On Being Raised Buddhist
Start writing a post
Lifestyle

On Being Raised Buddhist

Reconciling my traditional religion with my progressive opinions.

154
On Being Raised Buddhist
Tiffany Zheng

The aroma of tea fills the air, and the noise of Puli’s streets nearly drowns out our voices as my sister, myself, and the two monks accompanying us, attempt to order. After much nodding and pointing, I take my first sip of Taiwanese milk tea.

It was absolutely amazing, though that might have more to do with the figurative flavor of rebellion, than the literal taste of the tea. You see, we were supposed to be volunteering on the grounds Chung Tai monastery, where my family was spending a month-long pilgrimage. But, when a couple of monks hatched a plan to head to the city for milk tea, that seemed much more exciting.

We were discovered by my mother and an accompanying nun while returning the car to the garage (ducking underneath the backseat window does not render one invisible), but the adventure revealed that even monks were capable of small rebellions. I was fascinated, and though I didn’t yet realize it, the “milk tea rebellion” was actually the seed of changes to come.

I was raised as a Zen Buddhist, spending long hours of my childhood at our local Buddha Gate Monastery. I loved everything about it—volunteering, taking classes, counseling for the summer camp. So, naturally I was incredibly eager for my first pilgrimage to Taiwan at age 9, excited to see the famous Chung Tai temple and the community that lives there. That first pilgrimage didn’t disappoint. I toured the grounds, worked with volunteers, and was in awe of the tranquil positivity of every person there.

However, three years later when my mom proposed a second pilgrimage, I had misgivings. In the past year the serene ambiance of Buddha Gate’s lecture halls had begun to dull, their once captivating luster wearing away as I repeated the same monotonous tasks. Uncertainty about my dedication to a faith so vital to my identity dogged my heels, made worse by the fact that I was constantly aware of my doubts precisely because Buddhism teaches awareness.

Nevertheless, I made the second pilgrimage, hoping that Chung Tai’s peaceful atmosphere would ease my mind. It did not.

The silence throughout the grounds felt smothering. I was tired of tranquility; I wanted to make a mark, have a say, argue with someone. Luckily, high school was on the horizon, and I was soon to find an outlet in debate.

In the universe of high school debate, everything can be questioned and criticized -- even the rules of a debate round itself. For the first time, I was free to question the need to abide by predetermined rules, and examine the good in accepting them. Debating things as banal as transportation infrastructure pushed me to think more critically about everything, my faith most of all.

I found could no longer ignore the fact that no one seemed to encourage discussion or questioning of what often seemed like rigid practices grounded in archaic, often patriarchal, traditions. Despite all the teachings I’d received on awareness, I realized that my willingness to passively accept the terms of faith as dictated, was actually the opposite.

I’m still uncertain of the role Buddhism will play in my life, although I’m confident that it will always play one. I still volunteer at the monastery, and I spent time this summer taking care of children during summer camp. My time with them made me more patient and forgiving, just as my weekends as a ceremony acolyte taught me teamwork, compromise, and efficiency. The Buddhist principles of awareness have equipped me to closely examine myself and the world. They’ve helped me identify the dichotomies of good and bad present in almost everything, as well as the importance of navigating a complex world with compassion and empathy.

I’ll likely never be as dedicated to Buddhism as the volunteers at Chung Tai, but perhaps one day I’ll find a balance between faith and doubt. Until then, I plan to keep asking questions, debating the answers, and expanding my awareness outward.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Lifestyle

Where To Find The Best Coffee Drinks In America, According To A Survey

Here's the coffee shop where you should get your morning brew.

238133

Coffee, for billions of people, is one of the only things that can get us out of bed (after hitting snooze a time or two), especially in 2020. Because, if we're being honest, is there anything that beats a quality cup of coffee on those mornings when all we wanted to do is roll over and go back to sleep? The answer is no. And if you're headed to a coffee shop to pick up your caffeinated beverage, you don't want to sleep on the best coffee drinks in America.

According to LiveShopper Sassie's Coffee Project survey, when it comes to chain coffee shops, there are definitely preferred spots you'll want to hit up for your go-to order — whether you order the classic, frozen, or flavored coffee, an espresso, tea, or other. To figure out the hot spots, 1,000 coffee drinkers across the United States took to LiveShopper's mobile app, PrestoShopper, to answer various questions about their coffee drinking habits and preferences. In return, these survey respondents got money back for their coffee — something any user who downloads the app can do as well (yes, even you).

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

The Best Bagel Recipes For Every Personality Type, In Case You Need Another Excuse To Eat Carbs

I'll approve of pasta for breakfast any day, but this is more socially acceptable.

9378
NBC

I've had times in my life at which I've told myself I need to cut out carbs. Those moments last about a minute or two before I start daydreaming about rice and pasta.

Bagels hold a special place in my heart — for many of my college friends and me, a bagel sandwich was the go-to breakfast after a long night of drinking. Years later, I still love to indulge in the occasional carb-filled breakfast. As much as I love putting in an UberEats order from bed, nothing beats the feeling of pulling some fresh-baked bread or pastries out of the oven.

Keep Reading... Show less
Content Inspiration

Survey: Which Issues Are The Most Important To You In The 2020 Election

If you're a first-time voter or voting by mail for the first time, we want to hear your story.

84539

The general election on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, will decide not only the next president of the United States but also which political party controls the House of Representatives and the Senate. Young and first-time voters will play a crucial part in determining the result.

Keep Reading... Show less
Tips

Articles To Write If You're All About Saving More Money, And Waking Up A Little Bit Earlier

Get your day started right — and keep that budget tight.

218935

For all the young professionals, parents, and students out there who've been working, learning, or even teaching remote — 2020 has likely been the longest year of your life. If you didn't know (sorry), we've been locked down for over 200 days now, and chances are, you are ready for it to be OVER.

Keep Reading... Show less

Scrolling through Instagram can get stale after a while, especially if you're constantly refreshing in the hopes of finding something new and exciting. Should you be looking to add some inspiration to your timeline in the form of self-love tips, relationship advice, or love secrets, here are 11 relationship coaches you'll LOVE following.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

How Much Of A Coffee Snob You Are, Based On Where You Live

Your state may determine how picky you are about your coffee.

131491

When it comes to coffee, everyone has different criteria for what goes into their "perfect cup." Some caffeine lovers, though, are extra particular when it comes to their beloved beverage. One survey found that the state you're from (or the one you live in now) may play a part in determining how much of a coffee snob you actually are.

LiveShopper Sassie, the company behind this Coffee Project survey, received input from 1,000 coffee drinkers via their mobile app, PrestoShopper, to ask various questions about their coffee drinking habits and preferences. In return, these survey respondents got money back for their coffee — something any user who downloads the app can do as well (yes, even you).

Keep Reading... Show less

If you are a college freshman, or new to college, this is for you. If you are in a new time in life where you don't know where this change is going to take you, where you might not have your community yet, this is for you. Or even if you are stuck in a rut of everyday life where the new normal is quarantine and isolation, this is also for you.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

As Illinois Reaches Its Highest Death Toll Since June, I Urge You To Stay Home And Wear Your Mask

69 COVID-19 deaths were recorded in a twenty-four-hour period, the highest amount since June of this year.

714
Photo by Noah on Unsplash

As we are approaching colder weather, we are also approaching a spike in COVID-19 cases throughout the state of Illinois. On October 21, 2020, Illinois recorded its largest daily COVID-19 death toll since June of this year. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 69 deaths of people who contracted COVID-19 were recorded within a twenty-four-hour period, raising the state's death toll to 9,345 since the start of the pandemic.

Keep Reading... Show less

When "Mean Girls" said "In girl world, Halloween is the one time of the year where you can dress up like a total slut and no one can do or say anything about it," they were damn right. Halloween is the perfect excuse to buy that raunchy costume and show your partner that you're that B. Coming from a very single (yes, very single) 20 something-year-old, I have already got my Halloween costume on lock, and now you will too.

Not only are these 10 Halloween costumes dangerously sexy, but you can wear them in the bedroom whenever you want to give your boo a surprise, yes, year-round. Whoever said you can only dress up on Halloween is seriously disturbed.

Keep Reading... Show less

Ariana Grande released her first single called "positions" since "boyfriend" with Social House and it is a BANGER. This song is absolutely incredible and I am SURE you will agree with me once you listen.

I'm a sucker for a single with a video and that's exactly what we got. Ariana's been pretty quiet during the pandemic, and we all assumed she was working on some new music, and we were right.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

Rejection Of Black Lives Matter Mural By Phoenix City Council Doesn’t Stop Gizette Knight

The Phoenix City Council rejected a proposal for a Black Lives Matter Mural in downtown Phoenix. But Gizette Knight says this is not the end.

522
Photo by Josh Olalde on Unsplash

Community organizer Gizette Knight, CEO of Reality Dreams LLC, is not giving up on the Phoenix City Council's rejection of the Black Lives Matter mural.

Keep Reading... Show less

For me, chai isn't just what I drink — it's a core part of who I am. Sure, I'll switch it up every now and then with a cup of English Breakfast, Earl Grey, rose, or Darjeeling, but I always come back to chai.

Nearly every tea lover has one tea they repeatedly drink and go back to, whether it's a daily morning ritual or an afternoon pick-me-up. One of my good friends has almost eight cups of jasmine tea every single day — she drinks more tea than water, actually.

Keep Reading... Show less

In a world where physical contact is a liability, the ease of slipping into despair and isolation has never been so tempting. Perhaps the greatest kindness we can lend to one another is reaching out to the people that meant something to us before everything changed. Here's why you should message your friend today.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments