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Hello, everyone!
#1
I started the search for a more wholesome life after I discarded the spiritual life offered to me by a concerned friend. This friend wanted to introduce me to Christianity, before then I was a nominal Catholic whose parents did not actually believe any of it. I read the Bible and very quickly rejected it for its unsettling and violent nature. I then began to read some of the classics, looking for a moral and effective way of living my life. I started practicing alone when I was thirteen after reading several Suttas from the Majjhima Nikaya on Access to Insight. The first sutta I read was the Sigalovada Sutta translated by Narada Thera and I was taken by how wholesome it was. The delight in the morality it promoted only took a backseat to the real liberation the Buddha offered when I started to read the Vitakkasanthana Sutta and put his teachings to the test. Ultimately it is what changed my mind for the better, as my concentration became sharper, and my life was less leaden by the problems that surrounded me.

 After many religious texts, I found nothing satisfied me more than the Dhamma, so my curiosity turned to genuine respect and I felt solid enough in my understanding to look for a teacher. I looked for a preceptor, but since I was a teenage spiritual seeker and I did not follow the religion of my family, they and I didn't know where to even go. I did not really know my community since my family were immigrants from Central America, so I had no idea where to search in the first place. I read the Khaggavisana Sutta and realized I didn't really need to go and look for a preceptor, my saṃvega was already strong enough for me to feel confident enough to take refuge by myself using the dhamma presented as my teacher. I took the precepts and refuge right then and took my study with increasing rigor. Now I'm thirty something, and am way different from that little girl digging through spiritual books in the library and am still going strong. 

Either way, I hope that we can all be good friends.
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#2
Welcome to the forum. You had good kamma to meet the Dhamma at such a young age, although not brought up in a Buddhist family or a Buddhist country.

Did you find a suitable local temple yet?
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#3
There has just come a Venerable from the Bhavana Society close enough to where I live in Maryland, but this is just within the year! I'm probably lucky enough to probably get to spend my Vesak this year with noble company unless my sister gives birth sooner than expected, in which case I will have to make a mad rush to Boston.
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