PDA

View Full Version : Friendship On The Path



Aloka
27 Apr 11, 07:11
I was thinking about friendship this morning and about communications both on and off the internet.

Excluding any people offline who you might regard as your Dharma teachers, do you have offline friends who are also Buddhist practitioners like yourself, or do you depend on the internet for friendship and support on the path ?....or both...or neither?

In general, do you think that your Dhamma practice is improving your relationships with others ?


:hands:

plwk
27 Apr 11, 10:46
I dunno Aloka....

I find that people, on and offline ones are not really that different...the spectrum ranges from those who won't give two hoots, those you thought were your spiritual friends but turned out otherwise to those who help you out on the way...in the end analysis, I learned that it's nothing like standing on my own 2 feet, taking responsibility for my own spirituality rather than depending on anyone....so the influence is rather marginal...

Simple real life situations from my own vault of life experiences...
Back when I was Catholic, I used to know a woman for more than 7 years and thought she was such a spiritual treasure but when she found out that I left the Church, I got an Inquisition styled monologue and basically assured me that hell is where my route is...
Then there were 'Buddhist' friends...so I thought...

Back when I faced a family crisis, when they found out that my parents basically gave me an ultimatum on Jesus or Buddha, and if it was the latter, I was thrown out of my own home, what help did I get? 'You ungrateful son!', 'Go back to Church!', 'Renounce the Refuge Vows'.... were their fav slogans...In the end, it was a very close freethinker pal of mine who helped me shift away and some time later a conditional reconciliation materialised with the family and I am still faithful to the Triple Gem til this day...what if I listened to them? That freethinker pal of mine is a Buddhist today btw...partly because he saw how I stood up to my parents and defended the Buddha Dharma...

Oh did I tell you abt that Bhikkhu who refused to give me the lay Refuge and Precepts and told me 'It's ALL the same, go back to Church! Don't waste your time here..."

Centres and temples with politics and politicians...I thought it was best that I retreated to the online world to widen my circle and start fresh ... only to find the same ...

Yeah I am sure others have been more fortunate...so have I...the occasional falling leaf, the bad flu, a kind old lady... you get the drift...

So, all these cases and people have only strengthened my resolve...especially in not repeating the same mistakes again... my gratitude to them all...

chrisfraas
27 Apr 11, 14:18
I am so sorry that happened to you plwk .
I run into the issue with my family a bit in that they don't talk about Buddhism at all -- this is my parents and brother. But that's all. And non-Buddhists have only asked me questions now and again in a remote way about Buddhism like if Buddhists think Buddha is god and sort of innocuous questions about the Dalai Lama that points more towards their ignorance more than anything else.
A couple of people at work who are far right-wing conservatives have said that if I wasn't a Christian I might as well be a Muslim -- which being one shouldn't be thought of as a bad thing anyway -- and one keeps asking me if I'm worried about going to hell.
And all of the Buddhists I have run into who live around me -- in Las Vegas in the US -- tend to be a bit dismissive because I'm not a Buddhist like them. This usually happens when I speak with immigrants who are Buddhists so I'm unsure if it's as much a Buddhist thing as an issue of me not being from their country.
Anyway, I gravitate towards online forums like this as there's no room for any sort of exclusion here. Thus, I think my practice has made me more of a recluse in the real world but not so much online.

Esho
27 Apr 11, 14:40
Nice post Dazz,

I do not have real offline Buddhist friends. But at the dojo we are a nice Sangha and we bring support each other. We have a nice person who is in the need of medication and we support him. He lost wife and family because of his problem but he works hard. I really enjoy being with him when I go to seshins or meditation. But not really a friend as three of them I have off line.

My very best is a male friend. He is from Syrian origin. He practice Sufism. We go out to drink coffee and talk about Buddhism and Sufism and I really enjoy him a lot. He is older than me. Then I have two female friends. Both are wonderful. One of them is a great friend I met when I was a devoted Theosophist. We still see each other and when she comes to the city we met and we can talk endlessly about Dhamma, Buddhism and Theosophical issues. Her thoughts are really deep and brilliant. And has a lot of insight about things. She encourages me to work hard the Dhamma. And my other friend has not interest in such issues but is a wonderful friend which gives me a lot of support in bad moments. When I am really sad, she is there with me.

I do not have a life in internet. I do not chat or things like that. My online friends are here, in BWB. They know well who they are, and they are in my heart all day wrapped in wishful thoughts. I really appreciate a lot this friends here. They live far away from here but maybe one day I will met them. Who knows.

;)

JadeRabbit
28 Apr 11, 10:05
I don't have any friends offline who practice Dhamma, so I tend to use the wonderful BWB when I have specific questions or wish to discuss Dhamma related topics.

My practice has improved relationships with my wife and children, and I have begun to recognise my own shortcomings, but still have a way to go.

Other friends are a different matter, they are not interested in Buddhism at all and I wish I had some who felt the same way and were more spiritually inclined. They are so caught up in the world, it makes me feel quite sad for them. I include them in my metta meditations, particularly when they are going through difficult periods in their lives.

McKmike
29 Apr 11, 08:52
Interesting thread, it seems to me that most people engaged on BWB are westerners, we come from a common non Buddhist culture and therefore come to Buddhism afresh with a viewpoint that is rooted in our pre -buddhist cultural reality, I have been to a number of Buddhist groups both here in the UK and in the USA and have been struck by how different the culture of each group is, everything from transcendental thinking of enlightenment as a state of mind rooted in the great consciousness of the empty void that will be suddenly revealed as long as they follow the particular teacher / teachings to the Stephen Batchelor pragmatism of the confessions of a Buddhist atheist attitude

Given the polar opposites of the understandings of dharma, and the relatively few people that are engaged in buddhism I think the chances of finding a friend in your locale who shares your particular interest and study would be remarkable
The internet therefore opens up the possibilities of finding people you can communicate with to discuss and grow in understanding of the dharma, I think that there is a direct link between the emergence of a "western form of Buddhism" and the access to internet dharma

This also ties into the western lifestyle of work, TV, Sleep, work, TV, Sleep cycle with the occasional social meeting, which for most people is centered around some form of specific activity. So there is little scope in this type of existence to discuss dharma, no matter meet other people who are interested in the dharma, want to talk about it and are able to relate to where you are on the path

I think that it is important to understand and practice the dharma, a common thread is the advice I have heard many times that any spirituality is better than no spirituality and that joining any group is better than no group, I personally do not think the old chestnut of there are many paths up the mountain it does not matter which one we climb is good advice
This for me reinforces the essentially western solitary buddhist, who is not part of a local sangha meeting regularly, but more a pattern of some one who travels to specific events at Buddhist centres for dharma talks or retreats and practices essentially alone between times

I suspect that many people could form productive sanghas in their local areas if they only knew other people who where practicing near by, maybe some one could come up with a register or some thing.

fojiao2
29 Apr 11, 11:50
I'd like to expand on that question with another: How many of your friends know somebody who is a buddhist? Answer: all of them! If you think about it from one point, that you are the only Buddhist you know, or know in your location, it seems rather isolated. But you may discover along the way, that a lot of people you know think it is really cool that they know somebody who is a buddhist.

If your conduct is good and people respect the example you set in your daily life, whether you ever specifically mention the dhamma or not, you may find a few surprises waiting for you. I have an old friend who, much to my surprise recently told some of our mutual friends that he 'sort of' considered himself a buddhist. I don't know if he's ever read any dhamma or even met a teacher, but he felt there was something in Buddhism's general approach to life that he agreed with, that matched his own outlook. So, when the Buddha said, "make a lamp of yourself" perhaps what he also meant was that flames tend to spread.

David843
29 Apr 11, 23:20
Oh did I tell you abt that Bhikkhu who refused to give me the lay Refuge and Precepts and told me 'It's ALL the same, go back to Church! Don't waste your time here..."

Centres and temples with politics and politicians...I thought it was best that I retreated to the online world to widen my circle and start fresh ... only to find the same...

Many teachers won't give Refuge and Precepts until they are certain of the individuals commitment. My current teacher generally gives Refuge only to students who have studied with him for at least a year. That way he is sure they know what they are asking for, and have demonstrated a commitment to study and practice.

daverupa
02 May 11, 22:11
Many teachers won't give Refuge and Precepts until they are certain of the individuals commitment.

The way to the Deathless has been thrown open by the Buddha. I'm not sure I like the idea of someone manufacturing a middle-man position for themselves with respect to rituals that can be done on ones own.

fletcher
04 May 11, 18:15
I don't think I've ever met a real life Buddhist, but I've met people on this forum that I would consider to be friends. :-)

fojiao2
04 May 11, 19:21
The way to the Deathless has been thrown open by the Buddha. I'm not sure I like the idea of someone manufacturing a middle-man position for themselves with respect to rituals that can be done on ones own.

Anyone can take decide they are a buddhist -take refuge and precepts on their own. Who is to stop you? All you have to do is believe it and stick to it. Make up your own ceremony if you want. But a formal refuge and / or precepts ceremony, generally requires a 'middle man' (or woman) offering it, making it available to you, because in this case you are becoming part of an existing family, or lineage, or tradition, school, whatever you want to call it.

I do not know about other traditions, but Tibetan Buddhists would say that this gives you the blessing of the lineage--you sort of have all those enlightened teachers backing it up. Of course, 'blessing' is a loaded term, and in some sense you could say that it is all arbitrary, but that's just how they do it. You can make up your own lineage of one person, or you can join something that already exists.

My personal feeling is that it is better to connect with a proven tradition - and there are plenty of Theravada, Mahayaya, and Vajrayana traditions that have produced enlightened teachers. Some teachers don't offer refuge and precepts very often, because these are serious things, like wedding vows.

So, you could look at it like that too. You don't have to get married, you can just live together with somebody. I mean, how committed you are is all in your head anyway. All ceremonies and rituals are things that somebody just made up at some point.

Buddhism is special because it represents many lineages of traditions passed for generations from teacher to student, all the way back to ancient India and ultimately to the Buddha himself . This is different from somebody who wakes up in the middle of the night and decides that they've suddenly been touched by the hand of God, and they go start a church or a cult or something. So, I don't think, in the dhamma community, it is really so much a matter of people just manufacturing a job for themselves.

But who knows?

Esho
04 May 11, 20:07
This is different from somebody who wakes up in the middle of the night and decides that they've suddenly been touched by the hand of God

But it can happen that somebody has been touch by the "blessing" of the tradition in the middle of the ceremony and awakes to the teaching, isn't it?

;)

fojiao2
04 May 11, 20:48
But it can happen that somebody has been touch by the "blessing" of the tradition in the middle of the ceremony and awakes to the teaching, isn't it?

;)

I am not sure exactly what you mean. However, I think a difference between Buddhist and non-buddhist traditions is that in non-buddhist traditions, people often take whatever exciting personal experience they have as
validation, as proof of something divine. In The United States there are many huge churches, called mega churches, that literally have thousands in attendance at each service, and people cry and faint like girls at an early 1960's Beatles concert, and they swear that this is God. When buddhists have satoris or other profound experiences, they are usually instructed to let it go and keep meditating.

Esho
04 May 11, 21:14
I am not sure exactly what you mean.

Well, I tried to mean that how can you know the difference from


[...]suddenly been touched by the hand of God [...]

and,


[...] Tibetan Buddhists would say that this gives you the blessing of the lineage[...]

I got the impression that the first one is not so true while the second is about a true happening.


and people cry and faint like girls at an early 1960's Beatles concert, and they swear that this is God.

Are you guessing that the ceremonies, rituals and worships of Tibetans are to be true and the "faint like girls" are not honest about having a blessing?

;)

fojiao2
04 May 11, 21:31
Like I said, "blessing" is a loaded term. It doesn't matter whether they are real or not. But the term in the Tibetan usage might be better translated as 'spiritual underwriting'. It's not about the flash-of-light kind of religious experience.

Everyone has their own valid experience. Buddhists have a buddhist experience, Christians have a christian experience, atheists have an atheist experience and agnostics...well, I guess they don't know. But anyway, my point is that a lineage is backed by years of enlightened teachers enlightening students, and connecting with that is going to give one a different experience -not any more or less valid, but different- than somebody who goes about it totally on their own, or with the help of some books. And one of the things included in that is a teacher who may remind a student, when it is accurate to do so, not to become attached to the experiences associated with buddhist meditation.

Esho
04 May 11, 21:43
[...]'spiritual underwriting'. It's not about the flash-of-light kind of religious experience.

May I ask if "the flash-of-light" kind of religious experience can lead to a later 'spiritual underwriting'?

Also, don't this "flash-of-light" experience has been validated by the Gestalt school of psychology? and, can it happen when you first "see" things as they are...? and, lead, later on, to underwrite the teaching?

fojiao2
04 May 11, 22:02
By 'spiritual underwriting' I mean a tradition that, by the fact that it has produced results for many centuries, has some established credibility. I was just clarifying the meaning of the term "blessing" in the context of taking refuge with a particular lineage or tradition.

You can't prove that what you are doing will produce enlightenment until it happens. But a tradition which has maintained an enlightenment-producing operation for many centuries at least has something to show for it.

Esho
04 May 11, 22:35
But a tradition which has maintained an enlightenment-producing operation for many centuries at least has something to show for it.

Yes, seems reasonable but we can not tell that just "old" traditions are capable of "producing" enlightened beings. Buddha did not come from any sort of tradition or told to be into one in order to understand and cease Dukkha.

fojiao2
05 May 11, 03:19
Yes, seems reasonable but we can not tell that just "old" traditions are capable of "producing" enlightened beings. Buddha did not come from any sort of tradition or told to be into one in order to understand and cease Dukkha.

I'm not saying one has to become part of a buddhist tradition to become enlightened. I am talking about refuge & precepts, in response to an earlier post. Buddha didn't take refuge or precepts from anyone that i know of.

clw_uk
05 May 11, 18:14
Only online the only Buddhists I have met offline was at a retreat

Aloka
26 May 11, 07:22
Regarding the OP.....I have offline Buddhist friends, but rarely socialise with them much, because I'm quite reclusive and rarely feel the need for social activities.

I have people I consider to be internet friends, yes .

Since before being a Buddhist I've always been quite open and friendly with others, but I think my practice improved some difficult offline relationships I had in the past.

srivijaya
26 May 11, 08:34
I have offline Buddhist friends but they are very few in number, as I don't fit into any established Buddhist group-think doctrines. This eliminates many more I could potentially call friends.

Over the years, pressure from work, family commitments and general disapproval have meant that attending Buddhist events has become virtually a thing of the past. This has its good side, being online has opened up a wealth of learning which I never had access to in my youth and I've also had the great fortune of encountering some wonderful people who have helped me immensely.

The down side is that a few participants to Buddhist sites appear to be there to ram their own take on Buddhism down other participants throats in a way I'm sure they would never do if they met face to face.

It's hard to convey intent, humour or the subtlety of human communication online and I'm always astonished at how often things I have written have been completely misconstrued.

Makes me think things over many times before I reply, as I can't assume that readers are on the same wavelength.

On the whole it's a lonely path but also one which is less hidebound by the teachings and expectations of a real life group.

BuckyG
26 May 11, 10:39
both

fojiao2
26 May 11, 11:56
The nice thing about this forum, and I guess with web forums in general, is that you can click on a name and look at the history of their comments. patterns begin to emerge. From this, it is pretty easy to see that different people have different ways of responding to posts. It's kind of like driving on a busy highway. Some drivers are very courteous, others want to cut you off. Where people are coming from might seem important at the moment but in the long run it isn't, and hopefully every interaction with others gives us the opportunity to reflect upon our own motivations.

Esho
26 May 11, 17:42
It's kind of like driving on a busy highway. Some drivers are very courteous, others want to cut you off.

I really enjoy all the different tempers members have when posting. I take a huge amount of my time reading each of you and believe me, I really enjoy this. I'm not the kind of person that likes to suffer for free! If you could see me with a big smile and my mug of coffee when I read all the [very interesting ] things that are in your posts... ;D

I can not tell about somebody wanting to cut off at anybody. Some members are just more intense and passionate to gave their answers than others; others seem more polite; others seem not to take a posture about an issue, etc... so, who knows???

I can bet that if I meet one day a member of this forum (hopefully) I will have a great surprise about meeting her or him in person. I can not judge forum members just because the way they respond in a thread. When I read a post I can not see the face of the person giving his response, neither her gestures nor her or his voice tone nor anything that can give me a complete picture of her or him. That is why I am not into virtual life or virtual relationships. To meet a person directly, in his environment of origin, with her or his personal situations in a day a day deal with her or him, will bring a very different perspective. That is why I like so much to work as a cultural anthropologist where interviewing people is done directly, close to them in an individual way so to get all the richness of a person.

:hands:

Aloka
26 May 11, 17:51
Where people are coming from might seem important at the moment but in the long run it isn't, and hopefully every interaction with others gives us the opportunity to reflect upon our own motivations.

Yes I think we can take online interactions far too seriously. Its possible to build up inaccuate ideas about others based on our own delusions and our reactions to the way that they present the written word.

I have seen in the past how others have misinterpeted my posts and even sent me really nasty e-mails - when its never my intention to upset people and be the cause of such anger outbursts !

:flower:

Esho
26 May 11, 17:52
Yes I think we can take online interactions far too seriously. Its possible to build up inaccuate ideas about others based on our own delusions and our reactions to the way that they present the written word.

Sure Dazz, ;)

Esho
26 May 11, 18:01
and even sent me really nasty e-mails

That is very unfortunate Dazz. :(

Aloka
27 May 11, 05:32
That is very unfortunate Dazz.

Yes....but its not of great importance because luckily there are some very nice people using the internet too ! ;D

plwk
27 May 11, 11:03
Gimme 6 cats any day Aloka over 1 human being.... I don't mind dogs too...

Aloka
28 May 11, 08:01
Aaawh! I love cats !....in fact I like all animals.

Aloka
06 Jun 11, 11:05
:wave: Anyone else have any comments on this subject?

Aasha
06 Jun 11, 12:19
I don’t know of anyone where I live now who is interested in Buddhism…there probably are people out there that I don’t know about, but I certainly haven’t heard of anyone, which is a shame.

I have one friend who I am still in contact with, though not quite as much as before, and he became a ‘Mitra’ several years ago at the Buddhist Centre I used to attend for meditation. He told me how Buddhism had changed his life entirely and our conversations about it and the positive influence it has had on his life has made a huge difference and given me encouragement to learn more and try it out for myself.

He was the one who suggested I contact the Centre to ask if it would be possible to do any of their courses by long distance - correspondence - since I wasn’t able to attend their evening classes. In reply, they sent me Level One and Level Two of their introductory courses by email attachments and said I was very welcome to drop in whenever I’m in the area visiting. My friend also sends me books on occasion and suggested I try and find an online sangha to join since I wasn‘t able to visit a Buddhist Centre anymore.

So I have a lot to thank him for and I feel people here on BWB are now my friends on the path. It would be great if I could meet other people who were interested in Buddhism where I live now, but being a small community there is very little diversity, so I have to look mostly online for support and friendship. :hug:

Aloka
06 Jun 11, 16:13
I feel people here on BWB are now my friends on the path

That's good to hear, Aasha ! :hug:

andyrobyn
06 Jun 11, 22:54
Friendship is very important to me too .... and I have found developing friendship involves the spending of time and having experiences together - online is very different to real life for me - though I don't skype with people I have only online contact with which may change things a lot.