Hello everyone, my name is William and I'm from Richmond, Virginia.
A little background about myself, I was raised in a traditional Southern Baptist home with strict religious and moral values. As a teenager I became rebellious and basically looked for anything "unconventional" I could find. Like most teens, these were simple infatuations. One week I was a pagan, the next a Hindu, the folowing a LaVeyan Satanist, etc. None of these were earnest and it is safe to say it was a halmark of my immaturity. I briefly read about Buddhism and of course, touted its benefits for a while. I simply moved on to the next. Spirituality was, regrettably, a fad to me.
Once I got a little older, I began reading books by men like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens and soon concluded that I had been entirely wrong about everything and was simply an atheist. I began reading more books and essays on science, philosophy, physics, etc. and had, for all intents and purposes, given up on the concept of religion.
I was reading a very long essay entitled which went on about the dangers of theistic religions. That was all well and good but it got me thinking about non-theistic religions. Were these detrimental to society and mankind? Could they be reconciled with science? Could one be a rational free-thinking individual and a spiritual, religious individual as well? This led me back to Buddhism and I began reading about its relation to science and was stunned. The Buddha's insistence on empiricism, as well as his promotion of free thought and his warnings against blind faith seemed completely counter to most other religions. His explanations of the origins of the universe seemed to match with my understanding of current scientific thought.
The quest to end suffering in one's life seemed to me to be the very purpose of our existence. Who likes to suffer? Why should we? Ultimately, I believe everyone seeks to minimize and end suffering in their life, although most are misguided as to how and inevitably end up in a vicious cycle. Kindness, caring, and universal compassion mixed with logic, empiricism and scientific fact seemed to me to be the ultimate expression of human spirituality and its effect on me was incredibly profound.
Theravada Buddhism, to me, made the most sense of the various traditions and schools as it is, in my understanding, closest to the original intent and meaning of the Buddha's teachings. The more "superstitious" and "mythical" elements seem to be missing and it seemed to call to me the most. I have been browsing and reading Dhammawheel for several days now and have decided to be a part of this wonderful resource.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to read this. I hope to get to know all of you soon.