Searching For Soul
I have visited a lot of temples in a lot of countries. There is a core within me that is seeking something that resonates at the spiritual level. Because of past sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests, I began a search to replace my loss of a spiritual centre in Catholicism. I was fifteen years old and I found myself wandering through so many different churches that still held to Christianity. Months of trying out so many different faiths left me empty and I walked away from hope that there was a place that I could call my spiritual home.
Not long after I got married while going to university, I found a few books called the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the I-Ching and Herman Hesse’s book, Siddharata in a used book store. Not long after that discovery, I bought a damaged small wooden Buddha statue. This was soon followed by an introduction to meditation. For a few months until the start of my teaching career in the fall of 1974, I lived quietly, part-time, in an alternate world of spirituality. Life happened, work, raising a family, and being a member of a community filled in all of my spaces in a good way. Yet somehow, the absence of honouring my spiritual core began to push into my life. My soul began demanding my attention. A community member who was coming to me for counselling, a Lutheran pastor easily saw that spiritual centre pushing out over the course of several months of our work together. As the time for closure approached, he suggested that I become a Lutheran pastor as I had the spiritual core necessary to be a good pastor. At the time, it caused me to chuckle for I wasn’t a Lutheran and had no intention of becoming a Lutheran.
On numerous trips to Europe, I found myself in centuries old cathedrals and monasteries and in each place, I could feel something still lingering of a time long past when those places were real places of spirituality. In the Yucatan, again I found old churches, and Mayan ruins not on the tourist routes that also spoke of deep religious connections. And when I went to China.
While in China, I visited many temples and pagodas, some active in Buddhist faith and many tourist stops collecting fees at the entrance. I could never seem to get enough as each place was different. China gave me time and access to India, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand where I wandered and experienced. I knew I was listening and experiencing my own spirituality in the process. It wasn’t about photo opportunities. It was deeper than that.
And now, I find myself looking deeper into Buddhism. There is an honest simplicity in the eight fold path that doesn’t focus on some paternalistic god or on highly debated theology and doctrines. I find myself participating in more than one Buddhist sangas for group meditation and for those moments both before and after group meditation with others who are approaching personal spirituality in the context of Buddhism. Will I become a Buddhist? That question doesn’t have an answer yet, but part of me has been Buddhist since the fall of 1973 when I found a used copies of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the I-Ching, Siddhartha, and a small damaged wooden statue of Buddha.