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When I was about 12 years old I found an advertisement for a manual on karate in a comic book. I ordered it with money earned from my paper route and when it arrived began to study the pages. I remember demonstrating my new skills on my friend from across the street, a boy about my same age. I can still remember the look in the poor lads eyes when I threw him over my head with an arm bar throw. I was a bit amazed at the result myself. This is my first recollection of a fascination with Asian cultures. A serious study of Karate was destined to wait for some time but the fascination remained.
A pivotal point in my shift came when I realized that I was very uncomfortable with the idea of a god that I had to fear, a god that would find it necessary to judge me. I should say that I was given a modest amount of Christian education. My mother was Lutheran and I can recall attending some Sunday school. I had pretty much rejected religion and even the god I was familiar with at one point. I even argued against a universal intelligence, suggesting that everything was a product of random circumstance. Somewhere in this period of time a serious exploration of eastern cultures and the spiritual wisdom inherent within them began to flow to me. Many of the teachers that were presented to me incorporated eastern philosophy into their knowledge of western spirituality. I realized that God and I were not separate. That the only reality lies in this now moment, that who I believed myself to be was not this physical body or the voice inside my head. I found Buddha. I found Lao Tzu. I found Zen. I found truth I had never known before. And along the way I discovered Chinese brush painting, the artistic medium that I had been looking for……