You would have us share our personal self
narratives, Kim? Naughty, naughty.
But I'm eager to oblige. Pardon me if it is too long and rambles on a bit.
I was born in the year of our Lord, nineteen hundred and eighty three. The wild lock of black hair, and the beady eyes with which I was delivered soon changed. In their place was a lovely head of brown, and two large brown 'bambi' eyes. Additionally, I was slightly built in those early years. Yes, I looked like a lovely little girl when I was a wee one.
Alas! being cute didn't make me wholesome in any meaningful way, for I grew up with a penchant for lying and suffered an agonizing fear of abandonment. Add in an opinionated character, and it is little surprise that I inevitably came into conflict with every friend that I have ever had (and more than one family member). "Violent" would be an appropriate term for such collisions. "Dishonest" and "Bitter", too.
Fast forwarding through my life story, we may note the deep dark sad hole that I climbed into in my early teens, the bright spot where I had climbed out in my early twenties, subsequently meeting my wife, and the pit, lit by an orange light and well heated, into which I tossed myself only a few short years later.
Eventually I was separated from the wife, living with my parents and fearful that I would lose access to my kids. Not knowing what else to do, and having never applied myself to my Buddhist Beliefs, I was desperate for some divine intervention. Enter here my Bible, my Quaran, and my many hours reading one or the other. I even took to church attendance; all that singing is great, by the way.
Now, I had been a crappy so called Buddhist right from my introduction to the dhamma, at the age of 16. I'm still trying to get the 'good' wedged into my title now that I'm 28. But I certainly had understood basic tenets of dhamma long before I came to this low point in my life. I had just ignored them.
However, in light of this new interest in God, I started to wonder just how it was that God was to save me. Wasn't it true that my lusts and hates had ruined my life? That was obvious, as I clearly had ruined my life by pulling in one and pushing out the other. Yet, those things were right here in my mental space, and it seemed fantastical that a being could reach in and tweek them. Especially with the whole 'free will' thing. Worse, God seemed very much a 'tit-for-tat' kind of being who would provide no comfort unless I gave him all my love. Really? He was that needy? He didn't seem much better than me.
It seemed more that I was to bear down on this notion of God, unproven and unprovable as it is, with all my mind and heart, thereby suppressing the 'undesirable' aspects of my personality. Which seemed a course of action fraught with pearl. Then a verse from the Quran came to mind: 002.061 Y: And remember ye said: "O Moses! we cannot endure one kind of food (always); so beseech thy Lord for us to produce for us of what the earth groweth,- its pot-herbs, and cucumbers, its garlic, lentils, and onions." He said: "Will ye exchange the better for the worse? Go ye down to any town, and ye shall find what ye want!"
In this exchange the people are weary of manna, the food of God, and wish for many forms of common food. Obviously Manna is better, but their low nature makes them long for the common. And it is this verse that stuck in my mind, because I had been longing for the familiar sustenance of my youth, the faith in God that my mother and family members spoke of freely and upon which they anchored all hope, while always recognizing that the Dhamma, as loosely as I grasped it, was the better. At least, it seemed so for me, as I habitually and unintentionally read the Bible and Quran through the prism of the four noble truths and kamma.
It was at this point that I shelved my Holy books, and even those Nikayas I owned but had read little, and found some simple instructions on ATI about meditation and virtue. I sat in meditation that night, and it was difficult but wonderful too. Fascinating, even.
That was between 3 and 4 years ago (my memory is too hazy for certainty). While I still have my difficulties, I am pleased to report that I am an honest man who tries, and usually succeeds, at being kind in speech and restrained bodily. My mind is more happy than not, and I have made amends with my family. Those faults that remain cause me some mental grief, but are unable to get the better of me, for they are only shadows of their former selves.