on coming out of the Buddhist closet

Thoughts and Opinions

If you read this blog you know that I’ve been interested in and studying Zen for a few years now. However, I’ve been reluctant to come right out and admit to myself that I’m Buddhist. For some reason I haven’t wanted to put myself in that box. I freely admit to being a Zennist, but I’m not sure I want to go “full Buddhist” you know? I think part of this has to do with the fact that Christianity is so ingrained in my psyche that it is almost a part of my D.N.A. I come from a very Catholic family, first of all. I could recite the Nicene Creed to you without even thinking about it. It is, seriously, etched into my consciousness.

Secondly, I had a “born again” experience that felt very real to me at the time. There was a short time in my life when this was very important to me. While some of that experience was damaging psychologically, some of it was positive, too. The best thing that came out of that experience,  I think, was that I actually read the Bible. So I know what the Bible says. That has been fairly useful.

So  this Christian background is  the reason why I’ve been reluctant to just come out and fully embrace Buddhism. I think that I feel that Christianity is part of what makes me who I am today and there is some fear of letting that part of me go.

Also, I’m worried about offending my Christian friends and family. There is fear that they might look down on me and think I’m “going to hell” or whatever. And I feel really bad about offending people regarding religion. It’s a touchy subject. I don’t want them to worry about me or waste time “praying for my soul.” I certainly don’t think I’m going to hell and am not worried about it. Why should anyone else worry?

But the past few days I’ve been listening to Brad Warner‘s Hardcore Zen podcast and really eating it up. I’ve been home sick a couple of days this week and I spent much of my time listening to the episodes and drinking tea (and knitting).

At some point (I can’t remember which episode it was) he talks about this idea that Zen Buddhism is a “religion” that is faithless.

This little idea got me thinking about it. This is stuff I know but never really gave serious thought to before. You don’t have to have faith in something to practice Zen Buddhism. Zen Buddhism is not about believing in something “out there” or “up in the sky” or whatever. It is a “religion” in which one does something. Specifically one does zazen. Really, that is all it boils down to (at least that is how my newbie mind is interpreting all of this).

It is just me, sitting on a cushion, and breathing.

You do this everyday and develop a practice. And out of this practice really neat things happen. You find that cobwebs are dusted away in your brain and you can pay attention to things right in front of you. And when you pay attention to those things right in front of you life becomes more meaningful and happier.

I remembered that I have a zazen practice. I take time out everyday and sit and breathe.

I’m also, as it so happens, learning about and interested in following the ideas of Buddhism. Because how could you not, when you learn them? (There’s an end to suffering? Sign me up!)

I am practicing Zen Buddhism. Thus, I am a Zen Buddhist.

it is so simple. as it always is.

There I said it. I am a Zen Buddhist.

Whew.