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Cruelty

edited July 2006 in Buddhism Today
How do you deal with the overwhelming amount of cruelty, intentional and casual, in this world?

How do you deal with being part of societies full of cruelty without feeling like you become part of the cruelty?

How do you appreciate the kindness that does exist when the cruelty seems so much larger and stronger and ever-present?

(I seem to be stuck in a thinking loop and don't quite know how to get out of it...)

Comments

  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited July 2006
    aquula wrote:
    How do you deal with the overwhelming amount of cruelty, intentional and casual, in this world?

    How do you deal with being part of societies full of cruelty without feeling like you become part of the cruelty?

    How do you appreciate the kindness that does exist when the cruelty seems so much larger and stronger and ever-present?

    (I seem to be stuck in a thinking loop and don't quite know how to get out of it...)

    I take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.




    That is not to say that it is easy. As we become more aware of compassion, we also become aware of the pain and stess in the world. It sets up a resonance within us. The fact that there is any sort of refuge can be enough - or all, sometimes - to keep some spark of optimism and positivity alive.

    When I see the horrors around us, from the global to the immediate, and that well-known feeling of despair begins to arise, I have many 'tricks' of mind refocusing which are the fruit of practice.

    The poet Rilke, a notorious depressive, was asked (or it may be in his Letters to a Young Poet) what he did when everything was bleak. He replied: "I praise."
  • edited July 2006
    It's the second question I struggle most with, I do okay with the first and third for long periods of time, but since I never find a solution to the second one, they all come back again and again, and I feel more despair every time. I think there must be some sort of error in my thinking or something because other people don't seem to worry much about that particular question, and I don't know what to do with it.
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited July 2006
    aquula wrote:
    It's the second question I struggle most with, I do okay with the first and third for long periods of time, but since I never find a solution to the second one, they all come back again and again, and I feel more despair every time. I think there must be some sort of error in my thinking or something because other people don't seem to worry much about that particular question, and I don't know what to do with it.

    It is, indeed, the crucial question. May I suggest that you look at some of Gandhi's writings and that you find some means of service. There is always something local that needs doing: food for the homeless, care for the elderly in their homes (shopping, gardening, etc.). The mantra is: Think globally, act locally.

    It is only when we actually do something that we can truly answer your second question. And it may even bring you into some difficulties. Clothing the naked, visiting those in prison, comforting those in trouble and burying the dead are not popular actions but they are the "corporal works of mercy". Compassion that exists only in our heads is not real: it must manifest itself. We are the hands of the Dharma in the world.
  • edited July 2006
    Hmm. Wow. I've heard and thought such things before but it's like something clicked a little this time.

    I read Gandhi's autobiography a couple of years ago and really liked it but never went much further and never tried to translate any of the ideas I found useful into things I could apply in my own life. I'll look for some writings of his in the library.

    (I've been asking a lot of questions here lately, and I still feel a little awkward doing it, but it's a bit like practice for me, I have a hard time admitting that I can't find all the answers on my own, and an even harder time trusting people enough to ask the questions and show my weakness. It's good to have this place. Hopefully I'll be able to contribute a little more and not just ask once I get out of this rough patch.)
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited July 2006
    Aquula,

    I value your questions highly. It is so much more important to ask the right questions than to imagine we have the answers!

    As a teacher and as a 'spiritual sherpa', I have learned (the hard way) that it is in responding with honesty, compasssion and imagination to the questions as they arise that I also learn. In the classroom, pupils soon learned that I take even the most apparently flippant questions seriously. It has been a skill that I have developed over the years which enables me to come back, bt gentle degrees, to whatever was the overt reason for the class or session.
  • edited July 2006
    :)
  • PalzangPalzang Veteran
    edited July 2006
    I think it might also help to learn how to view others as not separate from oneself. As Lord Buddha said, they are me, and I am them. What happens when you do this is that instead of feeling anger or disappointment, what you do feel is compassion. You realize that everyone seeks happiness, but they don't know how to achieve it, so instead they make mistakes, colossal ones sometimes. Knowing that gives rise to compassion for them and the desire to change oneself so that in that way you can be of benefit to them. If you cannot stand the suffering of others, that is the best motivation to practice there is. That was the motivation of Gautama Siddhartha, and that remains the motivation that drives one to enlightenment, not for your benefit, but for all those sentient beings with whom you have a connection and are waiting for you to achieve liberation for their sakes.

    Palzang
  • edited July 2006
    See mediatation Exercises that I posted on another site.
    It's too large for this site.
    See post number 29

    http://www.buddhachat.org/forum/showthread.php?t=362&page=6
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited July 2006
    Beautiful answers beautifully expressed. This is your big challenge and opportunity, Aquula. You know there's an issue you're struggling with, you know what the issue is and now you have some very wise advice on how to use this issue as an opportunity for practice which will lead to understanding and growth. As Simon said, do something. This advice literally works wonders. Find some way to actually help others. Shelters, soup kitchens, food banks, youth groups, environmental groups and so on. And then watch what happens in your mind. It'll start happening almost immediately. And as Palzang said, develop compassion. Empathy and compassion change our perspectives completely and we no longer feed the illusion that we're separate beings. And as Iawa said, meditation. The foundation of it all.

    So there are three things you can put into action right now and if you do you'll have the answer to your question. A very, very important question, I might add.
  • edited July 2006
    Thank you all, this is helpful.
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