I follow the "Buddha Dharma ",as it is said. That is different than being a "Buddhist" in my view.
But my passion in that realm is, Life. Something that many seem not to understand or agree with.
You see, to focus too much on one's beliefs is or certainly can be, missing the point. When the religion becomes the end all of one's focus, something has gotten lost in the translation. But then, that's a point of view from someone following Buddha Dharma and therein lay a difference perhaps, between someone like that (me) and a, "Buddhist".
People think I just get down on Western Religions, but that's simply not true. I tend to get down on religions or things that turn into a religion. I've met many "Buddhists" who haven't exactly "lost the point" of it all, but rather, they never really knew it in the first place. This can easily happen to people who were born into a religion. Not that "Buddhism" is a religion, it's really more of a mind discipline and some people or groups have tried to turn it into a religion. Humans seem to be perdisposed to turn anything into a kind of "religion".
Live your Life. Practice your beliefs within your Life. Don't make your beliefs your Life. It's a subtle, but important, difference.
A therapist I was seeing years ago told me one day that her son wanted to move into a Monastery in order to be a good "Buddhist". She told him, "No, you have to practice your beliefs within your Life, not leaves your life to practice your beliefs from without. That's harder, but it's where you need to do it. To do so within a protected environment (such as focusing only or even too much, on your beliefs in Life) isn't really following your beliefs, because then the beliefs become the focus and not the Life and it can turn into a kind of "spiritual masturbation". Beliefs are there to guide you through your Life. Not to become your life. Not to take your Life over completely. To hijack it. Something that has happened all too frequently. Why? Because we are lazy, basically.
I think, maybe, we do need those who are fanatics (Nuns, Priests, etc.). But we have to remember, they are so immersed themselves that we have to take what they say with a grain of understanding, outside of what they are telling us. As I said, we tend to be lazy in Life and take what we're told and just do it. Why think about it when it's much easier to just simply do what we're told is right to do. But we need to think, to decide and act. Not just act. Love Life. It was a gift. A gift from whom? See?
Understand that those who do live in a monestery, have access to "levelers" and moderators to their beliefs. These are their teachers, appropriate books, the other more knowledgeable people who surround them on a daily basis. People on the outside trying to do practice this kind of intensity, tend to get lost and don't have the checks and balances these othes do. That's why there are so many nuts out here who believe such really weird things about their religion or beliefs. No real checks and balances are watching them, honing them to refined thought and understanding.
The same can happen with people who are readers. You have to read, yes, but you have to read the "right stuff". If you read everything, especially if you believe it all, then you can easily get lost. Once you start off on a trail that is incorrect, you begin to enforce those wrong beliefs with more nonsense. I've known many people like that.
Reading requires you to have critical thinking involved. Critical thinking as well as cross checking. I've always tried to use the old journalist's method, three basic sources to verify what I will accept to believe and even then I try to be aware and ready to update my beliefs with even more correct information. But even then you can be wrong. Still living in that way is far better than someone who simply reads and believes without using critical thinking. Just accepting someone as an "authority" isn't always enough. The people at "Jonestown" had simply accepted their leader, Jim Jones, as their "authority" next only to God. And most of them are now dead.
So learn as you can, think critically about what you believe. This is something that fits well into even a deeply involved religious person. Because if someone feeds you nonsense, you have to be able to tell between nonsense and what is considered "real" within your religion. Too many Theists simply believe what they are told. No "God" wants that. Any "God" would want their people to believe what that "God" wants them to believe toward appropriate worship. Therein lay another issue, "Worship". It seems to require non critical thought, just acceptance. But if you are being told incorrect information, you are not following what you think you are following or wanting to be following.
So use your brian that "God" gave you.
What is your Passion then? Your Life? Or, your Religion?
At least be sure what you are passionate about is what you are wanting to be passionate about. But even beyond that, consider that first and foremost you are meant to live your life and the rules, dictates and religion that you choose to believe in and follow (or are born into or in some cases forced to believe in) are really and fundementally there to help you do just that. They are not however there to hijack you into focusing solely on those rules, dictates or religion.
Life is good, don't ruin it by thinking you were meant to be a mental slave. No good "God" would ever require that and when people start to tell you that, allow the warning sign to explode in your brain. Begin to look at them more critically and take back your life. The problem at that point is usually that you would have to make major changes to your life and lifestyle and we are, after all, rather lazy as beings and hate change.
Live your Life, love your Life and when you find you aren't living and loving your Life, look at the reasons for that change or conditions and make the necessary changes to bring back the joy in your Life that everyone deserves to have.