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I feel like going on retreat has in a way allowed me to see outside "the matrix" and now I cant unsee it. This makes normal life dealing with completely unawakened people quite insufferable sometimes. Yes sure everyone suffers so on one level I empathise but most the time I just don't want to be around people at all. It feels quite lonely. Also I have lost interest in most things I used to be interested in because I don't see the point of them anymore. Is this disenchantment normal as far as Buddhism goes or is it wrong view?

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  • From my experience: being depressed, sad, and lonely is a normal experience for human beings, Buddhist or otherwise. (From what I've read, while enlightenment may reduce one's reaction to these things, it doesn't make them go away. ) A retreat (esp. the first one) can stir things up inside, sometimes in uncomfortable ways. Some of the ideas or premises, being counter to mainstream, can make it seem that the proposed path will separate us from others. I guess I am saying such disenchantment, as you call it, is normal (though not specifically "for Buddhism"). Not "wrong view" in itself.
    – Neal Young
    Feb 2 at 19:46
  • Understand that they are same as you, they behave as they, because they didn't see what you saw. So have some kindness toward them for their stupidity / unawareness.
    – Pycm
    Mar 11 at 8:53

5 Answers 5

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If you try to escape from reality i.e. treat it like it’s “the matrix”, you will never find liberation. The Dharma is not outside of reality because it uses the law governing reality. There is a Zen saying, “Before Enlightenment chop wood, carry water...”. There is an excellent reply on this subject in the forum.

Dealing with insufferable people is a part of the practice. Dealing with our loneliness and seeing it as merely a negative state of emotion like the clouds that obstruct the rays of the sun is a part of the practice. Losing interest in the things in life too, is merely an emotional state that does not endure. Seeing views coming and going with equanimity is a part of the practice.

Someone likened the practice of the Dharma to the act of peeling an onion. Peel off one layer, we think we found the essence of the teaching but there is another. Peel off that layer and we find there is yet another. The only hint that we are getting closer to the truth is when our mind become more and more at peace with itself. We become more confident that the Dharma is the only solution and our faith in the Buddha and the noble Sangha is strengthened continuously.

So don’t be too worried, just keep at the practice and give it our all. It is wonderful to be a human being in a time when the Dharma still exists and we have this wonderful chance to practise it. With Metta.

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    It could be seen that way though. Samsara is the matrix and nirvana is escape from it.
    – Sati
    Feb 1 at 18:54
  • 1
    I didn't believe I could improve on this answer much so didn't try. However, I feel that @Sati's view of being around 'completely unawakened' people as being 'insufferable' implied a feeling of superiority to them. Not sure this is right thinking. If I am mis-interpreting the meaning here, I apologize.
    – GVCOJims
    Feb 1 at 20:32
  • I don't feel superior but I find it very difficult to tolerate anyone with zero self awareness and no spiritual practice etc which is a lot of people. The majority of people are very selfish and ignorant
    – Sati
    Feb 2 at 3:11
  • About a month ago I took a train. The train stopped in a station in a relatively small city that is well-known for its cathedral. I looked through the window and I could see the cathedral and it was quite beautiful. Then I looked inside the train and I saw that I was apparently the only one who had seen the cathedral; everyone else in my coach was too busy looking at their cellphone to even notice the cathedral. That made me feel extremely lonely.
    – Stef
    Feb 2 at 10:47
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    A central idea seems to be "accept that there is nothing better or worse to do" - so chopping wood, carrying water, watching a cathedral, looking at your smartphone - none of these are superior to the others. Thinking that they are may be an indication of being too wrapped up in judging the world/people around oneself.
    – Falco
    Feb 2 at 15:24
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Someone turning away from good friends might be inclined to say,"It feels quite lonely."

Ānanda inclined that way, and went to the Buddha, who said:

SN3.18:4.2: ‘Not so, Ānanda! Not so, Ānanda!
SN3.18:4.3: Good friends, companions, and associates are the whole of the spiritual life.

"I have lost interest in most things I used to be intereste"... If a neutral feeling arises, seek to understand it and avoid the tendency to ignorance. The ordinary way to deal with the neutral feeling is to ignore it and turn away.

SN36.6:1.20: They don’t truly understand feelings’ origin, ending, gratification, drawback, and escape.
SN36.6:1.21: The underlying tendency to ignorance about neutral feeling underlies that.

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Yes, to be sick of the world is a type of disenchantment however feeling 'lonely' means the Path has not been developed sufficiently.

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  • Well yeah that's correct. The path hasn't been developed sufficiently because I'm not the Buddha. I'm not enlightened. I'm on the path and working on it.
    – Sati
    Feb 2 at 18:50
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The most upvoted answer is a very good one, but I'll try to take a stab at adding another useful comment.

I've been in the same place as you, and I've found it useful to jump out of the Buddhist perspective and think of the wisdom I've gained as nothing more than a new set of knowledge, without any form of mysticism attached.

Basically, you're now living with a privileged perspective, many others (slow learners) are not. That's the long and short of it when you strip out the mysticism. In this world some people are perceptive, others aren't. You have to learn to live with being a perceptive person, and more aware than many of those around you.

The other side of this is to not take concepts like Samsara too seriously, and not take Samsara itself too seriously. It's definitely a helpful concept and way of understanding, but when you break it down it doesn't actually correspond to a real, tangible thing. You're very much a part of the world, and so is everyone else. But some have a better understanding than others, and that's ok. Just recognize that your understanding is a privilege.

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Loneliness is a primal instinct. It basically boils down to the fact that LIFE requires energy for maintenance. If you don't work for your living, you'll die. You are lonely means you have not been working to produce stuffs for living.

If you could put 0 energy for your survival, this game would be very easy to play. But, you have to take care of things, you have to take some responsibilities. You cannot be lax, otherwise you get fired from the job, homelessness, etc.

It's a sad fact that we all have to grind more or less until death. But may be extensive progress in technology will change that.

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  • I'm afraid progress in technology tends to result in more loneliness, not less.
    – Stef
    Feb 5 at 15:19
  • Being lonely vs being terrified that you'll have to live approx. half a dozen more decades doing god knows what. These things are extremely overlapped. The brain gets into self referential thoughts that produce anxiety about the future. Otherwise, most humans don't feel lonely when they are working with each other towards some goal. We'll have to wait for those days when machines will accomplish all goals for us, after that we'll have to work on another new problem.
    – ukh
    Feb 5 at 15:30
  • The constraints that human life comes with is naturally to blame for all of these problems. Max Life expectancy of humans is above 100 years, and then the issues with the daily grind, boredom, etc. If humans could come and go like the wind, life would be easy peasy. But, the clock ticks too damn slow.
    – ukh
    Feb 5 at 15:33

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