Author Topic: Sociopaths in the Dharma centre  (Read 19823 times)

negra orquida

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Sociopaths in the Dharma centre
« on: April 07, 2012, 06:43:14 AM »
Someone once said, the dharma centre is like a hospital, and the people who go there are all the sick patients.  A dharma centre attracts all sorts of characters, from genuinely nice, sincere, lovely folks to the grossly disturbed, to the most subtle of twisted minds.

Some of you who are a regular visitor to a dharma centre may (be lucky to) encounter people who appear to be normal and are really great company when you just get to know them. They are intelligent, charming, full of good potential and promise.  But after befriending them for awhile.. their undercoat starts to show.  You find that they are very good at twisting your words and meanings, you find yourself being manipulated to do things for them or to indulge in their whims... what have they become? Who are they really??

Beware... the sociopath! 

Here is a list of sociopathic indicators (from http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_do_you_know_if_someone_is_a_sociopath):

  • Glibness/superficial charm
    Manipulative and conning
    Grandiose sense of self
    Pathological lying

    Lack of remorse, shame or guilt
    Shallow emotions
    Incapacity for love
    Need for stimulation
    Callousness/lack of empathy
    Poor behavioral controls/impulsive nature
    Early behavior problems/juvenile delinquency
    Irresponsibility/unreliability
    Promiscuous sexual behavior/infidelity
    Lack of realistic life plan/parasitic lifestyle
    Criminal or entrepreneurial versatility
    Contemptuous of those who seek to understand them
    Does not perceive that anything is wrong with them
    Authoritarian
    Secretive
    Paranoid
    Only rarely in difficulty with the law, but seeks out situations where their tyrannical behavior will be tolerated, condoned, or admired
    Conventional appearance
    Goal of enslavement of their victim(s)
    Exercises despotic control over every aspect of the victim's life
    Has an emotional need to justify their crimes and therefore needs their victim's affirmation (respect, gratitude and love)
    Ultimate goal is the creation of a willing victim
    Incapable of real human attachment to another
    Unable to feel remorse or guilt
    Narcissism, grandiosity (self-importance not based on achievements)
    May state readily that their goal is to rule the world

Pretty scary huh? According to research this condition is not as rare as one may think, about 5% of the population.

Have you met someone with the above traits in a dharma centre (or anywhere else)? What did he/she do? Do you have these kind of charateristics? Please tell us how you dealt with such person /yourself.

sonamdhargey

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Re: Sociopaths in the Dharma centre
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2012, 08:13:32 AM »
There are all sorts of people is this world. Wherever we go we will meet them. Especially the dharma centre, dharma centre is a place where people seeks for peace, solace, help, dharma classes, some want to contribute, help, be a sangha and many many other reasons. Therfore there will be many types of people in the centre.

How do we deal with these type of people be it yourself or others is by learning the dharma, practice the dharma and sharing the dharma. If we encounter difficult people, they are our practice, if we have problems, we learn dharma and put into practice to transform ourselves.

Tammy

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Re: Sociopaths in the Dharma centre
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2012, 08:25:50 AM »
Dear Negra Orquida,

Sounds like you live your life around dharma centers and nowhere else  :o

The sociopaths you described at length can ALL be found everywhere! Office, amongst friends, family members... just look around ! If you haven't already...

The world is full of weird people ( this is how other people look at us too!!) ans as long as we are still trapped in samsara, we can't run away from each other's differences and have to somehow learn to coexist.

Of course you would very naturally expect to find 'better' people in dharma centers, since theese people are seeking spirituality, they can't be that bad!! But sad to say they are no different for the rest of the world!

Down with the BAN!!!

Positive Change

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Re: Sociopaths in the Dharma centre
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2012, 09:03:00 AM »
Dear Negra Orquida,

Sounds like you live your life around dharma centers and nowhere else  :o

The sociopaths you described at length can ALL be found everywhere! Office, amongst friends, family members... just look around ! If you haven't already...

The world is full of weird people ( this is how other people look at us too!!) ans as long as we are still trapped in samsara, we can't run away from each other's differences and have to somehow learn to coexist.

Of course you would very naturally expect to find 'better' people in dharma centers, since theese people are seeking spirituality, they can't be that bad!! But sad to say they are no different for the rest of the world!

Exactly... and to add to that, a Dharma centre is like a spiritual hospital and thus a thriving one would be filled with "patients" no? I personally would not go to a Dharma centre void of "patients" as I would question the validity of the centre.

Having said that, being in a Dharma centre does not mean we can justify our negative actions or attitudes. We are meant to get better in time, not worse or stay stagnant. Hence a good indication if we are actually moving ahead in our practice is change... change for the better!

If we remain stagnant or worse, become degnerate further, we need to look into ourselves and really snap out of it!

So in short, having sociopaths in the Dharma centre is not all that bad if you ask me. Everyone needs help, even sociopaths. If we were all perfect, why do we even need a Dharma centre!

Tenzin K

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Re: Sociopaths in the Dharma centre
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2012, 10:16:53 AM »
To be frank I’m not surprise to see people with that condition in dharma centre. If everyone is in good condition no one go to the hospital. Sad to say that is observation in the dharma centre not to say it’s bad or good but there must be a reason for people to go to the dharma centre and most of the people I observe they are looking for answers for whatever problem or question they have. 

When this people come to dharma centre they bring in their entire problem and just act/behave like how they were. What important they learn up the dharma, apply to their live and experience the change in their mind and keep moving forward. What I understand from observing myself in practicing dharma is how much I stand of things going opposite my way. What and how is my reaction when things happen suddenly and if it’s bad. 

I believe all the people with the condition stated above by negra orquida would like to find a way to be a better person. Of course it’s not going to be easy, but if keep on living with that attitude it would be worst!  As dharma practitioner we should give a hand to them because we have learn the dharma and this is the motivation of a Buddhist practitioners. We are them before. Let practice what we have learn and share the great practice to them.

pgdharma

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Re: Sociopaths in the Dharma centre
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2012, 10:52:26 AM »
The world is make up of people with different behavior and character and as long as we are in samsara we are also amongst them. Thus we should look into ourselves and check ourselves so that we can transformed. We cant change the world but we can change ourselves.  No one is perfect and we need to apply effort to change to be a better person. The best place to help ourselves is to go to a dharma center where we can learn the dharma and apply into our lives. Thus when we come across sociopaths in dharma centers we must understand that they are there for a reason and that they may view us as a sociopath too. If we come across these people, they are our practice. Let us not forget one of the 8 verses of thought transformation.

Whenever I meet a person of bad nature
Who is overwhelmed by negative energy and intense suffering,
I will hold such a rare one dear,
As if I had found a precious treasure.

kurava

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Re: Sociopaths in the Dharma centre
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2012, 10:52:48 AM »
I personally had encountered such a person that fits the bill of a sociopath at my dharma centre.

This person had a respectable profession- a specialist doctor. Initially he was almost the ideal dharma student at the Centre - friendly, helpful, humble, intellectual....Almost everyone was won over by him except the Lama.
Our Lama was patient with him but he knew right from the beginning something not quite right with this "too good to be true" student.

Sure enough, one or two years later, this person's true color surfaced. We found out later from someone close to him that he was depressive and had been on medication  for several years.

Yes, dharma centres are like hospital and every one of us is "sick" but sociopaths need professional help that are beyond the skills of members who themselves are still trainees on the spiritual path. It is certainly wise to be cautious when dealing with such persons.

vajratruth

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Re: Sociopaths in the Dharma centre
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2012, 05:35:34 PM »
This is Samsara and therefore it is only natural to find all kinds of "weird" and troubled people. But i personally think that one of the most dangerous "condition" to suffer is not sociopathy  but self righteousness.

It is one thing to be aware of troubling people but it is quite another to label them and tag them with a "beware" sign. That immediately sets us apart from other people by virtue of our self righteousness. It says we are better than them. Out goes equanimity. Out goes Compassion.

The reality is that a sociopath is such because of his or her karma. Just like we may be self righteous by our own karma. I feel that the key is to look beyond the person and see their karma at work and to understand them from that angle.

jeremyg

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Re: Sociopaths in the Dharma centre
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2012, 05:44:54 PM »
Yes of course there are sociopaths in the world. There are a lot of different people, weird people, people of all shapes, sizes and colors. But because they are sociopaths, or they are weird, why should that limit us from helping them? I really like the analogy of a dharma center being like a hospital. This analogy shows exactly why we shouldn't shun sociopaths, on the contrary we should want to help these people more. Like it is said 'treasure those who are difficult the most'. It is the best way to train the mind, and these people are the people who need the most help. So why should we 'beware' of them?

negra orquida

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Re: Sociopaths in the Dharma centre
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2012, 06:27:45 PM »
Quote
It is one thing to be aware of troubling people but it is quite another to label them and tag them with a "beware" sign. That immediately sets us apart from other people by virtue of our self righteousness. It says we are better than them. Out goes equanimity. Out goes Compassion.

The reality is that a sociopath is such because of his or her karma. Just like we may be self righteous by our own karma. I feel that the key is to look beyond the person and see their karma at work and to understand them from that angle.


You have made good points there.  Yes, we are no different from sociopaths, in terms of wanting happiness and not wanting suffering.  It is not "fair" to label them as "evil", just like how we can't say lions are evil because cute wriggly piglets are their diet.  We are controlled by our karma until we attain enlightenment.

In fact there are many sociopaths who realise the inherent problems of their personality disorder and don't know how to deal with it.  They can't help it and it is saddening. Here's a read of a self-diagnosed sociopath asking for help from a doctor:  http://askdrrobert.dr-robert.com/sociopath.html

I suppose the reaction towards sociopaths with "beware" or "stay away" need not necessarily always be based on self righteousness / bias.  Warning signs on something "dangerous" are usually based on experience and wisdom or even compassion.  Like how at train stations there is a sign to say "Beware of the gap".  It is not that the gap that can hurt you, its your carelessness that would cause you to get hurt should you fall into the gap.  If you know the pain that sticking a finger into an electric socket can cause, wouldn't you warn others to not put their finger in the socket?

As Dharma practitioners, we strive to be compassionate with anyone and try to help everyone.  But are our minds strong enough to really help a mind of a sociopath? If you read about this condition more, the mind of a sociopath is pretty complex and unique... Sometimes staying away from such minds is actually being kind to them, as they would have less opportunity to hurt another person and thus create more bad karma for themselves.  I definitely would not profess that I am skilful or mentally/emotionally strong enough to help a someone who is a sociopath.  So to me, it is not the sociopath's condition which limits us from helping them, but our own state and strength of mind.

So yes, lets practice compassion, but together with wisdom.

bambi

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Re: Sociopaths in the Dharma centre
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2012, 04:20:26 AM »
From my point of view, we are all Sociopaths! Even outside of Dharma centers, I am meeting many of those so called Sociopaths. They are just waiting and lurking in the dark to spring out!

But do not forget that is one of the main reason we go to a Dharma center. To better ourselves in all ways! If we are normal, we'd be out of samsara and Enlightened.   :o

Dharma is the medicine to all our sufferings. Apply the medicine every minute of the day! Do not take it for granted. Everything is IMPERMANENT!

Study the Dharma, live the Dharma and practice the Dharma!

Mana

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Re: Sociopaths in the Dharma centre
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2012, 08:58:05 AM »
These type of people give Buddhism, the dharma centre, the dharma and sometimes the spiritual teacher a bad image. Senior students will know how to seperate the two. But it would sometimes be 'damaging' to new and naive particpants. They might wonder why there are such persons in a dharma centre. It creates doubt in their mind. Why is it allowed. Honest but naive questions. The dharma centres do not want people who are in their centre solely to take advantage of their members either. Who does?

These types of people victimize members of the dharma centre wanting to extract perhaps attention, money, name, praise, conveniences. They know at a dharma centre, people tend to let their guard down. It's like going to a police station and expecting honesty, integrity and protection and then you meet a officer who embodies none of that.

We have to remember, these people do not reflect the Three Jewels, the teacher, centre and doctrine. We should seperate them clearly. Avoid these people and not the doctrine and Dharma.


Midakpa

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Re: Sociopaths in the Dharma centre
« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2012, 03:36:54 PM »
From my observation, the "sociopaths" and others who are in the Dharma centre for reasons other than the Dharma tend to drop out after a while. They don't last long.  This is probably due to lack of merits or their negative karma which prevent them from benefiting from the centre. If they are not really interested in the Dharma, you can see them falling asleep during pujas and Dharma talks. After a while, they stop coming. Some may decide to do Dharma fulltime, but if they are not sincere, and they don't transform, somehow the faults will surface. Then due to conflicts, they will leave on their own or will be told to leave. Some stay with the centre for a long time, but do not progress much in their spiritual path due to lack of commitment or effort. But I think they are still better off in the centre than elsewhere. In the outside world, people are  not so tolerant.

Aurore

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Re: Sociopaths in the Dharma centre
« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2012, 03:12:50 PM »
Yes, I agree. The dharma centre is like a hospital. A hospital for the mind. With Dharma being the medicine, sanghas being the nurses and the teacher as the doctor, a Dharma Centre can assist in healing and transforming the mind. If the intention is to heal and be better. Just like anyone who goes to the hospital, if the intention is to heal and take the prescriptions seriously,  one can become well. However, the results will not be immediate, that is why you still get all sorts of people around who is "unwell".

The Buddha taught different methods to many different minds. This includes sociopaths. Just like everyone, sociopaths deserves compassion for they surely need it very much. No one should be left out. That is why Dharma centers allow them to be around but with careful watch. These people may not change and transform themselves. But one can only plant dharma seeds in them in hope that the seeds may open up in future so that they can practice real dharma in someday.

KhedrubGyatso

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Re: Sociopaths in the Dharma centre
« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2012, 03:31:16 AM »
Looking at what qualifies one as a sociopath mentioned in the list here , I guess  we are all sociopaths in a way. The difference is in which  types of  traits being manifested by an individual and the extent of control or lack of control  over them . In the case of those who have met the dharma, we have the option of continuing in this sociopath way , even if it is in its mild form ( fortunately for many ) or to practice the dharma instructions which counter these traits and behavioural patterns which if allowed to continue can become worse and worse.
Buddha had already skilfully hinted to us that one of the most important recognition for us to take refuge and walk the path is to accept we are sick . 2600 years ago, the term sociopath perhaps had not been coined and it wouldn't be very wrong to add that to the broader term 'sick' as Buddha is mostly alluding the term to mental sickness and the agents are our delusions which are the root causes giving rise to sociopath behaviour.