In two weeks I will have taken my refuge vow. Which makes me a Buddhist.
Now, since a short time after I started studying Buddhism, I considered myself to be Buddhist. Having been raised a Christian is of no consequence here. I have questioned, for years, the beliefs I grew up being told I had to believe. To this day I believe Jesus to be a great teacher. For years, I have not believed him to be a savior, or what I hear about not being saved after death if I do not embrace him as the savior.
I won’t go into detail about that, but the question is always there. Do Jews go to hell? How about Muslims? How about Native Americans? How about Hindis, or Buddhists, or those who are members of some indigenous tribe in Africa? I could go on. To me, it is laughable to say that if you do not embrace Jesus as the savior, you will not be saved after you die.
Back to where I am today.
According to my Lama, one does not have to take the refuge vow to be Buddhist. But, the distinction is that the refuge vow signifies a serious commitment to living according to the Dharma. To embracing Buddha as an example of living the noble eightfold path. To doing all I can to help those in need. And to being a part of a sangha.
To me, I can no longer consider myself Buddhist without taking the refuge vow.
I have such glaring afflictions. Maybe it is good that I am aware of them. I can work on them. However….
I feel so…crappy, for lack of a better word….to describe how I feel when my afflictions take over. I try so hard to be mindful. My anger, my ego, my ability to be so negatively judgmental. When I fail to be mindful, I feel the remorse afterward that I shouldn’t have to feel if I could just be mindful to begin with.
I know that no one is perfect. And I know that it takes many lifetimes to reach enlightenment. Since I have been healing, I have had to come to realize that I am not perfect, and to give myself a break. I must remember that. At the same time, I must be more mindful, and train my mind to work to rid myself of my afflictions. I do want to be a good Buddhist. Funny, one of the first books my Lama gave me to read is all about training the mind.
But this all feels like a war inside of myself. How is it that I can be a good Buddhist with such glaring, flared up afflictions? What can I say, I am a work in progress. But at least I am mindful of the work I need to do. Maybe that is what is different about this life time, as opposed to my past lives.
As I have said before, Buddhism is a beautiful faith. I so look forward to taking refuge, and to learning all I can, while I, at the same time, work to rid myself of my afflictions.