My story summarized: As a young teen, I couldn't block out the suffering I saw around me like other kids could (or ignore it with distractions like games, etc.). I felt both my pain and that of other "underdogs" who were being "eaten" in this "dog eat dog" world. I would eventually learn ways to cope, and fight for justice, but at that point, I dreaded growing up.
I’d try almost anything to deal with this pain, and desperately sought inner peace and a full understanding of the meaning of life. I needed real spiritual guidance badly, and turned to my family's church leaders.
But when I asked them or my family profound questions, I either got "don't ask", "don't know", or illogical and misleading memorized dogma.
I'm not anti-religion. I am pro-harmlessness and anti-cruelty, regardless of its source - religious beliefs, racism, sexism, whatever.
There are religions that are at least harmless, and some that help people, but mine wasn't one of them. I just couldn't find the answers or inner peace "relief" anywhere at the time.
My prayers went unanswered, so I finally left my family's religion and became an atheist for a while. (details).
Then one night I looked at the stars and realized, "There must be something behind this magnificent creation,"- Not necessarily something like the God I was taught about. But SOMETHING (or everything?).
Still a young teen, I started looking for other religions or "paths" again. There was a cool PBS radio show whose host gave one meditation a week, and talked about alternative religions.
That got me started studying various meditation techniques, hoping to find answers to my questions and directly connect with God.
The pursuit of meditation is actually the pursuit of its benefits - peace of mind, fulfillment, purpose, understanding life and God. Meditating definitely helped but it wasn't enough for me.
Meditation gives you the discipline and concentration to still the mind, which is necessary for spiritual paths - but I know expert meditators who are selfish jerks. So while meds were stepping stones, I had to keep walking, somewhere.
So I also studied other world religions (old and new), philosophy, psychology, etc. - everything from A to Z (Atlantis to Zen Buddhism).
Finding various books with "pieces" of truth (but also dogma or contradictions), kept me searching.
I still had an internal "void". I couldn't stand this life of apparently unjust suffering any longer. I was becoming suicidal.
>>> continue story >>>
Note: Jon Peniel may have been misspelled as John Peniel while transcribing a verbal reading by Edgar Cayce)
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