Aaron Taylor

Aaron Taylor, Sacramento, California

Aaron Taylor, Sacramento, California

“Already in High School I thought about Buddhism, not because I questioned the validity of my faith, because I grew up Catholic, I just didn’t believe there was anything wrong with other religions. When I was growing up, my parents separated and got a divorce. It wasn’t an easy divorce, we went through a lot of hardship. My sisters and I were suffering, and no attention was given to that. So I think it was a long build-up of pain that made me look for a release and a healthy way to get rid of the pain I carried inside.”

“During my first employment in Bosnia and Albania, we evacuated between 100 and 200 civilians, and when I saw the first baby being flown out, it touched me very deeply. Before, I thought there was God, good existed, there is a constant fight between good and evil, and that all men could be saved. But when I saw the baby being caught in the middle, it changed my perspective. I remembered the book by Jack London called “The Call of the Wild”. In that book he used the example of sled dogs to show what people do, how hierarchies are set, etc. I started to think that we are nothing more than a bunch of dogs. On my second deployment, we responded to Kosovo, and there were a lot of bombings. I was pretty unaware of what we were doing until I had personal contact. During a break in Greece, some buddies and I had a beer at a hotel bar. The waitress asked us if we were with the US military. She said that she is a refugee from Belgrade, and that she had come to Greece because her entire family was killed by US bombing raids. I couldn’t do anything. I paid for the beer and left. Sometimes we do things without thinking, because it’s automatic.”

“Something wasn’t helping me. I don’t want to speak badly about Catholicism, I think it’s very good, it just didn’t work for me, I was missing something. Especially in moments, when I couldn’t find peace, there was no solution, even though they said to hand it over to God and it will be taken care of. I still had no way of healing. I had a lot of rage and hatred towards politicians, it got so extreme that I joined a hate group in Spain, where I lived for 12 years after I got out of the Navy. I just lived in my hatred for who I thought was guilty of this and that. When I got back to the US, I was in a bad spot mentally, but at least I felt that I could restart. I decided to map out what I had to do to help myself, and I knew I had to take care of myself inside.”

“One day, I was playing a video game with different character options, one of which was a Buddhist monk. I picked the Buddhist monk. Then I said to myself, I am going to find a Buddhist temple and just ask. The truth can come to you at any moment and any place. One of the ladies at the Catholic Church told me about Kim Quang Temple. A member there gave me a book written by an American Buddhist monk called “At Hell’s Gate: A Soldier’s Journey from War to Peace”. I could relate to his story. Later, I met another American member, who also used to be a soldier, and who did wing chun martial arts, just like me. Some other time, there was a visiting monk who told me about his personal story as a former soldier. This started to become weird, but it felt like I fit in. I could finally see how others had almost identical situations, and I could see how well they were doing. I knew then that I could walk that path with them. They were showing me that there is a way to healing.”

“Sangha is the community that will support me. It’s my team. Sort of like a football team. I can always go to my coach. While on the field playing, there is a little tactic going on and I am clueless, I am getting beat back, I go talk to my defensive coordinator to find out what to do. My teacher is like my defensive coordinator. Sangha is my home base.”

“My aspiration in life is to bring peace and safety to at least one person. I think there is a lot of making up I have to do. It’s not for me, it’s for them. Now I know I can do a lot of good things.”





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