My daughter is the only person in my life (outside of the people at Still Point) that knows that I completed the Precepts Ceremony earlier this year, formally undertook Buddhism as my spiritual path, and received a Buddhist name. I have been very hesitant about sharing that news with other circles in my world.
My history is that of a spiritual eclectic... I have tried just about everything. Some might think that my hesitance is worry... worry that people will look at my path to this and think I am spiritually flaky. I could really care less what other people think about my reasons. I am getting somewhere, no matter how slowly.
I think what really concerns me is being judged by others who follow a different path. The recent comments by Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin speak to that concern. We have freedom, but we are not all tolerant. I think most Christains would be more comfortable if I was going to somebody's (anybody's) church.
At Still Point I have had two converations with people about this. The first was with the father of a very beautiful little girl. He asked where my daughter was (people aren't used to seeing one of us without the other). When I mentioned that she went to church with my parents (Grandparent's Day) he wanted to know how my family responded to my practice. "They don't like it, but they don't say much anymore," I report. "Yet, I know that deep down my mother is concerned for her granddaughter's soul and thinks I am going to hell." He nodded knowingly. This is not something that we talk about as a community, but he seemed to relate to what I was saying.
The other conversation was with a beautiful Black woman whose youngest child, she reports, is 48. She was curious about what led me (so young) to Buddhism. We talked for awhile. I told her the truth. As a teenager, I didn't connect to the church. I enjoyed attending my aunt's church when I lived with her, but more because of the community there (my first unofficial Sangha) than because I vibed with the teachings. Mostly, I had questions that went unanswered. I had many friends and acquaintences in school who were of other spiritual traditions. It bothered me that Christians often teach that they have a monopoly on salvation. My Sunday School teachers didn't appreciate my questions. I was supposed to have faith... just shut up and pray.
After coming through the rebelliousness of youth, and moving into a phase when it was really important to me to make my parents happy (they help me immensely, and I can never repay them) I went back to the church. I went to Sunday School. I started singing in the choir again. I read the bible. After awhile, the same uncomfortable feelings came back. I need something practical. I need solutions... things to do when I am angry, restless, thinking about doing something that is unwise. I acknowledge that many people do find solutions for themselves in prayer, in attending church services, in sermons and prayer groups. I just have never been one of those people. I've stopped trying to make other people happy or comfortable, and stepped out to do what feels right for me.
Prostrations are not easy. Meditation is not easy. Going to church was much eaiser than this... I think the choir would probably take me back (again). But I am not going for easy... I am going for what works for me. Eventually, I hope to share it more with others. I will get over the fear and I will talk about my journey. In the meantime, just let me be a good example. Let people see something shifting in me and wonder what it is. What a conversation opener that would be.