Hello! I'm 27, recently moved to Portland, OR from Pennsylvania, where I attended school at Penn State and graduated in 2013 with a dual B.A. in Religious Studies and Japanese.
My studies started around 2004, when my Japanese teacher introduced me to Pure Land and Zen Buddhist traditions. I have been an artist as far back as I can remember, and as a child was inspired by popular media such as music, animation and video games. After formally studying the culture, I came to notice how much Japanese culture was lost among American audiences, especially regarding religion. In 2007, I had a dream about Amitabha shortly after attending a Jōdo Shinshū temple and picking up taiko drumming, which inspired me to take up a more serious and eclectic study of Buddhism, including Theravada and the Nikaya/Agama canon.
My interests cover various subjects within the overlap of Buddhist and Western pagan/occult traditions, including meditation, cosmology, mythology, and gender. After a certain Uposatha observance, I came to identify as non-binary/gender fluid for a time. In hindsight, I realize that this identification came from a misunderstanding of LGBT culture and identity view. I'm slowly beginning to realize that gender is irrelevant at this point in time in my practice. I've been studying Japanese language and culture since 2004, which has served as a catalyst for my interest in becoming more involved with the POC community. This in turn has provided me with the opportunity to learn and grow within the tradition. You really begin to notice the tropes in Buddhist literature and how they relate to our own experiences interacting with fellow humans. I studied abroad at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan in 2010 and Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Monastery in Kaohsiung, Taiwan in the summer of 2015.
I have had a few very intense experiences in my 10 years of practicing meditation, which primarily includes mindfulness of breathing. In 2010, I experienced a vision of Vajirapani, a Buddhist deity who was synthesized with Herakles among the Greeks in the area that is now Pakistan and Afghanistan. I didn't know at the time of the experience, but discovered several depictions of this deity that were eerily reminiscent of what I saw in the vision. This historical period, as well as my involvement with the Pagan community, inspired me in 2012 to adopt Paganism as a valid worldview within my practice, especially as I reflect on the various states of the deva worlds. I've recently found inspiration in Alexander Duncan's writings in light of these ideas. It's part of my intuition that the widespread nature of folklore and mythology can play a vital role in aiding communication across cultures and potentially building a more cohesive, "global" community.
That being said, I'm mostly a solitary practitioner. And I'm absolutely comfortable wandering alone, "like a rhinoceros," but figured I'd try becoming more involved with the online community. It's nice to be acquainted with everyone and I look forward to studying the Dhamma with y'all!