My name is Steve. I did a search on Buddhism, and voila!, I found this community. Wonderful place and concept. I come from a very non-religious methodist family. The first memory I have of religion is my Sunday school teacher when I was 6 or 7 taught us Revelations. Brilliant idea. I had nightmares for weeks, even months, including one recurring one in which I was on a raft going through hell. From this point on, I remember feeling terrified of God. When I did something wrong, I went and hid in my closet, thinking
God couldn't see me there. I told my parents that I hated God and wouldn't go to church anymore at age 11. They respected my wishes, because they're truly incredible parents, and let me stay home on Sunday. Fast forward to high school, I went to an all-male, Christian high school. I got tormented quite a bit by a group of jockular (not sure that's a word) Christian guys who seemed to have a problem with the fact that I didn't pray in our daily "devotionals" (basically a half hour church service). Way to follow Jesus' example guys. Anyhow, so my experience told me that religion is bad and hurtful. Furthermore, it made me hate God. So I started researching Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism and found it a much healthier experience for me, and I gradually realized that I'm a very spiritual person but had repressed that side of me for most of my life. Since I started searching at 18, I've gone through phases of my life in which I was not very selective about the people and ideas with which I surrounded myself. Many negative people came into my life, and I thought that it was my duty to help them out. The ultimate result was them pulling me down to their level, rather than me pulling them up to mine. Two steps forward, one step back, I guess. I'm just now getting out of a 2 year relationship that I let strangle my spirituality, so I'm trying to find good, positive, nurturing people of the spiritual persuasion. I think this community fits into that category. Thanks for being. Peace and love.