Why might someone feel lonely after taking the Refuge or Bodhisattva vow?

A student writes:

Is there any Dharmic reason why one might feel a deep sense of loneliness after taking Refuge or Bodhisattva vow?

Lama Shenpen responds:

Trungpa Rinpoche speaks a lot about aloneness or loneliness in his writings and poetry.  We are facing the aloneness of a journey only we can make for ourselves, also an aloneness where there is nobody looking on and saying we are doing well, we are our own leader and follower – Guru and disciple – we have to do it ourselves, like growing up but on a cosmic scale. 

In our society this is felt even more strongly as most of the people in the society around us do not value what we are doing and what we stand for. I think it must be very different if you live in a Buddhist country or even family.

For Trungpa Rinpoche I think he was talking both at a very deep level about the natural loneliness of the path but it was made more poignant by feeling so alone in a world of materialist barbarians!

For us we know we are going to have to forge our own path and find our own inner strength and although the Refuge is always there, our faith is not always easy to access, we struggle to keep focused and to trust the situation we find ourselves in. So it is lonely.  Maybe Enlightenment itself feels lonely, as the Buddha said ‘who do I worship now?’.

Lama Shenpen Hookham

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One thought on “Why might someone feel lonely after taking the Refuge or Bodhisattva vow?

  1. Dear Lama Shenpen, When and where and on what occasion did the Buddha say ‘Who do I worship now?’.

    In what text could I find in English a quote from the Kangyur including this quote and any story surrounding it and placing it in the context of the Buddha’s life and teaching?

    As I am also a Buddhist teacher in the Kagyu lineage (and a retreat brother of Lama Denis Rinpoche in Kalu Rinpoche’s first retreat in the West), I would find this quote and the story behind it very useful to have.

    Thank you, Lama Shenpen, for bringing it to my attention.

    Cheerfully yours in the Dharma,

    Lama Tashi Namgyal

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