The Winding Road from Christianity to Buddhism

I’ve been thinking about my journey into Buddhism more often in recent days, reflecting on the path and how far I’ve come.

Throughout my life, I’ve had an interesting relationship with religion. I grew up with Catholicism and attended church often as a child, but always felt out of place.

It’s never been like me to call on a higher power. The closest I ever came was in the fifth grade when I shouted up at the sky angrily, “If you are real, now would be a GREAT TIME to do something!” I wanted to believe but it all felt like a fairy tale to me. For many years I was very conflicted over this, but as I grew up the feelings faded.

Always walking to the beat of a different drum, although not intentionally, in middle school I discovered Wicca (a form of modern paganism). Finally, something self-empowering!

I stuck to a regular Wiccan practice for several years, until my late teens. There were so many things I loved about Wicca, the rituals, the connection with nature, the routine. The mantra, “If it harm none, do what ye will,” freed me from the guilt I had for being a non-believer in my previous church. I loved my new religion, it helped me to make sense of the world, gave me clarity.

My mother, on the other hand, was concerned for my mortal soul. She called me a “devil worshiper” and told me she “didn’t want me to go to hell.”  My mother went to church several times a week and dragged me along, moaning and groaning all the way.

Through the years I’ve been called many things but rebellious and difficult are probably the two I hear the most. “You HAVE to be a rebel don’t you?” “Why are you SO rebellious?” “Can’t you just do it like everyone else?” “Why do you have to be difficult?”

People accused me of becoming a Pagan just to tick off my mom. “Here is Christa being difficult again!” I was never trying to be difficult, all I wanted was to be myself.

In my early twenties, I studied all religions from a very high level. The similarities and parallels between all religions, things people seek and learn, were becoming more obvious to me.

For a while, I had no religion, but took up yoga and then meditation. These things created temporary pauses to the suffering didn’t know I had. I wanted to hang in the stillness, that perfect feeling when a yoga sequence becomes so effortless that all my worries and troubles stopped. I was addicted to the feeling and wanted to do yoga everywhere I went.

Many people don’t realize yoga is more than just body postures and sequences. Even fewer people dig into the history of yoga, but when I love something I have a deep need to know everything about it.

I became particularly fixated on chakra balancing and was convinced my Throat Chakra, the one in charge of communication, was off balance. I even went so far as to wear the color blue, a color I generally dislike, around my throat.

My exposure to yoga and yoga culture brought me into contact with Buddhism and its practical mind shaping wisdom. Buddhism acknowledged that life is full of near constant suffering. This was something I could relate to. I was suffering from something I could not name. Buddhism also promised a way to end ones suffering, so I was on board.

Buddhism is a very practical religion full of lists. I love it! There is no sin, the rules are clear, and you are encouraged to take responsibility for your own actions – every single thing you say or do. There is no threat of heaven or hell in the end, and because the historical Buddha was not a god, the only person you have to answer to is yourself.

The first step was to follow the Noble Eightfold Path, a list of things I needed to work on to reach mental freedom on earth. Right Speech seemed to give me the most trouble so I focused extra attention in this area, sometimes writing reminders in pen on my arms & hands.

Years later, I no longer need the reminders. Finally, I’ve got everything memorized and know how I should be acting. I’m practicing, getting better every day.

Nobody’s perfect. I am a work in progress. Each day is an opportunity to start over when we make mistakes. Every minute a chance to learn something new. It’s great to look back at the long and winding road, seeing how far I’ve come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

68 responses to “The Winding Road from Christianity to Buddhism

  1. I relate to much of what you say. The hardest part of my journey was post Christianity, where I was full of instilled and dogma based fear.

    Reiki was a step towards freedom that also lead me towards yoga and Buddhism. I now believe in God in the form of consciousness and meditate and practice mindfulness.

    I appreciate you sharing your experiences.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this post! With regard to religion I was never pushed any particular way by my parents, but from day one at school anything to do with the bible, hymn singing, and prayers just felt utterly weird to me. Looking back over history so much religion has been used to control the masses, which has given me a decidedly uneasy feeling about it. And scientifically none of it makes sense. I feel good with the basic concepts of Buddhism. Good for you for being a rebel and finding your own way! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • “religion has been used to control the masses, which has given me a decidedly uneasy feeling about it. And scientifically none of it makes sense.” – I relate to this. Yes, I agree. Thank you.

      Like

  3. I enjoyed your post. I’m an SGI-Nichiren Buddhist, my mom is an ordained Tibetan lineage Lama. We both converted to our different paths in 1988, when I was 18
    Thank you for sharing your story.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is exactly where I began and the journey I am now on. I am still stumbling along, learning, understanding. But the longer I walk this path the more I know I’ve found home 💙

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve bern to China four times and Thailand once. In addition I lived in Kuwait for 5 straight years. I’ve quite a bit of exposure to many different religions. Have you had s chance to travel to any Asian countries? I was born in America but my heart and soul belong in Asia. This country is just not for me anymore. Hypsensitive people, a horrible transportation system, horrible food, and obease people that claim they have a “disease”. Take some responsibility for your lifestyle. The obease “disease” missed Asia and Europe. I digress. Your posts are interesting to read. Keep it up.

    Sent from Outlook on Android

    ________________________________

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Cool article! I’m always fascinated by the intersection of religions and spiritualities. When I studied in Japan I got to tour a Zazen temple; it was simple and spartan, and it seemed to me that the people who practiced there had a good grip on the universal qualities of spirituality like thankfulness and correct action.

    In my current writing project I’m trying to mix epic christian poetry with a variety of eastern ideas, using surrealism to blend them into something new. I hope the combination lets the story communicate its message on a deeper level, tapping into the universal subconscious.

    Good luck out there!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I too have been on a journey, albeit a very different one from yours. My father was a devout atheist (!) but my mum secretly had us baptised while he was out of the country (!!). I was also a vehement and very angry atheist into my mid twenties, and then one day something funny happened – I became a Christian – maybe one day I’ll write about that in my blog. Forty or so years later, I’m still a Christian. I too meditate, but in the ancient Christian tradition rather than the ancient Buddhist tradition. Thank you for sharing your adventures in faith, and thank you all those who have commented, for sharing something of your stories too.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I was raised Lutheran, but started studying & became Wiccan around the age of 27. I stayed with that path for about 15 years, but slowly started to diversify until I just decided to call myself Pagan, and leave it at that. My main Goddess is the Boddhisatva Kwan Yin, Mother of Mercy & Compassion. It’s a constant wonder to me how similar the path I’ve taken resembles Buddhism, without actually following it directly. Thanks for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It was almost like you were writing about me! I was brought up in Christian household (my mum was a scripture teacher)…and then I discovered Wicca (my poor Mother freaked out when she found all my witchcraft magazines under my bed and hid them)…then I found myself drawn to Buddhism. Just really at the beginning stages of that journey. I had a giggle when you were talking about all the “lists”. I have a thing for lists. I need them. I make them…for everything. Just another reason why it appeals to me so much. Peace x

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have studied the teachings of the Buddha and find them to be the ones that resonate with me the best. If I had to pick one path to follow, Buddhism would be the one.

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  11. Pingback: Neurodivergent Rebel on Religion, Writing, & Feelings – Oh MY! | Neurodivergent Rebel·

  12. Oh Lady, we have so much in common. I stayed up late last night finishing a post so that it wouldn’t be a week between posts. At that, my post happened to be about awakening my spirituality while following my journey through yoga and meditation! (Not to mention that our names are similar and that I have an amazingly awesome atypical kiddo!) As my realization becomes more and more, well, realized, I find more answers. Great post! Namaste!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. While my mom doesn’t care for organized religion, when I began to focus more on Wicca and nature-based religions over traditional Christianity, she didn’t understand. The concept of a “horned god” concerned her. Eventually, when she learned it wasn’t a phase and made me happy, she let me do my thing. I felt so out of place in the church I attended in high school with my friends. I was accused of being a witch for carrying a tigers eye for good luck (something I had done since I was a little kid and began collecting gemstones…I felt such a connection to them!), and it caused me to take a step back and review my life. After I graduated, I met a guy who practiced Wicca and Druid teachings and everything just made SENSE. While that relationship did NOT end well, I don’t regret it because I wouldn’t have discovered Wicca without it. It was meant to be a teaching experience. Thank you for sharing your story!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Like so many others mentioned, we share a similar path to Buddhism. I was born into a Roman Catholic family but felt completely out of place. After my father was excommunicated from the Church my doubts about the religion were confirmed. As a teenager I was introduced to Paganism and then in my twenties I began studying the Yoga Sutras and finally Buddhist scripture.

    I am now a practicing Mahayana Buddhist, teach Dharma and write about my experience at http://www.charlesminguez.com

    What I find funny about the whole experience is that the rituals in Catholicism and Tibetan Buddhism are so alike. The piece that has inspired me to practice Buddhism, is like you said, we’re responsible for our own actions. OM AH HUM

    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’ll take seeing your post as a sign. Because I’m always like “tomorrow I’ll read into Buddhism or whenever I have time to do it”. But now I want to do it now.

    Do you have any good “Begin Buddhism” links for me? Jumping right in it can be confusing because there is so much?

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Love this! My path to Buddhism was the same from Christianity, through yoga. I learned and teach a very spiritual style of yoga, following the yoga sutra and chakra teachings. Have also had the experience where my best friend’s dad told me he believed my meditation and yoga were “a prayer to the devils of the old world”… heartbreaking to hear but it hasn’t hindered the peace I experience and bring to others in my practice 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I really like your post and your journey. I also fell away from Catholicism but am now in a Christian Church. I have to say I really love what Jesus stands for and I get much peace from my Bible. I am looking into other faiths just because I think it’s important to be knowledgeable and I do worry about exclusivity on anything. By the same token sometimes things are not cold they’re just hot. Things cannot be down if they are truly up. It makes me wonder if there really is a true God and of Jesus is that God how can I be sure? I suppose if anybody knew for sure they would be no reason for fighting or different religions right? And yet my heart is called to him and I seek him on a daily basis and when I do there’s a peace that transcends understanding so that’s where I’m left. I’ll be back to visit you and I hope you continue to visit me as we trudge our lives to the best of our abilities.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Religion is not something I talk about much but I recognise so much in this post. I drifted into Buddhism myself when having therapy ten years ago. To the extent that I identified myself as ‘Buddhist’ in the last census. It just makes a lot of sense to me.

    Like

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