Shantideva, the great Buddhist sage said (and I paraphrase greatly):
If something can be fixed, there is no need to be unhappy.
If it cannot be fixed, there is also no need to be unhappy.
Or as Bobby McFerrin sang over and over and over back in the 80’s – “don’t worry, be happy”. Easier said than done.
The last few days I’ve found myself feeling sad about things over which I feel I have no power; 9/11 and its aftermath, and the violence here in Richmond. How can I feel at peace when I know so many people are suffering so unnecessarily? Yet, what can you do to fix any of it?
I think this is the downfall of focusing too much of your practice on compassion, and ignoring renunciation and wisdom. You start to feel too much. You want to fix everything and everyone. And yet, you can’t, so you end up feeling helpless, which can soon turn into hopelessness. Not pretty, not pretty at all.
If I had any wisdom at all, I would use this suffering I see and that I feel to develop the mind of renunciation. The time and energy that I spend fretting about matters over which I have little control can be best applied by getting my butt on the cushion. Then maybe I can have the clarity and spaciousness of mind to understand when and where I can help and be of service, and when I simply have to accept.