Some time ago, I decided to start walking on a spiritual path. I’m secretly searching for ultimate peace. Isn’t everybody though. I was raised by my mother and when I started asking the big questions to life like, “What’s the point of life? Where will I go when I die, if any where? Is there a God in heaven? Or even worse Satan!” Most of all I had to face the actual fact I was going to die and it filled me with dread. It didn’t occur to me that everything that my senses, sensed would one day be gone. Until I was in my early twenties I was invincible. Death didn’t exist for me. I remember it was St.Patricks Day ten years ago from now. I wondered where my consciousness would go after death. For awhile I was worried and scared. Cause I couldn’t come up with an answer. But I remember the feeling I felt before I realized death and I knew I could get it back. I was so at peace with myself, everything and everyone. As I was saying, my mother raised me but she didn’t enforce any religious propaganda on me and I was left to make up my own mind. I was baptized Catholic but I don’t practice it. I was taught about Native American beliefs when I was in school but after school I didn’t learn anything more. All she could tell me was, “As long as it makes you happy, then do it.” After realizing death I was in terrible shape for a good five years. I had acute anxiety attacks and was diagnosed as being bi-polar and placed on medications and I went to counciling every month. To try to deal with my fear of living and dying. The councilors were of little help. My peace that I had felt while I was younger was replaced with an irrational fear of life and death. Part of me didn’t want to be alive but the other part of me was terrified of death. I didn’t want to live but I didn’t want to die at the same time. I was trapped! Where would I go? What would I do? If I can’t run from life or death what can you do? Life and death follow you like a shadow. At the time I was studying Buddhism and a bit of Christianity. I remember once I was feeling upset because of the concept of sin and being gay weighted me down. I thought God condemned me and had a place in hell for me. I read this one Buddhist Book which I can’t recall and it told me the story of a holy man who could cleanse people of thier sins. Buddhist really don’t believe in sin. A man wanting to be cleansed of his sins came to the holy man cause he had heard of this amazing man’s powers. The man asked the holy man, “Can you cleanse me of my sins?” The holy man replied, “Yes,” and procceded to order the man, “Bring me your sins so that I may wash them away.” The man looked puzzled at the holy mans request. “Bring me your sins so that I may wash them away.” The holy man said again. The man still looked puzzled and went on to say, “There are no sins that I can see of.” The holy man proclaimed, “Behold!! You have been cleansed!” After reading this story I laughed out loud. I felt stupid, cause it was all in my head. Even though I figured that out I was still fearful. I still couldn’t come to terms with the fact that I was going to die. The medications numb my senses and I continued to study Buddhism, I didn’t chant or have any type of ritual. I read Koans and I read the Bible, it didn’t matter to me if God was real or not. I just had to know I was good with God. Finally I found myself telling God why I was frightened of him. I confessed my gayness to God and found a passage in Mathews that help me reconcile with God. Here I was afraid of loving God because of what I had seen others do to people like me. The antigay pickett signs from supposed Bible thumpers that boldly stated, “God Hates Fags!” I realized the problem wasn’t with God but rather man kind. It was man who had the problem with who I was, not God. God loved me for who I was and those who hated who I was had to face God for thier own hatred. They’re not the mouth piece of God. I felt bad for those who preached out of hate, I had to forgive them, for they know not what they do. I made peace with God on the Christmas of 2005. It was a beautiful Christmas and I never read from the Bible again cause I absolutely knew God loved me. At this time I had picked up ‘The Middle Length Discourses of The Buddha’ and started studying it. The lessons where short but hard to memorize. Buddha had a certain way of conversing with people. He’d tell you what things were in all reality, the true nature of things and at the same time he’d tell you that it wasn’t. Leaving you to question, “is it as it is, or is it not?” And you darn well know it ain’t what you think it is. This kind of stumped me but it silenced the main voice of my conscience, there was a moment of peace. Everytime I got upset I’d read the book then I’d get that stumped feeling and sometimes knocked down a peg. There’s nothing more humbling then having a spiritual teacher put you in your place. I took this as the first glimpse of becoming enlightened and I knew I had to make that feeling last longer. I started to meditate and I did it when ever I remembered to or could. I’d think of a Buddhist scripture and meditate on it. Little by little the fear of dying started to ease up on me. Buddha had taught me that my body would die but I had a choice on how I reacted to it. Cause obviously I wasn’t dead yet. I had thought to myself, “I made it this far and I’m alright the only thing making me unhappy was me. I could’ve enjoyed those years I spent terrified.” In late 2015 my best friend who I was staying with wanted me out of the house. Social services where threatening to take her kids away if I didn’t go. Also I hid a secret from her for a few years. I had slept with her ex while they where still together. The relationship was abusive and I spead up the break up. This was the only thing false I carried with me and when I let it go. I was suddenly free and light but then I was struck with panic, fear and felt everyone was out to get me. I felt deep down something wasn’t right with me. I needed a Doctor or a priest for I felt evil was a foot. I always read how the Buddha faced Mara when he was attaining Nirvana. Though I had nothing really to hide for I had nothing to lie about it felt like the little things I did do were blowing up.Mara isn’t so much a demon but rather the worst parts of you. Little did I know that hell wasn’t far away. A top to feeling like something bad was coming, I started to hear voices and they were argumentive and mean. At first I got upset about what I thought other people were saying. Suddenly I felt a high I never experienced before, my mind had become a blaze and I became delusional. I couldn’t sleep cause the high felt so good. These weren’t just any delusions and hallucinations they had to be the religious kind. I had thought I had become enlightening and Mara was coming to stop me. As days progressed the voices grew worse. I started talking to them out loud. Some were curious as to what I was doing others where there to torment me. One day I spent the entire day weeping as hard as I could. The idea that everything was going die and there was nothing I could do about it hit me hard. I felt bad for the microscopic organisms and the leaves on the tree. One particular night I called the cops cause I thought someone was outside with a gun. I could hear voices outside my brothers house which caused me to panic. I locked all the doors and jammed spoons in the doorway. Another night after trying to silence what was in my head, it seemed to me, to be a crowd of people outside the house. All of them talking really fast. I crawled from my couch and cowered in a dark bedroom down the hall. I heard a voice come from inside my head, “So you think you’re a venerable fag.” I silenced the voice and chased it away outside where the next night it came back. Meaner more frightening. As I was having a cigarette on the front porch, a dark hooded figure appeared near my door step. It stayed at the edge of the yard light. It’s face resembled a skull but it was all distorted like static on a T.V. it hid from the light behind the tree line I could see what appeared to be a hand on the tree trunk it seemed to be static. It appeared and start cussing at me. “Hey you fucking fag, I’ve come for you.” I told it, “Come into the light. Murderers and thieves come in the night to take what not thiers.” I really thought it was Mara the mythical demon in Buddhism. The apparition said, “No, I can’t.” My leg was started to shake at the sound of it voice, “Well, I can still see you.” I won’t lie I was terrified. The apparition had a voice I would never forget loud, deep, distorted and angery. “What the fuck! Are you scared?” It asked, I replied “No, I’m angery out of love.” It answered, “Oh, shit!” It feel silent and I managed to make the apparition leave but not with out any kind of drawbacks. My brother’s boyfriend tried to stop me from yelling at it. Cause there was nothing there to yell at just the dark night and woods. I pushed him back into the house I didn’t want him to see it. The next night I got picked up by the police for vagrancy and I spent three days in jail. There my bahavior continued to be strange. I told them I was fasting for peace. I wouldn’t eat or drink anything or even go to the bathroom. Being in the fragile state I was and being in a solitary jail cell for three days exacerbated my condition. It was my first time in jail. They noticed the odd behavior and sent me to a mental ward where I was committed. I knew my hallucinations and delusions had gotten the best of me because it was all a blur. I don’t even remember signing the commitment papers. I remember seeing a beautiful hallucination at the hospital. When I started to get better I looked again there was nothing there. After the hospital stay I ending up in a transitions home for four months til I finally moved into my own apartment. My medications have been changed around and since then I’ve recovered, been stable for a year and a half and got off of commitment. Meditation has help me find some relief for my disorder. Any voice or sound that rises while your meditating kill it. If you see the Buddha kill him. I was diagnosed as a Schizoaffective. My spiritual journey took me to a strange place. It left me wondering if it really was a spiritual awakening or the side effects of a phycological disorder both are not easily explained with science. I must say, psychology is a religion onto itself. There’s no real physical evidence of mental disorders but they exist. Almost sounds like religion except for a mental disorder you have religion. Honestly, I can say I’m in a better place then where I once was. I’m genuinely happy with where I’m at in life. I got a job and I started practicing Zen Buddhism. My empasis has been to study and memorize bits and pieces but I havent really tried to practice it. As of right now it helps make me a stronger person and it feels good to chant The Heart Sutra. I found the peace that I lost in my youth. It was always there I just had to uncover it and allow nothing to get in it’s way. There’s a bit of selfishness to being truly happy and content. After all no one can live your life for you. I realize now that peace is attainable, but maintaining it is a life long practice and lesson. As long as there are lessons I’ll always practice and learn to keep the peace.