Hello everyone. My name is Neil, I'm 18 and from London, England. I have a very deep interest in religion and spirituality.
I was christened an Anglican in the Church of England as a baby, but was never brought up practicing or learning the faith. My parents didn't really care about religion but had me christened for the social ritual I guess.
When I was thirteen I became interested in god and religion and started studying all sorts of belief systems. I became interested in Wicca and got quite involved with it, going to open rituals and training courses at the tender age of fourteen. I had my parents full support, but I became bothered by the lack of depth in the religion and annoyed somewhat by the suspect history behind it and how people made such a fuss about that and all the in-fighting that spoiled the experience for me.
Then I started studying the religion of my birth - Christianity. The rituals of Catholicism really appealed to me, some of the most beautiful ever. But I didn't agree with a lot of its attitudes towards Sin, Homosexuality, Sex, Human Rights, etc. I also didn't like most of it's practitioners "Do you accept Jesus Christ as your personal lord and savior?" and things like that.
But I took my love of ritual and my want to serve god and started to study Judaism. Now... I've always thought that if I were going to practice a religion I'd do it properly and be as traditional and orthodox as I possibly could... This is likely because of my lack of a religion in childhood, but either way I want it like that. So yes... Keeping in mind that I want to do things correctly and cut no corners and that I was study Judaism... The subject of circumcision became an issue. I am just not prepared to be circumcised. My foreskin is very much the source of my sexuality, if you get what I mean.
That excluded Islam, obviously... Though I do know a great deal about Islam and what it is to be a Muslim, as I live in an area that is very much Muslim and my friends at the time with the exception of one were all Muslim.
Then I became interested in the occult again. I discovered Thelema and thought that was the faith for me. The problem with it though is it is so esoteric. Everything about it is concealed or made hard to understand. I became frustrated with constant study with no practice.
It may seem that I'm just going through faiths like there is no tomorrow but that really isn't the case. At no point did I identify myself with that single belief system. I still hold everyone of them very dear and still continue to study them, all of them. I have a very strong belief that god is there and I really do desire to serve him. If I could accept Jesus I'd probably join a monastery. That is how serious I am about religion.
You're probably wondering what the hell this has to do with anything... So here is where it gets a bit more relevant.
In the past I've seen documentaries on television about Siddhartha Gautama and another about The Kalichakra Initiation (I may have got the name wrong, but I hope you understand what I meant... It involved the building of a sand mandala and pilgrimage). I found this all very fascinating. Also when I was studying Thelema I discovered bits and pieces about Buddhism, As Thelema is a synthesis of Western and Eastern Mysticism. So there were elements of Yoga, Meditation and teachings from Hinduism in it. Recently I've been in a sort of frustrated void. Having so many faiths to choose from but not knowing which was the right one for me and also having a strong need to practice something. Then on television they showed Nine Years in Tibet. It may sound stupid, but it sparked an interest in Buddhism. The rituals, the practice, the philosophy and the devotion. It all seems so appealing to me.
So getting to the root of this whole post... I think I'd like to practice Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism to be more specific. But I'm not sure. I'd like it if you could point me to some good books introducing Buddhism, keeping in mind if it's important that I find Tibetan Buddhism most appealing and that I live in England. Please could you also tell me why you find that book helpful, so I can make a reasoned judgement.
I'm sorry if I have annoyed you by writing such a long entry just to ask such a simple question. Or if I have said something foolish or somehow insulting. I just felt I needed to explain those things to you. I have also posted this is some other communities. Thank you for reading.