Kat A., Converts, #(2135)

Jan 14, 2015

My parents raised me as a agnostic growing up, but during my first year of college I took a religious studies course and became a religious Buddhist. From the ages of 21-29 I practiced religious Buddhism. I eventually settled on the Tibetan sect of Buddhism because it used images in mediation which was great for me because I am a visual thinker. I delved into studying Tibetan Buddhism, reading as much as I could from my university’s large library during breaks between classes. I also went to a local practice center which was a house where a lama lived, however I soon realized that I would have to dedicate more time than I had to the lama there so I left. I also read all I could about the various practices of Tibetan Buddhism on the net and found a couple of websites where lamas wrote advice and instructions about them. I also foolishly spent a lot of money on books on specific yoga, deity and tantra practices which were nothing more than primitive animistic shaman practices combined with Buddhism. I also foolishly bought a bunch of ritual items such as a bell, and offering dish for doing rituals I almost became an atheist during this time when my 13 year old cousin died as I clearly remember running out of the church crying “There is no God”. as I thought that was illogical for God to take away my young cousin who had the best qualities out of all his family members and who had a bright future ahead of him. As time went on I became frustrated with the practices and rituals as it was apparent that if I practiced them all as the lamas had dictated I wouldn’t have much time in my day to do anything as they could take up to four hours to complete. The worse thing of all was if I missed certain practices I would have to make up for them by doubling the amount of mantras or prostrations or doing extra practices. Moreover, If I missed these practices I essentially broke the vows I promised to my lama and would go to a special type of hell for Buddhists. I became disillusioned with Tibetan Buddhism when I was typing out hundreds of pages of various tantra yoga practices which were nothing more than elaborate witchcraft practices with visualization. I also became disillusioned when I read about the description of the torture and suffering in eight hot hells and cold hells written by a monk and I questioned why a monk, who was supposed to be compassionate all the time wrote this. I also found that I had so much anxiety in deciding which deities to practice and when I did those practices I found that they were useless for my anxiety and OCD. Finally, when I went to the hospital because of thoughts of suicide, I asked a lama for advice on how to deal with suicidal thoughts and he told me that I was suicidal because of my negative karma criticizing people in a past life and I that I deserved this, which I did not think is an compassionate or appropriate thing to say to someone who is about to kill themselves. I finally declared myself an atheist this last year after the death of my mother. The most convincing thing converted me to atheist was seeing her, a women who helped me so much during my life, deteriorate from lung cancer as I thought that it was idiotic to believe that she deserved to suffer like this because of what she did in a past life. Instead I believed that she had gotten lung cancer because she smoked a lot from the stress of giving so much of herself to others and getting nothing in return as well as from having asthma. Even though my mother didn’t approve of atheism personally, I know she would have respected my choice and now I only read Buddhism for its nontheist philosophy and not for its religious superstitions. I also now practice a secular form of meditation to deal with my anxiety and OCD issues, and I have never felt more free.

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