Extraverts in Buddhism?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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retrofuturist
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Extraverts in Buddhism?

Post by 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. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Extraverts in Buddhism?

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Sep 17, 2009 3:48 am

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

Metta
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Re: Extraverts in Buddhism?

Post by 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
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?

Post by 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. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Extraverts in Buddhism?

Post by 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?

Post by 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.
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

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Re: Extraverts in Buddhism?

Post by 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?

Post by 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?

Post by 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?

Post by 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?

Post by 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. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Extraverts in Buddhism?

Post by 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...
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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Re: Extraverts in Buddhism?

Post by 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.

:anjali:

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Re: Extraverts in Buddhism?

Post by 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..
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: Extraverts in Buddhism?

Post by 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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