I am no longer as shocked today as I used to be when other’s look at me oddly after learning about my practice. It seems like following a Buddhist path while living as an African American male is odd. In truth, I was raised Baptist, and while I have an affinity for the Christian faith, I never found my place there. After wandering about with no spiritual home, I found my way to myself and that lead me to Buddhism. I’m thankful for all its helped me learn about myself, and the practices that guide me to live a life in harmony with other sentient beings. I truly don’t know what and where I would be without it but, as I understand my appreciate, many still wonder how and why did I awaken to my truth?
I’ve already recapped some of my journey towards Buddhism, I feel I should finish just a bit and quickly. After I stopped going to church, I felt something was still missing from my life. I was still wanting God to steer the ship but I couldn’t see myself following the Christian faith so I settled on being Spiritual for a while. To me, being spiritual was about holding the core beliefs of no harm to others, no harm to myself, being kind, and empathy to all. I felt this was, and is a great way to live, but alas, I was still missing something. I naturally went to nature, Wicca. I loved the harmony with the earth and a feeling of going home that came over me while researching and practicing holidays, rituals and daily practices. Alas, over time I still didn’t see myself in my practice. I still was searching and I finally came to Buddhism by way of Barnes and Noble and Thich Nhat Hahn.
I’m bringing all this up because today I’ve decided to Begin Anew (old blog of mine). When one begins anew it’s like being born again. I’m basically deciding to reconnect with my practice and this time I’m hoping to dive in deeper, with more appreciation and more of a hunger to open up doors inside myself. I’ve done well at the broad strokes of a Buddhist lifestyle but I have remained attached to some old ways that are in direct conflict. I don’t know how things will look going forward. I don’t, as of yet, plan to cut my dreads and become a monk, but I can’t say that life is out of the question for me. It’s a life that looks peaceful but like anything, with its own struggles and challenges.
Let me be clear, I didn’t run away from Christianity for any reason other than I became a nonbeliever. I felt all this time I was looking outside of myself, placing blame on the Lord when things went wrong and praising him when things went right. With Buddhism, I’ve found my own strength to let the past stay in the past, relaxed some of my anxiety about the future, and am currently focusing on what I can do better in each moment of my present. With Buddhism, I have reduced so much of my life’s suffering and eliminated people and activities that could only bring about suffering at a later date. With Buddhism, I am more mindful and aware of my thoughts and actions, which only serve me and others better.
I walk into a bar and still order a beer and tequila shot. I just don’t order five anymore. I’m working on finding my personal middle way( I plan to go into more detail on the middle way of Buddhism in a later post). I am more deliberate and skilled with my life as I move forward to happiness, and with this Begin Anew, I plan to go deeper, hoping not to be derailed as I so often am. But that’s life. I’ve misstepped so much, but were they really?
We can’t be this version of ourselves if we did anything differently in the past. I personally like all the life experience I have, even though I had some amazingly hard times mentally and emotionally. I like the knowledge that was gained and the strength I found when I didn’t know it was there. That’s life. But with Buddhism, I found an understanding of life that has been explained to me with perfect vision and balance. I’m sure it’s the same as others feel about their spiritual path it just so happens with me it’s called Buddhism.
So yeah, I’m a black Buddhist, walking this world with purpose and skills. I’m a black Buddhist that is coming to know himself and his soft strength. I am a black Buddhist.