I was very moved by this subject, which came up for me in another Topic, and how many people are affected by this given the conditions in our world at the moment; with the worsening of the global pandemic, the political unrest in America and an increase in social divisiveness as well as the catastrophe of climate change. But rather than engaging in the specifics of these situations, I think it is worthwhile to look at the impact this has on the mind-states and ability to meditate for practitioners, especially Lay practitioners who are not secluded from the news. In essence, while it is not different from the suffering always inherent in Samsara, at the moment it is occurring on a vast and overwhelming scale and vast numbers of people are experiencing these things at the same time, and as such, there is little ability to escape from the constant onslaught of negative news, everywhere one looks.
This topic is following on from this post
Here I made the following statement, which I’d just like to take a bit further
As the factors of the path are developed, defilements are weakened and decrease, right up to the completion of the path and the permanent ending of defilements (Arahat). The less the defilements, the less there is impingement from external conditions, right up to the point where defilements are destroyed and can no longer arise, no matter the conditions.
So up to this time, it is to be expected that external conditions will have an impact on mind states. This is the reason for ‘sense restraint’ - to try to ensure that conditions are more wholesome than unwholesome, and thus that positive and beneficial mind states ensue. We are used to applying this to things that stimulate sensual desire, but less used to thinking about this in regard to things that generate ill will, anger or despair. I’m not sure if the Buddha ever explicitly articulated this aspect, though it is clear from MN2 and how to deal with defilements, especially points 1,2 and 5 suttacentral.net/mn2/en/sujato
So when one is surrounded all the time by the unwholesome, by hate, violence, pain, illness, suffering and stupidity, the resultant agitation is just as predictable, as if one one chose to live in a brothel while training to practice celibacy. Hence the central role of seclusion from the unwholesome in order to facilitate training and progress on the path. When seclusion is not possible (internally or externally), it is natural for there to be an effect on mind states. It is important to see this clearly, and not to add to the difficulties and distress by blaming oneself for not being able to ‘overcome’ the external conditions and their impact.
So what can be done to mitigate against this and to be able to continue to practice well?
A few things that I do
Keep in mind the points above about the role of conditions in the arising of mind states.
Limit (avoid) both the amount and the type of ‘news’ that one lets in through the sense doors.
Actively practice mindfulness while watching, reading, hearing, experiencing the ‘news’.
Actively create conditions that facilitate the wholesome, and abide in them with awareness.
A little technique for meditation; create a bubble or sealed off ‘island’, the borders of which are impenetrable to the unwholesome a secure little bubble of sanctuary of peace, serenity, happiness and joy
Perhaps a few could be added from Bhante @Sujato 's recent series of talks on ‘life hacks’. https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/online-workshop-with-bhante-sujato-life-hacks-for-the-end-of-the-world/17355
Please add other suttas or resources etc, that might be of benefit for how to maintain positive mind-states, and to maintain practice in the face of increasing external stress.
Please do not focus attention on the specific causes, as these have been covered elsewhere, but on how to maintain positive mind-states, based on the Buddhas teachings.
This topic has some relevant material as well
May all beings be free of suffering and be liberated from Samsara