When a person turns to Buddhism (or any other religion), does it typically need a trigger or do we slowly develop an inclination to know more.
Hoping to get more stories from the forum people on the why and how they started on the path to being a Buddhist.
I will start:
From young, my mum taught me to pray to Guan Yin Pusa. Actually, it is more like a procedure for the family - burn joss sticks during events like death anniversaries and religious dates then feast on the offerings thereafter.
I guess this habit had an effect as I did continue praying to Guan Yin Pusa every now and then in my teenage years - especially when I thought I needed divine help for my examinations…haha.
As a young adult, I was interested in the supernatural aspects that is entwined with that of religion. Talk of heaven and hell, gods and demons. It was more of like having a leisurely read of a story when I got my hands on such literature.
Otherwise, the bulk of my time was involved in the usual pursuit of material wealth and comfort.
The turning point was when a friend and colleague (that will be @Jereme) had me as a captive audience (in every sense of the word as I was sitting next to him on a 5 hour flight with no other inflight entertainment).
He started talking about his experience studying Buddhism and his pilgrimage to Taiwan and his encounters with various Venerables and their teachings.
I was definitely curious and interested in what he said but I had put it off then as something that I may explore eventually but not now.
Then, a life changing event happened on the eve of Chinese New Year in 2015.
I noticed a shadowy curtain encroaching my vision in my left eye. What I thought would be a straightforward treatment at the clinic escalated to an emergency case of surgery for retina detachment without which I would go blind.
All the best laid plans of having reunion dinners and excursions with my family were dashed in just that moment. I was gripped by uncertainty and fear and tried to get some answers to assuage it.
Would the surgery be successful? Will I recover fully? What other things can happen to me? The medical personnel were careful not to commit to any promises on recovery - I can understand that now as they will not know either. While surfing the web for information led to more horror stories…arrggghh.
Fast forward 2 months later, I had gone through a successful surgery (although I do recall some argument in the surgery theatre about some screw up that happened - I was cool with it as I was doped up on sedatives) and a rather painful recovery period in which I had to spend the bulk of the time with my head facing down to let the retina “stick”.
However, I was still left with questions:
Why did this thing happen to me? What other bad things can happen to me?
Was I just unlucky? What is luck?
Why must I suffer?
Will I spiral into depression thinking of all this?
How do I get peace of mind? Is there a way out?
Is there a better way to go through life?
Fortunately, the conversation with @Jereme resurfaced and some hope rekindled that there was some help I can get.
Registering to enter Lamrim classes at BWM Monastery was thus one of best thing that came out of this episode in my life.
And I have been studying Buddhism ever since.