Fear Doesn’t Help

Mar 24, 2020

QUESTION

Dear Robina,

I hope that you are well. Can I ask your advice please about something that is a recurring problem for me?

It is about acceptance. Through Buddhism I have learnt that we have to learn to accept things as they are. For example, especially suffering. When someone gets sick or dies, it is useless to get angry, blame God, blame the doctor, etc. This is a difficult lesson, but I generally feel that I am able to accept suffering most of the time as part of life.

Where I really have a difficulty is with things that I perceive to be injustices. These situations stir up a lot of inner turmoil and anger. Some situations I encounter when looking after my mum, and also in life in general, are or seem unjust and part of me gets really passionate about this.

I also get into huge internal struggles with what I see as injustice in society. In the past I have got quite engaged in human rights causes etc. Then I found that I became quite burnt out with it, like I was fighting a losing battle.

I think that my question is, should we also accept injustice? In the same way that we learn to accept the reality of suffering? But then if we accept it, how can we make the world a better place.

I would be really interested to hear your advice on this, when you have time.

With love,
J

ANSWER
Good to hear from you again, J.

I understand what you’re saying. This is exactly the same as when you suffer because of your mother’s suffering. And the practice is the same. 

If you can change something, then change it — if you can go stop the suffering, of your mother or anyone else, then do so. But we can see, can’t we, that with situations in the world at large there is little we can do to help. So what to do? 

No point in getting all stirred up and angry. That doesn’t help. From the Buddhist perspective, accepting something really implies not resisting it, not denying it, not being afraid of it. None of that helps.

So see it for what it is, and have compassion. And use that compassion to help whoever we can right in front of us. And if the law of karma makes sense to you then you’ll know that all these suffering sentient beings created the cause for this suffering, and that should increase your compassion for them. And never forget that all of us create the cause for our happiness as well – the natural law of karma, cause and effect, doesn’t just apply to the bad things!

Compassion can then fuel your enthusiasm to do what you can to help others. 

What choice? 

Much love, 
Robina

QUESTION

Thank you so much for your reply. I found it very helpful – particularly when you described accepting in terms of not resisting and not being afraid. I recognise that I do carry a lot of fear, often in the form of worry. This is a barrier to acceptance for me.

Everything can appear very intense and confusing for me at the moment and your advice is so positive. 

Using compassion to fuel enthusiasm to help others is an idea that makes a lot of sense. As you say, what choice? Thank you so much.

With kindest wishes,
J

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