I have been a Christian since I was 13; I had been going to church since I was 8. My parents where pretty much agnostic, with my mother being ex-Christian and anti-church.
Image by alicepopkorn via FlickrIT was challenging growing up, but still I could approach my mother with thoughts.
I had always been told by Christian mentors that if I could be a "committed Christian" I could "win her over by my behavior." Talk about the weight of the world. I made it my mission to try to be the Christian she could not object to, and by and by that turned into, "Gee, let me find a religion -- ANY religion -- that she could not object to."
So I have been a fervent spiritual seeker ever since I could think for myself, in search of "True Truth." I would work on the biblical characteristics I saw lacking in Christians: love, gentleness, wisdom... WISDOM being my favorite. When I struggled with faith and lack of victory, they would tell me the whole spiel about how I could do nothing on my own, to wait on the Lord, and many other cliches.
One day I got very tired of waiting on Jesus. When I discovered there where religions like Buddhism that made people good, kind, long-suffering , noble, etc., I decided not to wait on Jesus anymore and go seek to do what I could do on my own to obey the Lord better.
My First Bible verse was, "Cast all your care upon him, for he cares for you." My First Buddha verse was, "All that we are is made up of our thoughts, it is founded on our thoughts and made up of our thoughts."
I had a bumpy Christian life. Imagine living with near rabid atheists, telling me why they did not believe. I avoided hearing a lot of what they said, and considered the more poignant things such as the mechanics of brainwashing. That I paid attention to. And that I saw in the structure of church and the way people used the Bible. I wanted to be an apologist once upon a time. I was going to answer all those difficult questions that I had about the Bible for other people, because I found the standard Christian defense rather unsatisfying.
I was really thrown for a loop when one day while reading a book called "The Bible of the World," which contained religious texts from every religion from Babylon to Zoroastrian, I found the Babylon texts where nearly identical with Genesis. And the best answer I could get for that was, "The Devil knew in advance how the plan would work out and made those false religions to throw us off when the REAL Jesus came." This was told to me with a fully assured straight face. That was a first seed in my religious doubt. SO, I dug into my apologetics -- C.S. Lewis, Josh McDowell, etc. I wrote a mini-thesis (much plagiarized) defending Christianity, my faith hanging on by mere strings. I showed it to a body I was trying to convince of my faith via the Internet. He said nice things about my work and sent me to look some other things up.
I looked at the then young and uprising http://infidels.org. MY faith cracked like the Hoover Dam. ALL the questions I had where blantenly challenged and tested. I took a few hard looks into the origins of my religion, and many of my fears were confirmed. I literally was on my face begging God to not let my faith die. That was oh about 1997-ish. I settled myself with studying Wicca, but then in 2000, loneliness caused me to forget all that and reconvert so I could be with people. I joined a "Word of Faith" group......*rolls eyes*
THAT failed. As soon as I started taking in their teachings, reason reared its ugly head. I thought they had a few things not Biblically correct, so I researched, tried to question the leader, and finally left them. (My very first tongue talking time they all gathered round me to cast *the spirit* out, and I was very offended. To my mind I was speaking of the joy of the Lord!)
All during that time I was also exploring Zen Teachings. And after that experience I gave into Zen and started practicing and also studying Hinduism. Religions lost their appeal to me. I was looking for a relationship with God and to ways to apply the best teachings from everywhere to that end. By and by I met my best friend who is a Christian. We learned from each other, even being different faiths. We where spiritual equals.
the best answer I could get for that was, "The Devil knew in advance how the plan would work out and made those false religions to throw us off when the REAL Jesus came." This was told to me with a fully assured straight face. I gave the Church another try; I reconverted in 2006. I thought I could help people. I had learned a lot during my times away form the church, I learned how to cure my depression, how to observe my mind (and others minds), I learned many spiritual truths. Most of all I learned how to walk with God. For me faith was no feat. Faith and to wait on God was just to observe the flowing of life.
The pastor would talk about growing faith and I was confused, because faith in God was a given. I had learned to watch God move and to accept life as I have it. No need to fret over a thing anymore, good, bad or ugly. I just looked for a lesson that would bring me further in my understanding.
But I saw again, the church isn't about expedients. They don't care about independence. They don't wanna hear about learning or methods for us doing our parts to die to sin. I saw hero worship; I saw nothing mystical (meaning learning life lessons from Jesus and growing in knowledge of God). I took a longer and harder look at the history of my faith and at the real teachings of the Bible and started to let go of church and Christianity. My Christianity died.
My liberation grew. Now rather than quote to you what you could google for yourself, I will tell you what attracts me to Zen. It is the little orange robes..... No, it was how that when I started reading my little Zen books, those dead Zen dudes knew exactly what was going on inside my head.
Them dead dudes knew my psychology. It is not about religion, it is not about the mental violence of conformation. It is about discovering the real and the root of your awareness. To wit, I will quote three small teachings.
"Your guard a spiritual thing; it isnt something you could make, and it isnt something you can describe. In this ground of ours, there is no Buddha, no Nirvana, and no path to practice, no doctrine to actualize. The way is not within existence, or non-existence - what method would on then practice? This abundant light, where ever you are, in every situation, is itself the great way."
"Mystic understanding of truth is not perception or cognition. That is why it is said that you arrive at the original source by stopping your mind, so it is called the enlightened state of being as is, the ultimately independent free individual."
"The body of truth is not constructed;it does not fall into any category. Truth is unshakable; it does not depend on the six senses. Therefore scripture says Buddha nature is constant, while mind is inconstant. That is the sense in which knowledge is not the way and mind is not Buddha. For now, do not say mind is Buddha; do not understand in terms of perception and cognition. This thing originally does not have all those names."
I guess for all intents and purposes I am now an apostate. ( Naw, I am the GREAT apostate, lol.) But the one thing remains constant: I still have my relationship with the Lord. He still guides me and visits when I pray. In fact God is the only thing that remains no matter what I have studied. Even if it is just an illusion of my mind, it remains with me still.
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