Lamenting Buddhist

I just read this article and was wondering

  • about your general thoughts
  • have you ever heard of anything like this in a Theravadin Sutta / Buddha quotes?
  • are you lamenting sometimes? Does it help?

I just found this article quite interesting…
:blush:Alex :blossom:


Hi Alex,

You might find Bhikkhu Analayo’s book Compassion and Emptiness in Early Buddhist Meditation helpful. It can be downloaded in the Publications section here:

From page 6:

This simile shows that an essential component of compassion is
the concern for others to be relieved from suffering and affliction.
Although this is hardly surprising, a subtle but important point to
be noted here is that the simile does not qualify the act of seeing the
actual suffering as compassion. Rather, compassion is concerned
with the other being free from affliction. The way the simile proceeds
makes this quite clear, where the vision of the sick person being cared
for, or even actually caring for this person, is what corresponds to
the “extremely compassionate, sympathetic, and kind thoughts” of
the person who has come by.

Understood in this way, compassion does not mean to commiserate
to the extent of suffering along with the other. This would be falling
prey to what later tradition considers to be the “near enemy” of
compassion. According to the Visuddhimagga, cruelty is the “far
enemy” of compassion, in the sense of being directly opposed to it,
whereas worldly forms of sadness are its “near enemy”.3
to say, both enemies are best avoided.

Page 41:

Equanimity or equipoise, upek(k)hā, from an etymological perspective
suggests a mental attitude of “looking upon”, not an indifferent
“looking away”. The term thus conveys an awareness of whatever
is happening combined with mental balance and the absence of
favouring or opposing.
Now for compassion to relate to sympathetic joy seems natural,
especially once it is appreciated that compassion does not mean to
commiserate and become sad oneself. In contrast, it can at first sight
seem considerably less straightforward that compassion also relates
to equanimity or equipoise.
This can appear particularly problematic when compassion is
cultivated in the form of a bodhisattva’s wish to liberate others. It
is not easy to see how such an aspiration could lead to an attitude
of equanimity towards others. In later traditions this has led to a
reinterpretation of the function and nature of equanimity, as well
as to a change in the place accorded to equanimity within the set of
the four brahmavihāras

Speaking personally, I think it’s a difficult issue to come to terms with. If you care about a problem, then sadness is common. Presumably, with enough development, one can act motivated by compassion, not from negative feelings. Here’s hoping!


Hi Mike. That sounds great! I’ll dig into it :slightly_smiling_face:

You’re welcome. There are also some guided Brahmavihāra meditations on the same site that go with the book.

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Just a few thoughts:

In the article the author suggests:

But when our suffering becomes too much to bear, when the burden seems too heavy to carry, …

The EBTs seem to me to be asking us to put down the burden, not to find some means of carrying it (or getting someone else to carry it).

e.g. sn22.22

6.1 “The five aggregates are indeed burdens,
6.2 and the person is the bearer of the burden.
6.3 Picking up the burden is suffering in the world,
6.4 and putting the burden down is happiness.

7.1 When the heavy burden is put down
7.2 without picking up another,
7.3 and having plucked out craving, root and all,
7.4 you’re hungerless, extinguished.”

The problem with a ‘theology of anything’ is that it involves God (or kannon, or Amida/your own future potential Buddhahood) doing the work for you. But from an EBT point of view this is problematic (I think this is because we can’t put down a burden that is being carried by someone else). dhp276:

1 You yourselves must do the work,
2 the Realized Ones just show the way.
3 Meditators practicing absorption
4 are released from Māra’s bonds.

The EBT model is taking refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. I find the imagery in MN34 nice - when we take refuge, we become part of the Buddha-herd… :wink: :cow2: moo … and breast Mara’s stream safely.

5.1First he drove across the bulls, the fathers and leaders of the herd. 5.2They breasted the stream of the Ganges and safely reached the far shore. 5.3Then he drove across the strong and tractable cattle. 5.4They too breasted the stream of the Ganges and safely reached the far shore. 5.5Then he drove across the bullocks and heifers. 5.6They too breasted the stream of the Ganges and safely reached the far shore. 5.7Then he drove across the calves and weak cattle. 5.8They too breasted the stream of the Ganges and safely reached the far shore. 5.9Once it happened that a baby calf had just been born. Urged on by its mother’s lowing, even it managed to breast the stream of the Ganges and safely reach the far shore. 5.10Why is that? 5.11Because the intelligent cowherd inspected both shores before driving the cattle across at a ford.


In SN 22.84 the Thera(?) Tissa seems to become lamenting. Fellow monks report this to the Buddha (=the master), and he talks to him - firstly recalling the most relevant concepts of the masters teachings.
After that teaching, the Buddha gives another type of help:

"Rejoice, Tissa, rejoice! I’m here to advise you, to support you, and to teach you.”
That is what the Buddha said.
Satisfied, Venerable Tissa was happy with what the Buddha said.

Not only did the master give Tissa words/teachings. But moreover recalls that he is a human in relation, helping the poor Tissa by reminding him of his (the master’s) presence: “I’m here …”

This is a positive and so basic attitude which I regularly miss when in contact in or when talking about “teaching situations”. So I give this here just as a tiny impulse from the ground of Loch Ness… :whale: :slight_smile:


It seems to me there are a number of different issues that all form a tangled bundle when talking about awful suffering and the effects of witnessing it. Here’s how I’m seeing it these days

A few random points

The Buddha has suffering front and centre of all his teachings - it is the reason he went forth to try and find an escape from it.

He found that it is not solvable by changing things externally (out of our control, ever changing and inherent to samsara).

One source of suffering is the belief that through ones actions one can solve the problems of the world and permanently remove suffering. This belief causes suffering since it is impossible. This belief is however incredibly strong in us, and can cause real anger and accusations of not caring and social irresponsibility, if one is not seen to be ‘doing something’ about it. But it is based on delusion… (the illusion of a self that is in control)

The subtle point that the Buddha drew out, is that while one cannot abolish suffering in the world, one can act in such skillful and wholesome ways as not to contribute to the suffering of any beings and also not to cause suffering for oneself at the same time. This is the substance of the first 6 links in the Noble 8 fold path.

Witnessing suffering is awful, and equanimity only comes with altering the perspective and the manner of ‘attention’ one gives it. These are skills acquired through the 7th and 8th steps in the N8fP.

When one sees behaviours that fuel suffering then both Nibbida as well as Compassion are aroused. The Nibbida provides the momentum for more relinquishment and the effort required to reach the end of the Path. Compassion provides the means by which to engage in positive interactions in order to enhance the well being of others - but without the feelings of despair or grief or of responsibiity for fixing things.

It is not easy, but in the end even the deepest desire to ‘do good’ must be relinquished. Instead the focus is on harmlessness, and metta.


For those who don’t have direct access to the Buddha this is represented by the recollection of the Buddha & Dhamma in the recollections, AN 11.12 & 13. These six recollections are described as ‘gladdening’ the mind so fulfilling the instruction in contemplation of mind states in the Anapanasati and Satipatthana suttas.

" [1] “There is the case where you recollect the Tathagata: ‘Indeed, the Blessed One is worthy and rightly self-awakened, consummate in knowledge & conduct, well-gone, an expert with regard to the world, unexcelled as a trainer for those people fit to be tamed, the Teacher of divine & human beings, awakened, blessed.’ At any time when a disciple of the noble ones is recollecting the Tathagata, his mind is not overcome with passion, not overcome with aversion, not overcome with delusion. His mind heads straight, based on the Tathagata. And when the mind is headed straight, the disciple of the noble ones gains a sense of the goal, gains a sense of the Dhamma, gains joy connected with the Dhamma. In one who is joyful, rapture arises. In one who is rapturous, the body grows calm. One whose body is calmed experiences ease. In one at ease, the mind becomes concentrated.”—AN 11.12

Also in SN 22.84 is a description showing the practitioner must pass through unwholesome mind states before transcending them:

“I have made this comparison, Tissa, to convey a meaning. The meaning is this: The man unskilled in the path stands for a run-of-the-mill person. The man skilled in the path stands for the Tathagata, worthy & rightly self-awakened. The fork in the road stands for uncertainty. The left fork stands for the eightfold wrong path — i.e., wrong view, wrong resolve, wrong speech, wrong action, wrong livelihood, wrong effort, wrong mindfulness, wrong concentration. The right fork stands for the noble eightfold path — i.e., right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. The intense forest grove stands for ignorance. The large marshy swamp stands for sensual desires. The deep drop-off stands for anger & despair. The delightful stretch of level ground stands for Unbinding.”


Thanks for that sutta! SuttaCentral


@paul1 linked to a wonderful, deep and compassionate talk by Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi dealing with some of the toughest questions about war, violence and ethics. It is well worth a look and provides a beautiful and practical approach to terrible situations from a Buddhist perspective. Of course it all depends where you are regarding commitment to the Path, one would expect a sliding scale of attitudes and choices…


@stu , @mikenz66 , @Nessie , @Viveka , @paul1

Wow! That is lot of food for thought!
I think we all came to that crossing, how to deal with the suffering of other beings. This is why I love Buddha’s teachings. They guide and help and every time one reads a Sutta, something new pops up, despite reading it for the 5th time.

I also think that as soon a God or “something” is involved, things are getting complicated as the expectation is, that this “something” is sorting things out. This of course inevitably invites suffering and leads astray from the Path.

I find it quite hard to get told “do something”, “to do different”, “to do more” etc. I am doing…just differently than this person might like or expect. Not participating any longer in worldly pleasures, keeping precepts etc tests friendships to the core and only the true friends stay.

A hard thing, for most of us, is to find compassion and metta for ourselves first. I was in a silent retreat and the Ajahn asked "why do you hate yourselves so much? Why are you so hard on yourselves? The energy at this point of time was massive - to say the least. I just couldn’t belief it. We all felt the same way. We all blamed us and made live so difficult for us. That alone was a great teaching by itself.

Well, great to have you all around! You are an inspiration! :grinning:


The simple truth is this, people want to get away from suffering and all they think is to find comfort someway the opposite of suffering and hardly think, to see why the suffering and seek that path to cessation of suffering.
That beginning is the 4 foundations of mindfulness, where one can become a stream entering person or Sothapanna with the first three fetters eliminated. As I understand, Buddha gave Kayanupassana first and the Vedana, Chiththa and Dhamma because we are all in this delusion of the Sath Kaya Ditti, this body is true. That comes from the perception of thinking that one is Sathva. Indeed Buddha to a question from Bhikku Radha told him how one becomes Sathva.
You need not lament if you have seen the path shown by Buddha.

Hi Alex,

According to Theravada Buddhism, Lament is Parideva which is a kind of Dosa.

Although the Dhamma teaches how to cure Dosa (Lament), it doesn’t deny the existence of Lament in our daily life.

Even a Sotapanna hasn’t abandoned Dosa (including lament) yet.

For example, Visakha who is already a Sotapanna, cried at the demise of her grandchild.

Ananda, a Sotapanna, shed tears at the deaths of Sariputtra and the Buddha.

Only Anagamis and Arahats can abandon Parideva.

So, we accept “Lament” as a part of an ordinary Buddhist but we need to overcome or cope with it by practising Dhamma.

I think that is the main point of that article.

Thanks and regards,


The difference between household distress and renunciation distress (unfulfilled ambition for higher states) should be discerned. Renunciation distress would include the unpleasantness of contemplation of the reality of the unattractiveness of the body and of death:

"And what are the six kinds of household distress? The distress that arises when one regards as a non-acquisition the non-acquisition of forms cognizable by the eye — agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, connected with worldly baits — or when one recalls the previous non-acquisition of such forms after they have passed, ceased, & changed: That is called household distress. (Similarly with sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, & ideas.)

“And what are the six kinds of renunciation distress? The distress coming from the longing that arises in one who is filled with longing for the unexcelled liberations when — experiencing the inconstancy of those very forms, their change, fading, & cessation — he sees with right discernment as it actually is that all forms, past or present, are inconstant, stressful, subject to change and he is filled with this longing: ‘O when will I enter & remain in the dimension that the noble ones now enter & remain in?’ This is called renunciation distress. (Similarly with sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, & ideas.)”—MN 137

“When feeling a painful feeling of the flesh, he discerns, ‘I am feeling a painful feeling of the flesh.’ When feeling a painful feeling not of the flesh, he discerns, ‘I am feeling a painful feeling not of the flesh.’ —MN 10, Satipatthana sutta

Pleasant (piti) or painful feelings not of the flesh are to be cultivated and used as motivation for progress:

"Is passion-obsession to be abandoned with regard to all pleasant feeling? Is resistance-obsession to be abandoned with regard to all painful feeling?

"No… There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. With that he abandons passion. No passion-obsession gets obsessed there.[4] There is the case where a monk considers, ‘O when will I enter & remain in the dimension that those who are noble now enter & remain in?’ And as he thus nurses this yearning for the unexcelled liberations, there arises within him sorrow based on that yearning. With that he abandons resistance. No resistance-obsession gets obsessed there.[5]—MN 44

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Welcome to the community and thank you for your answer!

I think that we all have a cry or desperate feelings on the path. After all we are human. As you said, we chose THIS path to overcome it. But life can be a :japanese_goblin: sometimes and some days the lessons are just too many and too overwhelming.

That’s why I find it great to have fellow Dhamma travelers to exchange views and opinions. :pray:


In the article, He does give a lot of solutions that often fall in line with some Mahayana practices. I think for a Theravada Buddhist who would like to follow their tradition, there are a lot of things that a Monk or Layperson could do to lament skillfully in order to eventually Transcend suffering eventually. Mindfulness, Sunyata, Anatta, Metta and the Brahmaviharas as well as the Pali Canon are accepted as true all across the Buddhist board of reasonable practitioners. Some Mahayana Monks have in their ruleset that it is “Wrong View” to disparage Theravada Buddhism, because we are all part of the Same Buddhism, and we are all Buddhists if we decide to practice Buddhism. I greatly appreciate the Wisdom of the Theravada practice, the full acceptance of Anatta is very rewarding, and the Pali Canon has a perfect system of realizing Sunyata. Buddha’s words are one of this world’s greatest treasures, they are of one mind with the Dhamma, and are always true, even the Expedient Means are a ladder of truth, pointing us to a greater Realization we need to get to progressively. So I think turning to core Buddhist principles from the Theravada Tradition and turning to the Pali Suttas for Wisdom, and Meditation for Realization will help one greatly overcome lamentation that life can bring. This is a wonderful community where people are doing such Buddhist things. May the causes and conditions for great happiness be present for everyone here, and most importantly, may everyone on SuttaCentral achieve Buddhahood! It will one day happen for everyone here, and the work of the Dhamma is just beginning, being among Monks even electronically is the greatest honor. Namaste.


he uses same method to cure lamentation from being a child, repetitively, for over 2, 3 or 4 decades. now his lamentation still occur.

Would it enough evident that that mother’s comfort is not a way to cure lamentation.
It is not very logical to try same thing again and again.

Curing lamentation does occur, but the methods, unless come from a center of Buddhism, where there is Enlightenment, are temporary. Leaving Samara, all is healed.