I live in Portland, Oregon in the US and I'm quite pleased to have found this forum!
I have considered myself a Buddhist for maybe 25 years, but I had been using it like a fire extinguisher and only turning to belief in times of trouble. Consequently I was miserable until deciding that more full time focus was truly necessary. I must include that I had a profound experience while reading The Four Noble Truths
by VA Sumedoh* that removed all doubts and brought a sense of certainty within me I had never experienced before. I felt the deepest sincerity and an overpowering sense of Compassion. Neither good nor bad, I understood something beyond that value attachment and experienced a Peace that I could not have believed existed before.
I have no formal training other than basic meditation techniques my Karate Sensei taught almost 30 years ago. There are many Buddhist facilities in my town; the problem I'm having - other than finding the time to go and maybe convincing my wife to go, too
- is deciding on a school? Theravada or Mahayana? Zen? Pure Land? Vajrayana? Nichiren? Do I need to decide at all? I've greatly enjoyed reading material from every school, though I find myself leaning more and more towards Pure Land and Zen (I think I'm answering my own question, but any input is much appreciated
I am a taxi cab driver and this gives me a lot of time to myself to practice meditation in the car. I have also found that mindfulness while driving 100 to 200 miles a day to be extremely beneficial just from a safety perspective alone! At home I don't mind doing chores and I find myself completing projects skillfully rather than procrastinating then rushing to get them done. My wife likes the 'new me' and I am a much much happier person. I do not regret the years of not fully investing in the Dharma because without this very sharp contrast I might not appreciate this certainty and this bliss nearly as much, nor would I have so many experiences to learn from. This freedom from regret, from guilt, from the nattering inner voice that can't be satisfied - this is real.
*specifically the part where he describes a sense of dread while looking at a beautiful view of the Himalayas: "I had the feeling of wanting to hold on to everything, that I had to keep alert all the time in order to consume everything with my eyes." I have had this exact experience whenever I'm confronted with a lot of delicious Chinese food! Then he writes: "It was really wearing me out! Now that was dukkha
wasn't it?" and with that my mind exploded in an orange light all over the room, and in my memory of this I see a silhouette of the Amitabha Buddha. It wasn't supernatural. I felt like it was akin to the sensation of finding, say, your car keys, except this was Ultimate Truth, and so was exponentially more intense.