Monday, October 19, 2009

Want to be toad?


Hello there:

I am a Therevada Buddhist and a high school senior who will graduate this June. My parents are separated; I live with my father and sister. I have been a Buddhist for almost a year now and have been 'out of the closet' to my nominally Christian father and sister since Christmas, with great acceptance and love. Being accepted by them has been one of my most fortifying experiences yet on my path. As my final year of high school draws to a close, with college coming in the fall, I find myself wishing to be able to share this aspect of my life with the rest of my family, seeing as though I am crossing into young adulthood and have no need to apologize for or conceal my way of life.

This had been a subject of considerable inner debate. I feel that my mother would have trouble accepting me for what I am, along with both my grandmothers and some of my other relations. My mother professes the Christian faith but never goes to church and is Catholic only in name; still, on the few occasions that we have discussed spirituality, she seemed suspicious and mistrusting of belief systems other than the one of her birth. Both sides of my family grew up around Christianity and all hold to it to one extent or another: my one grandmother is the most extreme case, a daily mass attendee whose house is a shrine to Jesus and who would have a (literal) heart attack if she discovered that I was Buddhist.

I have no wish at all to alienate my family, or to appear in rebellion to them. I love and respect them all, and respect their choice of religion. At the same time, I wish I felt comfortable enough to share with them what has been the most transformative and healing choice of my life. Yet I do wish to share it with them, and very much so: fear of what they will say, think, and do is all that hems me in, but it is enough. I was wondering if you have ever encountered a situation like this in your personal life, or would be able to offer some advice on what the best course of action would be. Thanks so much, and metta to you!


My comment:
Hi T,

The world is changing and "getting smaller". Communications are instant. Information is at a click of a button. Those who still wants to live inside a well like a toad will suffer the fate of the toad. In religion, many are very wary of losing "members" to other faiths. Some resort to violence in order to prevent their "members" from changing faiths. Most have been indoctrinated since they were born, leaving them ignorant to other ideas with no room for tolerance of others' faiths. They have "closed mind". Bearing in mind this scenario, I hope you will be able to tread with care when talking "spirituality" with your loved ones who have not a clue of what Buddhism is all about.

There is no hurry to announce to them of your chosen faith. Take your time, let your actions speak for you. If you conduct wisely by keeping the 5 precepts, and show kindness and compassion to all, the loving message of the Buddha will permeate through your family members. When they are ready and receptive, then you talk. In the meantime get on with your life as a Buddhist and share your experiences with your friends.

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