Dear Friends, Below is a sharing from an atheist who was once a pastor, a missionary and an evangelist.
I am quite moved by the length at which he goes to really understand his religion and its teachings. While I can only say that I read one over times, the English translation of the Pali Nikayas (Digha, Majjhima, Samyutta, Anguttara (anthologies) Nikaya and some of the available suttas in the Khuddaka Nikaya), with repeated readings of some suttas that I have special affinity to, he read all 66 books a total of TWENTY-SIX (26) times! That is not to mention that of the Chinese Mahayana Tripitaka where I have mainly focused on sutras and sastras (commentaries) from the Prajna (Wisdom) sections 般若部 and Yoga (Cultivators1) sections 瑜伽部 (唯識) and spent more time learning certain sutras or commentaries as needed.
I am posting it here as there may be something we can glean from his personal journey. How are we Buddhist equally dogmatic or not? How are we cultivating and verifying the Dharma as the Buddha invited us to? Or are we merely accepting everything while praying for the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to come do the change for us?
Many people ask why someone like me, who came from a Christian home, went to a Christian high school and then went on to spend five years in seminary and become a pastor, a missionary, and an evangelist, would turn his back on the God he spent a lifetime worshiping and serving and give up all faith in the supernatural. The answer is very simple, and I’m about to give it. First, however, let me tell you what the reason is not.
Most people, upon hearing my story, all unanimously decide regardless of their own spiritual beliefs or religious affiliations that I must be mad at God. They tell me I just had the wrong religion, or that I just needed to try their particular name-brand. It’s the one thing religious people of all stripes can actually agree on, and it isn’t even true.
I did, in fact, have a rough time in religion. My formative years of trial and tribulation didn’t weaken my faith in
the least. In fact, it was because of these troubles that I spent many nights on my knees praying that I might not be like “those other Christians,” and that God would show me the path to becoming his choice servant. It was because of this that I began to take my studies of the Judeo-Christian god very seriously, and it was this in-depth study and reflection that led to my current state of unbelief.
Let me share with you the ten main reasons I found that reflect why I went from a Fundamental, Independent Baptist minister to an ardent Atheist.