It has been a couple weeks since I have actively been reading this forum on a regular basis, but I have known of dhammawheel for almost two years. I'd like to take a (hopefully) quick moment to explain.
In my rather typical western upbringing, I grew up in an Evangelical Christian household that we can say took their religion seriously
. Even though our church had a 'rock band' and not an organ, it still felt quite forced to me and unreasonable. I attribute this to the fact that my parents chose this religion, and then rather unknowing of the consequences, forced it on me and my sister. I do not intend to make it seem all bad, as it wasn't, but now that I am in college my parents have at least partially accepted my lack of faith in Christian theology.
This unsatisfactoriness (Dukkha, one might say) with the answers of Christianity led me on a bit of searching. My journey was a bit long, as I didn't find the beauty of the Dhamma right away. I actually began with an interest in Islam, for its theology was more reasonable and it still contained elements of my Christian faith. I learnt some arabic and studied the Qur'an for several months, but ultimately theological issues like everlasting hell got in the way over time. I was left, however, with some lovely knowledge of an area of the world quite misunderstood these days.
After studying Islam, I was introduced to Buddhism briefly and this is where my initial meeting with dhammawheel happened as well. I was very impressed with the wisdom here, but ultimately was too immature to fully grasp some of the teachings like anatta at the time. If only I had read some Thanissaro Bhikku back then, I might have saved my self some time!
Nevertheless, I went on to read some of the philosophical works of Shri Adi Shankaracharya and the Advaita Vedanta philosophy. This proved to be initially helpful, as its view of God was more in line with my own philosophy. You can see the trend from Christianity's anthropomorphic God, to Islam's "too great to be described" formless creator, to the more subtle Brahman of the Upanishads. Again, this was initially very beneficial, but Philosophy took importance over actual practice as it often does with the western mind, and I became stagnant.
Luckily however, I was able to rediscover Buddhism several months ago, This time without much confusion. As you now know, I am intent on focusing on walking the Eightfold Path, not just reading or philosophizing about it. All of the regular contributors at dhammawheel have helped me greatly in the past several months, and for that I thank you. I hope to see you around!
"The point of meditation is to essentially push the ego into a corner so that it has nowhere else to go. The ego is based on attachment—our attachment to the body and to ideas. When the ego is cornered and has nowhere to go, the only thing one can do is to put it down. And when one puts down the ego, then that is enlightenment."
- Venerable Sheng-yen