When I was introduced to Buddhism I had already decided Christianity wasn’t for me. I didn’t believe in an all powerful, creator god. I didn’t like dogma or the prayers and ritual practices. So when I was told Buddha wasn’t a god, we don’t have to pray to him and Buddhism was an inside journey, so there was no need for ceremonies and rituals. That sounded just what I was looking for.
When I moved to India and became a Buddhist monk, I found out that Eastern Buddhists do pray to Buddha and have some extremely elaborate ceremonies and rituals. As for dogma, Tibetan Buddhism has as much dogma as the Catholic church. Still, this didn’t matter to me, as I concentrated on studying and doing a personal practice, which included meditation.
What has shattered my dreams is that Buddhists are no different from anyone else. In my teachings I was told about how compassionate Buddhists are. How they care for all sentient beings and look upon everyone as their mother. I bought into that and had an unrealistic view of Buddhists.
This view has changed into a more realistic one recently. This is due to many Buddhist teachers sexually abusing their students, Buddhists in Burma trying to inflict genocide on the Muslim community and now, three Buddhist monks in India have been arrested for gang raping a 14 year old girl. Talk about being slapped across the face with a wet fish – that is exactly how my shot of reality felt.
None of this shakes my resolve to follow Buddha’s path, which I still believe will help reduce the suffering of anyone who follows it. What it does do is make me check the teachings against my experience. That is an invaluable lesson to learn.
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