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By Gwen Carroll Feb. 15, 2023

After being raised Catholic, Julie Montgomery, Math Department, had an epiphany at age 25. Her spiritual situation did not satisfy her—something was off. It was at this point in time that she was introduced to Buddhism, hence beginning her spiritual journey.

Montgomery first interacted with a Japanese Buddhist group founded by Nichiren Daishonin. Later, she entered Tibetan Buddhism, where people make an effort to treat every living thing, from humans to animals to insects, as having been one’s mother in a past life.

“If you can view every other person as having been your mother, it invokes the idea that every living thing has sacrificed so much just to let you live. Realizing that that person had loved and cared for you unconditionally is the first step to being able to return that compassion, no matter how they treat you. With this mindset, I want to be able to fully feel that compassion for everyone,” Montgomery said.

Montgomery focuses heavily on how she treats other people. She ensures she remains aware of every aspect of her life—what is happening to her, how she reacts, what she says and does. She tries her best to make sure that she realizes when she treats others poorly. The journey is difficult and never ending.

She also exercises her Buddhist methods when it comes to being a teacher, treading carefully to maintain an unbiased classroom. It is not easy to overcome students’ preconceived notions about her due to her spirituality, so she takes extra care to not let her faith bleed into the classroom too much.

“In teacher-student relationships, one must simultaneously command respect and show compassion. It is especially difficult when faced with a full classroom, and I am yet to find a perfect balance between my spirituality and my professional life,” Montgomery said.

As Montgomery continues to navigate her spirituality in a school setting, in the meantime, she makes sure to treat her students with kindness and respect. Many people define compassion simply as being kind, but she believes it is something much deeper. It also consists of being helpful, both directly and indirectly, and using it to make peoples’ minds more peaceful. Montgomery used to have a poor relationship with her sister, but through years of hard work, she has been slowly breaking down the walls between them in hopes of repairing their relationship. She has made much progress since the outset of her spiritual journey when she was 25.

“If I could go back to the outset of my personal improvement, I would tell myself, ‘You need to change your self-important attitude immediately. The more you hold onto these inflated views of yourself, the more obstacles you create for yourself.’ Every negative thought, no matter how small, will weigh like a boulder if you let it fester for enough time,” Montgomery said.


About the Contributor

Gwen Carroll

staff writer

Gwen Carroll is a sophomore at LelandHigh School. She enjoys writing, both as a hobby and academically, and in her free time, likes to cook and study psychology.

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