It’s been quite a few years since I decided for myself, that I really was not a Christian, because I did not (And still does not) believe in what Christianity teaches, about the “alwise” and “almighty” God of Abraham.
I have always put a great deal of energy and effort, into conclusions that I make for myself about things in life. Because doing so, in my opinion, makes my chances of making, what for me would be, the right conclusion better. I spent a lot of time thinking about the concept of God, which I had been lightly told about since I was adopted by my Danish parent(s). Even though I was confirmed at the age of 14 (Which in my opinion, is really is more of a tradition in society, among the majority of Danes, than an act of actual faith), I always had my doubts about the whole thing in general. I think that a few months after my 15th birthday (Which was on September 24th of 2003), I realized that I really did not believe in what the bible said at all. And since then, I have further enhanced that conclusion because of the enormous amount of violence and human rights violations, described in the bible.
When my mother (Along with the man, I once used to see as my father) was in Sri Lanka to adopt me, they bought some small statues and figurines of one of the Hindu gods, Krishna, and the Buddha, Siddhattha Gotama. I guess as keepsakes and souvenirs. I always thought they seemed quite fascinating, and definitely well made. Unlike many people I know, I have always found other cultures interesting and fascinating, rather than weird, strange or alien.
Throughout the last couple of years, I have occasionally come in contact with small aspects of Buddhism, like sayings or quotes/statements by people such as the Dalai Lama. Those coming out of a different culture than my own, seemed interesting to me, so I took notice of them.
Last year when deciding what classes I was gonna take, I decided, among others, on religion, in the hope that I could learn about Buddhism (And also Shinto, the native religion of Japan) in detail. On the first day of class, our teacher asked us, whether there were any topics we wanted to get into during the year, once we were finished with the obligatory stuff stated in the curriculum. I think about eight people, including myself, mentioned Buddhism, and another guy, and myself, mentioned Shinto. Our teacher said that if we were to get into a far-eastern religion like Buddhism or Hinduism, she wanted to do those toward the end of the school year, because she thought they were more challenging to understand, and at the end of the school year, we would have more tools of analysis to work with. I thought “OK, fair enough”, even though I doubted that I, personally, would have difficulty understanding concepts in Buddhism if they were explained properly. To make a long story short, we never got to Buddhism, because my teacher decided to prioritize medical ethics and criticism of religion, instead of my, and other’s requests for a topic on Buddhism. That really frustrated me quite a bit, because when chugging through Christianity, I almost fell asleep at times, and I just kept telling myself “Don’t worry, we’ll get to something interesting soon …”, but we never did, and boy was that frustrating.
So, I rolled up my sleeves, and took matters into my own hands, and in the middle of the night some time last year, I brought up Wikipedia, and various sites, such as Buddhanet and ReligionFacts and started reading. After having digested the information I had obtained by my first round of study, as I like to call it, I really thought it was fascinating, and a very interesting view on the world, the universe and reality in general.
Since then, it has reached the point, where I decided that this might be something that I could get into. Especially after I read this (Which is part of a larger Q&A on Buddhanet):
What you said so far is very interesting to me. How do I become a Buddhist?
Once there was a man called Upali. He was the follower of another religion and he went to the Buddha in order to argue with him and try to convert him. But after talking to the Buddha, he was so impressed that he decided to become a follower of the Buddha. But the Buddha said:
“Make a proper investigation first. Proper investigation is good for a well-known person like yourself.”
“Now I am even more pleased and satisfied when the Lord says to me: ‘Make a proper investigation first.’ For if members of another religion had secured me as a disciple they would have paraded a banner all around the town saying: ‘Upali has joined our religion.’ But the Lord says to me: ‘Make a proper investigation first. Proper investigation is good for a well known person like yourself.”
In Buddhism, understanding is the most important thing and understanding takes time. So do not impulsively rush into Buddhism. Take your time, ask questions, consider carefully, and then make your decision. The Buddha was not interested in having large numbers of disciples. He was concerned that people should follow his teachings as a result of a careful investigation and consideration of facts.
The reason this pushed me through the door, so to speak, was because the last part of it, pretty much sums up how I have always viewed life in general, “Take your time, ask questions, consider carefully, and then make your decision.”, and since reading the above, I have run across other things, which I through some careful thought, have found that I agreed with. Some of these, I will mention at a later time …
Edit: In the comments section, somebody pointed out that my reference to “enormous amount of violence and human rights violations, described in the bible.” was too vague for the general reader, so here’s a few direct examples (Among many many others) of incitement of hatred, prejudice, violence and murder:
It’s OK to sell your daughter into slavery:
“If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as menservants do.”
(Exodus 21:7 NIV)
People of other religions must be put to death:
“Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the LORD must be destroyed.”
(Exodus 22:20 NIV)
Anybody working on the sabbath must be put to death:
“Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people. For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death. The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested.”
(Exodus 31:12-17 NIV)
Gays must be put to death:
“If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”
(Leviticus 20:13 NIV)
Women who are not virgins when they get married must be stoned to death:
“If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl’s virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from among you.”
(Deuteronomy 22:20-21 NIV)
A “rebellious” son (Which would include children, since no age is specified as being exempted) must be put do death:
“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard.” Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.”
(Deuteronomy 21:18-21 NIV)