(Story) Was Religion the answer? - Departure of a Truth Seeker

I came back with awe and gratitude after the meeting with the Monk, also a bit of confusion.


“You are not your body, mind, nor your thoughts, emotions, nor your business, events and things that come and go in your life.”


I now got the clues of: what I am not, but then, I still wondered: "if You are none of those things, so who are You??" I needed to find more specific answers…


I spent quite a lot of time since then reading translated-into-Vietnamese books about Buddhist philosophies and teachings in search of further knowledge.


There were times I felt touched and awaken by the truths that I came across from these text books, but on the other hand, many of the concepts didn't make sense to me… Even though I tried to be open but some ideas and teachings written in books, or some big signs in the front of some temples that I visited later, I still could not agree to believe in or follow the teachings: If you do bad things such as killing/ stealing/ etc, you would be reincarnated as a pig or a dog; If you swear, next life you will have stinky breath; If you watch your mum undressed, next life you will be blind; Do charity, you will be rich and lucky; Release wild animals, you will overcome illness and live longer, etc… I was not sure if these teachings were also common in other countries where Buddhism is practiced, but you could find these statements in so many books, Buddhist teaching materials, and temples in Vietnam.


I honestly felt lost in the Faith that I was hoping to build and follow!


Was that because I was not capable or open enough to comprehend? Partly true, probably?!


But later on when reading couple of dozen books in English language about Buddhist philosophies as well as other religious and modern spiritual teachings, I came to admit that Vietnamese versions of subtle concepts were not possibly be expressed as fully as in English language. Probably that was why the authors/ teachers/writers/translators, and even many Monks in their books, speeches and teachings came about the method of trying to illustrate their points by giving their own analysis and startling examples in order to help the readers/ learners have better understandings and could not even ignore or forget the teachings; also probably quite commonly, the person himself possibly really believed in these teachings as he had been taught and now passed them on…


I later on came across some books which are English translations of the Buddha's original teachings which claimed to be without added analysis, explanations or clarifications by the translators, I must say that straight away I sensed that the Buddha’s teachings were inherently True (although being translated into an other language usually some original meanings and ambiance of the words were lost). But the efforts made by many authors/ religious teachings/ writers… (even with good wills) to make the Buddha’s teachings become available as common knowledge, more comprehensible and widely accepted, unfortunately seemed to add unnecessary altered meanings to the original concepts in Buddha's teachings…


Sometimes I wondered how many Vietnamese people were like me, reading/ listening to these resources of information and believed that all these more-than-specific examples/ illustrations were the actual Buddha's teachings, and that they were facts and truths?!


How many people were like me believed that if we did charity, we would end up rich and lucky in life, and then later on, the motivation of doing charity became just one way to wish for richness and luck for ourselves?!


How many people had bought animals (such as fish, birds, little turtles…) for the 'religious Releasing Ceremonies' as an act of making good karma (which was in fact their wishes to have better things in life in disguise), even if they knew at the same time they had created a demand so that more wild animals were to be caught and sold on the markets to serve the purpose of these ‘releasing ceremonies’?!


I found myself loosing Faith in what I thought was ideal as a religion for my life to refuge in…


Though, meeting with the Monk and received his teachings regarding the big questions that I had always carried about, I was thrilled and sensed Truth in his words. And even though I did not quite grasp the deep meanings in his words at the time, and then my effort of looking for further answers in Buddhism as a religion seemed not so successful, I believed that the event itself was something more than a mere coincidence, it was more like a miracle that happened to me, more precious and divine than any events in mundane life that I had ever encountered.


***

I gradually developed an inclination in reading and searching for knowledge in spiritual books in English language, as somehow for me I sensed broader and deeper subtle layers of meanings through English books, the meanings that I could somehow perceive directly into my understandings, but I could not be able to translate and described them properly in Vietnamese language at the time.


I enjoyed communicating with people from different cultures through the Internet, India, Northern Europe, England, Italy, America, etc, I chatted with them in English, and I was astounded by their views on life, their unique cultures, belief, religions, etc, all so new and interesting to me… I was so interested in getting to know more about the outside world, beyond the language, culture and belief barriers. I gradually felt a longing for a breakthrough the conformity that I had been living my whole life up till that point, to experience a fresh horizon, where I might find chance to be happier and at peace.


Things happened and fell in place so quickly before I had realised that I was leaving Vietnam to do a Master in England. I couldn't believe it did happen, that I was going to actually approach a big change in life, a new horizon, where I would have the chance to experience the whole new world, new culture, new system, new way of life, and be apart from what I had been feeling depressed about in the known - ordinary life… It was like an other miracle that happened to answer my enquiries for new experiences.

I left Vietnam with excitement and also some unknown anxiety as I was about to step in to the new land which I could not anticipate what to expect and what would I find there, and just on my own - as a Seeker for knowledge, experiences and Truths…

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