“My journey to Practical Buddhism has taught me many life lessons; each having their origins in moments of trauma and often when I relied on false beliefs spoon-fed to me by my parents. The Practical Buddhist is the story of my tortuous journey through the trappings of big religion and its reliance on myth and ritual, to the freedom of awakening via Practical Buddhism."

But it wasn’t always this way

I was raised to believe in the mythology of the Old and New Testaments as the literal word of God (any questions about whether God exists or not were promptly deflected). It was required to believe that a commitment to Jesus —being the only way to be free of the sin that comprised my human nature— was necessary and not to be questioned and, unless I publicly professed my faith in Jesus as the only way to escape my sinful nature, I was doomed to hell.

Twice on Sunday and every Wednesday evening, I’d sit through sermons, usually next to my mother so she could swat me for fidgeting, that all presented variations of the same theme:

  • “God is good.”

  • “Jesus is the only way to heaven.”

  • “Your sinful nature is proof of your need for salvation.”

  • “Jesus alone can save you.”

There was no proof offered for any of these platform planks. It was assumed that they were true, based on faith alone.

There’s enough guilt to go around within the tent of Big Religion

In religious circles, there is a lot of talk about Jewish guilt, Catholic guilt, etc. Guilt is such a wasted entity and is nothing more that the result of the human mind rationalizing its complex emotions when comparing ourselves to the perfection of an ideal being or state of being.

The guilt invoked by every pastor who preached on Sundays at the various churches I attended was overwhelming. Year after year, decade after decade I still felt that guilt despite having followed the Christ’s example in baptism, reading my bible, and attending church. Today, Christians in my family would most likely contend that the guilt I felt was the proof of my sinful nature. After all, why would I feel guilty if I weren’t?

Despite being raised as a fundamentalist Christian, educated in institutions steeped in the traditions of the ultra-conservative Southern Baptist Convention, and later initiated into Kriya Yoga by a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda, you could say my quest to find a spiritual basis for personal meaning and fulfillment has been significant.

“My experiences within the Christian church and later in Kriya Yoga convinced me that I was still required to adopt someone else’s version of the truth. I came to realize that just because someone said something is true, doesn’t make it so.”

I saw first-hand how most people’s definition and interpretation of religion is superficial at best and crumbles under the mildest scrutiny. As the decades passed, I came to see that Big Religion, the term I use to describe Christianity, Judaism, the teachings of Islam, and all other forms of religion based on faith in preposterous stories and miracles (that for some unexplained reason have ceased), is not something I could endorse nor live my life by.

The politics around religion exposes Big Religion’s failure

That Evangelicals have looked beyond the pussy-grabbing, sexual predator they installed in the White House, and not support his administration’s efforts to purposely abuse children by separating them from their parents at the boded without any thought to the trauma that induces, further distances me from their platform of hate.

In today’s political climate, if you’re white and profess to love God, anything is forgivable:

  • Access to guns-on-demand is great!

  • A sexual predator in the Oval Office is great!

  • Separating children from their parents, that’s great too!

If you’re black, brown, yellow, or a mix thereof and profess to be a Christian, you are still under suspicion by white America.