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Thread: Friendship On The Path

  1. #1
    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 ?



  2. #2
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    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...
    Last edited by plwk; 27 Apr 11 at 11:44.

  3. #3
    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.

  4. #4
    Global Moderator Esho's Avatar
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    Nice post Aloka,

    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.

    Last edited by Esho; 27 Apr 11 at 15:28.

  5. #5
    Forums Member JadeRabbit's Avatar
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    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.

  6. #6
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    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.

  7. #7
    Forums Member fojiao2's Avatar
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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by plwk View Post
    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.

  9. #9
    Forums Member daverupa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David843 View Post
    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.

  10. #10
    Forums Member fletcher's Avatar
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    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. :-)

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