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Despair and hope?

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    • #3348
      Siani Driver

      So I’ve been reading David Brazier’s book ‘The Feeling Buddha’ and many of the chapters seem to align closely with current world events. Reading about suffering, despair and the ‘middle path’ at the moment, and am finding it difficult to transform my despair into energy for hope. I’m usually a very optimistic person, but the division and aggression in the world makes me fear for my children. But I’ve been wondering, how much of this was always there?  Maybe it’s just that nowadays, with the pervasive and overwhelming ability of news to hit us in the face wherever we turn, we are far more exposed to it than before. Could the answer be just to stop watching the news? It’s so difficult to feel so helpless.

      How do you overcome despair at the terrible things in the world?

    • #3353

      What a great question. I do sometimes feel that the more we connect to the world and ourselves, the deeper the suffering is – or the more deeply we encounter it. This is a by-product of coming out of denial. Luckily there is an equally huge reservoir of hope and love available to us – it brings to mind George Fox’s quote (he was a Quaker)

      “I saw also that there was an ocean of darkness and death, but an infinite ocean of light and love, which flowed over the ocean of darkness.”

      However big the awfulness, the light is bigger.

      In practice it helps me to share the despair/questions about despair with others (which you’re doing), withhold my judgement about suffering (sometimes in my own life suffering which seemed unnecessary or cruel has actually led me to wonderful things), trust in karma (and that it can take a long time to play out), trust in the benign unfolding of the Universe (another quote below!) and when I don’t trust, trust that others trust. Thank you for the question.

      “Above all, trust in the slow work of God.” Teilhard de Chardin

    • #3354
      Siani Driver

      I’ve been thinking about this a LOT today, and during meditation tonight. Coincidentally, a piece on the radio today helped me to think about it from a bigger perspective. The radio report was focusing on the statistics that show how, globally, there is less poverty, fewer wars and a greater life expectancy than at any time in history – the largest difference being our perception of events, due to the constant streaming in of news of these terrible events. Something awful happens and it’s live-streamed into our lives. Personalised stories fill us with grief and empathy. We FEEL the pain of the world more greatly because we are shown it. And we should feel that pain – we are all one – but to allow ourselves to become destroyed by it, allow ourselves to lose hope, helps no-one.

      I’m going to be watching/reading less news, I think – and trying to live here and now more (as ever is the intention!)

    • #3363

      Great discussion guys. I’ve had some experience with this that I feel might be useful to share here. In the very early 2000s, with the world trade centre disaster, second gulf war and the onset of the ”credit crunch”, I became overwhelmed and a bit obsessed with the news and also had an experience of witnessing and understanding the power that the media holds over us. One Monday morning the newspapers came out and the headline on some of the major ones was ”Economic Crash Inevitable”. By the end of that week myself and other people that I worked with had lost most of the work that we had had lined up because people had responded to the headlines by stopping spending and the work that we were doing was no longer affordable for them. They were too frightened to spend their money.

      To me it was obvious that the media had, to a large degree, stimulated the recession into which we were then falling and it changed the way that I looked at the news. Sensationalism is a key tool of newspaper journalism and so the events that we are fed are often emphasized and enhanced for their negativity. This makes the world seem a very dark place at times, to which we collectively and individually respond by creating more darkness and more fear.

      When I made a decision to not watch news or read papers for a while I felt refreshed and liberated. I believe that I had, to some extent, been brainwashed, and I also believe that this is part of the desired effect of the democratic/capitalist power system that we call society.

      It was very interesting watching the general population being played and manipulated with various stories, all based on fear and none of which ever actually came to any real threat. The fact that I wasn’t affected in the same way was due to the fact that I refused to accept the bait. This felt like a very advantageous and empowering position to be in and made a lot of space in my mind for more healthy and fulfilling thinking and living(  ,

      I now choose to read news and watch news related programs produced by more responsible journalists and feel that I can choose what I take on board and choose what to dismiss, for whatever reason.  As a Buddhist I feel that my responsibility in all of this is to take care of my own little corner of the world as much as possible with awareness and compassion by contributing whatever I can to my Sangha, which sends ripples of light out into the universe which, I believe, counter-acts the darkness.

      I hope that helps, Namo Amida Bu(  :

    • #3365

      Thanks D. I like how you’ve arrived at a ‘middle way’ after a ‘cleanse’ – going to the places you can trust to be a bit more moderate in their reporting, and not getting overly tangled – good advice. Makes me think about how much of my ‘news’ (ie gossip!) I get from Facebook….

    • #3370
      Siani Driver

      Thanks both. After a few weeks (and significantly less social media time) I’m definitely feeling less anxious. Focusing on the many little miracles in the world helps too. I was reminded of this cartoon…

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