This morning I was clearing out an old email account that I don’t monitor much anymore, when I came across an email on behalf of my friend Brian Smith aka Lama Marut. To my shock it was his obituary. He wasn’t old. He was only 66. It brought back a lot of memories and I really feel I need to talk about it, so I’m going to write about it in this post.
Lama Marut impacted my life as much as my father did. While my father had his issues, he did teach me many life lessons. In Brian Smith’s case, he was the door to my exit from the Christian faith. It wasn’t a complete exit (the complete exit came in 2019.) Simply put, he was a Buddhist instructor in my area and through him I left the Christian faith for the first time, to become a Buddhist. It was 2004 I believe, when I left Christianity and took my Buddhist vows.
I met Brian Smith back in 2004 and I was going through a hard time. In 2001 my first wife had left the marriage and took our daughter with her to live in Europe. I sat in my house alone, drinking most nights. My anger, depression it got the best of me and one day, little ol’ me tried to pick a fight with a huge samoan looking fellow. My raw hatred actually scared him off, and when I looked in the mirror as he took off, I saw how fucked up I was. How much a monster I looked in that mirror. I was out of control. I was a real mess.
Still a Christian at the time, I thought I’d look up something online on how to control my anger. That’s when I discovered that Christianity had no real answers to real problems. After all, the biblical god is an angry god, so how can they talk about controlling rage?
The only repeated thing that kept popping up in my search results were articles about Buddhism. I went to this website of a local Buddhist organization and saw teachings online. They weren’t asking for money – that was unique. They weren’t asking for my allegiance. They simply had something to say and I listened.
I was so enamored with the teachings (which were audios and videos of Lama Marut’s talks) that I wrote him an email… and he invited me to this place to become a Buddhist (take my refuge vows).
Lama Marut was not a wealthy person (as far as I know), but he had wealthy students. One was an actress who owned a home in Pacific Palisades. This is where Lama Marut met with students of Buddhism. He wasn’t some random guy, he was taught through an official wing of Buddhism. But since he had no building, one of the students opened their house for the teachings.
That day I became a Buddhist. I took my vows in front of a room of strangers, the only person I knew (from emails) being Lama Marut, who at that time was called by his birth name: Brian Smith.
The First Step to Getting Here
I often think of the teachings from Brian Smith as my foundation in the spiritual Quest. Certainly he wasn’t Left-Hand path. But he taught me to be calm. To think clearly. To be aware. He instructed me in Buddhist teachings on Karma and Emptiness.
That was the first of many steps that lead me from a path of submission (Christianity) to a path of Identity (Diabolism / LHP etc).
Brian Smith never tried to sell me something big. He never pushed some agenda on me. He wasn’t a guru. He wasn’t a master. He was a regular guy who knew a hell of a lot about Hinduism and Buddhism.
Several years after I left the group to pursue occultism, he also took a step from it. He continued his teachings on his focus (compassion) but he no longer was affiliated with the organization that brought us together. He published a book and off and on we stayed in contact.
Had it not been for Brian Smith, I may not have stepped outside Christianity. This was the first baby step. I got away from a belief of force, and stepped into a system of choice. I made a choice. I decided on something.
I’m not a practicing Buddhist today, yet I still hold some of the concepts at the core of my own practice (namely Emptiness).
For me, I feel impacted by this as it directly links to my own spiritual path. This was my origin story (as they say). Lama Marut knew me from my darkest part of life. He saw me rise up and even gave me a Buddhist name that translated to “fierce practitioner.” He said it was fitting for me, as I never interacted socially with the group and preferred to be alone sitting in meditation or reading.
I will certainly miss him. I’m going to link to his obituary below: