Looking back at my life, over the past 18 years, I suppose I've always been living at least a partially Buddhist life, but never really knew it. As a young child, I was raised in the faith of Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism. I attended gonyo services with my father, chanted "Nam myoho renge kyo" in front of the Gohonzon every day, yet I didn't understand what I was saying -- what it all meant. But even then it felt right for me -- comfortable, soothing, and somehow powerful. As I grew, I fell away from Buddhism, partly because I didn't understand it, and partly because it was a strange religion when one is surrounded by others who are Catholic/Christian, etc.
Still, life didn't bother me as it seemed to do to others. I understood that everything would end, everything would pass, that the pendulum of life would swing from the negative side to the positive eternally. I shunned all conventional religions, considering them corruptive to the soul -- this was a result of ignorance -- forgive me! Yet my thoughts on religion (and Buddhism) changed my second semester of college. My required theology class introduced me to the major religions of the world -- Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. And so I wondered as to what place I had in this sea of faith. As I searched through these various faiths, although I grew to lose my ignorance and gain a wealth of understanding and appreciation for other religions, I felt as if I was not "home."
And so, over the Net, I researched Buddhism -- my oldest and earliest home. After reading pages and pages of material on beliefs, rituals, and person encounters, I came to a page which set my mind -- this page. I read a person's account, and although I cannot remember who, that person said that buddhism was about taking control about your own life, bettering yourself from within. That person's words struck me to my heart, and in the middle of my dorm's computer lab, I gasped in delight. For 18 years I had believed in those words with all my heart, had given those words as advice to friends and lovers, and now I saw those words echoed by someone in this religion. That night, I knew I had come home.
Buddhism for me is about understanding that change is the only constant. It is about self-discipline, and is the answer to my somewhat flawed lifestyle -- my quick tongue, my horribly cluttered mind, my relationships with my friends, my family, and myself. I have found greater calm, comfort, and confidence in myself through my explorations of Buddhism and myself than I ever experienced in 18 years. I have come home to Buddhism, and come home to myself.
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