Buddhist Testimonial ~ Guest Post by Keith

(As you probably know, I have opened up this blog to individuals that would like to discuss some aspect of Buddhism or spirituality in the context of their own perceptions.  They have full reign to talk about what they want.)

Hi my name is Keith ,I like long walks on the beach and cuddling….

For real though I’m Keith,18 and live in the middle of small town Alabama.  I love music, death metal to blues to rap. I love it all.I’m not a country bumpkin like many people here.  I play guitar and have been for about 7 years non stop. Its my life.  I was born and raised in Alabama and never moved out of it either.  I was raised Christian and went to church almost every Sunday for a very many years.  I was in youth groups some as well in church. I still remain friends with people I’ve met at church.  Anyway before I get anymore into religion, let me tell you about my life so my viewpoint makes a little sense.

In elementary school I was the kid that got picked on a lot and didn’t have a lot of friends.  I had a few but it didn’t help much.  I went home a lot just feeling horrible. My parents divorced when I was very young and my Dad worked all the time so I didn’t see him much.  My childhood wasn’t all bad, I had my two best friends that are still best friends with me today.  As I grew older I went in and out of being really religious Christianity wise.  I moved schools and got some friends and life was alright for the most part.

Fast forward till a few weeks till I turned 16.  My dad who I had a good father/son relationship with mentioned my birthday coming up and we got to talking and I said I wanted a car (like everyone does).   He said if I payed insurance he would give me his as he was looking for another anyway.  I looked desperately for job for a very long time with no luck.  Long story short he sold the car and told me to “drop out of high school because you’ll never amount to anything,your a fucking failure”.  Notice the quotes i put in since it was his exact words.  He kept telling me I was on drugs, which I wasn’t.  He told me a lot more but you get the picture.  I put up with this for almost two years without telling anyone.  Finally I told my Grandpa (his Dad) about all the verbal and emotional abuse and all I got was “well thats your Dad”.  I still didn’t tell my mom about it or anyone else at this point.(This is getting to religion don’t worry) I finally told my Mom about this and she said I didn’t have to talk to him anymore All of this abuse has cause me so many problems.  I still have very bad issues I deal with everyday because of it.Emotionally for the most part.  I don’t let any of my problems or emotions show much either.  Its a struggle to have a good day usually.  I don’t go to therapy or anything, I might when I graduate school, till then guitar is my therapy.  Anyway,i’m not here for sympathy…

Now to the religious part.  I was still attending church off and on a lot up until this point and knew all about the healing power of Jesus and how he can make all right in the world.  I tried to let Christianity help me through the all the anger and sadness/depression I was and still am feeling.  Needless to say it didn’t help. As I grew older and became more aware of what was happening in the world and saw that millions of children die from starvation each year.  Needless to say I faded away from Christianity.  My religion was my music as helped me express myself and help me become more in tune with my emotions and help me live easier.  I still was interested in religions as they gave me a sense of community that I need to help deal with the issues and for other reasons.  I researched different religions and was interested in Rastafarian-ism as it talked alot about peace and harmony.  I heard a lot of places say that it had a lot in common with Christianity in more than one way.  I just got done with Christianity so that set me on the quest again. I found Buddhism and the more I read about it the more I liked it.  It promoted peace harmony and had a community. I love that Buddhism is adaptable to different societies and how we as humans grow.  I loved how Buddha went out and tried to help and didn’t tell them they were going to hell if they didn’t believe him.  It was backed up by logic as well. So many things I admire about Buddha and Buddhism that i’m now a Buddhist and i’m happy to say that to.  I’m proud to say i’m Buddhist.  My family still doesn’t understand why i’m Buddhist and probably think its a phase.  I feel like i’ve been following Buddhism all my life but never had a name for it.  I don’t hate Christianity because it does amazing things for people and helps people so much.  I think there are a lot of similarities between the two as well, plenty of differences though as well.

I’m currently a senior in high school and i’m the only Buddhist as well.   Majority are Christians and there are a few people who follow other religions.   Alabama is not quite as bad as most people think.In my high school and town there are some narrow minded people and it gets to be a little immature and discriminatory but its nothing to bad. “Least I don’t worship a fat statue”, and “Jesus died for you, what has Buddha ever done?” are very popular comments I hear.   I try to be as tolerant as possible to these people and it has rubbed off on them.  I’m a friendly person to everyone and I am a bit of a smartass to people but (show me an 18 year old who isnt?) its all in good spirits.  I still have the whole emotional abuse problem I deal with and probably will always have the baggage.  As I continue into my spiritual quest I hope to someday find peace with myself and I’m currently looking for a temple to attend regularly.  Most of them are very far away and gas is not cheap.  I would catch a ride but I don’t know anyone else who is Buddhist in Alabama. I have patience to find a local Sangha to be active in.  Although it may not be so local.  I plan on being happy as much as I can and helping other people be happy as well.

My name is Keith and this is my Buddhist Testimonial

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9 thoughts on “Buddhist Testimonial ~ Guest Post by Keith

  1. Rock on, keith! You might trey treeleaf zendo. Jundo isn’t for everyone but I like him. You might also try White Wind zen community. They have a long-distance training program. You’re lucky to have found the Path instead of drugs or alcohol. Most of us who follow the Middle Way went that way, first. Now we’re old men who wish we were young, single and had the endurance of an 18 year old. The fat statute thing irritates me. Stupid Hotei statues. I’d smash every one that I could if it eliminate that particualr misconception. As I can’t, I have tons of them 😀

    Deep bows, Keith.

    J. Andy Lambert
    Bayou Buddhists

    PS My dad grew up in Anniston/Oxford and most of his family still lives in the area. It’s really changed since I was a kid. LAst summer I was able to get many vegan staples at Wal-mart and we saw a Muslim woman while shopping. My uncles still make racist jokes but tehy’re tamer these days.

  2. Thank you. I will definitely check out Treeleaf Zendo and White Wind community.
    The Hotei statue thing irritated me at first but I do understand why they think that. I thought that to when I was younger and didn’t know any better.

    Originally this post was going in a different direction but I still consider myself a bit of a novice so it turned into what it is now.
    I see to many people get into drugs and alcohol and turn into horrible people and hypocrites. I know i’m a bit hypocritical at times but I try and keep it to a minimum.

    I am a bit surprised at how long this post is, didn’t mean for it to be that big. Oh well, reading never hurt anyone.

    Thanks for the comment.

    Deep Bows

    • both links are available on my Zen Resources page. Check it out and thanks for you post! It was a pleasure to read.

      Cheers,

      John

  3. Thanks for sharing your story, Keith. I recognize a lot of myself in what you had to say. I only wish I’d discovered Buddhism at 18. I may have saved myself a lot of self-imposed misery. But it’s all part of the journey – mud into lotuses, and all that – and I wouldn’t trade my journey for anything.

    Best,
    jjm

  4. “Youngsters of this generation seem not quite so hazardous except in the way of mechanical speed, bad liquor and venereal diseases.”
    ~Robert E. Howard [letter to H. P. Lovecraft, April 1932]

  5. I feel like i’ve been following Buddhism all my life but never had a name for it.

    That’s how I felt when I found Buddhism after leaving Mormonism. I lived with a lot of verbal and psychological abuse too growing up. I happen to have schizoaffective disorder and would be happy to talk with you if you need someone to relate to. Either way I hope to see you around the iSangha in the future. 🙂

    All the best to you….

    Bowing….

    James

  6. wowee Keith, great post. I wish I had found Buddhism at 18 instead of 38…good for you! I had the same experience tho in that when I started educating myself about it, it was something I had already been living in many ways…it was just 20 years later than you.

    guess i’m a little slow

    Peace,
    Shane

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