At a young age I found I had a great interest in exploring my own, as well as others’ religions. I read quite a few books about different religions and went to as many different churches as I could. It was in high school that I really began to branch out. I earned the nickname da buddha because I always seemed to be reading some book on eastern religions. Then in college I took a more personal approach. I spent time with a few people with different religious backgrounds exploring what their faith had to offer. One man named Sankirtan das I took a special interest in, he was a follower of Jagad Guru, a student of the Hare Krishna movement in the 60’s. Then after taking time away to travel and discover myself, my interest in religion stopped. To be honest the only reason I enrolled in this course was to satisfy a prerequisite. I have gone from wanting to be a minister and almost enrolling in a seminary to being very cynical and detached from religion.
If I was to have to describe my own religion, I would say it is either a mix between Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism (as well as a few others), or it is simply nonexistent. I have locked in to the view that no matter how hard I search for truth I will never find it, therefore I stopped searching. Honestly, I’m ok with that. I believe it was in the book Siddhartha buy Herman Hesse that Siddhartha said, “a stone is but a stone and I love it for that”. Now I probably murdered that qoute but what he was saying is don’t try to read in to life simply live and love each moment. That I guess is my religion. I live each moment for that moment and don’t worry about God, or Buddha, or Krishna, or Alla, or (I could keep writing for days). I do keep in mind what I have learned from these religions, however. I try to live my life in a manner that is virtuous. I wouldn’t want to come back as a mosquito or anything (that was a joke, ha ha)
I must say that in my journey for truth I have come across a few people that really hit on something. One is a man named Thitch Nhat Hanh. I’m sure you have heard of him and probably read his books. He is a Vietnamese monk who ties together many religions that seem so distant in their beliefs. His books came to me at a time when the many religions I had studied were beginning to clash in my head. I was raised as a Christian, yet I had begun to grow very found of much of the Buddhist faith. The book Living Buddha Living Christ gave me the vision to see I would not be turning my back on my religion to embrace another. Rather my own beliefs were enriched and strengthened by combining the two.
Jagad Guru was another whose words touched my heart. He explained reincarnation in a way that actually made sense to a southern white boy from a Christian background. That was a task in itself yet he also began to talk many things that a year before I would of called blasphemous. I almost decided to go to Jagad’s retreat to hear and understand more of his teachings. However I decided to go on my own retreat, a decision that would completely change my beliefs.
I got in my VW bus that I had worked hard to restore and hit the road. The key was I didn’t take a single piece of religious literature. I only had my thoughts to keep me company (especially sense my radio wasn’t working). I was able to let myself do the teaching instead of always relying on the words of others. It was then that I discovered I had no need for that safety blanket called religion. To many people hide under it for comfort or use it in defense or simply hold on to it because it is so familiar. Religion is used to fill the void in people’s lives whatever that void may be. Only by discarding it can one truly be alive, living in the present moment. Living each moment leaves no room for religion for there is no need for it. I believe in a force beyond my own but I no longer dwell upon it, for it is and always will be an unknown.