After spending the last ten years sort of practicing meditation I finally decided to become more serious and start attending services at a Zen temple. So far, I have been happy with the choice I made.
There have been times ,though, that I wonder why it is so important to me to belong to a religious community and to even explore "spirituality" ( I really don't like using this term; mainly because it seems to be so vague. What the heck is spirit any way and what do all these various practices have to do with it.)
I always just put it up to my L.D.S upbringing. I was so concerned for so long that I adhere to all of the commandments, directions and prophets; that even after leaving the L.D.S. church it was inevitable that I continue to want to perfect myself. Figuring out what God is and what God wants seemed to be the way to go in order not to go to Hell.
Recently, I decided to take the next step in Zen and commit myself to it as full-time practice. I feel that I have done this already, now I am making it official. What is odd for me is, now, in my little un-enlightened lizard brain, I have recognized the us and them mentality. I had this before, it just was not as prevalent. The challenge of course, and the Buddhists emphasize this, is to take on the path and learn that there is only us.
The L.D.S. church seems to emphasize that there is an us and there is a them and we must work to make the them an us. Not being much of a salesman, this mentality made me pretty uncomfortable, so much so, that when it came time for me to put my Missionary papers in, I split.
I learned over the years, or told myself, that everyone is OK how they are and it is totally up to the individual how they conduct themselves. I still have this lingering thought though, that if everyone wants to be happy they should all become Buddhists.