Please, if you would be so generous and kind, read my story and the plea that follows.
(To read a shorter version, I'm putting asterixes right above the really important part, so start there and read down from there)
I have not been a practitioner of Buddhism for very long, just about a year and a half, but all my life I have been highly spiritual, and, since being a child, wanted to be someone completely devoted to a religion and their causes. Growing up, I was a very devout christian and aimed to be a pastor. Then, in my mid teens, I realized Christianity was not the path for me. In the years following, my life was very tumultuous and chaotic. It seemed without faith fueling me, I lost motivation in most things, and, for some twisted teenage rebellion oriented reason, I felt that becoming an apostate of Christianity meant I no longer had a moral structure to follow. I committed many wicked deeds, and mental illnesses I had worsened exponentially. Then, as I hit rock bottom, living in a homeless program at the age of 20, having a 6PM curfew only mere weeks after I had been out partying until 6 AM, I discovered Buddhism. It was revealed to me by a very precious friend of mine, John, and it helped restore my sanity and give me structure and direction in life. Toward the end of my stay at the living program, John and I agreed that we would become Monks together. We had spent the months before my leaving talking and reading and practicing Buddhism (we're both Karma Kagyu, by the way). Shortly after I was welcome back into my parents' home (a whopping 3 hours away from the monastery, which seemed even farther since I don't own a car), I took refuge and was given White Tara empowerment. But, since I was so far removed from my Buddhist friend and the peaceful place we lived in, and plunged into the suburb and city which, if described as Samsaric, might be an understatement, I became distracted. I indulged in worldly pleasures like going out to bars, and chasing after women. In fact, for a long time, romance was my number one priority, and my desire to start a family one day is the reason I told John I would not become a monk.
Over the time that has passed, I have tried time and time again to get onto and be more serious about the Buddhist path. It has been described to me that often when one begins practice, many, many obstacles come up to deter you from the path. Obstacles came up that I could not see were obstacles, and I kept drifting off from the path. Until recently. In the past couple months, I started becoming more serious about Buddhism. I also knew distractions would be coming, and I was prepared. When I met a girl who seemed to be all I wanted in a woman, I simply explained to her that she was an obstacle in my path to Enlightenment, though, in a different way that caused a lot of laughs and led to us being friends. In accordance to wanting to overcome obstacles, I began saying the White Tara mantra many times.
In the time I have practiced, I have had very few realizations. Most of the teachings I just processed intellectually, and one of the biggest things I hadn't realized was the nature of Bodhicitta. I understood what it was and that it was the right thing to do, but I didn't FEEL it. I would briefly include "all sentient beings" in my prayers and practice, simply because I knew it was the right thing to do, not because I felt the need to do so. However, this all changed recently. My mother gave me a book she had gotten in the 80s which was a Buddhist Sutra. I had no idea what tradition it belonged to, but it said it was translated from sanskrit to chinese to english, so I figured it must have been Mahayana, and I was right- It was a pureland book. However, despite the pureland nature of the book, what the book was most about was the hell realms. In it they gave a "brief description" that wound up being more than 50 pages long. Never before this had I realized how terrible the hell realm, and all lower realms must be. Then, earlier today, I was standing on my porch, contemplating the hell realms and the immeasurable suffering sentient beings experience there, and I finally had a realization- that of Bodhicitta. So suddenly, so awe-inspiring, I suddenly felt so much compassion and love for all sentient beings, and then upon realizing, and truly realizing, the suffering of those in the lower realms, I began to weep and sob in compassion and sorrow for a good while. Then I sobbed some more when I knew in my current state I did not have the power to liberate such beings. But then, I was filled with joy and positive energy, remembering that I lived in the age of Dharma, and not just Dharma, but with Tantric practice, which by doing such one can become attained in one lifetime. It was then I was able to let go of my desire to have romance and selfish things like that, and that I finally agreed to join John on the path of becoming a monk and a Bodhisattva.
However, I was also struck with fear. I feared that in my very samsaric surroundings, that somehow the realization would be taken away from me, that I would be swallowed by all the things around me- the loud music my roomates play and refuse to turn down when I want to meditate, that they drink to intoxication often, and then have many shallow materialistic people around. And I- so far from the Monastery, from the Gurus and the Sangha, became afraid of losing what I had just gained.
I began praying, nearly nonstop, to White Tara, feeling that the more I said the mantra, the less likely the realization would fade from me. I also prayed that I would not become attached to such a realization, only that it was so precious and such an important tool in becoming a devout Buddhist.
So, I request from you, if you are empowered to do so, please say some White Tara on my behalf. Even if you do not believe this realization can be lost, then please do it for the obstacles I am bound to face in the future as I am entering into serious practice. If you could even mutter just one mantra for me, I would be indebted to you greatly. On the other hand, if you are not empowered to practice white tara, simply, if you could, say a prayer on my behalf to the Buddha. Again, I would have tremendous gratitude for such an act.
Thank you all for listening, may you all be blessed and achieve all you wish on the path of Dharma.
<- This is my more active facebook, if you want some real discussion
OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA
"The world is dark when you're depressed; your thoughts have the power to invent your world." -Courage Wolf
"It is more important to be kind than to be right."
(I acknowledge I do not follow the quote above this, that is why it is there! so I will be reminded every time I post!