For a long time I just studied Buddhism. I didn’t want to call myself a Buddhist.
I was resistant to labels. To a certain extent I still am.
So, I was studying Buddhist texts and meditating every day. I was a committed traveler on the path to Awakening.
I read books from all the different sects of Buddhism. Zen was my favorite. I really wanted to be a Zen Buddhist. But I didn’t know where to begin.
At first I was really not interested in joining a spiritual community. I just wanted to practice and study on my own.
Years went by in this way.
After my daughter was born I started to think more seriously about it. The Buddha tells us that the three things we take refuge in are the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. The teacher, the teachings, and the spiritual community. I didn’t have one. And my friends weren’t all that interested in taking the journey with me, so I was on my own.
But something held me back.
In an unlikely place something else happened to inspire me.
I got a tech support job and in training I met another mystic. He wasn’t a Buddhist, he was a Hindu, a practitioner of a teaching called Advaita Vedanta. Advaita Vedanta is very similar to Buddhism in a lot of ways. It’s a non-dualistic spiritual system. I studied some of the texts of Advaita Vedanta and I almost switched paths because I was so inspired.
We talked for a little while and I became inspired to go further in my practice.
Not long after, I would attend the first Buddhist temple I found, the Rime Buddhist Center.