It is common to imagine a practitioner as a solitary monastic meditating in a cave on the mountains for years. One of the most famous examples is Bodhidharma from the Chán traditions who, according to the tales, faced the wall for 9 years, not speaking for the entire time.
But this obviously is a tale, a teaching taken to exaggerated levels in order to highlight the importance of perseverance… but not to promote isolation.
The monasteries, even the farthest ones, have several people there who live together and form deep bonds.
The teachings of selflessness are necessary toward the path of the end of suffering. Yet, to a non-dualistic mind which understands how things are interconnected, the end of suffering cannot equate the end of "my" suffering only!
Cultivating loving kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity includes developing caring and emphatic attitudes toward others.
Knowing humans are social animals is part of "seeing things as they are". We are hardwired to keep social relationships and bond with others. If we neglect this and become isolated or dealing only with shallow relationships, we are bound to develop health problems.
Below, I'll consider meaningful, constructive relationships… There also exist harmful relationships, but I´m not going to talk about them, because this alone would take another long article in itself.
Over the past few decades, social scientists have gone beyond the evidence of social deprivation to demonstrate a clear link between social relationships and health in the general population. Adults who are more socially connected are healthier and live longer than their more isolated peers.
Many studies, like one from Berkman and Breslow1 showed that the risk of death among men and women with the fewest social ties was more than twice as high as the risk for adults with the most social ties.
Moreover, this finding held even when socioeconomic status, health behaviors, and other variables that might influence mortality, were taken into account.
Social ties also reduce mortality risk among adults with documented medical conditions. For instance, Brummet… … … …