Since studying and attempting to adhere to the buddhist path as a lay follower, lately I've been finding it very difficult to connect with friends who are not on the same path. I note that much of the time spent together centers on gossip, politics, and myriad of other self-centered topics. I try not to engage, and/or even change the subject, but I am the only one, so I usually resort to sitting there silently. Any words of compassion or love I attempt to offer to the conversations are generally ignored, or even mocked. I find myself asking "do I need to abandon these friendships?" If so, I would essentially be friendless. Do I seek out other likeminded folk? Where do I find them?
About 20 years ago I felt the same. People were talking about something pretty meaningless. It was not interesting. Also, according to the Buddhist precept of Mindful Speech, idle chatter should be avoided. So I stopped to spend much time hanging out with people.
Maybe 10 years later in such situations I was feeling that the talk could be deeper. We could address each other's hearts - contacting on deeper level, sincere and meaningful.
It doesn't happen just by changing subject to something more spiritual. It's more by looking deeper, into people's hearts, and opening your own heart to them.
Another 10 years later I can actually do that. People feel something interesting in me. I say something not for bringing a topic for discussion, but touching something meaningful for them.
People discuss with me their problems with children, health, alcohol, attitudes of others etc. Not in casual manner, but looking for wisdom. And I show how to discover that wisdom in themselves.
I still do not socialize much, and in companies I'm not like talking all the time.
Enjoying every moment, being present, with the mind of openness and wholeness is sufficient.
And then people feel interest in deeper talk with me, about our lives.
So I think it's a natural process. One day you leave useless samsaric concerns, later you come back to help others to expand their lives past those concerns too.
When we are on top of a very high mountain, we look down on all the lower peaks.This brings us face to face with all kinds of unpleasant and unwanted experiences. To counteract this attitude we train ourselves always to think of them as supremely important by considering their good qualities and by reviewing our own faults and weaknesses.from 'Eight Verses for Training the Mind' by Geshe Sonam Rinchen
Also don't forget:
Associating with the wise,
Honoring those worthy of honor;
This is the greatest blessing.
This was said by the Buddha: “It is in accordance with their properties that beings come together & associate with one another. Beings of low dispositions come together & associate with beings of low dispositions. Beings of admirable dispositions come together & associate with beings of admirable dispositions. Keep this two in mind while you judge others!