|My Home "Sacred Space" for Daily Practice
My Religious Roots...
I was raised from childhood as a very sincere and active Episcopalian. My experiences were almost overwhelmingly
positive. I even served as an Acolyte (Altar Boy) from the age of 8 until I was 17 years old. However,
by the time I had reached my late 30's I had accumulated a wealth of extreme and intense life experiences that led
me to abandon Christianity and embrace Buddhism.
The photo below
is of the main Temple at The Mid-American Buddhist Association located in Augusta, Missouri. This where I formally became
a Buddhist in a colorful ceremony that was a part of The 2006 Chinese New Year celebration.
What Led Me to Buddhism?
I chose to study and eventually embrace Buddhism because Christianity was no longer able to provide
me with reasonable answers to my questions regarding faith, tolerance, compassion, justice & free will. It was as if I
had led a very simple, naive life during which I had never faced anything so troubling that I was left without
reasonable, rational answers to some very difficult questions.
Experiencing life under capitalism, socialism and communism...
witnessing the violence of The Balkan Wars while living only miles away in Budapest as a student... personally experiencing
extreme "Christian" intolerance... facing life threatening injuries and illness... accepting my own mortality. All of these
things led me to question my faith, my pupose of life, the meaning of justice and the perversion of universal blind obedience.
The Mid-America Buddhist Association
Temple & Monastery
|The MABA Temple in Missouri. Photo by MABA monastics.
What exactly is Buddhism?
First of all one must understand the concept of a faith of "free will".
Unlike other major faiths, Buddhism does not attempt to convert followers. There is a very simple explanation for this
phenomenon. Buddhist believe in a natural, ongoing cycle of birth and rebirth (not reincarnation). Until ones natural curiosity
draws him to investigate and eventually embrace the Buddhist Path to Enlightenment, it is not their time. One
must seek out Buddhism on his own. Buddhist do not attempt to "force" or speed-up this natural cycle. Buddhist
do not recruit or attempt to convert. Each in his own time.
So... one can honestly say that Buddhism really isn't
for everyone! Likewise, Buddhism teaches that, due to cultural ad personal differences, there are many paths, under different
names, that can guide each of us to the same outcome. Buddhism is a faith of tolerance that requires each of
its followers to practice a daily observance of compassion guided by wisdom to lessen the suffering of all sentient beings.
Buddhism teaches its followers to not just embrace a prescribed code of behavior but more importantly to
practice those beliefs daily. This is crucial because Buddhism also teaches that ignorance is the root of all suffering and
that it is our actions that are not only the source of our worlds problems but ALSO the only solution to them. WE are responsible
for our problems and WE are the only ones who can fix them.
Buddhism does not believe in a God that demands blind submission or
faith motivated by offers of eternal rewards for good deeds and eternal damnation for bad ones. Buddhists take responsibility
for their own actions. Buddhist don't pray for a god or someone else to do it for them...they do it themselves. We believe
that if there is a God, he would want us to do what is right simply because it is the right thing to do!
|Ch'an Master & Abbot of MABA. The Ven. Ji Ru
My Pilrimage of 2009
Los Angeles, California
|The Gates to The Temple of Hsi Lai. Los Angeles, California.
|Massive approach to the temple.
|The Interior of The Main Temple.