Meditation practitioners often report to me that, as their stability in Meditation grows, they notice they are not only less distracted and swamped with unnecessary thinking or emotions, but they even feel that some close relationships in their life become a little distant, like there is some readjustment going on. The normal feeling they can often have is to fear such a change. “My friends are interested in chitchat that no longer excites me. I’m wondering if meditation practice is causing me to lose my friends!“ One of my students confided this to me just in the last two days. And I hear it all the time.
Change is inevitable; change is natural. Change is often indicative of an evolution, and evolution is a materiallist kind of “enlightenment”.
In such a case, I remind the person always, “If you are outgrowing the dynamic that worked for you before you started to practice, don’t let your change be something that gives you any sort of smugness. Don’t leave anyone behind — even those whose previous interactions with you gave you injury. They were pushing you to this point, after all. So, you should love them as before.”
I guess it is the benefit of having practiced these things for years in a temple, where we had a certain philosophical infrastructure (the Four Great Vows, the 5, 10, and 250 precepts, etc.) that helped me keep the orientation and activation of my practice fairly clear, all things considered. When you wake up every single day of the year, and your first vocalized words of the day begin, as a tradition, with “Sentient beings are numberless; we vow to save them all,” it sort of keeps your ethical rocket pointed in the right direction.
Then your rocket can take many, many beings to a higher, more intuitive insight into their nature, if you can vow, as the navy seals do, “No one gets left behind.” True growth doesn’t liberate you “from“ people; it liberates you completely towards them, away from the nonessential and straight to the core instead.