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The Winding Road from Christianity to Buddhism

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.

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 Christianity 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

94 comments

  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 3 people

    1. I admire your experience on that transition. The deeper you get in Buddha’s Teaching the more you realize that his path to Nirvana is more pragmatic and better to master in contrast to Christian doctrines which are too foggy without clarity on how best to attain God-Consciousness.

      Liked by 2 people

  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

  3. Yup…Catholic 19 years——>brief excursion into Scientology 1 year—–>Zen Buddhsim/Yoga 15 years—–>Still lost in space with no grasp of anything resembling a belief. Good post. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  4. 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

      1. We chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, the official US website is http://www.sgi-usa.org worldwide http://www.sgi.org
        It’s a Japanese branch of Buddhism founded by a priest Nichiren in the 14th century based on the Lotus Sutra, one of Siddhartha’s final teachings. The Soka Gakkai was a lay organization (translated as value creation society), started in the early 20th century; the first two presidents were persecuted by the Japanese government during WW2 for not following the government imposed religion, President Makiguchi died in prison, the 2nd President Toda was finally released, I believe at the end of the war. In the 1990s, we (I started practicing in 1988), the lay organization, were excommunicated by the head of the priesthood; we believe that Buddhism is within each individual (male and female, all sex, race, etc), and though priests aren’t bad in and of themselves, having a priest is not necessary to achieving Buddhahood/enlightenment. The priests disagreed.
        Long answer…

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Thanks. The answer is actually very short.
          Please expound for me the significance of the Buddha prophecy as contained in the lotus sutra, concerning the disappearance of the Dharma in the modern world of to-day.

          With warm Regards
          Phil.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I’m sorry, I’m disabled at not currently in a cognitive headspace to “expound… the significance of the Buddha prophecy as contained in the [L]otis [S]utra, concerning the disappearance of the Dharma in the modern world of to-day(sic].” Frankly, this request gives me a headache.

            If you are interested in more information about the philosophy I believe in, please check out http://www.sgi.org

            Have a wonderful day.
            Leigh

            Liked by 2 people

  5. 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 2 people

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. A fascinating post. I’m an atheist, an anxious unhappy depressed non believer, so perhaps I should believe in something rather than suicide ideation :/

    Liked by 1 person

  10. 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 2 people

      1. The easyest (althought not easy) to find information on is Shingon. Many Tibeten styles fall into this catagory bit are not as accessible. The use of ritual and the notion that the practitioner can interact with the universe directly are very similar to Wicca.

        Like

  11. 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

  12. 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.

    Like

  13. 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 2 people

      1. I read in the book Nonviolent Communication, by Marshall Rosenberg, that it’s easier to be compassionate with others if we have compassion for ourselves, so that’s understandable. It sounds like things got better for you, and I’m glad for that.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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

  18. 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 2 people

  19. 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.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I was browsing through and came across your blog post. You mentioned that it was yoga which you first came in contact with and then when you dug deeper, you got interested in Buddhism. I was curious if you ever encountered any branch of Hindu Philosophy in your quest and how you perceived it, given that Buddhist philosophy itself derives some of its basic concepts from Yoga and Samkhya, Yoga and Sankhya being quiet interconnected.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. That’s interesting to know. However, I think you must know that Yoga itself is a Hindu Philosophical tradition emerging from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. I think you must have studied it in Buddhist tradition only and hence, might not have encountered the Samkhya roots that Yoga has.
    Thanks for replying though.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I meant that and more, the three gunnas (गुण), satt, rajas and tamas; then the five karmendriyas, the five jnyanendriyas (pronounced gyanendriyas), etc. Also the spiritual meanings of the chakras apart from the physical manifestation of them which you have already talked about regarding the vishuddhi or the one centered at pit of throat.

        Liked by 1 person

  22. Thanks for sharing this. It’s true: Buddhism is so straight-forward, practical, and the focus on personal integrity and responsibility for one’s liberation is profound.

    If you haven’t gotten in to pranayama, you may like the book that Gregor Maehle wrote on it. Just the introduction has expanded my understanding of asana, breath and meditation, and that correct breath practice is foundational and the linking axis to clear, healthy asana and meditation practice.

    Here it is if you’re curious: https://smile.amazon.com/Pranayama-Breath-Yoga-Gregor-Maehle/dp/0977512622/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=B93JTPGM0R9A4MY61GMV

    Liked by 1 person

  23. You have almost written my story word for word. I have two blogs that are connected and recently considered adding a third that was strictly about my path on Buddhism. After reading your blog post I believe that is what I’m meant to do. Others need to hear our stories of how we have come to our decision to live a Buddhist life. I would love to connect to you because I am basically house ridden and do not have many Buddhist connections. I did however find a website where a Guru has taken me on to teach me the ways of Buddha. I am pleased with this learning. I’m glad you have found Buddhism and hope that you continue on your path.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I love it how we come from such a simulator background, I too was a carholic and this year I become a Buddhist taking refuge in the three jewls and Im now on my second year of kundalini yoga school. Psst* and I also dove into wicca But I didnt practice it, I read about it only. There arent many people that I have met with such similarities, you have a very creative sende of writing. I loved it! ♥️

    Liked by 1 person

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