Aspiring Buddhist Seeks Same
Sounds like a personal add, huh?
There’s nothing I desire in my heart of hearts more than to be not just an “aspiring” Buddhist but one in spirit and truth. I love Gautama Buddha and his words speak to me. When I read Buddhist teaching and I work diligently to apply the principals of the Four Fold Truth and the Eight Fold Path to my life. I’m learning to reduce “me.” There’s strength and understanding in Buddhism. Buddhism gives my life meaning.
At the same time, Buddhism is the final nail in the box of my isolationism. I recognize Buddhism has always been a particularly unsociable belief system when compared to the other major belief systems or religions. Many sects of Buddhists are reclusive in their society and individual in practice. The ultimate image in Buddhism is Buddha himself sitting in a lotus position, alone, meditating, setting the example of dedication to enlightenment. Still, humans are, as a rule, social animals. I, too, at times long for friends and fellowship like I had when I was a Christian. Maybe I’ll never be a party guy or frequent big crowds in a social setting but an occasional intelligent conversation with someone who does not look askance at my choice of beliefs would be nice.
If I had a teacher no doubt I would find resolution to my dilemma. Even the most reclusive Theravada Buddhists have teachers and mentors to whom they can turn to bounce ideas off, ask questions of, rely upon for an occasional human conversation. But there are no temples and no teachers within a practical distance to my house. As much as I would like to have a teacher, none are available that I have been able to find.
Neither are there any “aspiring Buddhists” or practicing Buddhists in my area. Or if there are, they’re all in hiding. I’ve even gone to the extreme of signing up on a couple personal’s site to try and find some. I’ve searched Google. If there are people who practice or are sympathetic to Buddha’s teaching and path they are absent from the Net. I have thought about putting a personal in a local paper too but haven’t gotten that drastic yet. It’s still a step I’m considering.
An alternative is to check out college campusses. But then I’m an old fart. I’m seriously considering going to college again but the chances of finding a friend on a campus full of kids are pretty slim.
Is it contradictory for a Buddhist to seek a social life? There are socially active Buddhists. Some sects are very social, socially active, even involved in organizations and efforts to make the world better. I would like to do that, too. I’m particularly interested in the Peace movement. But like Buddhists, Peace activists are virtually non-existent in this town and county. Though practicing Buddhism may or may not be reclusive the human desire for friends and the hope to help make this a better world for my kids are still natural things to have. They remain unfulfilled wishes.
We have some old clothes we’re going to give to the Women’s Shelter. My wife told me this morning she called them to find out where to drop it. I told her that while there are lots of organizations I might help with or volunteer for, like maybe the shelter or foster care related agencies, I would be out of place in any of them. There’s nothing pluralistic about East Texas. This is one of the most tight-knit conservative protestant Christian places in the country. Christianity permeates the whole place. The U.S. itself is very “Christian,” of course, but not nearly so thoroughly as this area. There are a few liberals around here. And even the liberals are, as far as I’ve been able to learn, liberal Christians.
The only hint of Eastern religions or Buddhism one can find near here are martial-arts pratitioners wo practice Zen Buddhism. I respect Zen practitioners in the Buddhist tradition but I question the place of martial arts practices in a teaching that is selfless, pacifist, and respectful of others. Whatever its place I do not wish to practice it and am not interested in white robes or black belts. My personal quest is enlightenment and understanding, not the ability to master my body which is merely a container for the “no-self” that people recognize as me.
So here I am, typing away at a computer to nobody. When I finish I’ll go out and work on the back building that houses a wash room and a room where I’m likely to spend plenty of solitary hours when I finish it. I’ll converse through the day with my wife who tolerates but does not wish to learn about Buddhism. Such are the days of my life.
Once I held pity parties for myself on occasion because I have always been different. I wasn’t Buddhist, just screwed up. I reached out on the net and made friends, some I should not have made, others that were mere names on a screen for a time. Back then I could claim to be a Christian even if I was already on the outside.
A decade ago finding friends online was not too difficult. That was then, before half the country figured out how easily sexual fantasies could be fulfilled in secret online. The days of finding a friend by the true definition of the word appears to be over. These days the Net is just a pimp where singles and “misunderstood” married people seek partners. Friendship sites have vanished. In their place are “singles” personals where people look for someone to have a sexual relationship with. “Single” is in the title of these websites only for respectability. Apparently so is the option to find “friends” or “just friends.”
I don’t have pitty parties any more. I accept life as it is. I am learning to be content with what I have. I live simply. I rarely burst out with joy but my life and family are, as “they” (who ever “they” are) say, rewarding.
No, I’m not desperate. I’ll do ok by myself. After all, it’s nothing new, right? And Buddhism teaches we’re not the “self” we think we are, everything is transient, nothing is permanent. Just thinking in the way I’m thinking violates the spirit of the Eight Fold Path. I’m causing myself suffering. I need to work in this stuff, don’t I?
So, anyway, while I am suffering, it’d be nice to have someone else to suffer with! ha.
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