Thanks, everyone for your views so far. Personally I am only trying to calm my reaction a little bit to embrace normal social anxiety.
JKhedrup wrote:I think one thing to consider is how we ourselves can participate in a Sangha in a healthy way.
If we try and start with keeping our mind happy and healthy, and making our participation about the dharma first and foremost,
then it is a little bit easier.
I think that I will try to remember when these things come up to think of my own motivation. Examining what I really want to accomplish according to the Dharma is probably going to allow me to dispel any attachment to any image I have of a Utopian experience at Sangha. Even if a Sangha will be perfect, that will include my own actions and I should therefore examine my own motivation before attempting to diagnose a problem as "inner circles" or something. And that will carry on to my life outside of a Dharma center (i.e. work, family).
Also, I understand the huge demands often put on a teacher. And I would not hold them entirely responsible for the actions of others while simultaneously holding them responsible for my own emotional state of mind concerning those others. I attend a very small Temple and I would only ask individual (one to one) questions about myself.
I was not speaking about any specific situation I have found myself in. It is just that the Sangha is more than likely going to be experienced by us as a group of people in one place for a designated amount of time. It goes beyond that sure, but there will almost have to be a time when that is the only way to really define the interaction. I have read some of Lama Surya Das's writing on the web recently about "cults" and I think that the overall message about inner circles is the poisonous/toxic use of something normal (group dynamic theory) for the purposes of something evil- keeping others "in line" as in what has been termed a cult for the purposes of the this topic.
I am glad that I could be eloquent. I put a lot of thought into my posts. It is a good practice for examining the effects of speech. Let's face it, we could all write a dissertation for every post and still be misunderstood/misspeak occasionally.
It is a good point to make that sometimes things are just different and one shouldn't assume that nothing will change from one meeting to the next. I think that what I am trying to find is that space between a sort of automatic reaction to something based on fear- "Oh no! Inner circle!" to something a lot more positive- "I am here to practice the Dharma with a group. Smile, be at peace, and know that everything arises and everything falls away."
Like I said above, it is not something that is really specific to a Sangha for me. It does seem like this kind of behaviour permeates most of society. In the past, I noticed it in Churches/Schools a lot. I think that the best example is reality TV shows like Survivor where the purpose is forming alliances and what not.
One last point:
On my book shelf, I have three old books- The Proper study of Mankind
, Attitudes, Conflict, and Social Change
, and Explanation and Human Action
. As a society, we have known about/created these ideas for a long time. When one studies it long enough, it can become a tool. The conclusion I have come to so far concerning Lama Surya Das's quote above is that he is saying we should be wary of anybody who would attempt to use that tool to do evil.