What led you to Buddhism?

I would like to hear from community members about what it was that led you to become interested in and/or begin practicing Buddhism.

I know one man who, after a lifetime of being an "overachiever"—getting straight A's throughout his school years and graduating from an Ivy League university at the top of his class—had a full psychological and existential breakdown, feeling that all the knowledge and skill he had gained was useless because, at a very fundamental level, he didn't even know who or what he was. When he began to study dharma and practice meditation he saw that, "there are some things you just can't learn in school."

I know a woman who once believed that she had nothing to offer anyone but her beauty. She became a successful model but in the process began a long struggle with drug addiction. In the throes of depression and thoughts of suicide, she sought guidance from a Buddhist teacher and, after receiving much instruction, saw for the first time that her life didn't have to be about herself. She said, "Waking up, for the first time, to the reality that I am able to care for and help others was what saved my life."

I know a guy who ate LSD and "saw infinity." Then, when he saw the Buddhist symbol known as the "knot of eternity" he thought, they must know. He sought out a Tibetan Buddhist Sangha to "learn the secrets" and while he didn't gain the mind-blowing metaphysical knowledge that he expected, he did begin practicing meditation and striving to cultivate wisdom and compassion. Regarding his quest for infinity, that last I heard him say about this was, "My discursive mind is infinite enough."

I've read letters from people who practice Buddhism in prison, and have always found it both inspiring and heart-breaking to hear from people who are on the path in such circumstances. I recall reading one letter from a woman that was the saddest story I have ever heard. After a lifetime of unspeakable suffering and tragedy, she had been sentenced just after seeing her boyfriend killed. Yet, this letter ended along the lines of "What else am I going to do while I'm here? I've got to deal with this stuff one way or another." After reading everything this woman had lived through, that she was turning to meditation and requesting reading materials to support her practice was astounding to me.  While reading this month's Tricycle Book Club selection The Heart of the Revolution by teacher and author Noah Levine, I was struck my Noah's recollection of practicing while locked up:

While in jail for my third felony arrest at a young age, at my father's suggestion I began to meditate. That practice gave me the determination and strength to stop taking drugs and drinking. I turned my attention inward and began the process of healing—a process that continues to this day.

Also, in contrast to the people I have mentioned so far, I think it is important to mention that not everybody arrives at the Buddhist path because of some difficult or extraordinary circumstance. It seems that for some, it just happens, no existential dilemma and tragedy needed. I am reminded of this passage by the late great American Zen teacher Charlotte Joko Beck from her interview, "Life's Not a Problem":

I had a fine life. I was divorced—my husband was mentally ill—but I had a nice man in my life. My kids were okay. I had a good job. And I used to wake up and say, “Is this all there is?”

Then I met Maezumi Roshi, who was a monk at the time. He was giving a talk in the Unitarian Church downtown. I was out for the evening with a friend, a woman, a sort of hard-boiled business type, and we decided to hear his talk. And as we went in, he bowed to each person and looked right at us. It was absolutely direct contact. When we sat down, my friend said to me, “What was that?” He wasn’t doing anything special—except, for once, somebody was paying attention.

I wanted whatever he had.

Please feel free to share your own stories! Is there anyone above that you most identify with? What was it for you? As we work with the present and try to build a better future, there is much that can be learned from examining our past.

best,
Monty McKeever
Tricycle

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Monty McKeever's picture

good point pierre!

hermes7's picture

I was seventeen in 1962 and read Zen Flesh, Zen Bones by Nyogen Senzaki and Paul Reps and it was as if my name was being called. Zen Flesh, Zen Bones resonated so deeply that I went on to study Zen at the First Zen Institute and subsequently read all I could find in the sixties . I now quietly employ the Abdidharma, Vipassana and somatic awareness in my private practice as a psychotherapist. I must state that Stephen and Ondrea Levine books and seminars have and remain so dear to me and have been of benefit to those I serve.

BenTremblay's picture

Flesh/Bones I suspect would have done it, if I hadn't already had the iron hook already in me.

For me it was "Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism". I had already read dharma, a bit. And had even been doing a simple meditation, yoga style. But the Vidydhara's book ... ah-lah ... major hit. Gotra? Pre-existing connection? Just his mastery? Don't know / can't say.

But I started to read it at around 9PM. At around 3AM I slammed it closed (something about the monkey on the edge of the cliff? ring bells for anyone) and grabbed the YellowPages. I found "Edmonton Zen Priory" (Are we not fortunate to live in such a rich age?!) and that was that.
6AM I was sitting zazen; 5PM I was a resident.

And that was the beginning. heh

gratitude to the teachers!
KC:

__{*}__

Monty McKeever's picture

Thanks Hermes, I will had Zen Flesh Zen Bones to my reading list. (I'm starting to think that one result of this discussion is going to be a really good book list...)

smdecollibus@cox.net's picture

Buddhism led me to Buddhism

hermes7's picture

I broke into belly laughter as I read your comment.
Thank You.

Monty McKeever's picture

haha! well said.

bujinin's picture

Raised by grandparents in a twice a year Catholic home, I was Indoctrinated in Christian thought via the Baptist sect because theirs was the bus that came by the house. Remarried father was an agnostic humanist. Multi remarried mother was a seeker, spiritualist, Rosicrucian, married a Unitarian minister to do a ‘minister’s wife’ existence for a while. Upshot of it all was my exposure to several points of view and a behind the scenes view of preachers. I was privy to conversations between several ministers of various faiths at a very informal weekly Saturday morning coffee gab session. They often stated personal view points that they readily admitted would get them bounced from their respective churches if they voiced them to their congregations. I became some what jaded on spritual issues.
In Vietnam I took some interest in the Buddhist community, visiting several sites. Stationed in central California after that, I looked at some of the alternative spiritual movements active in that region.
Ultimately, after a GREAT deal of reading and conversation with a variety of deeply thoughtful persons, I have gravitated to the Buddhist line of reasoning as regards spirituality and a personal path. It’s focus being on THIS life and the practices that impact it in measurable and observable ways.
I feel that the Dalai Lama is probably the greatest being currently living on our planet. The fact that he professes to be but a simple monk, and appears to genuinely ‘walk the talk’ hugely impresses an otherwise usually cynical me.

Monty McKeever's picture

Thanks bujinin. I must say, I find your story fascinating but I notice that I am a little frustrated because I'd like to hear the "long version." Your post seems as if it could an outline for a great book.

maggiecsf's picture

I was raised Christian (Episcopalian) in the southern US. The church as I knew it there was incredibly racist and homophobic, even as a few brave individuals did their best to practice the social justice that Jesus taught. I left the church in my twenties and more or less stumbled over Buddhist practice after my partner and I moved to Seattle. I think the first book I read was "The Miracle of Mindfulness" by Thich Nhat Hanh. Practice eventually gave me the clarity to see the real truths of the Christian gospel in spite of the centuries of distorted teachings. I have found Thich Nhat Hanh to be the teacher nearest to my heart, and I have followed his advice to take my Buddhist practice back to my root tradition. I am now an Episcopal Franciscan sister (nun) with an ongoing Zen meditation practice providing the clarity and compassion I need to follow Jesus and Francis in an increasingly troubled and disturbing world. This mix of traditions causes a lot of raised eyebrows on the part of both Christians and Buddhists, but I am fortunate to know a few other "Episco-Buddhists" and cherish their support. My sisters in community are also supportive, and a Roman Catholic friend sends me his copies of Tricycle after he finishes reading them. It's not the usual path, but clearly it's meant to be mine.

Monty McKeever's picture

Thanks for posting maggie. The hypocrisy you had do deal with sounds frustrating.

nozenji's picture

By the age of 25 I had completely hit bottom. I knew that I was going to kill myself, but I wasn't sure when. Previously, I had heard about Zen practice and it made a lot of sense to me, so I decided that if Zen didn't help I could always kill myself later. I spent 3 1/2 hellacious months at Tassajara and that saved my life.

Monty McKeever's picture

Thank you for sharing nozenji. It's odd how intensive practice periods can be so hellish and lifesving at the same time. I've experienced this as well.

jimmin78's picture

In my case, I couldn't think about any other reason apart from Karmic resultant. When I was at 7, my father told me a story about the buddha from a children book, that was the first time I heard about that story. But when he finished the story, something about Buddha touched my heart, I felt it was familiar to me and it was profound to have heard about it again. I was so moved by the story and the compassion of the Buddha was resonating with my heart and I had tear in my eye. I decided from that day, I will take Buddha as my teacher and his teaching as my practice.

Monty McKeever's picture

Thank you jimmin78. Such clarity at such a young age.

mvineyid129's picture

Two pivotal events. Meeting the Dalai Lama in 1997 in a very small and intimate gathering I had the good fortune to attend and three years later being present at the death of my beloved father and feeling such an honor to be part of that process as he passed from this world to another. Both events led me to all the reading I could digest and an almost immediate retreat to Karme Choling in Vermont.

Monty McKeever's picture

Thanks mvineyid129. Karme Choling is one of my favorite places in the world.

ToonForever's picture

I'm a Christian who has struggled for ages with anger, stuck in a cycle of outburst/remorse/forgiveness. Recently my anger led to us being involved in a frightening car accident. While the police and insurance determined that the other party caused the accident, I knew in my heart that I could have avoided it had I not been angry. Searching around for a study to address my anger, I read "The Cow in the Parking Lot," by Scheff and Edmiston. This book had an immediate impact on my view of myself, my place in this world, and the nature of my suffering - I suppose this will be anathema to some here, but I was amazed that this seemed to compliment my Christianity rather than contradict it - in some ways it seems more Christian, the focus on compassion, lovingkindness, and mindfulness, rather than sin and retribution. I've begun meditating and am still exploring Buddhism and Zen, but the changes in our entire household in the months since our accident are amazing -

Monty McKeever's picture

Thanks ToonForever. Practice has helped me a lot with working with anger as well.

leapyfrog's picture

Christianity never made much sense to me growing up. It dawned on me one day however, cutting through the religious clutter, that the whole point is to imitate Christ. But how does one do that? By stepping out of self delusion - but Christianity was not clear (at least for me) on how to go about this. Buddhism had the answers - the "how-to" that made sense to me. I have practiced vipassana for more than 20 years, and now that I have children, I have revisited Christianity. It's been fascinating: without Buddhism and meditation, I would never have been able to really see the point of Christianity. Now, it is clear. My kids are raised to think of Buddha and Christ as brothers. I feel fortunate to have the strengths and compassion of both in my spiritual life.

Bijou628's picture

I really like your teaching to your children of Buddha and Christ as brothers. Will have to put that in my back pocket for when I have children. Thanks for sharing. :)

wmd4's picture

Thanks for posting this. I was raised (and remain) Catholic, and I find that the more I learn about Buddhism the more I see convergence rather than discrepancy. Certainly Christianity in general is aspirational, and I think Christianity is largely a narrative and Buddhism is a description of the human experience and path. I've found fewer instructions in that narrative than I would have liked, and this has helped in answering the question of "how does one do that?" Dabbling I suppose can be dangerous and can tempt someone to treat spirituality as a buffet from which they can take what they like and leave the rest, but yours is a wonderful notion: "without Buddhism and meditation, I would never have been able to really see the point of Christianity."

Monty McKeever's picture

That's beautiful leapyfrog, and indeed, the "how to" element is important

chasingmoose's picture

Two years into being a stay-at-home Dad, I realized it was the hardest job I'd ever had, and probably would ever have again. Feelings of anger, frustration, impatience, powerlessness -- until I realized that this was not the way I wanted to live my life. I've always believed that I could choose whatever I wanted to do in life, and it was painfully clear how I needed to use that perspective on the most fundamental aspects of myself. A weekend in Zen and a 10-day course in Vipassana helped me to begin. That was 3 years ago and I'm happier now than ever before.

nozenji's picture

Joko Beck once said that having a baby was the best teacher.

Monty McKeever's picture

Thanks chasingmoose. Much respect to all the stay-at-home Dads!

chinan00's picture

My partner is Thai and one day he took me to a Thai Buddhist temple near where we live. There were several monks. All were Thai and spoke limited English except for one 'white guy.' The white monk spotted me and immediately took compassion on me, sensing my discomfort in an unfamiliar setting amongst so many Thai people. He gently asked me to come over and talk to him. He told me a little about himself and why he became a monk. I told him I was here with my partner (same sex), and he told me he is also gay. He told me this in a very down-to-earth way--not secretively, and certainly not flirtatiously. I realized this must be a religion that is very accepting and non-judgmental. Although the same can be said of Christianity and Judaism, it is only the liberal branches of these religions that are welcoming. I don't think the same is true of Buddhism as a whole. I started returning to the monastery on my own and practicing meditation. This monk recommended that I read 'What the Buddha Taught' and 'Old Path White Clouds.' I enjoyed these books, and I still keep 'What the Buddha Taught' by my bedside as a reference. Studying the Dhamma has given me a healthier perspective on life, and helped me feel more at peace. I still have a long way to go, but I'm very glad I discovered Buddhism.

Monty McKeever's picture

Wonderful story chinan00. Thank you for sharing.

Marys's picture

For me it was Thich Nhat Hanh's "Peace is Every Step" when I was a young mother nearly 25 years ago. I'd met met Kalu Rinpoche, haphazardly, when I first lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The teachings were never far from my heart. Then I started reading Pema Chodron who got me through some very rough times. I took refuge in the Kagyu tradition, then branched out to FMPT and Lama Zopa Rinpoche.
Since then I have traveled on my own with retreats with wonderful teachers as Joan Halifax and Sharon Salzburg...so many wonderful teachers and different takes on the Buddha's teachings. Lately...Noah Levine....he has given me a portal into my 16 year old's life and his perspective and his personal experience has helped me tremendously with being present with my teenagers life.
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha!

Monty McKeever's picture

Thanks for posting Mary. I've always been fascinated with Kalu Rinpoche, I've studied with a few of his students and have heard many great things about him.

I just finished Noah Levine's new book, which was our last book club selection. That's great that his work has served as a bridge for you and your 16 year old.

tlmiller5412's picture

On May 7th, 2007 I was in millineum park in Chicago, homeless at the time. Unbeknownst to me
the Dalai Lama was speaking that day so I listened intently and everything he said made perfect
sense to me. I have rigorously been a student of Buddhism since that day and attend meditation
classes at the Shambhala Meditation Center in Rogers Park, IL.. My life has changed drastically,
I am no longer homeless and am in a position to share the Dharma with others who are suffering
as I once was. The Dalai Lama will be in Chicago speaking at the UIC pavilion on July 17th and I
have every intention of being there, I wish I could thank him for opening my mind and heart to the
Dharma!

Monty McKeever's picture

Amazing.

Joe Hein's picture

I was looking to simplify my life in general and read Christina Feldman's "The Buddhist Path to Simplicity."

Monty McKeever's picture

...and your post in brilliant in its simplicity. Thanks shovelbum

Kevin S's picture

In the depths of my struggle with alcohol addiction, alone, having been asked to leave my home, I sat contemplating that there must be a way... as I contemplated this for hours, still caught in my cravings my mind kept going back to the Taoism and Buddhism I'd studied as an undergrad philosophy student.

My first book that led me on the road to both sobriety and Buddhism was "The Tao of Sobriety". Eventually I read "Dharma Punx" and "One Breath at a Time" (as well as many others) and considered myself both committed to sobriety and to the Dharma.

Monty McKeever's picture

Thanks for sharing kschum. I wish you the best as you continue on the path(s)!

Penelope's picture

hands down .... doing the est training in 1977 .... for me, a direct path to Buddhism

BenTremblay's picture

Wow, EST ... haven't gone into that group of memories for a long time. ESToid friends here (Edmonton) were also big on Project Plenty. :-)

Monty McKeever's picture

Thanks Penelope. I'm not personally very familiar with est training but from the little I've heard it sounds interesting. I'll read up.

katiem's picture

I was always interested in any news regarding the Dalai Lama so one day I saw a short course given by Lama Surya Das. I just thought it would give me more knowledge of Tibetan Buddhism, and his books that were suggested blew me away. They are Awakening to the Sacred and Awakening the Buddha Within. From there I read two books he suggested by Pemo Chodron, Start where you are and When things fall apart. It was an easy decision from there.

Monty McKeever's picture

Thanks katiem. Speaking of Surya Das, he will be leading our September Book Club discussion of his new book, "Buddha Standard Time."

pdianne's picture

From early teens I knew there was *something* to Buddhism that just made sense, but never really pursued it. Fast forward to two years ago when my Husband's family was going through a really difficult time (his Mom was dieing from cancer). I wanted/needed something that would help me to help them (and myself). So I logged on to our library's audio book catalog and (truly) fell right into Pema Chodron's Awakening Compassion. Within five minutes of listening I knew I had found that something that I needed. Her teachings helped me find my sanity and my strength and I've been actively studying and practicing ever since..

Monty McKeever's picture

Thanks for posting pdianne. Pema is incredible.

I've started going to my local library more recently, such wonderful places libraries are.

mf1165's picture

The event that led me to the Buddhist path was the sudden suicide of my fiance who I had been with for nine years. Talk about a crash course in the impermanence. After a few weeks of doctors wanting me to try "anti" this and "anti" that, and becoming zombified, I went to a one day workshop on meditation held at the Rochester Zen Center, in Rochester, NY. I approached it thinking I would be "shutting off the mindstream" but not so. Meditation opened everything full throttle, and also gave me the ability to be with the loss, pain, anger, and all those wonderful emotions that we hold so dear. Meditation provided me the space and the cushion to be with all I had been experiencing. But it was not complete. A sangha was sought out and found that is of Tibetan Lineage. I have been practicing with them for three years now, and that has lead me to have a much more peaceful and compassionate live towards others, but also towards myself(whatever that may constitute outside of the five skandhas). Reading, contemplating, and sharing the dharma has made a significant impact on my life, and has put me somewhere where I would not have imagined 10 years ago. It is hard to put into words how Buddhism has changed my life, and to put it out front, had it not been for that fateful day at the Zen Center, I would probably be a zombified entity or dead.

Jimhere's picture

Yes, sorry for your loss. It was grief that led me to finally embrace and practice Buddhism, which I had been drawn to for a long time.

I've only recently begin to sit, after suffering several losses in the space of a short time.

Meditation allows me to "be" with grief instead of seeking ways to avoid it. To be compassionate with myself instead of falling into the "I should be better" trap. To be truly compassionate with others who grieve or suffer by just being present to them and listening instead of offering empty platitudes.

Monty McKeever's picture

Thank you for sharing mf1165. I'm very sorry to hear about your loss. I'm happy you chose the path of awakening and not one that left you feeling like a zombified in the face of suffering.

I was just reading this interview with Philip Kapleau Roshi, who founded the Rochester Zen Center, and I find it quite interesting. He was a very intelligent and direct man! http://www.tricycle.com/feature/life-capital-l

Monty McKeever's picture

Here are the responses that have been received via social media. I'd like to offer a big thank you to all that choose to post their comments here instead!

Facebook responses,

Taras P: Suffering

Julien R. F: It is the only religion that makes sense. It's logical.

Liisa PL: there was only one thing in university that spoke to my spirit, and that was when a professor laid out the four noble truths. i was so excited, i called my boyfriend and we talked for hours about this new world of possibility that was opening up for us.

Jennifer P:
In 9th grade I got a taste of foreign cultures and religions in my world studies class. Buddhism immediately caught my attention and I started studying it much to the chagrin of my Lutheran mom. By 12th grade I was going every Sunday to a K...orean Zen temple an hour from home. The members put together a trip to South Korea, including a week's temple stay, for myself and another girl right after school got out. I will eventually be able to pay that forward to another young person discovering Buddhism.

Kitsune N: I doubt anything really led me to Buddhism. My family comes from Buddhist roots but it had long since gone to the wayside. I knew none of the beliefs others were trying to force on me fit who I was & I just left it at that. Eventually I learned more about different perspectives on life & found mine matched many of the Buddhist doctrine. I guess I've had emense respect ever since.

Oma H: i had really got fed up with suffering... and the buddha´s smile was there....

Patrick JM: Having been immersed in Catholic culture as a kid, I became 'interested' in Buddhism in my 20's. But the 'practicing' (which to me meant getting on the cushion) didn't start until I was about 50. I've never looked back.

Lynnivere P: pain

Kim KH: Buddhism found me when I was lucky enough to have a friend who invited me to do this "amazing Zen meditation stuff". I'd never heard of Zen, it being South Africa in the early 90's - but it was an unforgettable experience and I simply fell in love.

Lizaveta M: I started academically studying Hinduism and Sanskrit in college at CU Boulder. Then I took Reggie Ray's "Introduction to Buddhism" and read Chogyam Trungpa's "Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism" ...I could never turn my back on truth after that.

Exuberant I: Mistrust, pain, shame and Tina Turner.

Kat P: The complete loss of what I thought my life was and the process of figuring out what it could be.

C.J. J:
It made sense. My wife and I read up on a few different religions and found the teachings of Buddha made the most sense. Being in the Midwest we knew our daughter would be exposed to Christianity from many sides and since we are not Christi...ans we wanted her to grow up with a choice. Over the years we have learned more about how to practice Buddhism from her (5 years old) than from any other source. The short version, our daughter.

John G: What got me interested in Buddhism was the attraction I had to Buddha statues. Buddha looked so peaceful and I wanted to know how I could get like that. My religion is Christianity, but I am very much interested in learning about Buddhism through books and television because it's something that helps aleviate my suffering in several ways.

Joe H: LSD in college. And I have a strong feeling I'm not the only one. (There, I said it.)

Elizabeth M:
I began to practice the Dharma after finding no way to deal with my sufferings. In addition, I am a more science based person so it made more sense to me. I was also highly attracted to it once I discovered it. Once all these things togethe...r, my teacher appeared! But it still took me 8 years before dedicating myself and taking Refuge.
Can't imagine not having the Dharma in my life. I have been practicing Tibetan Buddhism since 2005.

Jim W: Two things: 1.When trying to get sober, I read "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind" and it explained all my attachements to those things so destructive in my life. @. Reading the "Tibetan Book of Living And Dying" while me father was dying from Cancer. It was very powerful to read about the different stages and processes and see them transpiring before my eyes. Both very powerful experiences.

Nadine B: Browsing in a bookstore at 15 years old I saw a book with the word "dharma" in the title. I'd never seen or heard the word before, wasn't sure how to pronounce it, but I knew it was important and couldn't stop looking at it. I've learned a lot about why since then ;-)

Tarver A: A notice that lead to believe in myself

Elena R: Reading Jon Kabat-Zinn. Thanks Jon!!

Lynn O: Growing up with parents that went to two different churches and having a ton of questions. The only religion that brings me true peace when I read the teachings.

Roberta C: I was raised Lutheran. When I was 17, I renounced all religions and became an atheist. In 2002, I saw a notice about a Buddhist study group that was forming in Springfield. I had always been curious about Buddhism, so I attended the first meeting. Shortly thereafter, I took refuge and met my teacher, Lama Lodru.

Rod K: I realized that all I thought I knew about Buddhism, I had learned from people with strong biases. So, I attended lectures and ceremonies at a nearby monastery and began studying the books they gave me. I found that 95% or more of what Buddhism teaches is completely in line with what I already believe as a Mormon.

Celeste Y:
I had Christian bible study & church until 9yrs old. Then, I became very interested in the origins of organized religions. I read & researched everything I could find until one day, when I was abt 29/30yrs old, walked into a lil store in Ca...rmel Valley & found (or it found me) "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying" by Sogyal Rinpoche. A few months later, diagnosed w/stage 3 NHL. The book helped pull me through! Went on to read H.H. Dalai Lama's Path to Enlightenment series. The rest is now & future.

Fred TJ: Claude AnShin Thomas, Zen Buddhist monk and Vietnam combat veteran taught me mindful meditation and I thank him for bringing peace to my life.

Christina R: Mind and heart always bring us home. This was (and is) my path for this life journey.

Nadhia A: I'm not Buddhist. I find some of the articles posted here interesting and helpful. Thank You.

Melissa P: After hearing some disparaging remarks made about Buddhism In my Christian church, I asked a friend that had knowledge of Buddhism to help me understand it. Between what he taught me and what I have read in books and learned on my own it was like a light turning on, it seems like common sense to me now. I’m not sure I would consider myself a Buddhist, but I do try and understand and follow the path.

Joan S: I always was, but I didn't have the word for it. But I will not call myself one.

Amy B: Buddhism, besides being the only religion tk make logical sense is also the only religion that encourages examination and questions, being told to believe in something just because you are told to is not for me! The Buddha said no tk believe just because you are told...from that moment forward I knew

Michele H: I had a health scare & started examining my beliefs - & discovered I didn't know what I believed. Researched a lot of various paths & felt that Buddhism made sense. Found a sangha, learned a lot from my teacher Losang Samten & took refuge. I attend group - & a Christian church with my husband as well. I don't see any problem with it, although I realize some would disagree with me. I can live with that.

freshaura: homosexuality and dogmatic christianity. i thank buddha every day that I found his teachings. I have never been more at peace in my life.

Judith NT: I was working as a DBT Therapist. I read my first book on Buddhism, and said: "Marsha Linehan didn't invent any of this...DBT is all Buddhism!" I was intrigued...and hooked!

Michelle D: Politics and the plight of the Tibetan people. It started as a way to understand beliefs when under such adverse conditions. A nameless Tibetan speaking out on a PBS documentary moved me to tears. That and never finding peace in Christianity.

Kelly L: Yes...Buddhism speaKs to me on so many levels-embraces the mind and body...shows compassion for all sentient beings...it is the middle way...it is the only way for me...it changes my way of thinking...i believe it can change the world...no more war, no more suffering needlesly...pure compassion and peace.

Michelle P: Darren Castello & SGI :)

Amelia G: I had faith with buddhism and reasonly have being a disciple with this Toh Chai Kong Tang. (is more in cantonese and mandarin )( no doubth I English educator and a hockkien ) I Started learning mandarin and cantonese )cos I faith with it and thank to Fatt Chor .Choe SeeYeah ,See Kong and other great enlightenment compassionate for helping bu guiding me thru my life.

Twitter responses,
"sadness and depression"

"a paper trail"

"fried chicken"

"a deep longing and a chance encounter with a Buddhist nun"

Rehn's picture

When I returned to college in the 90's after a twelve-year hiatus, the first class I took was a world religion class at a community college. The professor for that class was going to leave out Buddhism because, as he said, it isn't a religion. Of course, his definition of religion was based solely on Christianity. If it doesn’t look like Christianity it’s not a religion, and Buddhism doesn’t look like Christianity. I learned later that Columbus wrote to Queen Isabella after landing in the Americas that the native people would be easy to convert to Christianity because they have no religion. This is, of course, wrong. However, Columbus and my professor were looking at other cultures from their point of view--a big problem in studying other cultures. After much complaining on my part, the instructor spent 20 minutes on Buddhism, and I got nothing out of it. Because I wanted to learn more about Buddhism—I had no idea what it actually was—I ended up getting a BA and a Master’s degree in Religious Studies, with an emphasis on Buddhism in America. I even began teaching Buddhism as an academic subject at the University I attended. But then a few years after I finished my studies, I began to meditate. I felt that there must be something to what I’ve been studying. And about three years ago, I came out as a Zen Buddhist. Soto Zen to be specific—I love Dogen.

NellaLou's picture

@Anonymous post author
What led *you* to Buddhism?

Monty McKeever's picture

My name should have appeared under the title. It would seem a glitch occurred... I just added it in at the end of the post instead. Thanks for pointing this out.

Regarding what led me to Buddhism, I was raised in a Buddhist family so really can't say where it exactly started for me. That said, I definitely felt different ways about Buddhism at different times while growing up, ranging from intense devotion to utter disinterest. In the end it was a combination of "taking a step back" from my tradition and studying Dharma on my own terms, as well as the guidance of some great teachers that "sealed the deal" so to speak.

What about you?