Injustice in the world

Hi everyone

I have a question, please. When a person is feeling the injustice in this world very strongly and suffers because of this very much, which Sutta/s could be of any help?

I have already mentioned that if one can’t change it then Buddha’s advice is to let it go. But that “didn’t do the trick”.

Thank you very much
With much metta :owl:

Namo Buddhaya!

This is a good one

"‘I am the owner of my actions (kamma), heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir’…

"[This is a fact that] one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained…

"Now, based on what line of reasoning should one often reflect… that ‘I am the owner of my actions (kamma), heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir’? There are beings who conduct themselves in a bad way in body… in speech… and in mind. But when they often reflect on that fact, that bad conduct in body, speech, and mind will either be entirely abandoned or grow weaker…

“A disciple of the noble ones considers this: ‘I am not the only one who is owner of my actions, heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator; who — whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir. To the extent that there are beings — past and future, passing away and re-arising — all beings are the owner of their actions, heir to their actions, born of their actions, related through their actions, and live dependent on their actions. Whatever they do, for good or for evil, to that will they fall heir.’ When he/she often reflects on this, the [factors of the] path take birth. He/she sticks with that path, develops it, cultivates it. As he/she sticks with that path, develops it and cultivates it, the fetters are abandoned, the obsessions destroyed.”

AN 5.57


Not to be blunt, but doesn’t this necessarily mean you didn’t let go? But how does one “just let go”? Your mind may not feel there’s a justification or reality behind letting go, so it failed, but I’d say it’s based completely in honest seeing, and it comes from insight. It makes sense to let go, but don’t take my or anyone’s word for it, how could letting go make sense? What is the actual insight for this situation that would help?

I’ve been in your place before and it felt inescapable, but after I relatively calmed down, I could reflect on this carefully.

One main way to react when one sees the suffering of others would be the brahmavihāras. You could check out Venerable Upekkhā’s guided meditations for this in serious depth.

When you see others’ suffering, you can respond to this by giving loving-kindness and compassion to them; wishing for their happiness. It looks like you already have this honest intent.

You can respond with appreciation - look at what the world does have, which is actually a lot. We’ve ended a lot of world hunger, we’ve fought for a lot of rights, and we even take things like having communication, this website, functional legs, fingers, digestion, this breath, and every atom of oxygen which fuels this body for granted.

Then there’s equanimity - indifference (not laziness or by not taking action, which you should if given the chance, but by perception) - being content even with these injustices.

I would see that there’s no real reason to suffer over others’ suffering, even if it is a lot, even if it’s completely unfair, even if it did come from those beings’ choices (as @Notez’s sutta is talking about), even if it’s my family’s, or even if it’s my own. I can recognize such suffering and problems for its depth and complexity, and even derive sadness from it, but the good news is that there’s still no real reason for suffering, and everything does point to letting go and happiness being truth.

My suffering is part of all the suffering, so if the “goal” is to remove the world’s suffering, wouldn’t adding more suffering be ironic, and create more of the same problem? Other beings have their problems, it shouldn’t be made about “me”. Suffering over it isn’t going to solve anything or do anything for them, it goes the other way. Being hindered, suffering, fettered down, especially restlessness, annoyance, or rage would make helping the world more difficult. It’s harder to function with those things, so it’d be harder to solve those problems. It’d even be compassionate and virtuous to develop myself away from those things, as it would improve and change my interactions with others (including animals) to be peaceful and rational. Meditation is therefore not just about myself.

There really is a lot of suffering, it’s indescribable and it’s very real, don’t look away or push it away, look right at it. In fact, just seeing how much suffering there is can even be a source of confidence, to practice deeper and with conviction - check out SN12.23 “the vital condition for saddha is dukkha”.

So ignorance is a vital condition for choices. Choices are a vital condition for consciousness. Consciousness is a vital condition for name and form. Name and form are vital conditions for the six sense fields. The six sense fields are vital conditions for contact. Contact is a vital condition for feeling. Feeling is a vital condition for craving. Craving is a vital condition for grasping. Grasping is a vital condition for continued existence. Continued existence is a vital condition for rebirth. Rebirth is a vital condition for suffering.
Suffering is a vital condition for faith. Faith is a vital condition for joy. Joy is a vital condition for rapture. Rapture is a vital condition for tranquility. Tranquility is a vital condition for bliss. Bliss is a vital condition for immersion. Immersion is a vital condition for truly knowing and seeing. Truly knowing and seeing is a vital condition for disillusionment. Disillusionment is a vital condition for dispassion. Dispassion is a vital condition for freedom. Freedom is a vital condition for the knowledge of ending.


It’s not always easy to deal with these challenges. Dukkha upon dukkha, so to speak.

In terms of calming the mind and entering into states of ease and peace, there are the practices and benefits of the four Brahma-viharas, as in AN11.15, AN4.126, and AN7.62.
Same for jhana practices.

SN47.19 offers teachings on how looking after ourselves is also looking after others:
"Looking after yourself, you look after others; and looking after others, you look after yourself.”

In terms of getting at the root of sorrow and all dukkha, and the cessation of all troubles there are of course many suttas that teach about the 4NTs and N8FP.
MN118 offers profound teachings as well as guidance for entering into peacefulness and ease right from the beginning.

Best wishes! :pray:


The Brahmaviharas help.


I don’t thing the Buddha would say to do nothing. The trick is to work on ending the suffering caused by injustice without seeking vengeance. Vengeance is malicious. There is the intent to harm. This trick is, after all, what he did.

I’ve been very much (as a US citizen) wrestling with this very issue in the last few days. A few things have come up;

Agree 100% that the bramavaharas are the way forward.

I think it is possible to have an experience of being absorbed in ill-will. I don’t recommend it. Narcissists are good at triggering that. Childhood trauma might have involved an “absence of Justice.” Take care of you… The acrobats. Do not spin out / proliferate on the future. (cbt therapists might use the word catastrophize here) A single excellent night helps here. Stay in the here and now.

It’s more complicated when there is the possibility that you CAN change it. What measures should be taken to stop ongoing injustice?

Justice is an arbitrary function of this world and its kings that is on fire. It fails. It’s not karma.

Some stories that I think are important to the topic that I haven’t fully digested are;

A. The Super Compassionate ship captain jataka tale when the Buddha supposedly whacked a terrorist.

B. The Angulimala story.

Buddha involvement;
I don’t think the Buddha sought out to bring justice to the mass murderer problem, he was walking down that road and he just continued despite the murderer and naturally solved the problem.

Kings involvement;
Where the heck were the cops? Clearly kings have thier own priorities.

But, as much as I want to see the usual D&D commentary on these… it’s dangerous. It’s much more important that I maintain equanimity than risk more time in the ill-will bathtub.

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Hi @bran

Thank you very much for your in depth reply. I have tried all those arguments but she doesn’t feel relieved by it. Her suffering is deeply inbeded and I don’t really want to talk too much about her private life.

I was just hoping that maybe a Sutta, a word spoken by Lord Buddha, will get her out of that. We are all complex beings and for everyone something different works.

I wish you joy and happiness :sunflower:

HI @AjitaKaput

Ha, ha, ill will bathtub, yep sometimes it’s easy to sit in there!

I think my friend suffers more because it’s unfair that especially defensless beings get tortured. Or that it often looks like that people who do bad get good results. I tried to talk to her that Khamma sorts this out but when one looks at the world it’s also easy to understand that people get upset about what is going on.

Khamma is for me personally the best argument and it helped me a great deal in the Prison Service, otherwise I would have gone nuts and compassion would have been lost.
But to turn that around towards a mistreated being THAT is where one can’t just say “well that’s their Khamma” and THAT is why she suffers…

I wish you a peaceful and “successful” journey :rabbit:

@Jasudho and @Notez

Great!! Thank you very much and much metta to both of you :slightly_smiling_face:

No, no… that would be a wrong interpretation IMO. :slightly_smiling_face:

How kamma works in the case of a defenceless, mistreated being is in how they themselves respond to the aid offered by others.

Kamma is first and foremost - intentional action. Its the ethical quality of the choice a person makes in the present moment. The results are kamma- vipaka.

Many such beings refuse help. Well meaning people often offer help to them but they themselves are unable or ??unwilling to make the effort to change their situation, or failing that - their own response to a situation that cannot be changed. Perhaps they lack courage or somewhere deep down, they choose victimhood.

That’s the time, IMO when one should reflect that, “Well, what more can be done? If they choose to continue down the path of suffering rather than get out of it - even though help has been repeatedly offered, well that must be their kamma.” And one should choose to be equanimous towards their suffering as @bran has so rightly pointed out.

After all, even the Buddha can do nothing more than point out the path - each being must walk the talk themselves. (MN107)

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And it is no easy path. A good deal of the Buddha’s time was spent rousing, encouraging which is what you are doing as well.

It occurs to me the the cornerstone of the practice, the drumbeat of the Dhamma, if you will, is…

“Putting aside covetousness and grief for the world…”

We might underestimate the enormous task that is conveyed in that short phrase.

The depth of our covetousness;
our desire and entitlement to the pleasent (love, fairness, consideration, truth, respect)

The depth of our grief;
outrage and terror in the face of the unpleasent (torture, oppression, abandonment)

who can measure these things? Our fixation to them is the outrage of a man shot with an arrow demanding to know why, and refusing the help of a doctor.

May all beings be happy… may they have the wisdom and courage to lay aside covetousness and grief for the world.

I don’t understand where that comes from. The Christian idea of “grace” comes to mind.

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To designate anything as an injustice is just a particular way of saying that something is in a displeasing state, which is just another manifestation of one’s own liability to suffer. While it does make sense from a certain perspective to say that the suffering of others is an injustice, it is one’s own suffering that emphasizes it as an issue, and while mitigation of “the issue” would alleviate suffering for oneself and others, the mitigation does nothing to remove that liability to more suffering when the next displeasure comes.

It makes sense to train oneself how to be resilient to what is displeasing, but not by way of eliminating the injustices. As the mind develops, there is so much that will be left in a state that would have been considered substandard prior to practice. I just want to say that again: when we start the practice the mind is well-inclined in the direction of what it does or does not prefer, but as it develops in the direction of dispassion, not only will those things cease to exert the same pressure, they will no longer be considered as being in need of correction.

The mere fact that life will end in death is the ultimate injustice, and the entitlement of being in control of how long death takes or how it comes about is not something anyone is afforded. Sure, it is easier than ever to attempt to have that control, but it is not a guarantee, and to build one’s life around that prospect is one way ticket to immense despair and dread.

Do the suttas teach a way to help soften the blow? It depends. The suttas teach how to break free of the intoxication that comes in between health/youth and sickness/death, and while the removal of the intoxication can be painful, it is a more accurate way to live. That accuracy will soften the blow, especially the one that comes at the very end when facing our own breaking up and death. To put it another way, learning to live with the certainty of suffering and death as soon as possible, will not only help us develop resilience to anything whatsoever, but if we are able to develop the path as well, the payoff will be supreme.

I’m sure to make the distinction, because as much as it would be pleasing for all injustices to be sorted out, that is not on the level of liability to suffering taught by the Buddha, and accumulating that sort of satisfaction gives a false hope that peace is easy to gain on the level of circumstances, which could not be more out of line with what is found in the suttas.

I hope this is helpful.

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It isn’t Sutta, but it describes ariyan attitude to the problem:

A sensitive and honest-minded man, if he’s concerned about evil and injustice in the world, will naturally begin his campaign against them by eliminating them at their nearest source: his own person. This task will take his entire life.

Quote from the book I Am That: Talks With Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

M: To help others, one must be beyond the need of help.
Q: You cannot save the world by preaching counsels of perfection. People are as they are. Must they suffer?
M: As long as they are as they are, there is no escape from suffering. Remove the sense of separateness and there will be no conflict.
M: Why do you worry about the world before taking care of yourself? You want to save the world, don’t you? Can you save the world before saving yourself? And what means being saved? Saved from what? From illusion. Salvation is to see things as they are.
Q: All I want to know is how to deal with the world’s sorrows.
M: You have created them out of your own desires and fears, you deal with them. All is due to your having forgotten your own being. Having given reality to the picture on the screen, you love its people and suffer for them and seek to save them. It is just not so. You must begin with yourself. There is no other way.
Q: Is there no salvation for the world?
M: Which world do you want to save? The world of your own projection? Save it yourself. My world? Show me my world and I shall deal with it. I am not aware of any world separate from myself, which I am free to save or not to save. What business have you with saving the world, when all the world needs is to be saved from you? Get out of the picture and see whether there is anything left to save.