I am humbly asking for your help in a matter I haven’t been able to figure out for years. I will try to keep my post as short as possible.
How and where should I live and practice Buddhism? I can’t seem to find a way...
I am highly introverted. I am not sure how introversion fits into Anatta, but in my stage of spiritual journey I am still very much introverted. Being around other people is extremely exhausting. For the past 3 years I have lived completely alone. I don’t leave my home for work – I stay indoors pretty much the entire time. During the colder part of the year I sometimes leave the apartment only once – to get food. During the warmer part I take occasional walks early in the morning. On an average day I don’t talk to anybody over the phone. I may change some e-mails or other forms of written messages, but that’s all the interaction I have with people. I just meditate and try to keep quiet. I try to be mindful – even while I’m exercising or cooking. I do read, watch some inspirational movies and listen to (mostly spiritual) music (usually in the evening for a few hours).
The problem is that I am rapidly running out of money. I don’t live in America or any other wealthy country. Salaries in my country are very low, yet the cost of living (mainly food, clothes, etc) is much greater than in the States or western Europe. For the past 3 years I have lived from the money I inherited. I always thought about using it for entrepreneurship, but never really made it anywhere (mostly because I thought it would interfere with my spiritual journey). And now I have maybe 3-4 months worth of it left.
Get a job? First of all, not only am I highly introverted, but I am also very shy. Whenever I am in the center of attention, I am close to turning red. And there are very few jobs in my country where somebody with these characteristics could work. For some reason, my blushing seems to nearly disappear in the countries that have warmer climates. And secondly, whenever I have been close to getting a job, I have had this extremely powerful inner gut feeling screaming against it. It’s as of somebody inside of me is yelling NO!! I had this feeling all throughout my school years – they were the most difficult years of my life. I disliked them so very much. Many years ago there were occasions I got drunk because of how bad this feeling was. Now I just try to listen to it and do what it says. Should I?
What am I to do? I am not dumb or uneducated. Quite the contrary, but that’s besides the point. My entrepreneurship years failed because I concentrated on my practice. I felt that starting my own companies would cut into that. I would be getting tons of phone calls and I’d always have to plan something. A busy mind is not what I would have wished for my meditations. I still feel the same way, but should I just be involved in the business world and accept that my spiritual path is slowed down because of that?
A monastery? I went to Thailand this summer to stay in an highly respected forest monastery. I stayed there for a few weeks. I didn’t like it for one reason. There was way too much communication and interaction between the monks and monastery workers. We spent many hours per day doing chores – most of them meant communicating with others (dividing up activities, organizing things, etc). And whenever we weren’t working, we were meditating or chanting together. That happened 3 times per day for approximately 1.5 - 2 hours per session. I am not that good of an meditator yet to be able to meditate with 70 monks in the room (literally side-by-side). Somebody is always moving, coughing or making sound. I though monasteries were all about silence, emptiness and solitude. Kind of like the life I have had for the past 3 years. But it was the exact opposite. During the weekends hundreds and hundreds of people came to make offers. It was like a festival, and I had to participate by doing chores, helping in the kitchen, etc. From an introvert's point of view, it was hell!
I know sangha should be the way, but what should I do if my inner voice is yelling against it? And all that interaction is just killing my energy (that’s what it does for introverts)? When I left the monastery, I stayed inside my hotel room alone for days. Maybe if I’m more advanced in meditation and my spiritual journey, I may be able to take it. But for now, I feel that I am doing more progress in my apartment than I did at the monastery. Perhaps there are better monasteries, but where? It’s difficult to find them via the Internet.
What am I to do? In most days, I don’t think about this. I’ve done it a lot in the past and nothing had changed. I spend most of my days living in the present. Here and now. I don’t pay attention to this Fear – I live in faith that things will work out. But then there are moments I realize that years have gone by and nothing has changed. Should I really just keep going until I’ve paid the last money I have for rent? And just hope that something comes up once I go to buy some food or my next rent is due? If nothing works out, then even flying to Thailand would not be option, as I would not have any money for it. A plane ticket to Thailand costs nearly 2 month salary for an average person in my country.
I feel bad for asking, but perhaps some of you have been in this situation and tell me which way is the door. I feel so stuck that I’ve even (unwillingly) had thoughts about suicide. I won’t do it of course, but if I do end up in the streets 3-4 months from now, I may as well freeze to death, as I live in the very-very up north.
Thank you, and with metta!