[To read the other parts of this series on Buddhism, click here.]
It was in my middle teenage years that I first became interested in Buddhism. I had grown up in a traditionally Christian family. My parents were both regular attenders of the village church. My older brother and I were both in the choir, and we were also altar boys. In fact, my older brother went on to be ordained into the church and is a practising minister still.
I remember from a young age, sitting in church on Sunday evenings and feeling a sense of spiritual presence, but being in awe and fear of the overwhelmingly paternal perspective of the protestant church. In fact, the ramble of the sermon was usually lost to me as I drifted off in my imagination. I would sit and watch motes of dust as they drifted through the light beams that shone from the stained glass windows, and imagine whole worlds within those specks of dust.
In my teenage years, I drifted away from regular church going and began to explore ideas of philosophy.
Then my reading brought me to an awareness of Buddhism. Schools are more inclined to look at the religions of the world today than they were in the 1970s. There was no mention of other religions in either Religious Studies, History or Geography lessons. It was my explorations in poetry, philosophy, fiction and psychology that opened up the world of Buddhism.
Probably one of the earliest influences would have been ‘Siddhartha’ by Herman Hesse. I had read ‘Steppenwolf’ first – curious to follow the link back to the book from the Canadian rock band who produced the hit ‘Born to be Wild’. I enjoyed the novel so much that I went on to read many of his others, and came across ‘Siddhartha’. This allegorical novel tells the spiritual journey of an Indian man called Siddhartha during the time of Buddha. The story follows him as he goes through a series of changes and realizations to achieve his goal of enlightenment. It is a beautifully written novel and charmed me into wanting to find out more about Buddhism.
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