Thrasymachus wrote:I feel much the same as the topic starter. I never felt like I belonged to this world, to American society, to capitalist society. I don't like the company of most other people. Since I discovered Buddhism in 2008 via books it made me change my life. It made me stop doing drugs, contributed to my going vegan and want to avoid other non-virtuous activities. It made me realize that most other people are toxic, negative influences. It is like they say in Buddhist teachings, humans have much more potential than to just seek pleasure and avoid pain, even animals can do that. However if you look at your immediate environment, unless perhaps if you are in a monastery, everyone just seeks out greed, hedonism and to avoid what is unpleasant. It is not a very inspiring example, it drags you down closer to their level even if you want to seek a more virtuous path you just get discouraged.
Yes, Samsara is a nasty piece of work, isn't it? Don't forget, though, all those humans suffer from the same crap --they deserve compassion.
Congrats on changing your life, though--seriously, giving up drugs and such is a great thing for many of us.
However I have done more bogarting, wasting time, reading books, than actual mediation. Partly because my life is more of an existential crisis than something immanently livable and I have lots of negative sub-conscious beliefs, discomfort, and a bad environment. I can only wonder if I was more serious in my practice how different my life would have been. In the beginning of 2011 I went on on a week health retreat and it made me feel alot better while there, because the people there were oriented toward self-improvement and gossip was discouraged. Even though I didn't know those people people I felt much better around them than amongst my own family and so called friends.
Three steps--Listening, reflecting, meditating. No need to rush any of those, and there's no abandoning the first two when one gets to the third--at least not for a good long while. Retreats are great, and spending time focused on practice is a wonderful thing.
I read a little in e-sangha about a Chinese Buddhist monk, Hsuan Hua, who become quite renowned without the benefit of a sangha, recourse to a monastery, or much retreat, but just using his own discipline to meditate in his own village. But I don't think I, or most people are like that, that we can follow his same methods. I realize now that it would be better if I find a sangha and teacher, but it doesn't seem there are many in northern New Jersey where I live. And even if there is one, I intensely don't trust most other Westerners. It seems everyone just centers their life on their relationship to money and vices in their spare time like tv, internet, drugs, alcohol. I wonder can even dharma practitioners be any different? Can they ever overcome the negative karma of the deeds they must make in the name of corporations to procure a living?
I believe so. Northern New Jersey isn't that remote. I'd bet public transit to NYC is available, and there are definitely genuine Dharma Centers, with genuine Dharma Teachers, some even being Non-Western, in the metro area. By the way, aside from "teachers," there is great benefit to be derived from belonging to a sangha (though also the potential for nonvirtue, it must be said)--I personally feel like I've greatly benefitted from comradeship with Western students, as well as Western teachers, etc.
I wish you well--if you want to check out some Dharma centers near you, PM me, I'll give you some recommendations.