Extraverts in Buddhism?

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Extraverts in Buddhism?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Sep 17, 2009 3:35 am

Greetings,

To me, Buddhism seems an inherently introspective practice, and therefore ideally suited to introverts who are already inclined to look inward rather than out.

I'm curious to know though, how extraverts approach Buddhism, and whether they feel that their practice and experience of the Dhamma is different to that of introverts?

There are a lot of Buddhists in the world... no doubt many are extraverts, and presumably some frequent Dhamma Wheel too.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Extraverts in Buddhism?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Sep 17, 2009 3:48 am

Interesting question. Perhaps it's a Western introspective thing.
They seem extroverted enough in Thailand...
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Re: Extraverts in Buddhism?

Postby pink_trike » Thu Sep 17, 2009 3:59 am

There's considerably more extraverts in Western Tibetan buddhism than in Western Theravada in my experience.
Vision is Mind
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Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

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Re: Extraverts in Buddhism?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Sep 17, 2009 4:03 am

Greetings,

mikenz66 wrote:Interesting question. Perhaps it's a Western introspective thing.
They seem extroverted enough in Thailand...


It makes sense to me that when Buddhism isn't your "cultural" religion, you're more likely to find it or seek it out on account of introspective leanings. Therefore, proportionally you would expect more extraversion in Thailand, but devotional and reverential activities of the type included in your attached picture appear neither inherently introverted nor extroverted to me.

pink_trike wrote:There's considerably more extraverts in Western Tibetan buddhism than in Western Theravada in my experience.


Any theories why this might be so?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: Extraverts in Buddhism?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Sep 17, 2009 5:53 am

retrofuturist wrote:It makes sense to me that when Buddhism isn't your "cultural" religion, you're more likely to find it or seek it out on account of introspective leanings. Therefore, proportionally you would expect more extraversion in Thailand, but devotional and reverential activities of the type included in your attached picture appear neither inherently introverted nor extroverted to me.

Actually, it's not so devotional. In that photo they are throwing water at the Buddha images since it was Songkran...

But the point is that going to a Wat is often a rather social occasion, especially for major events such as Vesak.

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Re: Extraverts in Buddhism?

Postby Jechbi » Thu Sep 17, 2009 6:03 am

retrofuturist wrote:I'm curious to know though, how extraverts approach Buddhism, and whether they feel that their practice and experience of the Dhamma is different to that of introverts?

At this stage I probably qualify as an extrovert, although it depends on the company. In large crowds, I'm still more of an introvert. But to answer your question, at those moments when I'm in extrovert mode, the practice and experience of Dhamma is alive with the realization of our human condition, our dependence on one another, and how we all share so much in common in terms of dukkha. In the better moments, it inspires and helps cultivate metta.

At those times when I'm in introvert mode, the practice and experience of Dhamma veers more toward peace and calm. There are times when it also seems delicately balanced and, to some extent, contrived. At those moments, encounters with others are a good reality check. fwiw.
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Uncover, then, what is concealed,
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Re: Extraverts in Buddhism?

Postby imagemarie » Thu Sep 17, 2009 7:07 am

One might think that introversion/extroversion would no longer find expression amongst monastics? Maybe that's unrealistic ?
Ajahn Brahm strikes me as an extrovert :tongue:
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Re: Extraverts in Buddhism?

Postby Fede » Thu Sep 17, 2009 7:10 am

I am extremely extroverted. I have a great deal of energy, and humour is the bedrock of who I am. I don't mean always joking and laughing and refusing to take life seriously when the occasion is needed, but I'm light-hearted, and even in my lowest moments always see the light at the end of the tunnel. If I'm down, I ain't down for long, and I am sociable, voluble, articulate and ebullient.


I am also relatively pig-ignorant when it comes to the Buddha's teachings.

I would be devastated however, if anyone ever made this connection, and theorised that the type of person I am, blocks me from being the Buddhist I hope I am.
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Re: Extraverts in Buddhism?

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Sep 17, 2009 7:38 am

I am afraid I dont have the link to hand ..but there was a formal properly contructed study done ( using Eysenck ) a few years back, perhaps five years ? Which showed that there was a significant number of people from all Buddhist traditions who veered towards the Introvert end of the spectrum.
You are not alone Fede, my husband is very much at the Extrovert end of the scale and has been a Buddhist since his teen years..You can usually tell where in the room he is is in any Buddhist setting. There are certainly current teachers who are Extrovert, Ajahn Brahm has been mentioned, and I would include the lovable Ajahn Munindo too.......
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Re: Extraverts in Buddhism?

Postby genkaku » Thu Sep 17, 2009 9:21 am

Hi retro -- Without throwing a wet, watch-me-wax-wise blanket on things, don't you think that when the extrovert finds out that that doesn't work and when the introvert finds out that that doesn't work -- when either of these recognizes that the waters are not yet stilled -- well, maybe Buddhism starts to make some sense? Uncertainty -- or suffering, if you prefer -- is not limited to any particular kind of person, though how they cope with that uncertainty varies.

Just some unsourced noodling.
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Re: Extraverts in Buddhism?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Sep 17, 2009 9:39 am

Sure Genkaku... I just think each type of person is likely to look for answers to their problems in different ways - some internal, some external.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: Extraverts in Buddhism?

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Sep 17, 2009 10:00 am

genkaku wrote:Hi retro -- Without throwing a wet, watch-me-wax-wise blanket on things, don't you think that when the extrovert finds out that that doesn't work and when the introvert finds out that that doesn't work -- when either of these recognizes that the waters are not yet stilled -- well, maybe Buddhism starts to make some sense? Uncertainty -- or suffering, if you prefer -- is not limited to any particular kind of person, though how they cope with that uncertainty varies.

Just some unsourced noodling.

Extroversion and Introversion as understood in psychology in contrast to popular informal use, are not choices or strategies, either can be modified by effort, or people can act out of personality type, but they are as basic as eye colour. Given an absence of motivation or stimulus to the contrary, for example in order to perform in a job interview, people will generally revert to type. Extroversion and Introversion emerge as qualities early in life and generally persist through life. Most people are not at either extreme of the spectrum. Western Buddhism appears to attract a large proportion of people who tend towards the Introvert end of the spectrum. However, there is no implication at all that extroverts are disadvantaged as Buddhists . Although there may be a tendency for Buddhists to expect Introversion from other Buddhists...
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Re: Extraverts in Buddhism?

Postby imagemarie » Thu Sep 17, 2009 1:11 pm

Buddhism seems an inherently introspective practice


I've met some Buddhists (Pureland),who would try and make the opposite case - and from my "unsociable, un-voluble, inarticulate, un-ebullient" perspective,they seem to have a case .. :smile:
There are many more opportunities to practice metta, karuna, mudita and upekkha, if you are more "engaged" with the world.
My own efforts tend to fall short in many respects, and it's obvious where the work lies

encounters with others are a good reality check


For sure, introspection can be a cop out, as well as a cop in.

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Re: Extraverts in Buddhism?

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Sep 17, 2009 1:22 pm

I can identify with that. For me solitude even in temporary seperation for hours or days from loved ones, comes naturally. I love my own company. In order to engage with people outside the front door I have to take a deep breath first...then its fine. I am not agoraphobic, its just not my first choice left to my own devices. So I work on making sure that I balance my inbuilt preference with a need to interact and engage. I belong to a large Sangha and am part of a large family so opportunities to confront my own "rhino " tendencies are not lacking..
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Re: Extraverts in Buddhism?

Postby pink_trike » Thu Sep 17, 2009 6:23 pm

retrofuturist wrote:
pink_trike wrote:There's considerably more extraverts in Western Tibetan buddhism than in Western Theravada in my experience.


Any theories why this might be so?
)


Imo, generally speaking, introverted folks live a step back from worldly activity so the path of renunciation is a comfortable fit, and extroverted folks are right in the thick of things so the path of transformation is a more comfortable fit.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: Extraverts in Buddhism?

Postby Aloka » Thu Sep 17, 2009 6:55 pm

pink_trike wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:
pink_trike wrote:There's considerably more extraverts in Western Tibetan buddhism than in Western Theravada in my experience.


Any theories why this might be so?
)


Imo, generally speaking, introverted folks live a step back from worldly activity so the path of renunciation is a comfortable fit, and extroverted folks are right in the thick of things so the path of transformation is a more comfortable fit.



I don't think any one size fits all, I've seen a mixture of introverts and extoverts (and others in between) in UK Tibetan Buddhist centres - and in my case I'm definately an extrovert gone introvert ...which just seemed to happen naturally with my practice. So perhaps that fits in nicely with my Theravada investigations ! :D

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Re: Extraverts in Buddhism?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Sep 17, 2009 10:59 pm

imagemarie wrote:I've met some Buddhists (Pureland),who would try and make the opposite case - and from my "unsociable, un-voluble, inarticulate, un-ebullient" perspective,they seem to have a case .. :smile:
There are many more opportunities to practice metta, karuna, mudita and upekkha, if you are more "engaged" with the world.

Exactly. If you see Buddhist practice mostly as studying texts and meditating, it will look introverted. If you see it as also getting up early in the morning to offer breakfast to monks, or doing maintenance at the Wat, or doing community work, then it will appear much less introverted. If you meditate alone it will seem introverted. If you attend meditation/teaching/discussion sessions with others it will seem much less introverted.

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Re: Extraverts in Buddhism?

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Sep 18, 2009 1:04 am

there are also ambiverts, those with qualities of both
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: Extraverts in Buddhism?

Postby Sanghamitta » Fri Sep 18, 2009 7:39 am

If we imagine a spectrum from 1 to 10, 1 being total Extrovert and 10 being total Introvert ambiverts cover the areas from 4 to 6, so in total they are in the majority, although a 4 will be more Extrovert and a 6 more Introvert.
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Re: Extraverts in Buddhism?

Postby zavk » Wed Sep 30, 2009 11:27 pm

Hi all

A Facebook friend posted a link to this, an article from a few years ago, 'Caring for Your Introvert': http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200303/rauch

Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice?

If so, do you tell this person he is "too serious," or ask if he is okay? Regard him as aloof, arrogant, rude? Redouble your efforts to draw him out?

If you answered yes to these questions, chances are that you have an introvert on your hands—and that you aren't caring for him properly. Science has learned a good deal in recent years about the habits and requirements of introverts. It has even learned, by means of brain scans, that introverts process information differently from other people (I am not making this up). If you are behind the curve on this important matter, be reassured that you are not alone. Introverts may be common, but they are also among the most misunderstood and aggrieved groups in America, possibly the world.

I know. My name is Jonathan, and I am an introvert.

Oh, for years I denied it. After all, I have good social skills. I am not morose or misanthropic. Usually. I am far from shy. I love long conversations that explore intimate thoughts or passionate interests. But at last I have self-identified and come out to my friends and colleagues. In doing so, I have found myself liberated from any number of damaging misconceptions and stereotypes. Now I am here to tell you what you need to know in order to respond sensitively and supportively to your own introverted family members, friends, and colleagues. Remember, someone you know, respect, and interact with every day is an introvert, and you are probably driving this person nuts. It pays to learn the warning signs.

What is introversion? In its modern sense, the concept goes back to the 1920s and the psychologist Carl Jung. Today it is a mainstay of personality tests, including the widely used Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Introverts are not necessarily shy. Shy people are anxious or frightened or self-excoriating in social settings; introverts generally are not. Introverts are also not misanthropic, though some of us do go along with Sartre as far as to say "Hell is other people at breakfast." Rather, introverts are people who find other people tiring.

Extroverts are energized by people, and wilt or fade when alone. They often seem bored by themselves, in both senses of the expression. Leave an extrovert alone for two minutes and he will reach for his cell phone. In contrast, after an hour or two of being socially "on," we introverts need to turn off and recharge. My own formula is roughly two hours alone for every hour of socializing. This isn't antisocial. It isn't a sign of depression. It does not call for medication. For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating. Our motto: "I'm okay, you're okay—in small doses."

How many people are introverts? I performed exhaustive research on this question, in the form of a quick Google search. The answer: About 25 percent. Or: Just under half. Or—my favorite—"a minority in the regular population but a majority in the gifted population."

Are introverts misunderstood? Wildly. That, it appears, is our lot in life. "It is very difficult for an extrovert to understand an introvert," write the education experts Jill D. Burruss and Lisa Kaenzig. (They are also the source of the quotation in the previous paragraph.) Extroverts are easy for introverts to understand, because extroverts spend so much of their time working out who they are in voluble, and frequently inescapable, interaction with other people. They are as inscrutable as puppy dogs. But the street does not run both ways. Extroverts have little or no grasp of introversion. They assume that company, especially their own, is always welcome. They cannot imagine why someone would need to be alone; indeed, they often take umbrage at the suggestion. As often as I have tried to explain the matter to extroverts, I have never sensed that any of them really understood. They listen for a moment and then go back to barking and yipping.

Are introverts oppressed? I would have to say so. For one thing, extroverts are overrepresented in politics, a profession in which only the garrulous are really comfortable. Look at George W. Bush. Look at Bill Clinton. They seem to come fully to life only around other people. To think of the few introverts who did rise to the top in politics—Calvin Coolidge, Richard Nixon—is merely to drive home the point. With the possible exception of Ronald Reagan, whose fabled aloofness and privateness were probably signs of a deep introverted streak (many actors, I've read, are introverts, and many introverts, when socializing, feel like actors), introverts are not considered "naturals" in politics.

Extroverts therefore dominate public life. This is a pity. If we introverts ran the world, it would no doubt be a calmer, saner, more peaceful sort of place. As Coolidge is supposed to have said, "Don't you know that four fifths of all our troubles in this life would disappear if we would just sit down and keep still?" (He is also supposed to have said, "If you don't say anything, you won't be called on to repeat it." The only thing a true introvert dislikes more than talking about himself is repeating himself.)

With their endless appetite for talk and attention, extroverts also dominate social life, so they tend to set expectations. In our extrovertist society, being outgoing is considered normal and therefore desirable, a mark of happiness, confidence, leadership. Extroverts are seen as bighearted, vibrant, warm, empathic. "People person" is a compliment. Introverts are described with words like "guarded," "loner," "reserved," "taciturn," "self-contained," "private"—narrow, ungenerous words, words that suggest emotional parsimony and smallness of personality. Female introverts, I suspect, must suffer especially. In certain circles, particularly in the Midwest, a man can still sometimes get away with being what they used to call a strong and silent type; introverted women, lacking that alternative, are even more likely than men to be perceived as timid, withdrawn, haughty.

Are introverts arrogant? Hardly. I suppose this common misconception has to do with our being more intelligent, more reflective, more independent, more level-headed, more refined, and more sensitive than extroverts. Also, it is probably due to our lack of small talk, a lack that extroverts often mistake for disdain. We tend to think before talking, whereas extroverts tend to think by talking, which is why their meetings never last less than six hours. "Introverts," writes a perceptive fellow named Thomas P. Crouser, in an online review of a recent book called Why Should Extroverts Make All the Money? (I'm not making that up, either), "are driven to distraction by the semi-internal dialogue extroverts tend to conduct. Introverts don't outwardly complain, instead roll their eyes and silently curse the darkness." Just so.

The worst of it is that extroverts have no idea of the torment they put us through. Sometimes, as we gasp for air amid the fog of their 98-percent-content-free talk, we wonder if extroverts even bother to listen to themselves. Still, we endure stoically, because the etiquette books—written, no doubt, by extroverts—regard declining to banter as rude and gaps in conversation as awkward. We can only dream that someday, when our condition is more widely understood, when perhaps an Introverts' Rights movement has blossomed and borne fruit, it will not be impolite to say "I'm an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush."

How can I let the introvert in my life know that I support him and respect his choice? First, recognize that it's not a choice. It's not a lifestyle. It's an orientation.

Second, when you see an introvert lost in thought, don't say "What's the matter?" or "Are you all right?"

Third, don't say anything else, either.
With metta,
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