How I Became a Secular Buddhist

I was born and raised in Southern Virginia where it was traditional to stay in the family’s faith. My father wanted me to be a Christian of the Southern Baptist flavor just like he was. He and I went to Sunday school and church almost every Sunday.  He read his Bible daily.

On the rare occasion that my mom went to church, she went to the Presbyterian church. Perhaps this is why at 12 years old, I started wondering if Southern Baptist was the right sect of Christianity for me.

With my father’s permission, I went to a different church every Sunday. No one at any of the Sunday schools I attended could answer my questions to my satisfaction.  My major question was why a good non-Christian goes to hell, while a bad person who accepts Christ goes to heaven (I have since learned that only certain protestant faiths subscribe to this view).

This was the early seventies and my sister went through a hippie phase. Some of the books she bought during this phase were ones about Zen by Alan Watts and ones about Hinduism by Ram Dass. Around the age of 13 or 14, I started reading them.

By the time I was 16, I considered myself a secular Buddhist. By secular Buddhist, I mean that I reject the supernatural elements like karma, rebirth and beings in other realms. I have been one ever since. I guess in spite of the best efforts by our parents, some of us end up choosing our own religion anyway.

If I had had children, I would have taught them about the world’s religions and atheism and let them decide.

©2016 Stephen L. Martin

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