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No matter how many retreats or how much I meditate and try to practice metta etc people mostly just irritate me. I just feel happier alone like a hermit in a natural setting. I hate living in a shoebox in a city full of ignorant selfish people. It's like hell to me. I actually get up at 2am so that I can do a whole bunch of stuff before I have to deal with people. One on one I can do social things but as far as humanity as a whole I find people repugnant. Animals are so much nicer. They love unconditionally, they don't judge, bully, use, destroy and pollute nature etc etc

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If you find yourself irritated by people, it's because they do not think or act or speak or behave in the ways you want and expect. There's a dissonance between the way people ought to be in your thinking and the way people actually are in your experience, and that dissonance gives rise to dissatisfactions and cravings. Part of Buddhist practice is that irritations of this sort are features of the thinking mind, not to be projected onto the world at large.

Many people are ignorant and selfish (and other unpleasant things), yes. They're that way because that's literally the only way they know to be. They don't understand that one can be a different way, much less have any idea what a 'different way' might look or feel like. They have beliefs about the world baked into them by a society of others who share their ignorance, and when they are confronted by things that might 'un-bake' those beliefs they tend to get reactive and fitful. It's all very 'much ado about nothing', but they can't see that it's 'nothing', so…

If you want to avoid them, that's fine; if you want to accept them as-is, that's fine; if you want to teach them better, that's fine; if you want to work alongside them at a careful distance, that's fine. Just understand that they won't change because of our expectations. They'll only change because they see a better way to be, and the only way they can see that is by looking at people like you. Your irritation with them is only getting in the way of your proper expression of the dharma.

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The buddhist take on you not liking people is they create disorder in your mind. If your interaction with them is not doing anything constructive, there is really no point in having that interaction. That's why the Buddha teaches to avoid gossiping, using right speech, etc.

If we put our attention in the world, made up of humans increasing every second, our attention will become more and more diffuse which creates disorder in the mind. This year(2024) alone, we added 9 million people. :) It's like an average tiktoker scrolling an endless video feed, the more you scroll, the more content. I mean social media is fun but sometimes we need to take some break.

But, it really depends on the state of mind, on good days you can handle sarcasm, on bad days, you wish that person never existed.

Buddhism is about creating order in the mind, so let us take any step that helps us with that.

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Perhaps liking solitude (who can say?), Ananda once approached the Buddha and said:

SN45.2:1.3: Then Venerable Ānanda went up to the Buddha, bowed, sat down to one side, and said to him:
SN45.2:1.4: “Sir, good friends, companions, and associates are half the spiritual life.”

And the Buddha answered quite clearly:

SN45.2:2.1: “Not so, Ānanda! Not so, Ānanda!
> SN45.2:2.2: Good friends, companions, and associates are the whole of the spiritual life.
SN45.2:2.3: A mendicant with good friends, companions, and associates can expect to develop and cultivate the noble eightfold path.

A related message is repeated elsewhere to Cunda, who perhaps enjoyed meditation:

MN8:4.1: It’s possible that a certain mendicant, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, might enter and remain in the first absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of seclusion, while placing the mind and keeping it connected.
MN8:4.2: They might think
MN8:4.3: they’re practicing self-effacement.
MN8:4.4: But in the training of the Noble One these are not called ‘self-effacement’;

And the Buddha went on to tell Cunda about how to relate to others in daily life:

MN8:12.1: Now, Cunda, you should work on self-effacement in each of the following ways.
MN8:12.2: ‘Others will be cruel, but here we will not be cruel.’
...(much more follows)...

The teaching is clear that we should attend to our own actions and not grasp at others actions. It is also clear that the Sangha is quite important, that good spiritual friends are the whole of the spiritual life.

And when those spiritual friends discuss the beauty of different types of practice (including retreat), the Buddha says to them:

MN32:17.3: “You’ve all spoken well in your own way.
MN32:17.4: However, listen to me also as to what kind of mendicant would beautify this sal forest park at Gosiṅga.
MN32:17.5: It’s a mendicant who, after the meal, returns from almsround, sits down cross-legged, sets their body straight, and establishes mindfulness in front of them, thinking:
MN32:17.6: ‘I will not break this sitting posture until my mind is freed from the defilements by not grasping!’

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    One should perhaps add the explicite appreciation of the mood for recluse (solitude) of Mahakassapa by the Buddha in the sutta of the Gosinga forest. (MN32 [The Buddha:] "(...)Good, good, Sáriputto, just as Kassapo can answer rightly. For Kassapo, Sáriputto, is himself a forest hermit and praises forest hermithood, (...) is himself secluded and praises seclusion, himself flees the world and praises world-fleeing, (...) himself has attained the knowledge-clarity of salvation and praises the attainment of knowledge-clarity of salvation. "). Not only likes hermithood but even praises it... Feb 14 at 20:28
  • @GottfriedHelms thank you for mentioning MN32. I have added it to the post. :pray: The Buddha does acknowledge each in their own way (including seclusion). Yet interestingly, the Buddha mentions alms rounds and meditation. Alms are received out there in the vexing world of grasping, a gift given as requisites for the mind. And the mind should be directed to not grasping. The Buddha in his answer bridges the vexing world of alms giver with the peaceful beauty of practice.
    – OyaMist
    Feb 14 at 21:04
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    Oyamist - thank you for adding this, and even more for your nice extension! Feb 15 at 7:19
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When you wrote what you did about animals,

Animals are so much nicer. They love unconditionally, they don't judge, bully, use, destroy ...

I was tempted to comment, "Have you ever actually met any animals?"

Because my experience is that they love -- but I wouldn't say "unconditionally" -- when they like us it's because we're non-threatening etc.

And they bully -- each other, and their prey, etc. -- I don't see how you can say they don't, except that as you're a member of the "dominant" species they'll tend not to bully you!

But I didn't comment. I thought, "Maybe you have a different experience of animals than I have?"

There's a sutta which says that the way animals behave is conditioned by our "mind of good will": Ahina Sutta: By a Snake (AN 4.67)

Possibly the same it true of humans too? You seem to be saying that because people are ignorant and selfish therefore you find them repugnant -- perhaps the "causal" connection is in the other direction, i.e. it's because you view them with aversion that they seem to you ignorant and selfish, or perhaps they really do act that way towards you when (and because of how) you interact with them.

That's not my experience, I assume almost anyone will 'give me the time of day' at least, if I ask nicely.

Also I think that the suttas identify Māna as a chief cause of dispute:

Māna (Sanskrit, Pali; Tibetan: nga rgyal) is a Buddhist term that may be translated as "pride", "arrogance", or "conceit". It is defined as an inflated mind that makes whatever is suitable, such as wealth or learning, to be the foundation of pride.[1] It creates the basis for disrespecting others and for the occurrence of suffering.[2]

Māna is identified as:

  • One of the five poisons within the Mahayana Buddhist tradition.
  • One of the six root unwholesome mental factors within the Mahayana Abhidharma teachings
  • One of the fourteen unwholesome mental factors within the Theravada Abhidhamma teachings
  • One of the ten fetters in the Theravada tradition

In summary it may be a problem. Two perhaps-related topics:

I'm pretty that sure the Dalai Lama views people with kindness; but I saw him (on a video once) say that, "We're all the same. If I saw myself as 'special', for example 'the Novel Prize winner', then ..." (I forget what he said exactly, it was something like, "... then I'd be trapped and suffer").

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  • If you are being bullied, I hope it gets better.
    – ChrisW
    Feb 16 at 12:51
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"There are things that we like, things that we don’t like. Even the Buddha: There were things he liked and things he didn’t like. But he learned how to keep his mind from being overwhelmed by them. When people would come to study with him, some of them would listen to him but they wouldn’t follow through with his teaching, and they didn’t get the results. Of course, he didn’t like that. But he said he established mindfulness so that his mind was not overtaken by his sense of dissatisfaction. When the students did follow his teachings, and did gain awakening, it’s not that he didn’t like that. He did like it, but he didn’t allow the sense of satisfaction to overcome his mind. What this means is that the mind has to learn how to look at these things and not get sucked into them."

~ Thanissaro Bhikkhu "Caring Without Clinging" https://www.dhammatalks.org/books/GatherRound/Section0075.html

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You are seeking unconditional love. That is impossible because all feelings, including love, arise conditionally. Animals may seem to offer unconditional love but that is not true. Even animals love you for their own selfish interests like food, water, home etc. Love can also arise if you are a deserving candidate. But that love is still conditional as it demands you to be a deserving candidate.

Humanity also works on those principles. Humanity will love you if you offer your services for its welfare. Humanity will love you if you are a deserving candidate. However I should warn you that love can not be self neither hate can be self. Feeling of love becomes feeling of hate and feeling of hate becomes feeling of love. Therefore you should practice equanimity. Equanimity means if you find love then it is ok and if you find hatred then also you are ok. You should not seek hatred or love. You should remain calm, composed and blameless.

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MN 128 teaches how to get along with others:

Then Anuruddha, Nandiya, and Kimbila came out to greet the Buddha. ...

“I hope you’re living in harmony, appreciating each other, without quarreling, blending like milk and water, and regarding each other with kindly eyes?”

“Indeed, sir, we live in harmony as you say.”

“But how do you live this way?”

“In this case, sir, I think: ‘I’m fortunate, so very fortunate, to live together with spiritual companions such as these.’ I consistently treat these venerables with kindness by way of body, speech, and mind, both in public and in private. I think: ‘Why don’t I set aside my own ideas and just go along with these venerables’ ideas?’ And that’s what I do. Though we’re different in body, sir, we’re one in mind, it seems to me.”

And the venerables Nandiya and Kimbila spoke likewise, and they added: “That’s how we live in harmony, appreciating each other, without quarreling, blending like milk and water, and regarding each other with kindly eyes.”
MN 128

In addition, the sutta also states:

For enmity in this world
is never settled by enmity.
It’s only settled by love:
this is an ancient principle.

Others don’t understand
that our lives must have limits.
The clever ones who know this
settle their quarrels right away.
MN 128

The word that was translated as "love" above is avera in Pali, which is translated by some dictionaries as friendliness or kindness.

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Not liking others is most likely a form of aversion, which in turn is clinging, suffering. On the other hand liking others is desire, clinging, suffering. The "correct" mindstate to have is to be equanimous. To have equanimity and not be moved on way or the other with relation to people. See the 4 immeasurables, also see here. Of course this takes time, effort and skill to attain.

Despite that the mahayana put so much emphasis on compassion (and bodhicitta) the Buddha himself explained that compassion is a means to an end. It is used simply to free oneself from ill will. Ill will being a fetter that is only released when one experiences the goal and reaches the state of anagami.

Still there is use of others. Even the Buddha had use of others. Lay people for alms round, which also helps others create causes for the future.

The idea is that all of us, humans as well as animals, are in an interconnected experience. Even the clothes on your back are created by the effort of others.

Though others of course can cause a hindrance and be an obstacle to liberation. The Buddha gave advice on where would be good to meditate and the locations were all places free from the obstacles of others.

Personally I think the trick is to be indifferent to others, friend or stranger and to live a life without connection to others. This obviously also included not having a partner or children. Though you can still sate your sexual desire via others if you like. Keeping in mind sexual desire is still just a fetter, one that is released later.

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  • Hi. Intriguing. This answer starts by warning off against two extremes - aversion and desire. But then the answer ends up on a third extreme - complete indifference to others. Surely some middle-ground can be found?
    – Stef
    Feb 17 at 11:54
  • The middle ground is ultimately there are no others (or self) all we are experiencing is sensory experiences. Its because of the clinging that we see others (and a self) and this is what is causing the suffering.
    – Remyla
    Feb 17 at 14:52
  • @Stef To me, equanimity arises from a realisation that nothing endures. People whom we find likeable today, we may find dislikeable tomorrow and vice versa. This realisation applies to all the worldly dhammas. It is seeing this flip flopping happening to and in others and ourselves so many, many times that a sense of "Oops! I (they) did it again" kind of imperturbability and calm emerges. It's a realisation that this is what beings do in samsara. It gives us the strength to bear with the unbearable and the knowledge that the unperturbed mind is all we truly possess in samsara.
    – Desmon
    Feb 22 at 9:54
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Actually, you don't know how to deal with the physical stress when you open your five senses.

So you should separate them. When you open your five senses you need more management. Your mind work hard. So everyone even Arahanta can be tired on physical body.

But Arahanta never feel bad in their mind. They love everyone neither they are good or bad.

So you should separate between physical stress, and mental stress then use the proper method for each one.

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