You don’t need me to tell you that there’s enormous suffering in the world. Thankfully, the Buddha gave us concrete teachings on how to deal with suffering. Firstly, it’s important not to get paralyzed or filled with hate and anxiety about the state of the world because our feeling bad is not going to change things.
Secondly, we have to look at what we can do in our little piece of the world. What changes can we make to alleviate suffering? It may be something small like seeing the person at the supermarket checkout as a real human being. Or something larger like being compassionate to everyone around us.
The Buddha said: Hate is not conquered by hate but by love alone. In India, Gandhi conquered Britain not through violence but through peace. In America, Martin Luther King confronted racism with peace. Thich Nhat Hanh, a great Zen Master, saw his brothers and sisters being killed during the Vietnam War and he now leads retreats for Vietnam veterans.
This is the third way to deal with injustice. We practice inclusiveness and equanimity like the Buddha of Compassion, Guan Yin. Buddhists believe that every person in the world was once our brother or sister. Therefore there are no strangers and there are no enemies. We are connected to all beings.
Recently, a student gave me a book about Quantum Physics by Carlos Rovelli which demonstrates in a scientific way our connection: We are born from the same Cosmic Seed. All of us have the same mother and father.
The real truth of every religion and I believe of all people whether they practice a religion or not is goodness and truth and love. Sometimes we get lost. Last night there was a terrorist attack in the city of London where I now live. I didn’t know about it until I woke up to a barrage of Wechat message from my friends and family in China asking if I was okay.
And this is the fourth way to deal with injustice. Our life and every single person’s life is precious and impermanent. We are here for a short time and it’s important that we choose what we do with our thoughts and actions wisely so that we live a full life. A life that has not just taken from the world, but given back.