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Alienation.

CittaCitta Veteran
edited April 2013 in Sanghas
Some people live in isolated places. They have little choice but to practice without much 'meat world' contact with others.
Others though have a built in aversion to being around other practitioners. They want to protect their own views and habits. They think that no one else comes up to scratch and they want to play sheriff. Or they feel inadequate and think that their inexperience will make them seem foolish.
I think those feelings should be resisted. Traditionally the Buddha left THREE Jewels..Buddha Dharma and Sangha , and the last is not least. I dont think online Sangha counts...useful though it is.
The danger in the absence of Sangha is alienation.
It happens.
The internet is littered with the evidence.
riverflownenkohaiInvincible_summerJohnGGlowSillyPutty

Comments

  • CittaCitta Veteran
    It is...and although Buddhadharma confers so many positives, in the absence of Sangha it can actually accentuate alienation.
    Particularly as it attracts many who are introverts anyway.
    riverflowchela
  • I am one of the least gregarious people in the world, being extremely introverted. But it is certainly true, a real sangha makes a tremendous difference. Books and online discussions are useful to a point. The three jewels mutually support one another and without all three I would say one's practice is being impeded, though you may not know until you experience the difference!
    chelanenkohaiStraight_ManInvincible_summer
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited April 2013
    We all need people to support us in our practice...and some of us, and I include myself, need people to challenge us. In person. Face to face.
    So much of the most dubious stuff one finds on Buddhist websites either in the form of self-doubt, or delusions of grandeur, would not last five minutes in the precense of real, human, humorous, face to face contact.
    riverflowInvincible_summer
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator
    I am lucky to have found the only small Sangha within many miles of me. But what to do for the people who are literally too far to be able to meet with Sangha face to face? If it weren't for our local man who started our Sangha with the direction of our teacher, I would have no way to meet with one. It would be 4.5 hours drive from me, and there is no way I can even say I could get there even once a month. I'm sure there are quite a few others in the same boat, so what do you think is the best thing to do? I'm asking honestly what your thoughts are on the matter. I don't think just because someone doesn't have personal access to teachers means they are alienated. I think alienation is something people create themselves. Someone who chooses to isolate themselves is not the same as someone who is isolated and has no options. Sometimes you have to do the best you can.

    I will say, that I think honestly if I did not have our Sangha, and my teacher, I might not have stuck long with Buddhism. It can get very intense and complicated when you try to apply it to your questions and your problems and if you don't have someone to take that too, it might have quickly gotten too overwhelming for me. My teacher, even though I can phone or email him right now, is basically unreachable 6 months a year, so that means we have to rely on each other as a Sangha, and it works pretty well. Obviously they do not replace our absent teacher but it's support that isn't there otherwise. I do think it's important, but not everyone has access to it. I don't think that means they are alienated, or that they can't be a Buddhist without it. Most Buddhist centers are in pretty major cities, and even in today's age, plenty of people live a long ways from major urban centers.
    blu3reeStraight_ManInvincible_summer
  • edited April 2013
    I totally agree, and I am and have always been introverted and it has caused me to suffer, especially in my youth. As an adult, however, I have seen the pain it can cause and have taken steps and made hard efforts to reduce my introversion. One thing that helped me was having to take a couple of required speech classes in college. I had a wonderful Chinese teacher (who was not what I would call extroverted) who stressed over and over that speaking in front of others is a practice and that it gets easier with practice. It didn't take me long to see that this is true, even though I thought I might die of stroke the first semester. One of my traits that I suppose can sometimes work in my favor is my stubbornness. So once I decided that I HAD to try my best to get over the horrific pain of my introversion, I stuck with it and it definitely has gotten better and I am a more balanced person now.

    I definitely think that one needs to be balanced. There is a time for introspection, and this is not a weakness (on the contrary). But when one is so introverted that one cannot do the things necessary to better one's life and the lives of others, it's time to pull up your bootstraps, as we say, and do something about it.

    If I had not practiced talking with people and being more open to people, in general (over many years now), I would not have been able to go to meet the Sangha. I would not have had the confidence to participate in Dharma discussions or our monthly potlucks. Practicing being with people can definitely boost confidence and when that happens, you're able to open a lot of doors in life and be receptive to change, including change of your own habitual views.

    I think it is one thing to live way out there and not be able to find a Sangha to attend, but I bet that this is not the case for most people. One other thing my stubbornness has afforded me is the ability to find a way. Sometimes this is not possible, but many times I think people make up reasons why they can't do something. For some people without a nearby temple or center, it is probably (not always) possible to be a leader and start a group. There are ways to do things if one has the will, flexibility, and creativity to find them.
    nenkohai
  • If only i had a vehicle and a license.
  • PatrPatr Veteran
    Buddhism in many ways lacks a gradual syllabus, where to start, the corresponding stages, and then advanced Dharma. Not all monks and gurus adopt this as well, Vajrayana being the major culprit.

    In this forum, I generally find the Theravadins being well informed and have a good grasp of the Dharma. As well being open minded to new viewpoints.

    A lot (not all, thankfully) of the Vajrayanists, maybe because of their schools' Guru status, tend to be less accepting of differing views. Also new Buddhists, meaning less than a few years of practice are being taught protector yogas, Guru Yoga, and whatnot.

    They discuss 'Emptiness' which is the most difficult of the concepts, liberally, with often gross misconceptions.

    Yes, this will draw a lot of flak, but its what I noticed on this forum.

    As for the Zennists, most of the time I havent a clue what they're on about.
    Invincible_summer
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator
    I think a lot of people who alienate or withdraw themselves use introversion as an excuse. Introversion doesn't mean you are a hermit by nature. Human beings are social animals by nature. It just means you need to know yourself and your limits and you need to take care of your needs as well as others. I'm quite introverted. But I still enjoy time with my sangha, time with my family, time with my friends. I just don't like large, noisy crowds, and even when I spend quieter time with my family, I need time to recharge. I wasn't always like that, but became that way more so later on in life.

    I explain it to my kids as, I love spending time with them and with the rest of our family, but when that time is really busy, when we get home I need just a little quiet time. That I'm like the cell phone with the blinking "low battery" light that needs to recharge because being around lots of people, no matter how much I love them, drains me. They are good about giving me my time. Just because I'm more introverted doesn't mean I just choose not to spend time with anyone and use it as an excuse. I just recognize introversion is part of my personality and I give myself what I need to work within it.
    Glow
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    Sure...the good old middle way in this as in all things.
    fixingjulian
  • I would like to attend a sangha, but i have no job for gas money. Im sure i will later on though.
  • NevermindNevermind Bitter & Hateful Veteran
    Citta said:

    We all need people to support us in our practice...and some of us, and I include myself, need people to challenge us. In person. Face to face.

    Tell me, Citta, how do you think someone who doesn't challenge themselves responds to being challenged by someone else? :p
    Citta said:

    So much of the most dubious stuff one finds on Buddhist websites either in the form of self-doubt, or delusions of grandeur, would not last five minutes in the precense of real, human, humorous, face to face contact.

    This makes me wonder if you've ever been in a face to face sangha. Or maybe this is meant as a April fools joke?
    karasti
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    A) I have no idea.
    B ) You have no idea.
  • edited April 2013

    Online Sangha is better than no sangha.
    But you're completely right about alienation... It's a huge and terribly silent epidemic

    The Middle Way can work too:
    it´s good to have some real & serious 'Sangha style place' to have at least an initiation and preferably some visits during the year (even if it´s just 3 times).

    But if it´s an honest ONLINE SANGHA, it´s better than nothing.
    Of course, addiction to the internet about any content, alienation in several forms, spending too many hours online, and stuff like that are bad too, who can deny that!?

    Finally, it´s not pleasant to remember, but a tiny percentage of Philosophical/ Religious Associations, of all kinds: Buddhist, Christian and more, are considered CULTS which want to exploit alienated and innocent victims!

    Serious interdenominational 'Bureaus' agree that 'a few groups' claiming to be honorable members of that Belief/ Religion, are Enslaving Cults (there are always alienated volunteers who 'freely' will become slaves, yes, SLAVES, in several ways):

    giving money/ working for free for Gurus/ Christian Tithing Fundamentalists Preachers, Yoga Miracle Makers or Holy Groper$ !...

    pd:
    *Some contact with honorable Sanghas? A full member of a nice one?= So great a blessing!

    *Happy with little contact or even no contact at all, but well read, helping other sentient beings and free?= Great too!

    *No one should feel compelled to join a Sangha 'officially'; also, those trapped and alienated in CULTS, which, unfortunately exist, please: EXIT and enjoy your life with good DHARMA!

    :=)
  • NevermindNevermind Bitter & Hateful Veteran
    edited April 2013
    Citta said:

    A) I have no idea.

    Indeed.
    Citta said:

    B ) You have no idea.

    Your post gave me the idea. To think for a minute (much less five) that "self-doubt, or delusions of grandeur," etc, doesn't exist in face to face sangha is, in the very least, terribly naive.
    EnriqueSpain
  • SabreSabre Veteran
    edited April 2013
    I agree that one can practice alone and choose to share little out of deluded intentions, and I appreciate your post. But I want to add the note that one of the results of practicing the path is delighting in solitude. If one can delight in it, I think it is usually a good thing. Some people who are in solitude for the wrong reasons probably can't delight in it. May be a way to test our intentions.

    I love the practice in a sangha, but it's not like a sangha is a surefire way of getting wrong views adjusted. Usually groups of enclosed people tend to share confidence in the same views; whether they are accurate or not doesn't matter. So to have too much attachment to the sangha also is not wise. Who is to say one group of practitioners has the right approach? Best to stay above this, be your own refuge, but in a wise way. This way, even if our sangha is wrong, we can find the right way for ourselves.
  • Nevermind said:

    Citta said:

    A) I have no idea.

    Indeed.
    Citta said:

    B ) You have no idea.

    Your post gave me the idea. To think for a minute (much less five) that "self-doubt, or delusions of grandeur," etc, doesn't exist in face to face sangha is, in the very least, terribly naive.
    FACE TO FACE with one'self' is the most important, I agree!

    Delusions are everywhere.

    As they say in TreeLeaf online Shanga, they try to overcome the barriers of TIME AND SPACE through the internet.
    Unfortunately, they couldn´t overcome my barrier:
    I don´t have an internet connection at home in the town I work during the week!, but...

    Zazen doesn't always require others around or an internet connection or an alarm clock to tell me when to stop or start!

    Great posts.
    Greetings!
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited April 2013
    Of course they do....and unless the Sangha you belong to is very different from the Sanghas I have had experience of , which in my case are the Sanghas of Chogyam Trungpa, Sogyal Rinpoche ,and Chogyal Namkhai Norbu the self doubters and the deluded are made aware of their doubts and delusions. They then are free to accept or deny.
    Online holders of doubts and delusions can and do maintain their doubts and delusions for years.
    I was a member of E Sangha for most of its duration and some of those who were clueless at the beginning were still clueless when it went belly-up.
    A situation which would not have been tolerated in a meat world Sangha.
    I would invite anyone to join a vibrant local sangha and then announce their intention to be Enlightened by next Christmas...for example. They would be laughed off of the premises. And this is not simply negative ..the self doubters would be supported in a positive way.
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited April 2013
    Sabre said:

    I agree that one can practice alone and choose to share little out of deluded intentions, and I appreciate your post. But I want to add the note that one of the results of practicing the path is delighting in solitude. If one can delight in it, I think it is usually a good thing. Some people who are in solitude for the wrong reasons probably can't delight in it. May be a way to test our intentions.

    I love the practice in a sangha, but it's not like a sangha is a surefire way of getting wrong views adjusted. Usually groups of enclosed people tend to share confidence in the same views; whether they are accurate or not doesn't matter. So to have too much attachment to the sangha also is not wise. Who is to say one group of practitioners has the right approach? Best to stay above this, be your own refuge, but in a wise way. This way, even if our sangha is wrong, we can find the right way for ourselves.

    I would guess that this is a difference between Vajrayana Sanghas and some other groups.
    A Vajrayana Sangha is not just horizontal but operates also through the Guru. This of course would not be to everyone's liking...it tends to be self selecting.
    I take your point that Sangha life needs to be balanced by personal practice..absolutely.
    However the thrust of this thread is the alienation that can result from an absence of Sangha.
  • NevermindNevermind Bitter & Hateful Veteran
    Citta said:

    Of course they do....

    Yes, of course.
    Citta said:

    Online holders of doubts and delusions can and do maintain their doubts and delusions for years.

    Are you suggesting it's any different offline? Lol, everyone practicing face to face is all wise and enlightened?
    Citta said:

    I was a member of E Sangha for most of its duration and some of those who were clueless at the beginning were still clueless when it went belly-up.

    But only the members who didn't have a local sangha? Hmmm........
    Citta said:

    A situation which would not have been tolerated in a meat world Sangha.

    It's always been amazing to me what is tolerated in a meat world sangha. 50 years of Shimano abuses (http://www.shimanoarchive.com), for example.
    Citta said:

    I would invite anyone to join a vibrant local sangha and then announce their intention to be Enlightened by next Christmas...for example. They would be laughed off of the premises.

    I've actually seen that happen, though there was no mention a Christmas due date and they were not actually laughed off the premises.
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    Well clearly Nevermind our experiences of Sangha are very different.
    Do you have experience of Vajrayana ?

    I would say that those E Sangha members who were most profoundly clueless were those who most frequently denied their need for Sangha. And I see them on other forums still asking the same beginners questions and still denying the need for sangha.
  • I don't think it is possible to say for sure what is the BEST path for EVERYONE in regards to "To Sangha or not To Sangha." What happens in one person's experience could be the opposite of what happens in another's. I don't think any one of us knows for certain the answer for all. And if you do, good luck getting all to accept your view. What most of us (and I say "most") could probably agree on is that the Buddha taught that a community of like-minded folks-- those that are also attempting the path-- is beneficial. If anyone wants to disagree, let that fall on their own path. If you want an in-person Sangha, or an internet Sangha, only you can know what is best for you. The truth lies within you and only you can find it. The rest of us should only be giving our personal accounts and trying to relate it in a helpful manner, not arguing back and forth about who's experience or opinion is the correct one.
    EnriqueSpain
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    Citta said:

    Some people live in isolated places. They have little choice but to practice without much 'meat world' contact with others.
    Others though have a built in aversion to being around other practitioners. They want to protect their own views and habits. They think that no one else comes up to scratch and they want to play sheriff. Or they feel inadequate and think that their inexperience will make them seem foolish.
    I think those feelings should be resisted. Traditionally the Buddha left THREE Jewels..Buddha Dharma and Sangha , and the last is not least. I dont think online Sangha counts...useful though it is.
    The danger in the absence of Sangha is alienation.
    It happens.
    The internet is littered with the evidence.

    This is the op. Nowhere does it suggest that real life Sanghas are free from problems. Nowhere does it suggest that sangha members are universally rounded and balanced individuals.
    It is suggesting that attempting to practice Dharma in the absence of Sangha is to hobble ourselves with an disadvantage..which should be avoided if physically possible.
    The disadvantages of Sangha..people with their messiness and all too human characteristics are more than offset by the enormous opportunities that result from being thrown into the rough and tumble of Sangha life. Opportunities that can cut through the alienation that can result from our nuclear family conditioning.
    riverflow
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    chela said:

    I don't think it is possible to say for sure what is the BEST path for EVERYONE in regards to "To Sangha or not To Sangha." What happens in one person's experience could be the opposite of what happens in another's. I don't think any one of us knows for certain the answer for all. And if you do, good luck getting all to accept your view. What most of us (and I say "most") could probably agree on is that the Buddha taught that a community of like-minded folks-- those that are also attempting the path-- is beneficial. If anyone wants to disagree, let that fall on their own path. If you want an in-person Sangha, or an internet Sangha, only you can know what is best for you. The truth lies within you and only you can find it. The rest of us should only be giving our personal accounts and trying to relate it in a helpful manner, not arguing back and forth about who's experience or opinion is the correct one.

    If we accept the traditional formulation then no part of the Three Jewels were simply suggestions, The Sangha Jewel is no more simply a beneficial suggestion than is the Dharma Jewel..The Tree Jewels stand or fall together.
  • NevermindNevermind Bitter & Hateful Veteran
    edited April 2013
    Citta said:

    I would say that those E Sangha members who were most profoundly clueless were those who most frequently denied their need for Sangha. And I see them on other forums still asking the same beginners questions and still denying the need for sangha.

    I can't help asking: what difference does it make?

    In my experience an a--hole with a clue is just another a--hole with a clue, and the kind clueless are clueless but kind.

    I think you overrate the clues. :-/
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    Ok. Duly noted.
  • SabreSabre Veteran
    edited April 2013
    Some may have a need for a sangha, but not everybody. The point is we need to hear the real teachings. Some people immediately understand, don't need much further guidance.

    The Buddha told us to take the dhamma as the only refuge and not the sangha. Why he did that? I think partly because you can never really have a proof on the attainments of the sangha. Even monks of over 50 years in robes can make mistakes. In any way, they are imperfect. However, you can always fall back on the dhamma, though. If we get too attached to people or teachers, that can create problems.

    But also, some people don't have the possibility to find the right teacher. They can walk alone with the dhamma as their guide.

    If you gain a mature companion,
    a fellow traveler, right-living & wise,
    overcoming all dangers
    go with him, gratified,
    mindful.

    If you don't gain a mature companion,
    a fellow traveler, right-living & wise,
    wander alone
    like a king renouncing his kingdom,
    like the elephant in the Matanga wilds,
    his herd.

    We praise companionship
    — yes!
    Those on a par, or better,
    should be chosen as friends.
    If they're not to be found,
    living faultlessly,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.1.03.than.html
    Invincible_summerStraight_Man
  • Citta said:


    If we accept the traditional formulation then no part of the Three Jewels were simply suggestions, The Sangha Jewel is no more simply a beneficial suggestion than is the Dharma Jewel..The Tree Jewels stand or fall together.

    Agreed. That is why I am here and also why I go to a face-to-face Sangha once a week. However, just because I do does not mean that someone else can't do something different. I am on my path; everyone else is on their own paths because they interpret something differently than I do. Until I am enlightened, I figure it's not my place to get bent out of shape if they are not following MY path. It's none of my business where their paths are leading to.
    riverflow
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    Then we must agree to differ. No Sangha...no Dharma.
    There are many advantages in having a forum in which students of different traditions stand face to face...but at the same time it is necessary to be honest, And from the Vajrayana/Dzogchen pov Dharma without Sangha is simply not an option.
    All good wishes to you.

    :)
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited April 2013
    chela said:

    Citta said:


    If we accept the traditional formulation then no part of the Three Jewels were simply suggestions, The Sangha Jewel is no more simply a beneficial suggestion than is the Dharma Jewel..The Tree Jewels stand or fall together.

    Agreed. That is why I am here and also why I go to a face-to-face Sangha once a week. However, just because I do does not mean that someone else can't do something different. I am on my path; everyone else is on their own paths because they interpret something differently than I do. Until I am enlightened, I figure it's not my place to get bent out of shape if they are not following MY path. It's none of my business where their paths are leading to.
    But you are quite happy to get bent out of shape on a thread that does not concern you because you DO have a Sangha ?
    :)
    You think that Sangha is optional, I dont. Its quite simple. I think to propose Buddhadharma without Sangha is just as meaningless as proposing Buddhadharma without Dharma.
    As I have already said we will have to agree to differ. And thats OK.
  • Well, I don't attend a RL sangha. I don't want to attend a RL sangha.
    Why? Two reasons;
    1. I have been forever (?) turned OFF to all manner of organized spiritual/religious groups or gatherings, thanks to a hurtful experience in the past.
    2. I don't think it's imperative that every Buddhist belong to a sangha (what? or they're not 'real' Buddhists?)
    There is enough legitimate information, via paper books, websites, forums, videos, etc to glean the basics (5 Precepts, 4NTs, 8FP) for a lay person to build upon and live a perfectly respectably-Buddhist life.

    Can one be a true Christian and never go to church?
    Can one be a true Muslim and only kneel in prayer alone in their own home?
    Can one be a true Buddhist and never attend a sangha?
    I say YES to all the above.
    EnriqueSpain
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator
    I don't have a choice of Sangha, but I can tell you no matter the stupid question or problem I have, I have never been laughed off the premises, I've never been told "You just plain are doing it wrong, this is the right way to do it." or any other such thing. We are all in different places in our practice, not even everyone in our Aangha is Buddhist at this point. So, no one gets laughed at, dismissed, or looked down upon regardless of their goals, lack thereof, or the things they don't understand. We discuss, we have questions, we answer them as a group and then the individual of course can decide to work directly with our teacher on it. But even our teacher would not give us the smack down. Thankfully, I've managed to find in the one Sangha I have access to, a very nice one with real people with real questions and problems and no leader or teacher who wants to treat us like children.
    MaryAnne
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited April 2013
    The Vajrayana is certainly not for everyone. That is not a snide boast. Its just a fact.

  • Citta said:

    The Vajrayana is certainly not for everyone. That is not a snide boast. Its just a fact.

    @Citta

    But you ARE in fact saying that without [a] sangha, there is no chance for understanding Dharma, is that right? You don't have any ... problem... with that judgment?

  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran
    MaryAnne said:

    Well, I don't attend a RL sangha. I don't want to attend a RL sangha.
    Why? Two reasons;
    1. I have been forever (?) turned OFF to all manner of organized spiritual/religious groups or gatherings, thanks to a hurtful experience in the past.
    2. I don't think it's imperative that every Buddhist belong to a sangha (what? or they're not 'real' Buddhists?)
    There is enough legitimate information, via paper books, websites, forums, videos, etc to glean the basics (5 Precepts, 4NTs, 8FP) for a lay person to build upon and live a perfectly respectably-Buddhist life.

    Can one be a true Christian and never go to church?
    Can one be a true Muslim and only kneel in prayer alone in their own home?
    Can one be a true Buddhist and never attend a sangha?
    I say YES to all the above.

    @MaryAnne

    What does it mean to be a "true" anything, anyway?

    Semantics aside, I think that, although one can indeed be a devout ____ without attending a church/mosque/temple/etc, I think that there's a risk of becoming self-righteous. You have no one else to bounce your version of faith off of, no input into your practice. While spiritual practice is indeed a personal journey, I do think that right and wrong practices exist.

    Also, I think that theistic religions are a bit different from Buddhism in terms of ability to practice on one's own. Having faith that Jesus died to save the world because you read the Bible is very different than not understanding the experiences you have during intense meditation.

    Finally, your aversion to spiritual/religious groups/gatherings is just that - an aversion. I hope you are able to break through it - there's really something to doing spiritual practice (especially meditation) in a group that is more powerful and nurturing than just practicing on one's own.
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    MaryAnne said:

    Citta said:

    The Vajrayana is certainly not for everyone. That is not a snide boast. Its just a fact.

    @Citta

    But you ARE in fact saying that without [a] sangha, there is no chance for understanding Dharma, is that right? You don't have any ... problem... with that judgment?

    I am saying that from a Vajra/Dzogchen pov Dharma is inseperable from Sangha.That is not a personal opinion. It is within those traditions the universal view.
  • MaryAnneMaryAnne Veteran
    edited April 2013

    MaryAnne said:

    Well, I don't attend a RL sangha. I don't want to attend a RL sangha.
    Why? Two reasons;
    1. I have been forever (?) turned OFF to all manner of organized spiritual/religious groups or gatherings, thanks to a hurtful experience in the past.
    2. I don't think it's imperative that every Buddhist belong to a sangha (what? or they're not 'real' Buddhists?)
    There is enough legitimate information, via paper books, websites, forums, videos, etc to glean the basics (5 Precepts, 4NTs, 8FP) for a lay person to build upon and live a perfectly respectably-Buddhist life.

    Can one be a true Christian and never go to church?
    Can one be a true Muslim and only kneel in prayer alone in their own home?
    Can one be a true Buddhist and never attend a sangha?
    I say YES to all the above.

    @MaryAnne

    What does it mean to be a "true" anything, anyway?

    Semantics aside, I think that, although one can indeed be a devout ____ without attending a church/mosque/temple/etc, I think that there's a risk of becoming self-righteous. You have no one else to bounce your version of faith off of, no input into your practice. While spiritual practice is indeed a personal journey, I do think that right and wrong practices exist.

    Also, I think that theistic religions are a bit different from Buddhism in terms of ability to practice on one's own. Having faith that Jesus died to save the world because you read the Bible is very different than not understanding the experiences you have during intense meditation.

    Finally, your aversion to spiritual/religious groups/gatherings is just that - an aversion. I hope you are able to break through it - there's really something to doing spiritual practice (especially meditation) in a group that is more powerful and nurturing than just practicing on one's own.
    I should have used the word "devout" instead of "true". True is too much of a judgment call... I concede that, and I didn't mean to judge in that way. :)

    I have meditated in groups, drummed in groups, chanted in groups, danced ritual dances in groups, etc. Yes, it can be a very profound and wonderful experience, and I had many of them that were. But I don't feel a need for that in my practice or life any more. Will I ever need it again? I doubt it, but never say never....

    As for the last part of your post, well, yes, I guess you can say I have developed an aversion to groups. But don't mistake my aversion for fear. No fear involved.
    See, I spent 30 yrs seeking out groups, being a part of different groups, even teaching and organizing groups. I don't think I will ever feel the need to invest my time, effort, and especially my emotions into a group situation again.
    I'm flipping the coin and looking at this development as a letting go of a craving for group participation, instead of an aversion to groups. :D
    There is nothing at all that I feel I'm missing because of my lack of group/sangha participation. I respectfully and gently disagree that sangha will always make one's personal path more powerful or enlightening than being alone. Not true for All people at All times.....

    Invincible_summer
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator
    My teacher is actually Nyingma, which is (correct me if I am wrong, I don't follow lineages and such all that well) a branch of Vajrayna, isn't it? Or am I misunderstanding that? Too many -nas in there for me to remember, lol.
  • I love being alone, that may be partly down to having social anxiety but even when I am dosed up to the eyeballs it's ok to be alone. Sometimes I even contemplate breaking up with my partner because of a fight, then I think of our age gap and how life would be easier alone etc, but after I cool down and so does she I see clearly again and find that love which was there before hand.

    That being said, when we do break up (she is 41 and I am 24), so something will happen in my lifetime unless I die early, I know I would like to live and be alone for a long while. I have been pretty much in relationships from the age of 16 with very little single time between, they have been lengthy relationships for the most part too.

    I am somewhat of a hermit by nature now, it is a total contrast to how I was in my late teens being a raver and going crazy being confined to the house for a couple of hours. I also am scared of being judged and all that jazz which prevents me from going to an actual sangha, as much as I know it would benefit me spiritually I just can't make myself go even if I have taken medication. I need to be hit with a big wooden stick by someone :rolleyes:
  • GlowGlow Veteran
    edited April 2013
    karasti said:

    I think a lot of people who alienate or withdraw themselves use introversion as an excuse. Introversion doesn't mean you are a hermit by nature. Human beings are social animals by nature. It just means you need to know yourself and your limits and you need to take care of your needs as well as others. I'm quite introverted. But I still enjoy time with my sangha, time with my family, time with my friends. I just don't like large, noisy crowds, and even when I spend quieter time with my family, I need time to recharge. I wasn't always like that, but became that way more so later on in life.

    I explain it to my kids as, I love spending time with them and with the rest of our family, but when that time is really busy, when we get home I need just a little quiet time. That I'm like the cell phone with the blinking "low battery" light that needs to recharge because being around lots of people, no matter how much I love them, drains me. They are good about giving me my time. Just because I'm more introverted doesn't mean I just choose not to spend time with anyone and use it as an excuse. I just recognize introversion is part of my personality and I give myself what I need to work within it.

    This is an important point. The terms "introversion" and "extraversion" originally come from the work of Carl Jung, the famous 20th century Swiss psychologist. I am a huge fan of Jung. He resonates with me more than almost any psychologist. I definitely recommend anyone interested in understanding their inner life to read his books Psychological Types, Memories, Dreams, and Reflections, and The Undiscovered Self.

    In Jung's original conceptualization, "introversion" and "extraversion" had little to do with social withdrawal/shyness vs. gregariousness, connotations they've picked up in popular culture today. Introversion and extraversion referred originally to where one would habitually channel his/her life energy or libido (Jung was influenced greatly by Freud). Introverts will find their life centering around their inner world -- their own subjective interpretation of the world. Extraverts will find their lives focusing outwards -- focusing more on systems/interpretations that already exist outside them.

    Thus, although introversion sometimes corresponds to shyness, so can extraversion. IMO, it is better not to regard shyness as a personality trait in the same way introversion was conceptualized. Rather, shyness is better regarded as a transitory emotion that can become habituated through either negative experiences or intense sensitization to social feedback (e.g., when someone becomes very self-conscious of being judged for certain aspects of themselves: looks, intelligence, success, gender, race, etc.); or attenuated/assuaged through positive experiences or other change in outlook (which is something therapy can provide). One can be shy in one situation, brazen in another; withdrawn among some people, and yet relish connection with others. Some people are more selective about who they connect with, although ideally... at least among Buddhists, as spirit of metta or goodwill should be extended to all beings. I've found that metta can help dissolve the inner barriers that I used to put up that separated myself from others, for various reasons (much of which is based on past conditioning). For example, I once was highly self-conscious at the swimming pool last summer. I repeated the words of the Metta Sutta: "In gladness and in safety, may all beings be at ease... may they be free from hatred and ill-will." And I found that the inner enemy-making mind was turned off, and I realized I was just one of many people at this pool.
    karastiInvincible_summer
  • MigyurMigyur Norway N 69,23 E 18,23 Explorer
    edited May 2013
    as for my sake I`m living about 120mil from the next Sangha and I can say I miss to have a Sangha nearby. But, I`m doing the Triple Excellence (green Tara Terma) with Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche. This program is so perfectly structured that it makes it easy to progress swiftly along the Path. After a lot of doing this and that in Buddhism in several Years(reading Internet osw.) there was a point of disorientation for me, its easy to give up there.
    So what I want to say is, in my opinion if you dont have a Shanga around, a well structured Course, once or twice a year travelling (Empowerments,...) you can come a very long way. I am very grateful to have found the Course and I would say not everybody living close to a Dharmacenter gets such a amazing opportunity.

    And then its more like to be in a remote Mountain retreat.
  • I am an extreme introvert. The thought of becoming a nun (which I have seriously considered time and time again in my life) is pure bliss to me, because I could easily just isolate myself and meditate for the rest of my life and really not flinch one bit over it. Deep down, I know this is wrong and the exact opposite of what I need to do in my life to become a better person.

    You see, while online I love to talk. I probably "talk" too much, actually. That's because it is a way I can still "interact" with others yet hide in my proverbial cave at the same time. But if you were to meet me in person, I am so shy and introverted that people tend to think there's something socially wrong with me or that I'm being aloof. That's why I love this idea of an online Sangha. However, I know it is never the same as interacting one-on-one with others in person. While online, you get to pick and choose what to say, when to say it, and whom to say it to. It's really not a real-life challenge in that respect, and limits what a Sangha truly is.

    It's a shame, too, because I'd love to belong to a Sangha in real life. I have always felt that I never fit in anywhere, and hate socializing, but I feel a great way to overcome that issue would be to join a Sangha. But I just don't think there are any close by where I live. It's strange how I keep having this desire to learn more and practice more in terms of Buddhism, yet I feel like my feet are moving and I'm getting nowhere. Perhaps this life I still have to master some aspects of myself before I can even get to the point of being fortunate enough of living near a Sangha or a teacher/guru or whatnot. Ah well. There's always next life, eh?
    karmablues
  • It's easy to apply your beliefs when surrounded by only those who believe as you do. To test your beliefs, you need to have a laboratory. The world seems to provide that for me.
    SillyPutty
  • edited May 2013
    This is why Im happy I have my brother around. Hes not a buddhist, but approachs things from a scientific and philosophical view and we always end up agreeing with each other. "dude you sound like a buddhist" And in turn what I say he agrees with me.
    And the rare occasion I get down to the zen center an hour away always leaves me walking out with a surge of positive energy.
    riverflow
  • @SillyPutty
    Im very much the same. Theres nothing right or wrong with being shy or introverted its just part of the way we are in this life. But, what I stated above still applies in my life.
  • TheEccentricTheEccentric South east, UK Veteran
    What counts as a sangha then if not an online sangha, can be just a meditation class or does it have to be a temple or center?
  • personal @TheEccentric I feel an online sangha counts for something. Like I said in my shout out video, there are real people behind the screens. Does it make it less important that we are not face to face, but reading posts? No.
    granted the conversation is much much slower, but if if someone is practicing metta and genuinely trys to help you, the merit is the same.
    riverflowTheEccentric
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