Suffering and Compassion


Here is what Dalai Lama said on this topic in The Art of Happiness book:

Problems always arise, avoiding them provides temporary relief. If you confront them, you will get better insight and fighting capabilities. If you have been protected by others all your life and have not prepared to deal with problems, you will get shocked when you encounter them and most importantly it will be harder to develop resilience.

Suffering is underlying part of life, if you try to get out of suffering – you will find frustration. Because as long we have desire, we will experience unsatisfactory nature of existence. By removing the causes of suffering we become free of suffering and find liberation.

3 poisons: ignorance (misperception of true nature of self), craving and hatred. Reduce sorry or worry if you believe in rebirth (reincarnation). It is ok, if you carry wishes of people who died. But if you are overwhelmed by sense of loss, if you worry too much, think of people who have other worries (even worse than you).

Self created suffering is personalized pain. It is when we keep asking why it happened to me and why is it so unfair? If we focus and create a solution, we transform mental and emotional suffering, and then reduce the feeling of unfairness and resistance to change.

We really need to get more comfortable with change (nothing is permanent – no job, no lover, no success, etc.) All things are under the power of other factors… that we experience as suffering of change… There is only impermanent existence of everything like our blood – momentary changing phenomenon. As Dalai Lama mentioned – there will be time when there will not be humans or this planet. Just get over it.

Attention is focused when we have problems – self-absorption. We create our thoughts that magnify pain. It is intense, but there are other people with same problem even worse. You need wider perspective – work with other people. It helps to look at it from different perspectives because there is a wide range of solutions especially to solve big problems. But at the end, change must come from within.

Meditation One:

May my illness/suffering be substitute for humanity’s suffering. May I be able to help others and save other humans who go through similar suffering, it is my privilege and opportunity.

When we understand suffering, we find deep value or meaning in it… Reflecting on suffering is a catalyst. We develop a greater resolution in our suffering. Change in attribute makes us stronger. Physical pain unifies us with living creatures; our suffering connects us with others.

Types of compassion:

  1. Compassion with attachment to the other person is unstable. If anything changes, then your mental projection changes and becomes the feeling of hatred.
  2. Compassion free of attachment acknowledges every person’s innate desire to be happy, just like myself.

It is emotional attachment without compassion vs. genuine compassion. Think of your own suffering – your feeling of overwelming helplessness and discomfort. You don’t want suffering, the same with others – they have a right to happiness. What really helps is connectedness and commitment to compassion.

Meditation Two:

Imagine a person, who is suffering, develop your natural feeling for that person – place your mind on that conclusion – compassionate or loving state.

Meditation Three (to counteract our selfishness):

Visualize a group of people in unfortunate state of suffering. Along with it visualize a selfish person (yourself) and a neutral person. Which one do you feel empathy for?

The group that is suffering has no capacity for relief. You will find yourself feeling empathy for the group that is suffering, as you can really improve wellbeing by taking all their suffering upon yourself – visualize suffering in those forms, all negative and absorb them with your heart. May I live to dispense miseries of the world as long as space and human beings exist.

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