Finding a teacher when you dislike interaction

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Finding a teacher when you dislike interaction

Postby Angelic Fruitcake » Mon Jan 30, 2012 9:43 am

Hello all,

I have a problem. I have come to understand that many consider it a bad idea to try the buddhist path without a teacher. However, the number of teachers in any given order are very few here. My problem is I have difficulties connecting with other people and often feel uncomfortable or distressed in the company of strangers. It's very rare for me to find somebody I feel I can trust, and from what I gather this is absolutely essential when choosing a teacher.

I think it may be diccifult to understand for someone without my condition (I have Asperger's, a mild form of autism). But given what I've told you, what would you suggest? The reason I find it difficult to trust people is mainly that it's difficult for me to detect when someone is insincere and I have difficulties understanding hidden agendas. But more than that, I am both physically and mentally repelled by most people. I prefer them from a distance, I often feel invaded by others. Since meditation practice and following the buddhist path would open up the very core of me, I am afraid I would not be able to handle ending up with the wrong teacher. In fact, just the process of visiting local centers and talking to teachers makes me break into a cold sweat,
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Re: Finding a teacher when you dislike interaction

Postby Seishin » Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:13 am

I wouldn't say not having a teacher is a "bad" idea, but having a teacher is so much better. But it seems, for someone in your condition you might get more from books, internet and maybe even try to contact some buddhist centres via email, explain your circumstance and maybe you'll find a teacher willing to teach you via correspondance. :twothumbsup:

I was without a teacher for 6or7 years before I found one. Some take longer and it's quite normal. Please do not fret :smile:

I wish you well :smile:

Gassho,
Seishin.
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Re: Finding a teacher when you dislike interaction

Postby Angelic Fruitcake » Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:43 am

Thank you for your encouragement. Do you think it would be possible to get some guidance via email? That would really be much easier for me.

I am going to try a meditation meeting at a local zen-center under Thich Nhat Hahns order. But as much as I think I would enjoy mmeting the man himself, I worry I'll feel alienated among the followers. That happens quite often, even with the most well-intended people.

Actually, I think my autistic problems are a very good reason to practice. And some of my autistic talents come in pretty handy. :namaste:
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Re: Finding a teacher when you dislike interaction

Postby Seishin » Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:37 am

Sadly, I know didley-squat about autism so I'm not sure what advice to give in that regard. I started with Thich Nhat Hanh too. He's a very good teacher who puts Buddhism in an easy-to-understand manner. Most TNH groups in the UK do not have a teacher as such, but are usually run by a dedicated person (or more).

Many teachers are very busy and prefer face to face contact to teach, but given your circumstance, a very compassionate person might make an acception for you.

How about skype?

Gassho.
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Re: Finding a teacher when you dislike interaction

Postby Mr. G » Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:26 pm

Angelic Fruitcake wrote:But given what I've told you, what would you suggest?


Decide on what tradition you want to study first, then start reading. Once you know, let us know here and we can assist as there are some online options to start with, as well as the option to drop by a school of your choice to receive instruction so you can practice at home. People have the misconception that they need to go to a center every week.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Finding a teacher when you dislike interaction

Postby MrDistracted » Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:34 pm

Hi

This was a thread from a month or so ago which contains some links to online study options.

Hope it helps...

viewtopic.php?f=10&t=5937&start=0&hilit=lone
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Re: Finding a teacher when you dislike interaction

Postby Angelic Fruitcake » Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:40 pm

Mr. G wrote:
Angelic Fruitcake wrote:But given what I've told you, what would you suggest?


Decide on what tradition you want to study first, then start reading. Once you know, let us know here and we can assist as there are some online options to start with, as well as the option to drop by a school of your choice to receive instruction so you can practice at home. People have the misconception that they need to go to a center every week.


That's a big thing to deal with too. I'm really not sure. I think it will be zen, but as far as the different schools go, it seems like you already have to know a lot to actually understand the differences.
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Re: Finding a teacher when you dislike interaction

Postby Mr. G » Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:44 pm

Angelic Fruitcake wrote:
Mr. G wrote:
Angelic Fruitcake wrote:But given what I've told you, what would you suggest?


Decide on what tradition you want to study first, then start reading. Once you know, let us know here and we can assist as there are some online options to start with, as well as the option to drop by a school of your choice to receive instruction so you can practice at home. People have the misconception that they need to go to a center every week.


That's a big thing to deal with too. I'm really not sure. I think it will be zen, but as far as the different schools go, it seems like you already have to know a lot to actually understand the differences.


For Zen/Chan,

This may be an option given that your location isn't close to the center you want:

http://www.dharmadrum.org/

you may want to set up one or two days to either go on a meditation retreat with one of the main Dharma Drum centers and learn what daily liturgies they do in addition to properly learning how to meditate. It's not so much about going to temple every week as long as you know how to practice properly in terms of meditation and daily liturgies. In terms of reading sutras and understanding them with good commentaries, many members here can assist with this.

Also to start reading the following would be helpful:

Orthodox Chinese Buddhism: A Contemporary Chan Master's Answers to Common Questions by Master Sheng Yen
The Way to Buddhahood: Instructions from a Modern Chinese Master by Venerable Yin-shun

This link may help as well:

viewtopic.php?f=77&t=6635
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Finding a teacher when you dislike interaction

Postby Angelic Fruitcake » Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:50 pm

MrDistracted wrote:Hi

This was a thread from a month or so ago which contains some links to online study options.

Hope it helps...

viewtopic.php?f=10&t=5937&start=0&hilit=lone


Thank you. It did have some useful links, though only Tibetan(?) I have to look into the different schools there as well I think.
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Re: Finding a teacher when you dislike interaction

Postby Dave The Seeker » Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:23 pm

I am also new to Buddhism, the link to FPMT that Mr G. linked you too is really good. They have books, dvd's, cd's and mp3 downloads to help you learn and understand.

One thing I can say helped me, well 2 really:

1) this forum and the great people here

2) reading different teachers writings more than "looking" for a school/tradition to follow.
When you find a teacher/Lama/Guru who's writing and insight hits a cord with you follow that one.
I have read a lot of books and have found most of the ones I have really gotten something from the authors were part of FPMT. So I've ordered and am studying the teachings of Lama Zopa and the programs for home study they offer.


Kindest wishes, Dave :namaste:
Everyday problems teach us to have a realistic attitude.
They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
Yet with tremendous potential for joy and fulfillment.
~Lama Surya Das~

If your path teaches you to act and exert yourself correctly and leads to spiritual realizations such as love, compassion and wisdom then obviously it's worthwhile.
~Lama Thubten Yeshe~

One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them
~The Buddha~
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Re: Finding a teacher when you dislike interaction

Postby Mr. G » Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:30 pm

The Seeker wrote:When you find a teacher/Lama/Guru who's writing and insight hits a cord with you follow that one.


Good advice!
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Finding a teacher when you dislike interaction

Postby Dave The Seeker » Mon Jan 30, 2012 7:32 pm

I don't hear that too often :lol:

Thanks :thumbsup:

Kindest wishes, Dave
Everyday problems teach us to have a realistic attitude.
They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
Yet with tremendous potential for joy and fulfillment.
~Lama Surya Das~

If your path teaches you to act and exert yourself correctly and leads to spiritual realizations such as love, compassion and wisdom then obviously it's worthwhile.
~Lama Thubten Yeshe~

One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them
~The Buddha~
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Re: Finding a teacher when you dislike interaction

Postby kirtu » Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:33 pm

Angelic Fruitcake wrote:My problem is I have difficulties connecting with other people and often feel uncomfortable or distressed in the company of strangers.


I understand that totally. However you have to find a teacher who you are open to trusting and learning from. This will usually happen for only a few teachers actually. So try to visit a few places where you can feel more comfortable (or less distressed).

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
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Re: Finding a teacher when you dislike interaction

Postby wisdom » Tue Jan 31, 2012 2:10 am

Angelic Fruitcake wrote:Hello all,

I have a problem. I have come to understand that many consider it a bad idea to try the buddhist path without a teacher. However, the number of teachers in any given order are very few here. My problem is I have difficulties connecting with other people and often feel uncomfortable or distressed in the company of strangers. It's very rare for me to find somebody I feel I can trust, and from what I gather this is absolutely essential when choosing a teacher.

I think it may be diccifult to understand for someone without my condition (I have Asperger's, a mild form of autism). But given what I've told you, what would you suggest? The reason I find it difficult to trust people is mainly that it's difficult for me to detect when someone is insincere and I have difficulties understanding hidden agendas. But more than that, I am both physically and mentally repelled by most people. I prefer them from a distance, I often feel invaded by others. Since meditation practice and following the buddhist path would open up the very core of me, I am afraid I would not be able to handle ending up with the wrong teacher. In fact, just the process of visiting local centers and talking to teachers makes me break into a cold sweat,


So take it slow. Attend low commitment gatherings, meditations, and so forth, things where you are not committing yourself to a path or a teacher. True Buddhists won't judge you for who you are, and an Enlightened teacher will understand you and accept you for who you are, regardless of any social difficulties you might have at the moment. Also keep interacting online, maybe you will meet some people online who are in your area who you can hang out with and take things from there. There are many possibilities, and there certainly is no rush to finding a teacher. Better to be cautious and find the right one, than rush into things and get yourself into a mess.
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Re: Finding a teacher when you dislike interaction

Postby dakini_boi » Tue Jan 31, 2012 2:16 am

Angelic Fruitcake wrote:I have a problem.


First of all, consider it a major blessing that you want to practice dharma. If this is truly your wish, and you wish to follow the path to completion, then any problem or obstacle, in comparison with this intention, is relatively insignificant. Rejoice!

Angelic Fruitcake wrote:I have come to understand that many consider it a bad idea to try the buddhist path without a teacher.


Maybe you are mixing up things you heard about specific schools or Buddhist vehicles - such as Vajrayana. If you are serious about practicing, of course you should aspire to meet the right teacher, but in the meantime there are absolutely practices you can do - even within Vajrayana, there are practices and aspiration prayers, etc, that don't require you to have a teacher.

Angelic Fruitcake wrote:However, the number of teachers in any given order are very few here. My problem is I have difficulties connecting with other people and often feel uncomfortable or distressed in the company of strangers. It's very rare for me to find somebody I feel I can trust, and from what I gather this is absolutely essential when choosing a teacher.

I think it may be diccifult to understand for someone without my condition (I have Asperger's, a mild form of autism). But given what I've told you, what would you suggest? The reason I find it difficult to trust people is mainly that it's difficult for me to detect when someone is insincere and I have difficulties understanding hidden agendas. But more than that, I am both physically and mentally repelled by most people. I prefer them from a distance, I often feel invaded by others. Since meditation practice and following the buddhist path would open up the very core of me, I am afraid I would not be able to handle ending up with the wrong teacher. In fact, just the process of visiting local centers and talking to teachers makes me break into a cold sweat,


Here's what I would advise. Keep reading and studying. . . when you come across stories of teachers that inspire you, think of those teachers (whether alive or dead) and pray to them. Formulate the sincere desire for liberation, and keep asking. Even find pictures of them and put them up if you feel like it. Consider that you already have a teacher, you just may not have met him/her yet. I've heard teachers say that if you don't have a teacher, you can take a master such as Guru Rinpoche, Milarepa, or Shakyamuni as your teacher. Some schools emphasize the devotional approach more than others, so if that's not your thing, don't force it - but it couldn't hurt to have those images around for inspiration, and to remind you of your intention. At some point, you may have to get out of your comfort zone to go to events. I really sympathize with how uncomfortable that may be, and I wouldn't want you to push yourself prematurely. But keep your mind focused on the goal. You could even organize a group, either on the internet or in person, for dharma practitioners with Asperger's. Then you could build community and perform a great service for others in a similar position.

I wish you well and godspeed in finding the perfect teacher who inspires you deeply and can skillfully guide you to realization. :heart:
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Re: Finding a teacher when you dislike interaction

Postby Shutoku » Tue Jan 31, 2012 8:17 am

If you are interested in Zen, you could look into www.treeleaf.org
It is an online Soto sangha. They have a discussion board, and meditation sessions via webcam, and one on one's with the Roshi, a fellow called "Jundo". They have some youtube videos as well so you could get a pretty good idea about Jundo and his approach before making any sort of commitment.

For me I started studying Buddhism before there was internet (or at least before I had internet) and I was interested in the Soto Zen tradition. There was no Temple or group in my community, so I just got books and had to go it alone.

Eventually I wanted to interact with other Buddhists, and decided to check out the only local Temple, of the Jodo Shinshu tradition. I wasn't terribly interested in Pure Land Buddhism, but I thought I would at least attend a couple services and see how I felt about it. Nearly 20 years later I am a dedicated and active member of that sangha still, in no small part because of the wonderful people I have come to know there.

I still practice shikan-taza often, but I love shinshu and the path of nembutsu. You just never know what path life may take you!
Namo Amida Butsu
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Re: Finding a teacher when you dislike interaction

Postby Quiet Heart » Tue Jan 31, 2012 10:07 am

:smile:
Angelic Fruitcake:

Here is an online site for you to look at.

www.zenforuminternational.org

Two things it has that might be worthwhile if you have any interest in Zen,
The first one is a topic called, "Can you practice Zen without a teacher?". The topic is about whether or not practicing Zen without a teacher is possible and how to do it.
The second feature they have is the topic "Ask A Teacher". In this topic you can ask a question to a certified and trained Zen teacher of various traditions...and if they accept your question...they post an answer to you on that topic. That way you don't have to interact with the teacher face to face..it's all online.
If you want to reply or topost a question on line, you're going to have to register...just like you did here.
Go online and read as a guest on that forum. Then, if you do have some interest in it, register and introduce yourself on the :newcomers" topic.
I would reccomend that if you do decide to register and introduce yourself there, you tell them the same information you did here in your first post here. I've only been a member for about a week now, but so far I am happy with that forum.
:smile:
Shame on you Shakyamuni for setting the precedent of leaving home.
Did you think it was not there--
in your wife's lovely face
in your baby's laughter?
Did you think you had to go elsewhere (simply) to find it?
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The Layman's Lament
From What Book, 1998, p. 52
Edited by Gary Gach
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Re: Finding a teacher when you dislike interaction

Postby Mr. G » Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:44 pm

Shutoku wrote:If you are interested in Zen, you could look into http://www.treeleaf.org
It is an online Soto sangha. They have a discussion board, and meditation sessions via webcam, and one on one's with the Roshi, a fellow called "Jundo".


This is the priest who doesn't believe in rebirth and thinks the Buddha was just some ordinary person right?
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Finding a teacher when you dislike interaction

Postby ground » Wed Feb 01, 2012 4:08 am

Angelic Fruitcake wrote:But given what I've told you, what would you suggest?

Don't get obsessed with "teacher", just listen, read and observe.

Kind regards
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Re: Finding a teacher when you dislike interaction

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Feb 01, 2012 12:25 pm

Mr. G wrote:
Shutoku wrote:If you are interested in Zen, you could look into http://www.treeleaf.org
It is an online Soto sangha. They have a discussion board, and meditation sessions via webcam, and one on one's with the Roshi, a fellow called "Jundo".


This is the priest who doesn't believe in rebirth and thinks the Buddha was just some ordinary person right?


Image

WARNING: Operation players are NOT real doctors!

:lol:
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