There are certain traditions that suggest lifetime withdrawal from the world is necessary for deep spiritual growth. There is no question that times of retreat are extraordinarily helpful, but even these are usually best done in community Humans are social creatures. Our fellow humans are the source of our greatest challenges and the greatest meaning in our lives. Fundamental to the spiritual journey is being able to experience the separateness and the connectedness of everyone. This process requires community. On your journey a key asset will be finding health communities for you to flourish in.
The attributes of healthy communities are places that encourage authenticity in each person, that encourage diversity, that are not authority-fiture dependent, that encourage ways for each person to be self-accountable, and that create genuine atmosphere of love within the group and offer a doorway of love to those outside. Sometimes traditional religious groups meet these requirements.
Many times they do not. Many 12 Steps groups offer this. Some will not. We all need to be discerning about the nature of the group. The key is we must all find one or two or three such groups that can be a part of our lives and our spiritual journey.
Here are additional examples of some that are important to me: