Hello again friends. I’m posting again on the subject of How I came to Buddhism, today. You should read Part One if you’re reading this and feel a little lost, and please, save your comments for a few days until Part Three is posted.
So as I mentioned earlier, I spent a number of years flirting on the fringe of Christiandom, but never really felt connected to it. My bad behaviors never really seemed to be questioned or challenged by the “believe and you are saved,” / “saved by faith, not works” mentality, which I think leads many people to think they are perfect even though they are hateful, lustful, and mentally out of control.
I also think, just on a personal level, I was turned off of religion in general for some time because I got to thinking… why would any all-loving creator banish a portion of his creation to a state of eternal torment for any reason? I think I abandoned the idea of an eternal hell once I started thinking like this, and eventually agnosticism set in. Agnosticism fit me for a while, but it doesn’t answer the deeper questions as it is really just a term to define the questions themselves. The idea of being agnostic seems more like a temporary way-point for those who are seeking answers. If you aren’t seeking the answers, why not label yourself atheist and call it a day?
So not having any particular religious leaning, at least none that could be named or understood by any specific mythos or theological structure, left me in the mode of interpreting and reinterpreting the behaviors of people, both from past experience and in the present. I came to see a lot of people and things in a very negative way and selfishness and hatefulness set into my mind. Everyone seemed to annoy me, and I felt like no one had the right to inconvenience me for any reason, under any circumstance because they were all ignorant dolts and not worthy of my time.
I basically allowed myself to become my own god. Worshiping the Me-Deity, alcohol became one of the means by which I worshiped the self. Not to say I didn’t drink before this, but my alcoholism became more serious, to the point where anything that interfered with my drinking was an “enemy,” and treated as such. I collected some friends at work around this time that were pretty big on drinking, and I started drinking with them on Friday nights as finances permitted.
Most of the time, these were late nights in which way more alcohol was consumed than should have been, and the risks of accident, or at least a DUI charge, were probably higher than I have admitted in the past. My behavior was risky and my attitude toxic, the fact of which my wife could not have have been completely oblivious.
Oddly, these Friday outings were short lived because, at the same time, I made other friends who, quite inadvertently I think, gave me the thought to start learning about Buddhism. I started reading mainly on an academic level, but I kept seeing obvious truths in the basic points of the Dhamma. So, I was pivoting on the edge of a ravine called “alcoholic disaster” and was, somewhat fortuitously, presented with another option. I could fall into chaos, or I turn turn away and pursue a more interesting, challenging course.
I’ve probably ignored a lot of challenges in life, opting to take the easy route… but this seemed too interesting to ignore. In a lot of ways, the Dhamma seemed so completely obvious, but hidden under a veil which I was only starting to peer underneath. Perhaps I had just spent a lot of time being confused about life, but it was time to learn about something new, and even if it didn’t solve anything for me, I could later say I knew something about it rather than claiming ignorance.
So we’ll leave it here and take a rest, but tomorrow I’ll conclude this three-part series. Thank you all for your patience. Be well, and I will post again soon, friends.
Update: Read Part Three