Recently I stumbled upon an old, funny post I wrote about 7 years ago titled Am I Buddhist Anymore? A Brief Socratic Dialogue. I wrote this post at a time in my life when I was kind of burned out by work and by the hassles of Buddhist communities on the Internet,1 and wanted to go alone for a while and find my own path.
In the last year, I guess I have come full-circle back to this state, but now I am burned out by work, parenting and hassles of Buddhist communities in the real-world.2
After a few abortive attempts to find another Buddhist community to take part in, I just gradually learned to be content with finding my own way along the Buddhist path. If I had been less experienced in Buddhism, as I was when I wrote my old post, I might have felt more lonely, but nowadays I don’t feel the pang of isolation that comes with being without a Buddhist community. I’ve been Buddhist long enough that this is not my first rodeo.
At the same time, I like what I wrote here:
Fact is, when I think about Kannon Bodhisattva for example, I can’t help but smile. I found myself randomly doing that while walking home from work recently. That goes double for Shakyamuni Buddha. Lately, I feel like I understand him better than I did before, and it makes me appreciate him more than I did before.
I feel that way now too. Since I gave up on Jodo Shinshu Buddhism and kind of learned Buddhism all over again, this time without the heavy burden of doctrine and sectarianism, I find I appreciate Shakyamuni Buddha more and what he taught, without having to identify myself as one sect or another.
These days I am just a happy, content Buddhist. It sure took a long time to get here, but as I recently told my wife in the car, I think I’ve been happier and more content these past months than I have been for long, long time.
1 I used to spend a lot of time on places like E-Sangha, Beliefnet and so on. I guess it’s where I “cut my teeth” in discussing Buddhism to other people, but also where I learned about the ugly side of religion and the Internet too. I wasn’t all that sad when E-Sangha collapsed, though I have kept in touch with a few people on there since then.
2 Let alone the online ones which I deliberately avoid. Every very once in a while, I’ll log into some Buddhist forum I know (usually after I reset the password I forgot), answer a couple questions, realize I don’t like online Buddhist communities and don’t log in again for another 2-3 years.