How do Buddhists respond to suffering?

Suffering is a key part of life. Buddhists follow teachings that will help to relieve the suffering of others.

Karuna is the word for compassion. This is the understanding of, and the desire to help remove harm and suffering from others.

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And how do you live with your heart suffused with loving-kindness extending outward in any direction? In the same way that you feel friendliness when you see a dearly loved friend, you extend your loving-kindness to every living thing.The Vibhanga

Metta is loving-kindness. The Buddha taught that Buddhists should cultivate it through meditation.

There are five stages to this form of meditation:

  1. The first stage is to focus on yourself and feel metta. Buddhists might imagine a golden light flooding their body.
  2. In the next stage, Buddhists try to transmit metta to a good friend.
  3. Then try to transmit metta to an acquaintance.
  4. Then try to transmit metta to a person they dislike.
  5. Finally they will try to transmit metta throughout their community and the world.

Through meditation Buddhists can reach an unselfish, loving, pure state of mind.

They believe that the act of being loving helps concentration, happy and healthy relationships, and to overcome anger. Together, this helps to relieve some suffering in life.

Buddhists may also involve themselves in campaigns and charities to help those who are suffering. Many believe that they do not just help people by meditating but also by being active in society. ‘Engaged Buddhism’ is a movement started by Thich Nhat Hanh.

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