’ve been wandering looking at a wide array of religions ever since. Eventually my wanderings took me to Buddhism and although I wish I could say that once I found it I thought ah ha! It wasn't like that at all, I felt like there was such a strong focus on suffering and the annihilation that it couldn't be a path that held any meaning for me.

One of my first real exposures was when I bought the book How To Practice: The Way to a Meaningful Life by the Dalai Lama. I didn’t understand much of it and ended up feeling like the whole suffering annihilation thing was just wrong. Key point there "I didn't uderstand much of it".

It seemed that I kept returning to Buddhism over and over for some reason and eventually I found several podcasts on Buddhism primarily AudioDharma and ZenCast. AudioDharma is the website for the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, CA. Their primary speaker/teacher is a man by the name of Gil Fronsdal and although I have never met Gil his teachings have really changed the way I live and look at my life. Since listening to the AudioDharma I have re-read "How to Practice" and am not exactly sure where I got that the initial ideas that I did as the Dalia Lama excplicitly talks againsts the ideas of annihilism. Anyway it is a great book. I don't think it was a great first book though because I felt like it has some very challenging and complex concepts that took me several days to digest. I would have to put the book on hold and just ponder the concepts for several days before I could move on through the book.

I suppose that is probably enough ramblings for now, the last 5 months have been pretty incredible, I’ve gone from feeling like a crazy person for attempting to meditate on my own, to feeling like a crazy person if I don’t get a chance to sit and meditate. I’m looking forward to what the new year will bring. . .