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.