Home > Lessons for the Modern Man, Men and Spirituality > My Authentic Buddhist Self

My Authentic Buddhist Self

I’m not very fond of labels. Maybe it’s because I prefer to go through life flexibly, avoiding being “type-cast” in any particular role. Perhaps this keeps me in flow, ready for change, evolving through the lives I have lived, even in this one life-time! Or does it keep me from commitment?

I grew up in a so called Christian home. We didn’t so much think of ourselves as Christian at that time; everyone was one so there was no need to distinguish ourselves with the label. When filling out forms and the “religion question” was asked I checked the “Christian” box; this was automatic but I’m not so sure how authentic it was.

The University, Peace Corps and life experiences, not the least of which was initiation into Transcendental Meditation in 1969, moved me smartly beyond the Christian label. I wasn’t anti-Christian; I had just moved beyond the dogma and form I had grown up with.

I was ordained in December 2000 as an “Interfaith Minister” through Pebble Hill Interfaith Community Church in Pennsylvania. Yes, this is a label but it seemed broad enough to fit my approach to “stay loose.” And my ordination wasn’t so much to earn a title as to continue the search for an identity. My course of studies helped me along that path but I did not conclude anything other than to continue the search.

What am I searching for? Certainly not a label. But I am looking for an authentic identity. Don’t we all want to know who we are?

Rosemary and I have written a lot about this subject, “Purpose.” It really does come down to this in the end. Don’t we all long to know “why”?

It has come to this: in these days when we have written about authenticity it is time to go inside and seek the clear answer to the question. I have studied, practiced, remembered, sat for hours, been in silence, bowed to statues and other iconic art, chanted, risen in the dark before dawn to the call of the Han, considered the vows, all the while feeling the familiarity of it. And I have resisted. It is time now to embrace who I truly am.

For much of my life now I have been a practicing Zen Buddhist without taking the full vows and without the label. But I’m not a Zen Buddhist. What I have been truly resisting, or perhaps more accurately not fully realizing and embracing, is the call to study and practice Tibetan Buddhism, Vajrayana, The Diamond Path.

Why the resistance? In part I’ve thought of the Vajrayana as ornate, overly ceremonial and complex; I like the simple, clear Zen-way of things. In part I have resisted Tantra as a practice overly foreign and strange; I prefer the straightforward, easily comprehended approach to practice. And, in part, I have walked the Vajra Path in previous lives; I’ve done that, don’t need to do that, learn that again in this life.

KalachakraThen I began to receive visions in my meditations; visions of the very ornate and overly ceremonial practices and technologies of Trantra. I began, again, to read the Kalachakra Tranta Rite of Initiation, this time with clarity and excitement. I researched when His Holiness is conferring the initiation again: 2014 in Ladakh! And I began having visions of doing this!

It has taken me my whole life to return, again, to something familiar, something genuine, something that has been calling to me to come back. I’ve known I’m a Buddhist at heart. And now I am embracing the truth that I am a follower of the Trantric Path. Perhaps in some mysterious way this is my ultimate label.

You will be reading more about this journey I’m setting off on in the coming weeks and months. It is a journey home to my authentic self!

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