I'm asking this question because I want to know if I'm misunderstanding or misinterpreting something. I hope I'm not offending anyone, I want to genuinely know how to interpret my experiences with the people I'll describe below.
I live in a country where there is no significant Buddhist population. Neither in my country, nor in the neighboring countries I often travel to. However, when I occasionally happen across someone who practices Buddhism, I seem to notice very strong similarities between all of them.
If we're in a group with many other people, it's always them who bring up the topic of spirituality. Or if I meet an acquaintance who is not so close as to engage in deep conversations, and we would just generally exchange some pleasantries, "how are you? I'm fine, thanks", they instead start to instantly brag about how spiritually evolved and enlightened they are. No matter the topic, they sooner or later mention how enlightened they are. And quite often in a condescending tone, that they are a being of much higher level than I am. And no matter the topic, they keep inserting words not from the language we're speaking in, and if I ask what it means, the answer is either that they won't say because I wouldn't understand the true meaning, or that it's the word for "desire", or "thought", or "energy", or "wisdom" or "consequence" or any other common word, but as they say "but it means so much more than that!". If I remember correctly, most of these examples I met said they practiced Zen Buddhism. (because they invariably start talking about how spiritual they are, someone sooner or later asks why they say it)
What also happens almost every time, is that if we're talking about a non-religious topic, they still have a very strong opinion about everything, even if it's a technological topic in which I have experience and they don't. Then they still say the opposite of what I know to be true, and if I present my proof or argument, the answer is that their feelings tell them that they are right, or that they know it better because they are spiritually more evolved than I am, therefore they have a more open mind, or something similar.
I know all this sounds very negative and judgmental, but it seems to cover basically all my experiences when I happened across a Buddhist. Maybe that behavior only sounds strange or impolite for me because that's not the way of thinking I'm used to in my culture? Or maybe they themselves gravely misunderstand what Buddhism is (or should be about), and only "practice" it because it sounds exotic for them? How representative are these people, anyway?
So, my question, summed up: there are very few Buddhists in the culture where I live, but most of them seem to be constantly bragging about how much more superior and how much more enlightened they are.
- do I misunderstand them?
- or are they misunderstanding Buddhism?