gregkavarnos wrote:All I am saying is that when a social encounter (like our conversation) goes awry, then regardless of whether you have Aspergers or not, you will get hurt. That's the thing with being open, it lets everything in: joyful and painful. I am not saying one should be a doormat to every sociopath out there, nor am I saying one should build walls out of fear (which is what you are advising).
Yes, I hear you. But I did not advise fear of either Dharma centers or Teachers (or gross paranoia, which I qualified), all of which I view as extreme advice. It may not be evident to you whether the views of many aspies are primarily the result of experience, or of some form of persecutory ideation. Theory of mind deficits are routinely conflated with delusional and/or persecutory disorders, as a great deal of AS presents with what superficially appear to be psychiatric symptoms, and behaviors or views derived from repeated interactions by those with such deficits are likewise often misinterpreted.
I hope this is a helpful clarification, for while delusional and/or persecutory disorders may in fact benefit from facing the joy (and pain) of discovering these delusions to be merely that (like all of our delusions of self), ToM deficit is never
reduced, let alone transformed, simply by repeated engagement in social situations or the openness advised by convention in Dharma. If it were so, then this aspect of ASD would be easily remedied by this approach. Our naive intuition that openness benefits ToM deficit is incorrect. It does nothing to address the deficit, serving merely to perpetuate the practitioner's experience of it and generating repeated opportunities for negativity. ToM deficit has not to my knowledge been recognized as an abating deficit, and may be akin to having big feet, such that even highly realized practitioners may retain their big feet right up to the very end. Prodding those with such a deficit to pass through the doors indicated for those without such a deficit is as silly as prodding those with big feet to try to reduce their shoe size.
Doctrinally, there are justifications too for advising persons facing such challenges with what you may perceive as an extreme of caution. It would be lengthy to get into this, but as Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche said quite simply, "If we are unable to judge our own capacity, we risk taking the wrong path", and, as Dagpo Rinpoche said, "If one does not get the crucial point of the teachings, even if one practices, the Dharma itself becomes the cause for falling into the lower realms". These are critical points for practitioners facing the challenges of ASD as the ability to judge our own capacity is not at all a given depending on where we are on the spectrum. The precise level and nature of our particular deficit bears directly on what types of practices we are capable of or suited for, and may even determine whether or not our present state actually constitutes a precious human life according to the teachings. There are high-functioning autistics, and some aspies, who's ToM deficit renders them incapable of certain aspects of Dharma practice, or who's mental habits are such that even simple breath counting indicated by foundational meditation practice (in most traditions) is likely to cement, or worsen repetitive actions that function as obstacles to any progress on the path whatsoever, and this may occur on day one.
I hope I have addressed your major criticisms in a way that is beneficial to the poster.