I'm kind of new to exploring Buddhism and what exactly it has to offer. So far, I have to say, it's been spot-on accurate about a lot of things I've noticed from my own meditations! I guess maybe I was blinded by a superficial understanding of Dharma before.
It took a very traumatic experience to force me to consider what the Buddha had to say about life, though. I began to uncover and confirm details about a past life last September, one that ended violently in the First World War. I had been spared so much suffering in this life, but when I remembered the trenches of the Western front, I knew suffering once more and I hated that human beings would do that to each other.
Up until that July, I was active in a small local anarchist movement. I'd even written a book that a number of established members of our particular community liked and personally promoted. I was on my way to becoming a prominent figure in our movement. If I'd kept going the way I was going, I could have been a real leader; here I had the right ideas for the right audience, and they liked me. But I suddenly felt all wrong about it. I began to wonder if I was really ready to take on a political cause whole-heartedly like that, or to take on the risks involved in being front and center in a movement disliked by both the right and the left.
When these memories came back, it reminded me of what happened when I defined myself by a cause instead of defining myself by good values that transcend nations or party politics. You see, in my previous life I wasted many lives and loves because I thought the cause of patriotism was the highest virtue. But I found too late that there is no virtue in slaughtering men who might otherwise be your friend in muddy fields; that's a butcher's work, and one day in July 1915, my fellow butchers got me.
I got out of politics almost completely after that. I started thinking about how silly all the political solutions to life's problems really were; what I saw was that people were their own worst enemies and governments were a symptom of that. And yet, I saw people who were above the ugliness of culture, rare glimmers of what could be if we let go of our flags and our anthems and our party uniforms and see the world honestly and authentically. One of those shining gems of humanity was Siddartha Gautama.
I'm just beginning my journey and coming from a very odd place in life. All I ask is for a little patience. But I hope that by being here and by sharing our views, we may all enrich each other.