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Company of other beings

mmommo Veteran
edited April 2015 in Meditation

I came across this article about prisoners' isolation in the cells.


One thing which strikes me is this line,
It is a place that strips away your humanity,” “It takes away the part of us that relates to other people, how we make sense of the world and attribute value.”

How true or (important maybe) is it for you? For me, I really like the company of others, be it a human or even soft furry kittens.

What can you say from Buddhist perspective about this in relation to monks and nuns living in seclusion for meditative practice?


  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    Even those who do it have trouble acclimating when they come out of long retreats. Everyone is different and I think people who are well suited and fell ready can do well. Obviously, because they do.

    I am pretty introverted. I enjoy small amounts of time with people but need more time to myself. I balance it pretty well most of the time but I'd do fine with a chunk of time to myself. How long, I couldn't tell you. I have 3 kids so most of my alone time comes early in the morning when I wake up just for that reason, or in the bathroom. Even then, someone is usually talking to me through the door, so I don't get much time alone!

    I don't know that most of us can easily compare our every day lives to a monastic livingin seclusion for long periods. I really enjoyed the book by the nun who wrote "Cave in the Snow" which details her period of several years of meditation int he mountains. Excellent book. No time to look it up right now, about to start dinner.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    I think it depends on the context. By nature, we're social creatures, so some amount of contact with others is generally needed for our mental and material well-being. That said, seclusion is something that can also be beneficial in the right circumstances. Seclusion by choice is one thing, and it usually entails a certain degree of inner renunciation and contemplation. Forced seclusion (i.e., isolation), on the other hand, is often psychologically damaging and tantamount to torture, in my opinion.

  • howhow Veteran
    edited April 2015


    Isolation or being alone can help remove the tribal support that humanity clings to in the hope of assuaging our karmic delusion of being innately separate from the rest of existence.
    For a meditative practitioner to** choose** to do this, can be the direct facing of that bare karmic delusion, where most would fear to follow.
    It's helpfulness or potential hindrance, lies in the intent of whether the practitioner chooses this particular meditative vehicle to face or avoid something.

  • mmommo Veteran

    @how, @Jason & @karasti

    Thanks you all. :)

    It seems when being surrounded by others, we are actually avoiding to be with our own minds. And that is really overwhelming if I am too involved in my thoughts either positively or negatively. Instead, practice for us is really to face the inner life within us to truly live to fullest first.

    Then this energises us and makes us into better beings when we are out there back to be within the community. Seclusion makes the process of studying oneself easier.

    But I also find that being with other people teach me a lot about myself and my altitudes. People behave or act all manners of ways and communicating with them sometimes makes me see my weaknesses and strengths in myself.

    Mindfulness makes me aware when I start to become blinded by judgements and etc. And these mental states either negative or positive equally arrive when i m in interaction with others. And I notice during my weekends where I just spend some time on my own, my mind is clear and at ease. So, I think both are useful if I know how to make best use of them. Perhaps adaptability is what makes a practicing Buddhist.

  • I once did a 2-month solitary retreat and didn't want to return to civilisation at the end.

  • @SpinyNorman said:
    I once did a 2-month solitary retreat and didn't want to return to civilisation at the end.

    Was it the thought of furry kittens that brought you around?

  • @SpinyNorman said:
    I once did a 2-month solitary retreat and didn't want to return to civilisation at the end.

    Did you miss anything at all while in solitary?
    And what did you miss when you returned to civilisation?

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran
    edited April 2015

    I really didn't miss much on solitary, I got into a really peaceful and content frame of mind, like when you go on retreat but more so. Coming back to the world was quite jarring, and having to deal with people again felt quite tiresome for a while! I really got to like my own company and didn't feel a need to be around others.
    I stayed in a caravan on a farm, it was in the corner of a field where cows were grazing, I had some nice chats with them. ;)

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